7. Conclusion

 
 
The Great Transition 

  

Section 7.6.2




 
World History 
And The Eonic Effect

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

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 CHAPTERS:
 

 

 
 

 
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       
NOTES  
     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

     7.6.2 The Great Transition

 

Our resolve and project to examine the question of evolution empirically within the confines of world history is complete and has repaid itself ten-fold leaving us with the pattern of so-called ‘eonic effect’. This phenomenon resolves the paradox of history and evolution in a simple and elegant way, and in the process shows how nature resolves the paradoxes of causality and freedom explored in the antinomies of reason by Kant, and which stand in the way of any reductionist attempt to construct a ‘science of history’.

The biologist Dobzhansky made the well-known statement that nothing makes sense except in the light of evolution. How ironically that statement is! The problem is that nothing quite makes sense in terms of natural selection, and now we see why. We can extend this statement to the assertion that nothing in history makes sense except in the light of ‘eonic evolution’, in the evidence of the eonic effect. Suddenly the pieces of an immense puzzle fit together and we confront a spectacular, but subtle structure behind world history. This structure expresses an inherent or immanent dynamic of the evolutionary, and is awesome in its scope, its action giving meaning to our suspicion we should find a ‘Mystery Force X’ to accompany the hypothesis of macroevolution, ‘evolution of some kind’. We see that the evidence of the Great Explosion suddenly takes on a new meaning in this light.

That the result should reveal, not laws of history, but an evolution of freedom, in a play on the determinations of free action as self-consciousness, in an oscillation of degrees of freedom, is an altogether elegant solution given to us by nature to the search for a science of history. This doesn’t altogether tell us how to realize this freedom, as the idea proliferates in a dialectical field, but the keynote is clear. In a descant on a Kantian theme we confronted a contradiction: there must a science of history, and, there cannot be such a science. Deftly, in a prodigious display of global action, nature resolves the paradox in the evidence we have found for the eonic sequence.

It is strange, at first, to consider that history and evolution could show a connection. Indeed, we have gone further to consider that evolution reaches into our present, and future, and yet, armed with our new type of model, this consideration allows us to carefully buffer our assertions about evolution from those about the free activity that constitutes the real core of the historical chronicle. We are left with a new answer to the question of the meaning of evolution. The persistence of Darwinian thinking lies in the impossibility of imagining how evolution could really occur. But the eonic effect shows us just how easy it is to miss the process, miss it altogether, without even suspecting how the seemingly impossible is accomplished in short bursts of directed action, able to leapfrog and play hopscotch on the surface of planet.

And this statement forces us to revisit the question of the descent of man with a strong suspicion we have found the missing clue to how the earlier emergence of man might have taken place. If we find discrepancies of periodization suggesting changes of direction, with creative flowerings in the most complex aspects of culture, from art to religion, then we can legitimately suspect that some earlier process resembling the eonic effect is at work, able to drive species level changes in ten thousand intervals. More we cannot safely conclude, save to enforce a similar caution on the presumptions of Darwinists, now seen to hold a very weak hand in their speculations turned dogma. Whatever the case with the earlier evolution of man, the facts of the eonic effect place a strong buffer in front of any attempted Darwinization of history. We require no account of absolute beginnings and have designed our model to be able to start as a series of relative beginnings unbeholden to the project of reduction to prior evolutionary periods.

Our basic demonstration of a non-random pattern confounds the Darwinian perspective that emerges so confusingly from the ideology of classical liberalism and economic analogy grafted onto Darwinism. This pattern goes immediately into an evolutionary category, ‘evolution of some kind’, one that distinguishes two levels, in a contrast of micro and macro. Thus we can see that reductionist science ends up frozen in the fallacy of the micro as universal explanation. But the facts now speak for themselves. We cannot be making Darwinian claims on the descent of man, sight unseen, given such data for visible world history. The stock of Darwin ’s theory of natural selection plummets, and  fails a photo finish test. Thus, if we look closely at this data, especially in the core Axial  period, we see that this ‘evolution of some kind’ is global in its action, acting selectively on different regions. Its effects are local, and yet match a pattern in a global sequence. It seems to switch on and off and induce change on schedule over distributed regions. It acts directly on creative consciousness and is involved in the generation and transformation of religions.

This non-random pattern shows a dynamic acting at long range, signs of evolutionary progress, and ethical action built into this dynamic. We spot a mysterious system at work and it operates in parallel and (intermittent) sequence, therefore directionality and thence teleology  become relevant. We cannot assess teleological issues if we are immersed still in the system in question. But we can, looking backwards, assess changes of direction. This effect is clearly staging a kind of globalization. The three clusters or turning points in a sequence also show geographical patterning that follows a basic rule we will discover. They are like transitions driving this evolution, with massive innovations at the key times and places.

Overall it is clearly strategic, seems to start at a Eurasian center of gravity in the Middle East , and generates globalization, each area of transition seeding a field of diffusion. It never acts twice in the same area, reappearing each time in an adjacent prepared region. This ‘evolution’ is therefore able to somehow scan whole regions, or respond to parameters concealed to us, remember its tracks, and leapfrog to new starting zones. It never determines a whole, and leaves its trace in human activity, which executes all action as theme and variations. It acts through creative incidents and individuals. Its action is entirely different from ‘natural selection’ or survival of the fittest. Instead, if anything, we see a ‘natural’ selection of the less dominant and almost helpless innovators in fast development regions followed by a trend toward equalization and integration. It shows direct correlation to intensity of creative advance. Note this is not the evolution of creativity. Men at all periods are potentially creative. But the periods in our pattern show an especially strong relative intensity.

The only name for what we are seeing is ‘evolution’ in the dictionary sense, a process of ‘rolling out’ in a developmental fashion. Nothing in it contradicts the facts of variation, genetic drift, or genetic mutation, save that these ought reasonably to be taken as a side issue. We are left with several possibilities: this ‘evolution’ is an entirely new process, it was present all along, or else switches on at critical stages of development. It is clearly ‘macroevolutionary’ in some sense, and transcends or overlays genetic evolution.

More intuitively, instead of random evolution we see three waves of focalized advance in selected regions that feed the whole via diffusion, an obvious way to evolve something, plain vanilla evolution, but this Darwinian selectionism is not. Darwin ’s theory, in fact, was always a non-standard ‘exotic’ theory, a free lunch claim. The whole evolves through the part, and shows clear directionality, and correlated system response over millennia. The problem is that while we can describe it that way, we can’t ‘see’ the mechanism, so to speak, nor account for the sudden jump in complexity that attends each step in our eonic series as new and complex ‘information’ flows into the system from nowhere. Whatever we call it, and the issue of what to call it is secondary (we can also dispense with or qualify the term ‘evolution ’, e.g. ‘eonic or stepping evolution’), we have some hard data here, observed at close range, relative to Paleolithic, which Darwinists have not observed at this close range.

Clearly, applying Darwinian thinking in this situation can lead to disastrous counter-evolutionary effects. Look closely at the middle periods, such as the falloff in the post-Axial. The ‘fittest’ do indeed survive better, and the trend toward decline and empire takes hold. A period of great innovation comes to an end. And many of those innovations do not make it. The Ionian Enlightenment is buried, democracy barely gets off the launch pad, emergent science fades away. We suspect our ‘system’ has to prompt these innovations, and then restore them after they fail a ‘fitness test’. We must take the result as is, historically given and buffered from whatever other evolution in deep time our speculative theories propose with limited evidence. Since this ‘evolution’ in history shows clear directional aspects, and is able to change direction, we might suppose it has changed direction from processes said to have occurred earlier in the descent of man. We can see that the Darwinist is going to lose history, hence also the Paleolithic descent of man. For we will see that ‘history’ in this sense must overlap with earlier phases of the descent of man.

Thus, what are we to say if Darwinists claim a horse of one color ran the race if we by the clear evidence of history see a horse of a different color cross the finish line? Darwinism flunks a reality test. And Darwin ’s theory has absolutely no prior status, due to its exceeding thin data record, as anything more than pure speculation about how evolution might have occurred in deep time. Even if we had, and we certainly don’t have, closely tracked evidence for some key mutation in the emergence of man, we would still require a full account of the ‘working out in practice’ of such genetic change in terms of directly observed cultural evolution: there might have been a macro component we don’t see. We are so obsessed with genetic reductionism we have lost the greater picture of overall change and evolution that is so clearly visible now in the record of world history. And the extraordinary elegance and scale of the stream and sequence dynamic shows us something very far from current thinking indeed.

We can reduce the critique to one line: the failure to include the domain of value s puts standard Darwinism on the sidelines. The problem is that Darwin’s theory is a metaphysical derivation of naturalistic assumptions, thus part hallucination, glaringly off the mark in many respects, the reason being the induced reductionist truncation of thought that besets otherwise intelligent men trying to bootstrap universal explanation from assumptions about physics. That creates a kind of blindness. All in all, our model thrives better, taken as naturalistic explanation, but ‘naturalism’ is undefined at its extensions, and the issues raised by such as Kant or Spinoza remain unsolved.

Our strategy was simple. Does history show signs of general sequence? All we have to do is point to a long sequence with enough data filling the blanks in short intervals on the order of centuries to see a non-random pattern in action. We can at least see that history shows non-random ‘evolution’. But we suspect very strongly, with this reality check, that something similar must have existed in the earlier stages of man’s emergence, and demanded that selectionist theory be put on hold. In addition, we extended the general sequence argument with a look at the discrete freedom sequence, which precipitates a classic antinomy. Another approach is to ask, when does evolution stop and history begin? We can see that the ambiguity must stretch into the past, and, indeed, into the future.

Selectionist theory, as Popper among others tried to point out, is a projection on unobserved times and places, hence a metaphysical construct, and history, at least, cannot be taken as a continuation of a Darwinian scenario without some really hard proof using evidence of the type we have found. Darwin and Wallace were both misled by Malthus, and the obvious factor of natural selection by default always visible in evolutionary contexts. Natural selection is tangible, and can be seen over a short range. But its resemblance to economic competition is part of what misleads all theorists. We can see that social innovations are proceeding by an entirely independent evolutionary process. At no point was it demonstrated that survival of the fittest leads to major evolutionary changes. History shows the terrifying counterevidence. The ‘fittest’ have wasted most of history in empire building.

We also have something Darwinists, in search of the genetic basis of freedom (in any sense), a project of continuing interest, to be sure, cannot account for, and which cannot be seen to occur via natural selection. This is not due to some adaptational scenario. The eonic effect shows a genuine factor of macroevolutionary emergentist freedom. We have described this both in terms of our distinction of system and individual, and more specifically in terms of the emergence of political forms, such as democracy. There are many simpler examples that don’t invoke this basic antinomy, but this case gives us a deeper clue.

History just doesn’t have the look and feel of anything operating by natural selection, or survival of the fittest, although natural selection operates by default. Natural selection clears all claims in final advance, but that is the undertaker’s business, always brisk, steady as it goes, but not evolution. If anything ‘evolution’ must compensate for selectionist modifications of populations, which must be at risk of dangerous declines. We should be on the look out therefore for such in any dataset available that will demonstrate what we suspect is obvious. History isn’t the best, but it will do, and the eonic effect shows us the breathtaking ‘counterevidence in principle’. We discover a very late and sophisticated evolution there, almost without trying. It has its finger in the pie of religion, art, science, and philosophy, as relative transformation, even seems have a sort of ‘fondness’ for the tragic genre, and re-induces lost chords of its previous action. But the evolutionist seems right on one crucial issue: by restricting ourselves to naturalistic fundamentals we have shown clear evidence of a type of mechanization we had not expected.

Although our use of the term ‘evolution ’ is far superior, for our historical data, than the Darwinian, the term is likely to suffer confusions of redefinition, and a phrase ‘coming forth from the Paleolithic’ almost seems better. We have found Huxley’s ‘evolution #2’ and nothing but confusion can arise from injecting selectionist thinking into a culture mix where it doesn’t belong. Men struggle, compete, and suffer conflict. That’s given. But this is not as such the mechanism of long-term evolution. This evolution arrives by a different process. We note the way we have designed ‘theory’ to stay away from present action, voiding its Oedipus effect. We must stick to the content of our ‘tracker-approximator’ to assess its action piecemeal, without letting it interfere with our action as a predictive theory. ‘Evolution’ in our sense is purely empirical in its usage and displaces into the background.

The point of Huxley’s observations, and our own, was that we oppose Darwinian evolution in practice. Why is this? We now see the obvious answer, and just how far off Darwin ’s theory really is. We need to recast the basis of our cultural thinking in a secular fashion on the basis of our new insight into world system. We have indicated this in our model, which is designed to inform our present action, but at the same time to displace into the background as we go about the business of history without theories with bad Oedipus effects.

We would do well to forget Darwin applied to history, given this broader perspective, since the issue of ethical action is retabled with great vigor and takes the immediate form of the question of qualitative action. Not the winner take all of survival of the fittest, but the high performance levels required to advance the system, is the key. We must take the gifts of nature and render them at the level of the highest motive, lest we degrade our chances in the spectacle of hallucinatory evolutions. We may not easily state the canon of this ethic, but it makes no difference to the fact that this is a system of generated potential, and it requires more than mechanized principles of predator/prey nonsense. The great irony is that the great religions were the fittest survivors, and our eonic system must leapfrog the Eurasian inertia to reseed political freedoms, and indeed a renewal of science, which did not survive the Darwinian thinning out of Axial antiquity.

We have an ingrained tendency to blame history for our own faults. We can see that the eonic sequence is operating on a minimum principle and is always benign, while the realizations in its wake rapidly turn into something else. If, for example, democracy is an eonic emergent, then anything less loses it status by comparison. As our emergent source areas proceed toward a new liberal civilization they also tend to imperialism in their exteriors, spoiling the outcome, one not benefited at all by wrong-headed theories of the Darwinists.

It never occurs to anyone that ‘nature red in tooth and claw’, as a depiction of nature, can be as anthropomorphic as anything from religion. Even a cursory glance at the eonic sequence shows an organized and benign process that is waiting on man to respond with something more than the usual carnivorous logic. It creates a potential for political freedom, for example, but man takes millennia to respond, and even then the realization is inadequate. Best to be forgetting Darwin at this point. It seems to be man that is ‘red in tooth and claw’, projecting his nature onto the universe.

We are left with the spectacle of evolution reaching our present, even as this is shifting to the realization of freedom in the emergence of history. This Great Transition is the still incomplete evolution of man as homo sapiens in a future disengaging from the evolutionary action, from the dawn of man to the present.  

 

    Notes

   Web:  chap7_6_2.htm

 
 

 
 


 

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Last modified: 10/04/2010