Our project to resolve Kant’s Challenge, with an ‘Idea
for a Universal History’, as a chronicle of freedom, gives us a framework for
a short outline of world history, and this will answer to the confusions of a
science of history. Such a history is really about man’s self-consciousness
moving between freedom and the causal streams in which he is immersed. The eonic
effect generates something our postmodern fashion dislikes, a ‘grand
narrative’, indeed, one of freedom, and we can pursue this genre now without
apology, as we ‘deconstruct flat history’. The ambiguity of Kant’s essay,
which seems to contradict itself, as a question about the future and also as a
seeming conflict theory, is a fascinating twist to our discovery of evolution in
history. The eonic effect shows the elegant and simple solution to the paradox
of evolution and history: they are braided together and appear Janus-faced,
evolution as System Action, history as Free Action. ‘Evolution’ (which we
qualify as ‘eonic’ evolution) is invisible to the naked eye, but suddenly
becomes apparent as we look backwards at its action, as with the data of the
Axial Age. Everything looked like ‘free action’, but with time and distance
we see the (short-acting) interval of system action.
Increased distance from the ‘modern transition’ at the
conclusion of our history allows us to see better the answer to Kant’s
question, and to uncover the evidence of ‘nature’s secret plan’ in action.
We should note that we have chosen an empirical foundation, the eonic effect,
for our perspective. This is not a ‘theory’ but a way to organize our
concepts and remove from our minds some of the confusions that might block our
perception of the remarkable process of self-organization we see in world
It is time to proceed with a short world history, which has
suddenly been found to show a remarkable overall coherence. If we can ‘see’
the eonic effect in its plain obviousness as a pattern over five millennia, the
issues of evolution and history will become clear. We can succeed because we
don’t require metaphysical theories. Instead a pattern of empirical data, the
eonic effect, contains its own resolution of the dynamics of both evolution and
history, history as the emergence of freedom.
For a Universal History We can examine our resolution of Kant’s Challenge
empirically as we examine the ‘evolution of freedom’ via a world history
constructed around the eonic series, or sequence.
Secret Plan As we noted already, Kant’s essay asks us to uncover
‘nature’s secret plan’, and this will, remarkably, emerge from our
Birth of Democracy Our outline of history is built around an ‘eonic
sequence’ and inside this we will discover the remarkable pattern of the birth
of democracy, which we will nickname the ‘discrete freedom sequence’, a
spectacular confirmation of our procedure.
Toward a Civil Constitution Another aspect of Kant’s Challenge is to
document the ‘progress toward a civil constitution’, and the eonic effect
powerfully shows a strong correlation with just this, and we have just suggested
that democracy itself is bound up in the eonic sequence, as it seems to generate
the first beginnings of democracy in both the Axial Age and in modernity (which
makes us suspicious that the earliest stage of civilization shows an earlier
phase of its emergence).
Histories, Universal Histories It is useful to put together the recent idea
of Big History with that of the older idea of Universal History, to create a
unity between the two. The confusions of a science of history have been resolved
in a framework for what we call the ‘evolution of freedom’.
Will, Self-consciousness The degree of freedom of our action in history,
presumes ‘free will’, but in practice we see the fluctuations of
self-consciousness in the interplay of System Action
, and Free Action. This hybrid is what reconciles causality and freedom.
Evolution acts via self-consciousness. man must step beyond the spell of
evolution to create his own freedom in history. Self-consciousness becomes the
vehicle of free will.
The evidence of historical directionality puts us in the
macro history business whether we like it or not. Behind our narrative outline
lies a powerful model of the formalism of evolution, macro and micro.
Formalism of Evolution We can summarize our basic framework: we have a
reciprocal relationship of evolution and history, macro and micro, System Action
and Free Action, and this braided unity of the two is leading to the realization
of freedom in history at the end of the eonic sequence. We see that human
evolution was not completed in the Paleolithic, but continuing in the emergence
of civilization. Evolution is intermittent, geographically focused, and evident
from the relative transformations of culture that drive advance. The Axial Age
is a series of such ‘evolutionary’ advance regions, and we see the massive
cluster of innovations or ‘relative transformations’ that express the sudden
progression of civilization. The advance regions become oikoumenes that advance
the whole via diffusion.
We should be clear that our portrait of universal history
is designed as an empirical outline, not as theory. We have designed our
perspective as a factual history that shows us also the fact of evolution behind
that history. We don’t need any theories: we can let the eonic data guide us
to the answer.
Eonic Effect: From theory to empiricism We have attempted to create an
informal theoretical framework for our data, but in the end the eonic effect is
a very simple pattern of data, and its value for us is as a purely empirical
given, as a foundation for a ‘universal history’ that is non-speculative and
which can free us of the reductionist confusions inflicted on history by
improperly observed evolutionary claims and their misleading theories. As we
proceed the eonic effect induces a coherent perspective on world history as a
Looking backwards at this simple eonic sequence we see a
system of stunning elegance, but operating on a level of abstraction that is
still beyond our powers of full comprehension. We can, however, adopt a tracking
approximation using a grid system based on the perceptions of its three
interconnected turning points. Such a strategy is our only option in such a
multivalent system where our terms of analysis are themselves output of the