Adriaan LangeIn existographies, Adriaan Michiel de Lange (1945-) (SNE:6) (DN:1/10) (CR:58), aka "At de Lange", is a South African chemical physicist, who is a very well-read physical-sciences based thinker (above the 500+ book level in studying how thermodynamics applies to the humanities) who in 1982 began to view the idea that entropy production must apply to the spiritual world; then, in 1986, while teaching physical chemistry class, grasped the idea that “the intricate calculations concerning free energy in chemical reactions” must apply to the process of knowing and learning, on the extrapolation that student's learning behaviors must follow or map to the behaviors of molecules moving through the chromatograph column; in 1987, completed a yet unpublished manuscript Entropy, Creativity, and Learning; in the late 1990s, began posting and discussing his theories at the forums; and in 2009 published an online book Irreversible Self-Organization (in Afrikaans).

In 1982, de Lange began to glimpse a view of how entropy (and later Gibbs free energy) apply to the evolution, human "being and becoming", as well as to the spiritual world. In 2010, he self-described himself as having a Dawkins number of 1. The following selection of quotes gives an idea of de Lange's theoretical development: [5]

“Since as a kid I was aware of the abyss (super rift) between the material and mental worlds. I tried to bridge this abyss, but could not. Yet I kept on with my own "Steigerung" as Goethe did. Then during 1982-83 I discovered empirically that the law of entropy production applies to the spiritual [humanistic] world as it applies to the physical world. My joy knew no bounds. I have found the bridge between these two worlds with which to cross the abyss between them. Others thought I was crazy and would not dare to publish my account.

He continues,

Then, in 1986, if I remember correctly, I was teaching university students the intricate calculations concerning free energy in chemical reactions. During that lecture I suddenly became aware how my mind was rushing along two levels. The lower level was concerned with chemical processes as a physical phenomenon. I executed this level almost automatically. But the higher level of my mind was exploring free energy in the process of knowing-learning as a spiritual [thermodynamics] phenomenon. I followed this level with great curiosity. I think the students became aware that I was rather absent minded that day, not perceiving my higher most thoughts. That day marks the beginning of my continual exploring of the role of free energy in the spiritulization [actualization] of humankind.”
Adriaan Lange (1986) 3
A mock rendition of South African physical chemistry Adriaan de Lange (1986) teaching Lewis-based physical chemistry to his students, amid which he came to the realization that these principles ALSO apply to people at the social interaction and reaction level; it would take him another 23-years to go from the "idea stage" to be able to pen out a full book on this view.

In the above quotes the italicized words (humanistic, thermodynamics, and actualization) were inserted in place of the words 'spirituality' or spiritual, so to make the presentation cogent in a modern scientific sense, as many parts of de Lange's theory are filled with religious thermodynamics conjectures; albeit these seem to be only minor detractors to the overall theory which is quite an interesting read as compared to most other human thermodynamicists.

The last account, to note, is similar to American chemical engineer Libb Thims experience if circa 1995 while being taught about free energy calculations in chemical reactions and beginning to wonder how the same logic would apply at the human mental level, albeit purely hard science sense (no spiritual aspects).

Much of de Lange's theories seems to hinge around Belgian chemist Ilya Prigogine's 1980 book From Being to Becoming. De Lange's 2009 online multi-part Irreversible Self-Organization (written in Afrikaans) outlines a thermodynamics theory of human evolution and existence, and is an attempt to summarize his views on this subject. The following is a quote form this work: [1]

Life is like a puzzle. Without the concept of entropy, it is impossible to complete the puzzle.”

De Lange, to note, as compared to other writers who mix religion and thermodynamics, has a fairly good comprehension of chemical thermodynamics, citing Gilbert Lewis, for instance, as one of his heroes. His knowledge of chemical thermodynamics is exemplified by his 1998 commentary on entropy, where he comments on how Max Planck was a better thermodynamicist than Erwin Schrodinger (which is true), and states that “the last great mathematician+physicist+chemist was J Willard Gibbs”; and comments that if he had to list the three greatest scientists of all time, that Gibbs would be one of them. [6] A down point in his presentation is that he intertwines his theories with diatribe on god, Christianity, and spirituality; but, then again, as compared to other religiosity writers on human thermodynamics he has a very strong understanding of Gibbs free energy in application to human activity.

As early as 1997, De Lange began posting up discussion pieces on the second law of thermodynamics, communication, and human organization. [4] De Lange's work has been cited and used in the 2009 theories of New Zealand business engineer Gavin Ritz, who has been discussing theory with de Lange since at least 2001. [2] De Lange goes by various names on the internet and in citations, including: AM de Lange, At de Lange (where At is somehow short for "Adriaan Michiel"), Mnr AM de Lange, or "Ontluiker", his online nickname.

Elective Affinities
In 2010 discussions with Libb Thims, in commentary on whether he had read German polymath Johann Goethe’s version of human chemical affinities, de Lange commented: [8]

“Yes, you are correct - I have never read before Goethe’s Elective Affinities. When I was doing research on Goethe’s way of thinking (late 80's - early 90's) I remembered the novel Elective Affinities being mentioned somewhere, but I could not get hold of a copy here in the libraries of South African universities. I dismissed it. Had I known that in it he made use of chemical affinities, I would have made more effort to get a copy of it.

I obtained my BS during 63-65, a curious transition period in the science faculty existed. Much of the science subjects’ first year course made use of late 1800-early 1900 scientific insights. But in the second year courses much insight from the 1940's were included.

Thus our textbook and lectures in 1963 (first year) made use of chemical affinities as the guiding principle. But in 1964 (second year) the courses shifted to Gibbs free energy. Our textbook in physical chemistry was the famous one by Lewis and Randall. I feel in love with that book because it explained difficult concepts so clearly and used many examples as aid. In 1965 (third year) much more emphasis was put on quantum theory in both physics and chemistry. A book like that P.W. Atkins was still a twinkle in the eye.

I felt that chemical dynamics based on affinities since Bergman was a rather woolly way to understand it. I took great pleasure in chemical dynamics based on Gibbs’ free energy and felt in 1975(?) that I have mastered it completely. It never occurred to me study chemical affinities again from this masterly position.

Yesterday i got hold, by using Google of a scanned version of an English translation of his Elective Affinities (link). I read each page attentively up to page 100. Thereafter, I began to scan through it by reading parts of every second page up 385. The reason is that the book tired me because of so slowly developing to the climax. On page 60/61 he specifically explains through Edward to Charlotte that he is going to use chemical affinities to set up an ANALOGY with interpersonal dynamics of the form AB + CD → AD + CB (double substitution). I found it annoying that Goethe spoke through Edward what he intended to do in the rest of the novel. He should have done it in a foreword.

I could not ascertain whether the analogy was used as a metaphor, a model or an isomorphism. I think the reason was simple. Little was known of chemical affinities in the early 1800's. Much of it was merely an arrangement of observations in a tabular (matrix) form.

It is said that Weber used chemical affinities to set up a foundation for sociology, in other words, modelled sociology on chemical affinities (or Gibbs’ free energy in more recent terms. I myself will certainly not repeat such a venture. The reason is as follows:

“Chemical reactions are per definition irreversible” Prigogine once exclaimed. He never tried to explain this claim and i think few will be able to do it. J.W. Gibbs mentioned that spontaneous reactions are characterized by ΔG < 0. But it took a G.N. Lewis to use it to great advantage in chemical thermodynamics. He once mentioned that non-spontaneous reactions are characterized by ΔG - W < 0, but I cannot remember where. It was only when I deepened myself in the thermodynamics that I discovered the importance of ΔG - W < 0 in electro-synthesis and electro-analysis.

Together with that, somewhere in 1984-85 came the incredible paradigm shift that in nature the condition ΔG < 0 (spontaneous-irreversible) applies almost always, but when humans came into play, the condition ΔG - W < 0 (non-spontaneous- irreversible) applies in the majority of interactions of humans with nature as well as humans among each other. This makes the idea that human thermodynamics can be modelled on chemical thermodynamics untenable. The condition ΔG - W < 0 applies only when human interaction comes into play.

Few evolutionists are even aware that homo sapiens emerged from other hominoids by making deliberate use of the condition ΔG - W < 0 to avoid extinction. This condition is stressed in Genesis 1 with the God’s remark that humans will have to exist by working with sweat (implying that it is not a condition for the rest of nature-creation).

Up to now i have managed to give account in terms of “human entropics” of such vastly different phenomena such as slavery, money and technology. In all of them the condition ΔG - W < 0 plays a central, essential role.”

As we see, de Lange is well-schooled.

Gibbs free energy theory of evolution
The following 2001 thread discussions give an idea of the depth of understanding of human thermodynamics in De Lange’s mind, which is quite deep, albeit detracted to a certain extent with digression on spirituality, noting in partiular that he seems to have a Goethean like approach to knowledge and that he uses both free energy and entropy theory in the understanding of the movement of his own life as well as in explaining evolution: [5]

“In my own mind I have made, like Goethe, many interconnections between the subjects (branches) of knowledge with many spillovers from one subject to all others. How many times since 1970 had I not become trapped on a local optimum, not knowing who to reach the next one. Whereas Kaufmann discovered the ‘patching algorithm’, I learned a pattern which with difficulty I could much later articulate as the monadic categorical pattern. I later found that Goethe already as far back as two centuries ago called it ‘steigerung’ (staggering). In Afrikaans it would be called ‘opstapeling’ so that ‘(up)stapling in English will also do. As the years passed, I became aware how this staggering enabled me to wander from local optimum to local optimum in an endless manner. Among other things, I learned how ‘entropy production’ driven by ‘free energy’ changes drives this staggering.”

He continues, in what is an excellent quote, aside the spiritual addendum:

“In 1982-83, I discovered empirically that the law of entropy production also has a spiritual dimension. In 1986, if I remember correctly, I was teaching university students the intricate calculations concerning free energy in chemical reactions. During that lecture I suddenly became aware how my mind was rushing along two levels. The lower level was concerned with chemical processes as a physical phenomenon. I executed this level almost automatically. But the higher level of my mind was exploring free energy in the process of knowing/learning as a spiritual phenomenon. I followed this level with great curiosity. I think the students became aware that I was rather absent minded that day, not perceiving my higher most thoughts. That day marks the beginning of my continual exploring of the role of free energy in the spirituality of humankind.”

This quote is similar to American chemical engineer Libb Thims' 1995 awakening to the implications concerning the human implications of description human chemical reactions in terms of free energy changes. De Lange continues, giving what seems to the Prigogine-interpretation of the difference between the applicability of classical thermodynamics versus nonequilibrium thermodynamics:

“To manage both material and mental systems I had to reform my understanding of the "Gibbs free energy" G and entropy S considerably compared to that of 1967 (after five years of training in chemistry, mathematics and physics). I learned since 1968, as a result of doing research on soils which are surprisingly complex, that classical thermodynamics (CT) cannot handle complex systems whereas irreversible thermodynamics (IT), initiated by Prigogine, can do so. The first major difference between the two is that in CT the focus is on "entropy S" as a picture whereas in IT the focus is on "entropy production ΔS" as a movie. The second major difference is that in CT entropy is interpreted as chaos whereas in IT the causes and consequences of entropy production ΔS get attention rather than trying to interpret it.”

He then connections free energy to evolution as followings:

“Let me then give a quick summary of "free energy" F as I understand it presently. Every system, material or mental, has patterns in it. When these patterns are considered together, I think that they can be called the system's organisation. The entropy S of the system is a measure of the system's organisation, irrespective of the kinds of patterns (order or chaos, structure or process, microscopic or macroscopic). The system's organisation cannot change without its entropy S changing too.

The change (symbolised by Δ) in the entropy S gets the name "entropy production" (symbolised by ΔS). The reason is that entropy is increased (created) by what I prefer to call "entropic" (rather than thermodynamic) "force-flux pairs". These entropic force-flux pairs emerge when some forms of energy are converted into different forms of energy. Every form of energy may have its own entropic force-flux pair. Every form of energy may be expressed by the product XY of an extensive quantity X and an intensive quantity Y. When any system is scaled in size, all its extensive quantities X get scaled while all its intensive quantities Y remain the same. Differences in the values of an extensive quantity X is an entropic flux while differences in the values of an intensive quantity Y is an entropic force.

All the forms of energy of a system together is called its "total energy E". Some of this total energy E is bound into maintaining the systems present organisation, among others even those forms of energy! The rest of the total energy E is called the system's free energy F. Since it is not bound to keep up the system's organisation, it is readily available to drive the transformation in energy forms of the system and hence the associated entropy production ΔS.

When the system does not have sufficient free energy F to drive its entropy production and thus organisational changes, there are two options to obtain further free energy. One option is that it can be imported from an external source like animals eating food or plants absorbing sunlight. The other option is that it can be liberated from within by giving up some of its organisation through a process which I call the "creative collapse" (the complexity version of Heidegger's and Derrida's "deconstruction"). Taking animals or plants as example, they will then use their own tissues as source of free energy rather than eating food.

The change of the system's free energy F during its course through successive higher levels of complexity is itself very complex. That course may be called evolution when it involves innumerous generations or metamorphosis (development) when it involves one generation. Evolution and metamorphosis can be observed in both material and mental systems. Assume one level of complexity has been reached by the emergence of "kernels" or the "infants" of that level. They now have to mature into "adults" by a process called digestion. Their intensive (scaling independent) properties Y do not change much whereas their extensive (scaling dependant) properties X do change considerably. These extensive properties grow during the digestion so that the total energy E, entropy S and thus free energy F of the system increases. At first the increase in total energy E is fast, but it slows down gradually as maturity is reached. Thereafter it may even decrease gradually.”

He continues:

“Processes happen spontaneously when the free energy F of a system decreases. But during digestion the free energy of the system increases. Is this not a contradiction? No, for digestion the system has to be open. Thus we have to consider the system and all the surrounding systems upon which it feeds as a whole. For this whole ecosystem (the system SY and the surroundings SU) the free energy does decrease so that the digestion happens spontaneously. However, the system's gain in free energy is made possible by the extended loss in free energy of the sourcing systems. One system gets rich while many systems get poor.

When maturity is reached, the system begins to use that free energy to drive itself to the ridge of chaos where other kernels of the same order or even kernels of a higher order can emerge. At first the entropy production is low, but as the system approaches the ridge of chaos, enough entropy has to be produced fast enough to actually reach that ridge. In other words, the pattern of entropy production in the swing towards chaos to acquire new qualities which are opposite to the pattern in the swing towards order in the same qualities.

It is frequently claimed that systems have to be open during the swing towards chaos. However, this is often detrimental to the system. What will happen is that the system SY will lose to the environment SU the extra entropy it produced rather than using it to change its internal organisation. When this happens, the system begins to feed like a parasite upon the free energy sources in its environment to supplement its own free energy which ought to be liberated by means of a creative collapse. This supplement becomes detrimental to the environment. The latter loses free energy which it then cannot use self. Later on the environment gets deluged by entropy which it has not produced self. This free energy poverty and entropy pollution which degrade the environment will finally cause the demise of even that too an open system.

The digestive swing together with the bifurcative swing form a cycle (Many biochemical and ecological cycles are essential to life.) This peculiar cycle stays in form essentially the same. But in content it increases the free energy F, entropy S and total energy E after each cycle. In nature such a peculiar system would let to catastrophes (few becoming rich at the expense of many becoming poor) were it not for mutualistic symbiosis. Furthermore, somewhere something must act as a source of free energy at such a vast time scale so that whatever uses it without giving back, can indeed complexify through all levels in this time scale. This source of pure free energy in the case of our world is nothing else than an yellow star which we call sun.”
De Lange model (2001)
Adriaan de Lange's 2001 free energy landscape of evolution, employing a mixture of chaos theory, Prigoginean bifurcation theory, order-disorder logic, time (past vs future), free energy barrier, path functions, and discussions of high and low values of entropy change.

Free energy landscapes
On this model, de Lange presents a free energy landscape diagram, pictured adjacent, which he says is "a simplified version of the image in my mind", wherein the vertical axis represents free energy, the 'Urphaenomen' or prototype of all functions having limits. De Lange's diagram seems to be similar to the free energy maps developed recently in drug-receptor thermodynamics. He continues:

“All fitness functions, how imaginative we may create them, depend on free energy as the mother of them all. No change is possible without free energy changing somewhere in the universe, whether in the system SY or in the surroundings SU. The free energy F is not merely a theoretical concept of the imagination. It is a quantity based on innumerous measurements and calculations in the realm of physical chemistry. It is a quantity of bewildering consequences, the nemesis of many a student in physical chemistry.”

In describing his graph further he explains:

“Please notice the two shaded regions, designated past and future digestions. (Forget for a moment the thickest lines called A, B and AB as well as the strange barrier in the unshaded region where the two lines join.) The free energy in both shaded regions increases (the landscape bulges upwards to a summit). The difference is that the "hill of the past" is often lower than the "hill of the future". (I have actually drawn the future hill much higher than the past hill so that you can easily observe it.) Looking towards all the free energy hills of the future, there is a gradual elevation along the future hills. It is as if the system is gradually climbing the rugged landscape called free energy F from sea level towards a high mountain "Everest" beyond the horizon. "Steigerung" (staggering) is necessary to do so. Specialization, on the other hand, will cause the system to stay meandering within in a "patch" (region) containing only some hills this side of the horizon.”

(add) [5]

De Lange is a seventh generation descendent of the the Boer people (South African of Dutch, German, or Huguenot descent). De Lange completed five years in training in chemistry, mathematics, and physics; resulting in a BS in chemistry, physics, and mathematics (1965), and a MS in physics (1967). Three times he has attempted to obtain a doctorate, but each time had to give up because he was unwilling to conform to the promoter’s way of thinking rather than doing original research.

In 1986, he was teaching university students the intricate calculations concerning free energy in chemical reactions. [5] In 1997, he was teaching Lewis dot structure to chemistry students.

He is well-read on people such as Erwin Schrodinger, Stuart Kauffman, and Ilya Prigogine. He states that was taught thermodynamics in his second year, via Italian physicist Enrico Fermi's 1936 book. [4] In 1998, it seems, de Lange was associated with the Gold Fields Computer Centre for Education at the University of Pretoria, South Africa. [3] At the University of Pretoria library, de Lange states that “I have read at least 500 books and thousands of papers to explore what manner of entropy thinking would accommodate most religions without scaring the daylights out of people, religious or not.” [7]

1. De Lange, A. (2009). Irreversible Self-Organization (pt. 1: Introduction to System Thinking; pt. 2: Introduction to Mathematical Expressions; pt. 3: Introduction to the Necessary and Sufficient Conditions; pt. 4: units; pt. 5: Simplicity and Complexity; pt. 6: Introduction to the Universal and Fenomeneel; pt. 7: Introduction to Ontology and Ontogeny; pt. 8: Energy and Entropy Laws; pt. 9: Wanbegrippe about Entropy; pt. 10: Wenbegrippe about Entropy; pt. 11: How is Entropy Produced?; pt. 12: The Big Wet; pt. 13: The Rate of Entropy Production; pt. 14: The Creative Inploffing;” pt. 15: Entropy Increase is Necessary but not Sufficient; etc.), (Afrikaans → English),
2. Ritz, Gavin (2009). "The Fundamental Formula as Energy & Work."
3. De Lange, A.M. (1998). “Personal Mastery”,
4. De Lange, A.M. (1997). “Communication in the LO”,
5. De Lange, A.M. (2001). “Fitness Landscape and other Landscapes” (threads: LO27222), 09/03/01 –
6. De Lange, A.M. (1998). “Entropy”, Oct 30,
7. Email communications with Libb Thims in April 2010.

Further reading
● De Lange, A.M. (1998). “Prigogine”, Feb 01,
● De Lange, A.M. (1998). “Primer on Entropy: Part I”, Nov 24,
● De Lange, A.M. (2000). “Work and Free Energy: the Dance of LEP on LEP”, Nov 21,
● De Lange, A.M. (2001). “Free energy Vampires”, Sep 09,

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