Reconstructing Universal History: A Meditation for the Left

Nemonemini at Nemonemini at
Tue Jun 27 20:18:02 MDT 2000

New Book on History and Evolution. What is the place of Darwinism in relation
to Marxsim?  A New Approach to Historical Evolution

World History and the Eonic Effect
 Civilization, Darwinism, and Theories of Evolution
    by John Landon

At a time when theories of evolution are undergoing renewed controversy,
discussion is hampered by the remoteness of the phenomenon of evolution, and
the use of indirect inference to speculate about deep time. The assumption
that evolution occurs at random is the crux of the dispute, along with the
confusion between evolution as fact and theories about its mechanism.
The perception of the Eonic Effect, the evidence for historical
directionality, can usefully break the deadlock by looking at world history
in the light of ‘evolution’. We can  take as our prime objective to show
that this claim of randomness is not true of human history, that there exists
a long-range ‘pattern of universal history’. We live in the first generation
able to perceive such a pattern.

Looking backward, the emergence of civilization shows a strange dynamism, one
visible for the first time, as we cross a five thousand year boundary since
the invention of writing. This enigmatic pattern is not what we should have
expected from views of history influenced by current evolutionary
assumptions. We can begin to see meaningful coherence in a careful analysis
of periodization and this might give us a way to put our ideas about
evolution into a realistic perspective that does justice both to man as man,
and the evolution, or descent, of man from deep time, the transition from
evolution to history. This pattern, once seen, throws conventional
evolutionism in its proper light, and suggests the right interpretation of
long-standing evidence.

Man’s perceptions of history are disoriented, we need a means to see world
history as one whole. This study, World History & the Eonic Effect,  uncovers
the mysterious clue to evolutionary dynamism evident in world history itself,
and can be a useful way to bail out from the confusion of evolutionary
theories now current and misapplied to historical explanation. This book
represents both an exciting historical discovery, the eonic effect, and a
methodology for historical and evolutionary theories in this context, as a
benchmark for historical generalization. Our subject is the evolution of
civilization and man in tandem. But what do we mean by the term 'evolution'?
What is the meaning of the mysterious design we see in history?  If
evolutionary theories are your business, grappling with the eonic effect is
World History and the Eonic Effect
 Civilization, Darwinism, and Theories of Evolution
    by John Landon
     Xlibris Books
ISBN: Hardcover 0-7388-0428-2
        :  Paperback 0-7388-0429-0
LCCN: 99-90491
Baker & Taylor


 The spectacle of world history is starting to show evidence of non-random
patterning, the eonic effect, as the perception of intermittent evolution
resembling the 'punctuated equilibrium', in the sense of contrasting
emergence and stasis, of the evolutionary biologist. The result suggests a
model of world history as a series of state transitions, built around a new
'fundamental unit of historical analysis', other than the Toynbean
'civilization'. One part of this effect began to be noticed in the nineteenth
century, and was the subject of Jaspers' unsuccessful concept of the Axial
Age, resolved in the second stage of our schema, as sequential and parallel
evolution. In the legacy of positivist evolution, we are unprepared for the
idea of a long range system of macrohistory. Yet the eonic effect shows that
one exists, with a very natural interpretation. For as we look back with a
postmodernist perspective on the rise of the modern, in relation to two
earlier analogous eras, we discover a unity in an embedded discrete series.
Although the legacy of universal history or the search for historical laws
has often resulted in the confusions of teleological historicism, Kant's
Third Antinomy, the classic starting point, has always suggested both the
existence and resolution of a macrohistorical pattern with a double aspect or
interplay of two forms of evolution, seen in the relation of system to free
action. We can proceed empirically with a gift of nature's model, for the
eonic effect is a discovery, or justify our method with the idea that if we
'sample' history, after the fashion of a student of economic cycles, in 2400
year intervals,the result is clear evidence of an historical dynamic or
periodicity. The model, using a new terminology for the evolution of
civilization, highlights a natural coherence to world history as a fresh
perspective on the descent of man.


This study, World History & the Eonic Effect, attempts to unravel the
mysterious evolutionary pattern visible in world history itself. In the
process we are led to reconsider the usual views on the descent of man, for
the eonic effect gives us a glimpse of 'evolution in action' that might
caution assumptions about how man evolved in the Paleolithic. The usual
theories of evolution are speculations about times unobserved, the eonic
effect enforces the discipline of historical observation and data, and
results in the direct demonstration of an abstract system dynamic structuring
world history.
Armed with the simplest elements of periodization, we can bypass confusions
of either metaphysical historicism or reductionist oversimplification and
proceed to the detective work of uncovering a non-random pattern in world
history, whatever we make of it.  Dealt with are issues of evolution, complex
systems, and philosophies of Universal History in the light of Kant's
Challenge (from his Idea of a Universal History from a Cosmopolitan View).
The effect of ideology on theory is seen in light of the Oedipus effect of
Karl Popper, the critiques of historicism and the theme of Isaiah Berlin’s
historical inevitability. The 'end of history' of Hegel as seen in Fukuyama,
and its birth along with universal history, is traced in Zoroastrianism, in
the context of modern Biblical Criticism. Karl Jaspers’ ‘Axial Age’ is
analyzed, and a brief critique of the theories of Spengler and Toynbee, along
with theories of cultural evolution, introduces a new approach to the
‘fundamental unit of historical analysis’. The Axial riddle is resolved as
the eonic periodization seen in  the history of Israel, near the parallelism
of Archaic Greece, early India and China. The connection to the whole is then
explored with a frequency hypothesis. Early Sumer and Dynastic Egypt, and the
rise of the modern with its theories and controversies, become a unified
enquiry. The work gives a comprehensive outline of world history, and
contains many subunits and organized study projects, from the Neolithic to
the rise of the modern. Many issues are included: New World diffusion
debates, the history of science, modern ideology, economic models, Greek
tragedy, New Age myths, myths of the Great Year and their source in Sumer,
the evolution of religion, and economic interpretations of history, and much
else. A special terminology is created to model the evolution of
civilization, eonic transition, sequential dependency, parallel interactive
evolution, ‘t-stream and e-sequence’, eonic determination and free action,
built around a frequency hypothesis. The overall construct is kept rigorous
from historicist speculation about macrohistory and resembles the economist’s
study of the periodization of economic cycles. Debate over issues of
evolution has deprived secular thought of a natural perspective on Universal
History, the proper antidote to religious controversy over origins, one that
can clarify the evolutionary context of directionality, without the quagmire
of metaphysical teleology. This study can be useful for a debriefing of
historical or evolutionary theories in general confronted with the spectacle
of ‘evolution in action’, in a form both ingenious and natural.

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