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     Darwin's Botched Theory
Time for a wake up call. Darwin's theory of natural selection is one of the clumsiest and ill-considered theories in the domain of science. It confuses biological and cultural evolution completely, and shows its ideological character in its resemblance to economic theories. It suffers an Oedipus Effect, and poisons the environment with Social Darwinist innuendoes. 

Botched Theories 
And the Coefficient of Murder

Historicism and The Oedipus Effect

We need a new approach to theories to rescue social action from the wrong influence of bad theories on our behavior. The eonic data suggests the answer, and we can construct, not another theory (although we propose a theory of the evidence), but a simple model that is an empirical map, one that correctly orients past, present, and future, in the mind of the observer of evolution. The strategy here is to look at the relation of history and evolution, examining the meaning of evolution, to construct a firewall against misapplied evolutionary thinking running rampant in historical discussion. 

  • We can base our critique on the notion of the Oedipus Effect, the way in which theories tend to violate their domain of application. We take account of the place of the observer/theorist inside the phenomenon he is observing, and the codependency of theory and evolution itself. 
              

  • We have a short tutorial on the model, and this echoes the alternate tutorial on the Eonic Effect proper, cf. Menu on right. Start

The nice thing about the eonic model is that it can throttle back to nothing more than a periodization matrix of dates, which can be useful also for organizing a study of world history. Theories of evolution are metaphysically borderline, with a hairtrigger dialectic on key issues, well analyzed by a figure such as Kant. The advantage of the eonic model is that we can construct an empirical map of evolution over a stated range, within which the theory is itself a variable. 

We will construct a empirical realization of the model as an 'Idea for A Universal History' that becomes an 'Idea for An Historical Database' to accompany this map. You can start using it immediately, without much theory, as a list of transitions which conveniently map out the terrain of global history.  We see three turning points in history and these become transitions. These transitions form an eonic sequence. This creates a two-level model able to show how directionality can emerge from seeming randomness.  

The Model

One of the legacies of scientific theory is that of the model, a construct whose theoretical properties match the data in a one to one representation of the properties of the phenomenon under investigation. Usually these models are deterministic, or wish to be, although chaos theory now proposes intriguing new perspectives on this (deterministic chaos, of course, remains the foundation).

As we discover the eonic effect, the need for a model of a new and different type arises, yet one that still resides somewhere near the category of 'complex systems'. The clear evidence of historical directionality requires a complete reorientation of our methodologies and theories. So our subject is not so much the issue of models as of the way models fail. Here the thinking of Kant comes to the rescue and we can sort out causality questions in light of the idea of freedom. We can devise a new type of model, then, that embraces the difficulty itself. The theoretical strategy is in essence very simple, and a smart investment in 'theory' yields a huge payoff in understanding, with a sense of historical coherence a free gift of this approach. 

The basic strategy of the model will lie in the following steps:

1. We need to address the question of historicism, historical inevitability, and the so-called Oedipus Effect. These issues, addressed by Karl Popper, will allow a review of causality/freedom basics, along with the way theories and ideologies cohabit together. This starting point will then graduate to a more complex Kantian treatment. 
2. We will define our subject as the Great Transition, the transition from evolution to history, as an evolution of freedom. We can base this on a question, When does evolution stop and history begin? We can create a cornucopia situation where history is emerging from evolution. 
3.We will create two levels for our model, one corresponding to a high level system, like the ocean liner, and the other to the 'free action' of the passengers. 'Free action' and 'Free Will' stand in a dynamic relation to each other, and are not the same. The eonic effect describes the high level system, the evolution, while the low level system is a set of individual 'evolving' out of the system into freedom, however defined. 
4. We will take our turning points as transitions in our Great Transition, as it breaks down into sub-transitions. This sequence of transitions is the 'eonic sequence'. We can ask a new kind of question, Is there an 'end of the eonic sequence'? 
5. This system we are describing takes into account the continuity/discontinuity issues that plague evolution, along with the question of absolute beginnings. We see that our transitions are like relative beginnings in the middle of a continuous stream. This approach allows us to let our model start arbitrarily anywhere in its basic sequence. We don't require an absolute starting point. Thus the properties of the system at its relative starting points define the system. 

As the issue of historicism suggests our starting point is inherently ideological, it seems, and courts the contradictions of historical inevitability. In fact, we use the term model instead of theory because of this, and our subject is really about how theories tend to fail, and our model stand just above theory creation, and is going to be something ultra simple about something ultra complex, as it falls out of the class of strict models. Another issue that: numerical parameters fail completely and there is no one to one match of the model to the data. We are left to count on our fingers, periodization, as we 'follow the elephant', trying to map out its large size. 

As we proceed we notice something.  Theories are historical constructs, and have a temporal evolution inside our pattern, thus theories are part of our data. We need to stand back and look at theories with a somewhat ironic look on our face. The two aspects of the model collapse into one. That's why we speak about the model, although talk about theory continues, but as data inside the system. This approach also allows us to study systems in which we are immersed, and for which we have no data on their absolute beginnings or endings. 

The basic strategy of periodization is all you need to begin to study world history. That is the model, if you like. You may certainly disagree with this periodization. In fact, even that much has a concealed ideological component. But the evidence is telling, and will prove convincing over time. And the whole point of our model is to buffer the past and the present, in order to properly use 'theory' at all. The model has a remarkable property in that it allows us to do just this.  

This model, then, is highly fuzzy, but requires recursive approximation, more and more zooming, in, and stops just short of theory creation. 

So the model is....Given three turning points we create a sequence of three transitions

Rise of civilization    Transition 1
The Axial phase         Transition 2
Rise of the Modern    Transition 3

Note that this sequence has no beginning, or end, and the model is designed to allow this approach, using only fragments. This sequence of transitions generates two levels, and suddenly we discover something interesting. 

So you are ready to go with the minimal model. This raises obvious issues. Why these three turning points? Good question. The whole model can be reverse engineered around a simple question: Does world history show signs of general sequence? The answer is that there is a high degree of coherence to this intermittent mainline. But note that the assertion of even of periodization contains ideological assumptions. However, we can use this scheme simply as an experiment, and then we will discover a partial solution to the issue of ideology. 

 



Notes

Losing Prediction, Looking Backwards
That's the basic foundation. There is more, but that's the gist.  This produces a very elegant and beautiful, but quite strange though workable situation where there is dynamic relation of two levels. Our model has the at first strange property that its dynamics is visible only in retrospect, looking backwards. Because of the Oedipus Effect, we must devise a theory in such a way that the dynamics never impinges on the present. Thus the system alternates between system action and free action, and must be devised so that the last system action is in the recent past. There is nothing we need devise, for the data of the eonic effect does the job for us, beautifully so. We hardly need to bother with all this theory! The eonic effect spawns our model automatically, and the model simply throws up a mirror to the data. 

Theory and Ideology 
The trap of evolutionary theories is ideology, and we make that explicit in our study, basing the model on the interplay of causality and freedom. That's a classic gesture, implicit in the distinction of theoretical and practical reason of Kant, for example.  Ideologies concealed in scientific dress can be deadly, like vipers in the woods, you don't see them until too late. Consider the plight of Marxism, in case the point seems unclear. For that reason, ideologies of freedom allied with Big History are notorious among postmodernists now, but we can easily embrace such criticisms, which often have a perverse character in any case, and the ideologies of causality allied with Flat History ask one and the same 'deconstruction'. So it boils down to the facts: what do the facts suggest? Random (flat) or non-random (Big, or macro) History? The eonic effect shows the data for the latter. Please note in what follows that we base our starting point on Karl Popper's critique of ideological pseudo-science in history, so we can't be faulted for ignoring the critics.   

History and Evolution
Everything is based on a trick question: When does Evolution stop and History begin? This question arises at the point where Darwinists try to defend themselves from the charge of confusing biological and cultural evolution (and they might attempt a countercharge that the emergence of civilization is not 'evolution' in any biological sense). 

This paradoxical question actually allows us to derive the eonic model as a sequence of transitions. Our answer is open ended, on a sliding scale: Evolution stopped in the Paleolithic, and cavemen began history, or,  Evolution will stop in the future, and History will come into being. This approach allows us to consider that Evolution/History are braided together based on the degree of freedom man shows. Thus his 'evolving freedom' measures his degree of emergence from evolution. This is jargon, but it works. And it allows us to bring Evolution into the present, without the snafu that arises so visibly in the works of Spencer, and, yes, Darwin. This comes as a shock. Evolution, biological and cultural, are inseparable, and something more than genetic variation/mutation/selection. Before rejecting Spencer let us note one insight (via Kant perhaps) he had that we rediscover: there is a 'noumenal' aspect to evolution, something deep and beyond our representations. All we can do is clock its transformations in time. The deep source is (probably) unknowable. The latter is not a new dogma, but we should remember the Kantian warning about the Second Newton of Biology. It wasn't Darwin, that's for sure. What we will do here is take the question to the classic stalemate visible in Kant's so-called Third Antinomy, the remarkable contradictions of freedom and causality. 

  • Moral #1: NEVER trust anyone who claims to have a theory of evolution. They are probably pulling your leg. That applies. Moral #2,  as well to the current 'design' theology attempting to confuse the issue with arguments Kant, once again, critiqued quite acutely. 

The reason for this type of model then is the sheer complexity of what is under analysis. System theorists speak of 'complex systems', but this system is ultra-complex. At one and the same time what our system does is transparent,  elegant and simple, and we can track its behavior using our map/model armed with a special type of periodization. If a Martian cone-head shows us a new kind of can opener so advanced that we don't understand it, we can still see that it opens cans, and that much at least is clear. 

We see the eonic system for what it does, then, It is also quite spectacular. We see that 'evolution' is able to operate over tens of millennia, remorph whole cultures in short time frames, and involve itself in all the particulars of culture. We know this because we keep accounts using periodization, and notice that explanations require two-level models to make sense of the facts. 

Another reason for the difficulty lies in the qualitative nature of the data being considered. If a system's behavior is influenced by aesthetic issues, let us say, how could we measure that? The answer is, we can't, and the judgments of the observer have to match the qualitative aspects of the system. This issue arises at once if we consider the 'evolution of art'. Or of ethics. The attempt to reduce ethics, along with the fact/value distinction, to some form of mechanized explanation simply doesn't work. But that also has a big consequence: reductionism fails. Standard science therefore is going to be confronted with its limits. 

Two Level Models 
Our approach, however, is based on an hypothesis about Big History, and this involves the controversies of the philosophy of history. The answer is simple: take it under advisement.  That's all that can be asked. The results are convincing, but you can use the model even if not convinced. By examining all the possibilities, and one of those, that of Big History, is neglected, we become so adept at models of history in their full spectrum that peddlers of propaganda can no longer pull the wool over our eyes. 

It seems to violate scientific assumptions to depart from causal fundamentalism, but the type of model we consider has a real existence in a multitude of instances, let us consider the case of a computer user with a mouse and his computer. A deterministic system, a computer program, say, proceeds from start to finish, and then stops. A computer interacting with a user is different: it has a so-called GUI program built in a special way. Such a program executes the input of the user and then idles, waiting for the next interaction. In a nutshell (no doubt actual cases are more complex) the system alternates between the system action (computer) and the user action. There are two histories here, the determinate sequence of the program and history of choices/inputs of the user. First the computer does x, then the user inputs y, then the computer does the 'y input' and then idles, as the user then carries on. Any attempt to produce a science of history provokes futile efforts to reduce these two situations to one, but as we can see nothing in the computer program really tells us much about the user's mind. The two histories simply braid together over a brief interval, and then the computer is turned off and the user proceeds down the pike on his own business.  

This kind of breading and alternation is precisely what we see in the eonic effect, where a system and a population interface with double histories. It is interesting to consider the computer program for a computer mouse. Such programs automatically create two levels, as in a 'Do.... While' program segment, where a subroutine does a series of actions and then returns to the higher level. We won't have much more to say about this example, except that it shows the way hybrid systems on two levels are a fact of life, something we deal with all the time. So it is important to adopt a seemingly paradoxical strategy, on the one hand invoking causal reasoning, and at the same time taking into account the free activity of individuals. Not one or the other, but both together. 

Since we have two levels we have double, or multiple, histories, and this division into levels makes the plague of contradictions that leaves historical (and evolutionary) theory a hopeless muddle go away. This muddle is fully in evidence at all stages of evolutionary theory, and Herbert Spencer, for better or worse, makes all the mistakes that Darwin inherited unconsciously, in the confusion of biological and cultural evolution. 

We should note that Lamarck, who is better known for his wrong-headed speculations about adaptations and giraffes necks, had the gist the solution in the way he sensibly divided evolution into a two level system, with the now banished idea of evolutionary progress on one level, and another level of differentiation and/or adaptation. The idea of progress is so confused that many totally reject it altogether, but the point is not the ideology of progress but a two-level system. All the confusions of Darwin and the Darwin debate spring from Darwin's false reduction of evolution to one-level monistic evolution. The result is the classic crank theory masquerading as science. 

But the problem is that observing this other level is exceeding difficult, and requires a new scientific methodology, and the observational requirements can only be satisfied with the most exacting observation over time, long range and short range. Thus seeing the limits of reductionism requires hard work, the right data, and the reward is the collapse of science as we know it. Small wonder Darwinists are adamant that an oversimplification will do the job. 

It is remarkable that the eonic effect is the unique dataset that gives us a glimpse of these two levels at work, and we react with some alarm at just how misleading one level theories can be. Misleading and dangerous, because the only recourse to action on one level is the survival of the fittest scenario, which drives everyone to think they must compete furiously to seize the future. But in a more complex system of real evolution, the future is bound up with a different level in the system, and we can even consider the possibility of leapfrogging over stalemate situations. Again the eonic effect shows just this.

But at best we can detect this empirically without necessarily being able to explain it. We can therefore simply create an empirical map descriptive of what our system does over the particular range that our data holds out. But even such a restrictive approach uncovers some remarkable system properties, and this turns out to be the secret of success. The result gives us a powerful way to see the dynamics in action behind world history, and the only name for the result is evolution. It seems at first as if this confuses cultural and biological evolution, but in the final analysis this is probably the right use of the term for the descent of man, and is certainly so for world history, as we create a kind of firewall against theories misapplied to history. The evolution of history, hence of that history of man in the Paleolithic, has to be something more than genetics. 

 However, we justify the use of the term 'evolution', properly qualified, for the simple reason that we define it the way we do. That simple. We can describe the eonic effect with or without the term evolution. But we devise it to collide with the Darwinian because its implications almost certainly apply backwards to earlier stages of man's emergence. 

System and Individual

In general, please note, our empirical map works fine alone, but produces a theory of the evidence, but not so easily a theory to explain that evidence. Thus our use of the term 'evolution' is empirical. A theory of evolution is a tall order indeed. Our strategy allows us to proceed without injecting bad theories into what should be the straightforward perspective on the fact(s) of evolution, 'of some kind'. 

The key is to devise a two-level model, and use this to produce a hybrid construct of 'system' and 'individual'. Think of an ocean liner and the passengers. The 'system' is the ocean liner, operating in deterministic fashion, and the individuals as passengers are inside that system, and yet have their own histories. We have already a considerable tradition dealing with this type of situation, actually, and the works of Kant virtually reinvent a new approach to science, using a variant of this kind of thinking. The basic idea is simple, introduce the idea of freedom into the context of a causal system. Since the two contradict each other, and yet are clearly harmonized in some fashion by nature, relabel determinism as 'determination of some kind', and 'freedom as free will' as 'free action, as choice, free will or not'. This kind of hybrid is actually quite frequent, once we realize it, and occurs in a host of situations. Thus, take the contradiction between causality and freedom, and make them work together. 

We should note in passing that Newton to his credit was acutely aware of this problem and that he exempted human will from the laws of physics! So the founder of what became the reductionist fallacy was not party to what came in his wake, however inadequate his ad hoc solution. Kant in many ways cleans up Newton's thinking here. The result is a classic 'two level model', with an additional relationship of the 'phenomenal' to what he called the 'noumenal', which is beyond our knowledge. That's the catch as we introduce two levels to evolutionary theory. One level may be beyond our knowledge. But we can at least detect its existence. This the eonic model does. 

That's the crux of our problem, but it gets worse. In general we need a kind of model where the observer is inside the system being analyzed. In fact, theories themselves are a part of the evolution of the system, and the agent's interaction with his own theories has to be taken into account! In a strict sense the 'theory' is another variable in the dynamics. 

This is not a trivial issue either. The history of science, for example, is a subhistory of the history under examination. What is its status? Is it proceeding independently of greater history? Clearly not. But this simple fact has a huge consequence. Theories are part of the data, and their ability to produce a total explanation would seem limited. We suffer a crisis of objectivity. 

Free Will and Self-consciousness

We need to both embrace and escape from the metaphysics of the free will question. Here Kant can help, with his reminder of the metaphysics of soul, divinity, and free will, a permanent condition of man's being. It is not likely someone will solve this question of free will in the near future. But unless we can solve this question we can't construct a theory! If we take sides, we probably restrict ourselves to an easily rebutted theory, with an arbitrary assumption. Since we can't solve it, we can't close on the theory. What to do? Actually, we lose theory, but can proceed with a clever way to take it either way. That is latent in our distinction of system and individual. The system shows some kind of determination, but not so much as to preempt choice inside that system. That choice factor is real, and requires no absolute stance on free will. 

We will call this intermediate situation one of 'self-consciousness'. We match that to the 'power of attention'. Self-consciousness is a real state of man, one that invokes the power of attention as 'will' (perhaps) to change states of consciousness. 

Self-consciousness can be taken either way, either as a determined situation where consciousness changes its character in order to be the vehicle of change, or as a degree of freedom, 'creative consciousness' that is realizing its potential to act freely, thus changing the determination of that system. Thus, self-consciousness gets the job done of theory, without our deciding in advance whether it is free or determined. Proofs of the existence of free will might be a future state/accomplishment of the very system in question. Til then, we can proceed to describe our situation, at least. We experience 'self-consciousness' all the time as we transit between states of consciousness, the latter being relatively mechanical. Thus you 'notice' something, waking up we call it, a moment of self-consciousness, then everything returns to a mechanical state of consciousness in action. This is a close call, with our fingers in the pie of the metaphysics of freedom, but we scrape by our idea of self-consciousness, and get our model without the usual built in time bomb of the metaphysics of free will. 

Look at the Axial Age again. That's just what we are seeing, speaking broadly, creative individuals, i.e. men in an altered state of self-consciousness.  

Discrete-continuous models

Actually, this seems difficult, but all we have to do is follow the data of the eonic effect, with its suggestion of an intermittent effect. The Axial Age, and the progression of three turning points, suggests a mouthwatering opportunity to apply a new kind of model to history and evolution, a so-called 'discrete-continuous model'. That's a fancy term, but not hard. Think of an on-off switch versus a continuous current loop. The switch connected to the loop creates a discrete system from a continuous one. Note that a switch creates a new situation altogether where something from outside can influence the system. 

 Directionality and Teleology

Out of the blue we have produced a strong case for historical directionality. And this will inevitably raise the question of teleology. Note that teleology is a far stiffer requirement than simple directionality. We can see that a system is moving a particular direction, or that it is changing direction, but that is enough to suspect, short of proof, that teleology is a factor, quite short of saying what that teleology is. We graduate then to some very controversial issues, but in a way that can allow us to proceed with greater caution, and better foundations, than is the case in most treatments of these issues. 

 

 
     

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