Mechanism vs. harmony


Physics only helps us talk about purely mechanical order, viewing objects as mechanisms.

What is the order which physics helps us talk about in each of these cases? It is only the mechanical order. The order is always described — and even invented — in relation to the way the thing works as a mechanism.

[T]he beauty and order [we] yearn for, cannot be expressed in any way that can be understood mechanically.

Mechanism is mostly concerned with producing effectsfunction.

Although 20th-century science gives us a way of seeing order as a producer of effects — in particular because the scientific view of things shows us the geometry of matter as if it were part of a machine, a machine which can do certain things — we still do not have a way of seeing the order of a thing which simply exists.

Beauty doesn’t have to be functional. Or it is functional on a different level?

-> Function vs. ornament


What impresses and moves us though, is harmony — an aspect of order we cannot describe well and which defies specification as pure mechanism.

If you can’t make a distinction between mechanism and harmony, because your world view doesn’t allow it, you are confined to believe that a difference between these concepts has to be a difference in degree — a higher level of complexity. Although it might in fact be a difference in kind.

Connection to software

This seems even more true for software: here we see everything as a sequence of operations that modify state or a sequence of transformations that change a data structure. In a way, in software we seem to be limited to a simplistic form of sequential order.

#book/The Nature of Order/1 The Phenomenon of Life/Preface/4 Order as mechanism#

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