2. The Evolution Controversy   

Is There A Science Of History?


Section 2.1.4

World History 
And The Eonic Effect

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






2. The Evolution Controversy  
      2.1 The Legacy of Darwinism  
         2.1.1 Debates and Darwin Trials 
         2.1.2 Evolution and Ethics
         2.1.3 The Metaphysics of Evolution
         2.1.4 Is There A Science Of History? 
      2.2 Beyond Natural Selection 
         2.2.1 The Limits of Observation  
         2.2.2 Random Evolution: Climbing Mt. Improbable?
         2.2.3 Punctuated Equilibrium
         2.2.4 Natural Selection and The Oedipus Paradox  
      2.3 Visions of A Ghostseer  
         2.3.1 Wallace's Second Opinion  
         2.3.2 Theism/Atheism: The 'God' Debates  
         2.3.3 Critique of Evolutionary Economy  
         2.3.4 The Evolution of Evolution  
         2.3.5 The Science of Freedom  

 3. Descent Of Man Revisited 



    World History And The Eonic Effect: Fourth Edition

   2.1.4 Is There A Science of History? 


The attempt to posit a science of history suffers a severe complication in the dilemma of freedom and causality, with a series of confusions not dissimilar to what we see with the question of the evolution of ethics. But as we proceed we will discover nature’s ingenious and, in the end, obvious solution to the contradiction, one visible in some of the simplest situations of ordinary life.

A Science of History? The question of a science of history provokes a contradiction as an antinomy of causality and freedom: in the stance of science, there must be a science of history, but in the consideration of freedom there cannot be a science of history. This variant of a classic Kantian antinomy is resolved in a dialectic that ‘somehow’ unites both thesis and antithesis, and bursts asunder the limits of space-time in the context of a discovered analog to ‘transcendental idealism’, the classic companion to Newtonianism. If we connect this to our question, when did evolution stop and history begin? we can precipitate the same antinomy for earlier ‘evolution’. The Darwinian framework is inadequate for this situation. As we will see there can be a science of history: this requires an evolutionary basis, and a mediation of causality and freedom together, a strange requirement, one most surprisingly satisfied, and very exactly, by the data of the eonic effect . We must connect history and evolution in a new way, and this can be found if we pursue a ‘science of freedom’, in the resolution of the paradox of determinism. We can bring evolution into history by asking still another paradoxical question, Has man become ‘homo sapiens’ yet, by ‘evolving freedom’ (according to various definitions of freedom)? If man is ‘not yet free’ the ‘evolving freedom’ must show a macro aspect, otherwise, as his freedom evolves, man’s self-evolution will become a micro process, exiting from evolution in our Great Transition. In fact, as we discover the eonic effect we see that nature provides us with the elegant and simple solution to these enigmas of the descent of humans. We will adopt a rubric of ‘self-consciousness’ as the intermediate transitional category, compatibalist with respect to causality and freedom.

A Science of Freedom? The idea of a ‘science of freedom’ emerged in the wake of the Kantian critique of metaphysics. We can easily establish that, while such a science is not easily attainable, the idea itself is at least coherent, and can be approached empirically. As an example consider the relationship of a computer with a GUI and a user. The tandem system, computer/user, is a relationship of the user’s options and the computer’s (deterministic) program. We must analyze a combined system in which the field of the user’s options and its relationship to a larger system must be studied together. The eonic model discovers such a system in historical/evolutionary terms.

The debate over free will always enters to both fulfill and yet distract this kind of discussion. In order to proceed we need to detour through the discourse of the metaphysics of freedom. But in practical terms we don’t have to assume anything about the abstraction ‘free will’, and can make do with a simple distinction of the action of a system and the free activity related to it. There can be mechanisms that apply to a field of choices. Freedom itself might be evolving and be ‘unfree’ at the starting gate. Free will might have a surrogate in the fluctuations of human ‘self-consciousness’. The paradox is resolved by considering degrees of freedom, or self-consciousness. The question of causality and freedom is very complex, but there is a simple way to proceed by looking at the question of choice, as a given from our experience. Choice is real, whether or not we ascribe that to ‘free will’ or not. There is also a kind of dynamics of this duality of a ‘system acting’, causally or not, and an agent given choices in that system. Examples are numerous.

Computer/User GUI's As an example, we might consider the situations in which free choice appears, without getting distracted by the question of free will. One example might be the distinction of two types of computer programs. One is the deterministic variety that proceeds from start to finish in a preprogrammed fashion. Another might be the situation created by GUI program where a user interacts with a computer. First the computer acts, then the user responds, and so on. We need not make any claims about free will or determinism to see that this second situation is as natural as any other. And whatever we do, we cannot explain away the existence or possibility of this situation. The context of ethics is similar. We must account for the situations in which ethical agents bifurcate the potential of unrealized events by the very nature of their considered choices. 

System Action, Free Action Armed with this hint, which shows us that, contrary to usual thinking, there are any number of situations where the action of a system and the action of an individual inside that system constitute a net unified ‘system’ of a new kind. This new kind of system is, in principle, what will allow us to proceed, however difficult the details, in principle toward a science of history.

We will explore this new kind of hybrid system in constructing a new perspective on history. The point is that if we embrace the contradiction in a science of history, instead of evading it, we arrive a potential system of a new type. Remarkably, the eonic effect will show us just such a system. A little reflection will suggest that we are already familiar with this kind of situation, and that we deal with the distinction of a system and our options inside that system all the time! Consider an ocean liner and the passengers voyaging on board. Note that the dynamic of the ship is one thing, that of the passengers another. The two together form a new hybrid system of a new and intriguing kind, where causality and freedom are mutually related. The causal motions of the ship contrast with the relative free action of the passengers on that ship.



   Web:  chap2_1_4.htm





Last modified: 09/21/2010