8. Appendix  

An Outline of History


Section 8.1

World History 
And The Eonic Effect

Civilization, Darwinism, And Theories of Evolution
4th Edition
The Book
By  John Landon






8.1 An Outline of History
8.2  Eonic Grid Coordinates
8.3  The Eonic Evolution of Civilization
       1. Neolithic Beginnings
       2. Egypt, Sumer, and the Rise of Civilization
       3. The Axial Interval
       4. The Modern Transition





    World History And The Eonic Effect: Fourth Edition

  8.1 An Outline of History


Looking back on the ever-expanding outline of history that archaeology and the human record present to our vision, we can isolate to observation an emerging pattern of two historical intervals or ‘eonic eras’, and the three transition s between them, visible as cycles of cultural and social innovation on a scale of millennia, roughly 2400 hundred years—emerging as a pattern in and of itself, and as the last visible aspect of an earlier structure originating in the Neolithic. It is the transitions themselves, as temporal intervals of localized and rapid cultural change, in their geographical focal areas, that are of first interest, for they constitute the prime generative sources, as periods, of the steps to higher cultural complexity we call ‘civilization’.

That the three periods indicated represent the three most fundamental, so-far visible, turning points, divides, or transitions, of the entire world system is easily demonstrable by reference to the facts of known history, to be clear that we are only seeing a subset of a greater process in which the New World and the Neolithic show connections, but no conclusive relation.

This non-random pattern is a challenge to more simplistic views of historical evolution. Any law of history, theory of cultural evolution, religious teleology, transcendental explanation, or political action script, or theory of economic determination ought to explain this pattern if it claims superstitious or pseudo-scientific authority. We can illustrate our model explicitly using an outline of world history. This framework can also serve as a kind of database to allow constant additions to our data.

Our short history of the world is simple. The eonic effect reduces to a Table of Contents and the whole tale to three chapters, with three transitions connecting them. Although our approach is designed to start anywhere, no absolute beginnings are required. We have nonetheless summoned up the idea of Big History, history since the Big Bang, a recent innovation of historiographers, as the ultimate context of our history. We see three massive periods of advance, what’s more, with obvious echoes and interconnections, clear evidence of three successive waves of fundamental advance, at equal intervals, and with significant mutual correlations:

Chapter 1: The rise of civilization ca. -3000

Chapter 2: The Axial Age, ca. -600

Chapter 3: The rise of the modern, ca. 1800

That’s it. Our world history, we’re done. A non-random pattern. These dates are really divide points for a set of intervals we call ‘eonic transitions’. The term ‘rise of civilization’ is inadequate: our sequence probably starts in the Neolithic. We called this the eonic sequence, and set a frequency hypothesis to fix this obviously incomplete series in the domain of non-speculative empirical verifications. That hypothesis is more a way to preempt speculation than a practical part of our chronicle. It can also serve to silence at once the long history of speculative histories based on cyclical ideas. The eonic pattern is the only one that will work, whatever it means. But the history of cyclical viewpoints is a significant history in itself.

We have seen that the ‘Axial Age’ is really an interval, not an age, and that these demarcation labels cannot be instant turning points but must be transitions of some kind, eonic transitions. And these transitions show a characteristic divide as they conclude. We will see, looking at the modern period, that the transitions are about three centuries long. We aren’t sure, but three centuries is sure to enclose the phenomenon seen three times in a row, and five times in parallel in the Axial Age. Or, more accurately, a statistical region three centuries long appears to enclose the phenomenon. The term ‘Axial Age’ is really two things taken together, a transition, a rough divide point, and then a period just after that starting a new era.

The Old Testament embeds a confused account of such a transition, and comes into existence, in final form, just after the divide, around -600. In Greece, the great era occurs after the divide, in its perilous moment of freedom. But the gestation period comes before. So it seems that even the exceptions fulfill this dynamic of eonic transitions. But it is all a bit fuzzy, as it should be, and our model is a guide, but not a dogma. On the basis of this we will see that three centuries again, as with the modern transition, looks to be the rough interval. We should reserve the term ‘age’ for the periods or intervals between our transitions. It is not the Axial Age but the ‘axial’ interval in our sequence. This scheme, we should warn, is highly artificial. And yet it works. Why? It is completely OK to challenge this, but the trick is to try it as an exercise, and in some detail, then its rough approximation will show something remarkable. Like scaffolding for a building, the periodization matrix will fall away, and leave a spectacle of universal history in its wake. We can approach this model with confidence, after initial puzzlement, because it represents the simplest and most obvious solution to the failure of random evolution.  



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Last modified: 10/02/2010