Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Constructal Law

What connects network , chaos, bios, complexity, self-organization, and spontaneous order theory? The constructal law.

The constructal law describes how things flow. If you have slow and fast flow together, you get a branchy pattern (which looks like a tree, a river delta, lightning, lung bronchea, the brain's neural network, the neurons themselves, etc.) that facilitates both kinds of flows. The fast flows act as engines, the slow flows act as brakes. In a river, the water is the fast flow, the soil the slow flow. More, within the branchy pattern, the slow flows are short, the fast flows are long. Further, the slow flows are smooth, the fast flows are turbulent (herein comes the element of chaos theory). Slow, smooth, short streams flow into faster, more turbulent longer streams, which flow into faster, more turbulent, longer rivers. Areas flow into points, and points flow into areas. Roots flow into the trunk, the trunk flows into the limbs.

Further, the history of the evolution of flow is toward greater and greater freedom. This is true whether the flows are physical, biological, psychological, or social. This agrees with the work of J.T. Fraser and of Clare Graves. It agrees with my own ideas in Diaphysics. Little did I know I was always already writing about flows. The constructal law fills in the last little bit, clarifying why I have been obsessed with networks, chaos theory, bios theory, complexity, self-organization, and evolution. These are all about flows. Further, it explains why I am an Austrian economist -- it too is all about flows.

If you contribute to the improvement of flow, you are participating in the natural evolution of the universe. If you work to block flow, you are working against the natural evolution of the universe. But as with any other law of nature, you cannot violate it for long without consequences. Nature will have its way. You can either work with it and live a good life, or work against it and be crushed by it over time.

"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." -- Francis Bacon

According to the constructal law, social orders are also nature. If you want to live in a good society, it must maps onto nature, being nature. Societies must be free to find their own improved flows. Damming a river won't improve its flow any more than restrictive regulations that act as barriers to entry improve the economy. The movement of water, the movement of people, the movement of ideas, the movement of money, the movement of goods -- all must be free to flow.
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