7. Conclusion

Freedom's Causality, Teleology and Politics


Section 7.2.1

World History 
And The Eonic Effect

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





7. Conclusion  
     7.1 History and Evolution: A Paradox Resolved 
        7.1.1 Transition and Divide: A New Perspective on Modernity 
    7.2 The Eonic Effect As a Resolution of Kant's Challenge      
      7.2.1 Freedom’s Causality, Teleology and Politics  
        7.2.2 Free Will, Moral Action, and Self-consciousness       
     7.3 Will Democracy Survive? Toward A Postdarwinian Liberalism    
      7.3.1 Modernism, Eurocentrism, Imperialism, and 'Western' Civilization
        7.3.2 Ecological Endgames: A Tyranny Of Markets
     7.4 Ends and Beginnings       
     7.5 Critique of Historical Reason  
        7.5.1 Spengler, Toynbee, and Cyclical Theories 
        7.5.2 Is There a Postmodern Age?  
        7.5.3 Evolution and The Idea of Progress
        7.5.4 The Case of the Missing Centuries 
     7.6  Beyond Darwinism: A Theoretical Self-Defense
         7.6.1 The Meaning Of Evolution
         7.6.2 The Great Transition



    World History And The Eonic Effect: Fourth Edition

     7.2.1 Freedom's Causality: Teleology and Politics


The inherent power of our eonic model exposes at once the basic resolution of Kantian perplexity. Kant predicts a teleological process he can’t find, but which we have clearly found: ‘freedom’s causality’. As Elizabeth Ellis notes in Kant’s Politics,

What would “bridging nature and freedom” mean outside of politics? For Kant the big questions are nearly always epistemological: thus, bridging freedom and nature might mean specifying the conditions under which investigators of the empirical world (scientists) are able to find evidence of spontaneity in the physical world (that is, of freedom’s causality). Either freedom and nature are strictly alternative perspectives on the same set of empirical occurrences, or there are some things in the world that can only be explained according to freedom (in other words, the second alternative posits empirical evidence that some thing has no antecedent cause). I am not the first person to point out that it is not an easy thing to find empirical evidence of a lack of a cause. Kant himself assumes that a good scientist will operate under the presumption that absent natural causes may eventually be discovered.[i]

But this is just what we have found, with respect to macrohistory, at least. The author complains that Kant’s teleology and the necessity of free political action are in conflict. This is the case, but we have resolved this also, by seeing teleology differently, as eonic directionality, and dispensing with the factor of asocial sociability, whatever its relevance as an actual description of human culture, as an intrinsic teleological process. Our eonic model produces an independent teleological factor, visible only as directionality, that conditions but does not restrict human free action. Teleology enters our discourse as a perception looking backward of the eonic sequence, but this cannot directly change the nature of our freedom in the present, save to change the self-consciousness we bring to current action. That is, looking backward, we can see a teleological directionality, applying to macro-action. Our micro-action in its wake may or may not reflect that. This is critical for the preservation of freedom in history, for, as we examine the discrete freedom sequence, we see, remarkably, direct macro association with the emergence of democracy and this should lead us to examine the match to micro-action. Already, the American system is under challenge on the grounds of imperialistic distortions. And the fate of the American Indian in this outcome is not something that can be legitimated on teleological grounds. Because of that factor of its realization as micro-action, the American system is likely to be in trouble down the road.

Kant is clearly dissatisfied with the premature data history is giving him, and clutches at the straw of the French Revolution, in the field of micro-action, quite on the right track as we can see, from a later perspective. If we stand back to take into account our entire eonic sequence, the strength and limits of taking the French Revolution in this way become clear, even as the larger data set completely confirms his basic intuition. For we have found in the eonic sequence the unmistakable instances sought for of ‘freedom’s causality’, or, to put from the viewpoint of the historical stream, the absence of antecedent cause, empirical evidence of the lack of a cause. In the greater past, the point is unmistakable in the Axial phenomenon, thence by close examination of the overall character of the modern transition relative to world history.

Our eonic model has shown an ingenious way to resolve this paradox, and we can see that there is a simple way to mediate teleological questions even as we adopt the operational assumptions of a rational politics based on human autonomy. The riddle of teleology as seen in our system remains unsolved, yet it is detected via its representation in the pattern of directionality, seen looking backward. The constraint on our free power of choice, and political action, takes the form of the degree of our self-consciousness in the realization of the emergent system we find ourselves in. This is an elegant reconciliation of the seeming contradiction, allowing us to adopt teleological considerations, without these foreclosing on our need to our freedom in history. There is no relief from the differentiations in the meanings of the term ‘freedom’ and its consequent divergences of realization.

The necessity of assumptions of free rational action to conduct politics, conflicting with Kant’s teleological thinking has been ‘fixed’ in our approach, by dropping the association of ‘asocial sociability’ with the driving action of evolution, and we can find the reconciliation of the contradiction, roughly speaking, in the way in which our two level system shifts gear between higher and lower degrees of freedom. This formulation allows us to free practical action from teleology, even as we allow this factor to remain in a larger system.


   Web:  chap7_2_1.htm


[i] Elizabeth Ellis, Kant’s Politics (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005).





Last modified: 10/04/2010