Energy as a fiat currency

If an immaterial being moves a material object, is there more energy in the universe?

There can be no energy where there is not something that can be conserved, and something can be conserved so far as it is exchangeable between things, but for the immaterial to act on a material object is not an exchange. The immaterial does not lose something that it had before, nor is there an equal and opposite reaction going backward upon it.

Even if we say that the action of the immaterial ends up adding to the total amount of energy in the universe, this is not a violation of the conservation of energy, since energy is conserved so far as it is exchangeable. For material things, energy is a sort of currency that can be exchanged according to prearranged rules, but the action of immaterial things is not another buyer or seller in this pool of exchanges. Consider the difference between making a fiat currency and exchanging it. Every exchange of the currency will always maintain the same total value, but this does not mean that new currency cannot be introduced by another process. We can have a complete conservation of dollars if we mean that dollars are never lost in any exchange and that any exchange comes to be from pre-existent dollars, but this does not rule out the action of the Fed.

Nevertheless, comparing fed : currency users :: action of immaterial : action of the material does critique the hypothesis that if energy is always conserved that the total energy in the universe never changes. The hypothesis is either a tautology or a non-sequitur: if “total energy” means “energy that is exchangeable”, then we simply mean that there is nothing exchanged that is not exchagable; if “total energy” means energy arising from anything whatsoever, then it does not follow from the conservation of energy in exchanges that energy can only arise out of exchange. In fact, it’s entirely possible to argue that conserved energy must arise from fiat energy. The First Way can be taken as arguing for exactly this, so far as energy as a moved mover is intrinsically dependent on the “energy” of the unmoved mover.



  1. stevegbrown said,

    February 11, 2016 at 4:14 pm

    Interesting. This prompts me to wonder: what about information? I was re reading Jeremy Campbell’s “The Grammatical Man” the other day. It was one of the seminal books that popularized the “Information Theory” developed at Bell Labs and fathered by Claude Shannon.

  2. Kristor said,

    February 12, 2016 at 4:44 pm

    Yes, new information can enter the world system from without, and be conserved in it from that moment of ingress forward.

    But exchanges of information between entities – which is a way of construing physical or corporeal (or economic) transactions generally – themselves constitute new information, about what has happened in the transaction. Each new event carries at least one new bit.

    Creatures however are not themselves creating this new information about themselves, any more than they are creating themselves. So new information about new mundane transactions must be contributed to the world system from without. A new entity after all is just the actualization in a world of some immaterial form never before actualized in it.

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