This question already has an answer here:
Consider the following situation. A block slides on a rough surface. We have already given it an initial velocity. I consider my system to include only the block. Due to friction, the table performs work on the block, thereby reducing its kinetic energy. On the other hand, the block performs no work on the table, since the table surface does not get displaced at all. So, isn't it incorrect to say that work done on the system is the negative of the work done by the system?
If the work done by a system is not always the negative of the work done by the system, then how can both versions of the first law of thermodynamics hold true? The first law of thermodynamics in the physics point of view is: $\Delta U=Q-W,$ and in the chemistry perspective is: $\Delta U=Q+W.$
Both of these seem to be correct, as in the first case we are considering the work done by the system on the surroundings, and in the second case we are considering the work done on the system by external forces. But, if the work done by a system is not equal to the negative of the work done on it, then I have a feeling that the chemistry definition might be a better one. Please clarify.
Kindly note that I am already aware of the different conventions used in physics and chemistry, and I completely understand their intended meanings. My question is not really related to thermodynamics, but something more fundamental. I have just taken the first law of thermodynamics as an example.