6. Transition and Modernity

System Shutdown: Between System Action and Free Action


Section 6.4

World History 
And The Eonic Effect

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





6. Transition and Modernity 
     6.1 A New Age Begins  
        6.1.1 From Reformation to Revolution  
     6.2 An Age of Enlightenment  
        6.2.1 The Crisis of The Enlightenment  
        6.2.2 Theory and Ideology: Das Adam Smith Problem
        6.2.3 Toward a New Enlightenment 
     6.3 The Great Divide 
        6.3.1 Revolutions Per Second: The Rebirth of Democracy 
        6.3.2 Econostream != Eonic Sequence          
    6.4 System Shutdown: Between System Action and Free Action  
       6.4.1 The Curse of Mideonic Empire?      
     6.5 1848: End of Eonic Sequence?  
          6.5.1 Last and First Men
          6.5.2 Theory and Ideology: Out of Revolution
     6.6 New Ages
          6.6.1 The (Eonic) Evolution of Religion  
          6.6.2 The 'Axial' New Age
          6.6.3 The Great Freedom Sutra 
          6.6.4 Schopenhauer and The Caveman Buddhas
          6.6.5 Coda: Amlothi's Mill

 7. Conclusion


    World History And The Eonic Effect: Fourth Edition

     6.4 System Shutdown: Between System Action and Free Action


We come, at the end, to the Joker in the deck: the passage from the macro to the micro aspect of our eonic system. In the period after the Great Divide the ‘evolutionary system action ’ is complete and stops, and the void is filled within several centuries by what we call ‘free action’. The effect is clearly visible in the wake of the Axial Age, and we can suddenly see at once a clue to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, as our system seems to slide into chaos, even as it progressing by leaps and bounds. A key question, among others, is whether democracy will survive or if our system will slide into empire, once again. Inherent in the structure of a discrete-continuous model is the phenomenon of the divide, as we have seen, and the system shutdown in its wake. We have the option of enforcing a cutoff just here, our job complete: the demonstration of a non-random pattern. We are liable to jump to premature conclusions without tracing the complete history leading to our current present. We have invoked something that is suddenly far larger than ourselves, and its depth and subtlety is tremendous.

‘Ideology’ alert: eonic observers, and agents We began our analysis with an objective analysis, as if exterior to the data, using periodization to see what we called the ‘eonic effect’, but as we conclude our demonstration we discover ourselves inside this ‘effect’ as observers turned agents forced to mediate multiple ideological perspectives via the history of philosophy. This does not change our demonstration of a non-random pattern, or of the connection of history and evolution. But it remains true that we are in the context of micro-action attempting to understand macro-action. Our perceptions will tend to fall out of sync between the early nineteenth century and our present. It is long study.

Still, ideology or not, we notice some very obvious macro processes: most spectacularly, our system, as noted, seems to have an uncanny way of staging, restaging, ‘democratic emergence’ (then stops, waiting on micro-action). Much more. As observers turned agents we feel compelled to press the model into service in the affirmation of this evolutionary wonder, one that the far left was unable to properly understand, despite its prompt appearance at the dangerous point of globalization. This breakthrough, at one point was the left! Democracy reappears via revolution.

Thus strictly speaking we are done, our model closes, and says nothing about the mideonic outcome. System return, if any, will occur we suppose in twenty-four hundred years. Like a penitentiary the doors slam shut and the inmates may attempt to make their own rules. These properties of our model seem quite artificial implications of its structure, and yet, remarkably, we can spot this shutdown point quite clearly in the early to mid-nineteenth century. Compare the foundational generation of the American republic and the immediate successor generation(s) of the period of Andrew Jackson onward, initialization to realization. This sudden shift, macro to micro, although strictly speaking a formal approximation in a model, throws immediate light on the sudden calamities, e.g. the First World War and the Holocaust, that overtake the post-transition. This post-transitional onset must nonetheless be declared a bit fuzzy (later events, e.g. the American Civil War, show obvious eonic determination, though outside our designated interval) and raises a host of questions near the limits of this kind of model, designed to show a non-random pattern in history, but stumbling on something much vaster, and rapidly finding itself in a thicket of ideological issues, wishing to resolve them, but not able to do so in a rigorous fashion. The only solution is to proceed comprehensively with a balanced inspection of the whole spectrum of possibilities. We can take a step in this direction with a portrait of the rapid shift between, say, Kantian classical liberalism and the emerging nineteenth century left, e.g. Marx. We note the plight of the eonic observer, who should be able to distance himself in terms of several millennia to really see what the outcome of the modern transition turns out to be. Instead he is immersed, scientist to sans-culotte, in the history he wishes to describe, no doubt trading his objectivity for a commitment to versions of that outcome. At least we can say that the sudden emergence of ideologies of freedom shows strong eonic determination!

We should clear about our intentions and the status of the model, which is strictly advisory, and can’t be used to legitimate outcomes. Nothing dogmatic can be claimed about a three term sequence, clearly showing only half its data. Perhaps that’s a fortunate circumstance, preempting the formation of a crude mechanistic perspective. Since there will be immediate deviation from initial conditions that strategy of justification will soon prove problematic. That is especially the case in the modern instance where the agendas of economic action in the name of freedom generate exploitation. Our statements about turning points in history are strong claims in the realm of fact about evolution, but at the same time, especially in the case of the modern transition, likely to be affirmations of the significance and historical justification of modernity. (Eonic) evolution applies only to the macro-sequence, not to the field of micro-action. And the latter presumes, realistically or not, the highest standard of ethical action. This is hardly evident in the imaginary world of Machiavellian politicians and their real politik, which have no status in our model. The application of Darwinian thinking to this situation does not bode well for the future of modernity. Nor does the confused thinking of Nietzsche, soon the ideologue for a postmodern ‘new beginning’(?!),who is clearly a bit of an impostor in the sudden post-transition.

In fact, with a little care there need be no problem in our semi-ideological approach as we vigorously apply the insight into historical dynamics to the situation we find ourselves inheriting from the eonic sequence. The striking appearance of the discrete freedom sequence leaves us, for example, with the chance to anticipate possible recurrent situations. Will democracy last? Will the American democratic system turn into an empire? The ominous resemblance to the case, Solon to Alexander, of Athens whose experiment in democracy devolves to empire should give us pause. We should renounce Spenglerian pseudo-analysis, grasp the difference between cyclical recurrence and progressive cyclicity and see that our task is not repetition, but breaking out of cycles to do the job right, this time!

Let us note at least that we have displaced arguments about historical inevitability from our analysis, and have designed our model to leave the future free from hard predictions. The appearance of a figure such as Spengler is significant, since we can see that his predictions are bogus, yet might just show themselves right in practice for the wrong reason. There is nothing inevitable about a decline of the West, but since our eonic system is not about the ‘West’ but the modern transition generating a global oikoumene, a shift in the center of gravity might well occur.

Implicit in the whole discussion of the eonic effect is the portrait of the process of globalization via localization and this leaves the question of modernity and Eurocentrism stranded in stark contradiction. In principle our model has resolved this issue but in practice we see the immense tension that occurs in the sudden reversal from localization toward globalization. Let us note that the emergence of the American democratic experiment was a revolt against colonialism.

Eurocentric confusions Our analysis is complicated by the seeming Eurocentric character of the data at its endpoint. We have erected multiple failsafes against such implications, but the mis-impression makes the data difficult to use properly without careful study. Our demonstration is rigged to reflect the ‘Big Skid’ between classic liberalism (the Kantian brand is the most useful) and a leftist succession, which in fact the data shows. There are multiple perspectives possible, but the early and ominous jackknife effect requires careful ‘dialectical’ study. Our post-transition will rapidly degrade into something else, the field of imperialism, economically ambiguous systems of domination, etc… Note that nothing in the model justifies anything after the shutdown point, its main action having been to set up a complex potential, prior to the transition from macro-action to micro-action. In fact, the model is a theoretical self-defense against Eurocentricism. But is does make claims that are suddenly obvious, about modernity and its source point. Note again our distinctions of directionality and teleology. Note that ‘eonic globalization’ is reflected in the eonic sequence only, and is not the same as the ‘globalization’, mostly economic, that follows in its wake.  



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Last modified: 09/28/2010