Can you recommend a good book on entropy? I'm interested in one which balances well philosophy and physics, since at both edges the likelihood of having to read through nonsense increases (physicists who don't appreciate philosophy or philosophers who don't know physics).
There is an interesting book called "A Farewell to Entropy" by Arieh Ben-Naim, in which he shows how the thermodynamic concept of entropy can be reduced to information theory. Just as statistical mechanics underpins classical thermodynamics and shows how the bulk properties of matter can be explained in terms of the properties of ensembles of micro particles, so statistical mechanics is itself underpinned by information theory. Ben-Naim proposes replacing our understanding of entropy as disorder with entropy as lack of information.
This might be of philosophical interest, because it may help to clarify the relationship between information and epistemic probability on the one hand, and the laws of nature and physical propensities on the other.
Chapter 9 of Hawking's "A Brief History of Time" has an interesting discussion of entropy.
Also the following "The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Computing and Information" http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0631229191.html
Has some good discussions of the philosophical aspects of entropy (and the physics of information) when seen from a information point of view.
You can try Greene, Brian: The Fabric of the Cosmos. 2004
The author starts with entropy in Chapter 6 "Chance and the Arrow. Does Time Have a Direction?". He follows the notion of entropy to cosmology and often comes back to the question, why the cosmos started with a state of low energy.
I must confess that I did not yet finish the book and that I did not follow each argumentation. But the book seems worthwile to learn how the notion of entropy embedds into the whole of cosmology.
The author is a physicist. He has the ability to pick up his readers on a popular level and then go ahead to the physical theory. One can always rely that he is familiar with the contemporary physic's background of his statements. Therefore I prefer this book to enter into the notion of entropy in its full range.
Concerning the philosophical aspect, I think each reader has to decide by himself whether the book gives him enough information to answer his personal philosophical questions concerning entropy. I recommend to start with a sound base from physics before discussing entropy from the view point of philosophy of nature.
protected by Community♦ Dec 3 '15 at 7:13
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