This is the fourth revised edition of World History and the Eonic Effect, the underground/online theoretical self-defense kit and exposé of the Darwinian paradigm. The web response to the various editions and associated blog at Darwiniana.com has been consistently large, a sign that students of evolution are searching for answers. We can begin to see that the issue of evolution is beginning to undergo a paradigm shift, despite the confusing distractions of the Intelligent Design groups which have made their crypto-theological perspective seem like the only alternative to the failure of Darwinism. It is important to be wary of a new false synthesis. The Darwin debate is really a propaganda war, now with its two dominant factions, Darwinism and Intelligent Design, manipulating opinion in which seems at times a fake debate. The public is ill-served by the false alternatives offered, and a real insight into evolution is needed, one that is independent of this clever brand of dialectical propaganda. The reader has here a different perspective on the subject of human evolution, a second, or third, opinion. The perception of the eonic effect shows the way to a new understanding of evolution and universal history beyond the Social Darwinist ideology and the reductionist scientism now current that has put secularism at risk. The study of the eonic effect has all the pieces of the evolution puzzle in one place, and can preempt false oversimplifications. The eonic effect gives us in many ways the bottom line on evolution.
The prime objective of the book is to demonstrate the unmistakable non-random pattern visible in world history since the rise of civilization and the invention of writing, and to follow a descriptive procedure as we zoom in on that pattern to see what it indicates. The result is the stunning discovery of a mysterious process operating behind the scenes of history, and we realize finally that the only term for this is ‘evolution’, and that this throws light the earlier evolution of man. The term we use for this is the ‘eonic effect’. This pattern, we should note, is quite simply a larger pattern comprising the so-called Axial Age, and can help to come to some understanding of that classic discovery of Karl Jaspers.
World history is at first a surprising source for the solution to the evolution riddle, and the result also suggests at once the reason for the anomaly in the data about human evolution, the so-called ‘great explosion’, and the inability of the Darwinian paradigm to make sense of the sudden emergence of man. The question of evolution is beset with false theories, and reductionist preconceptions. The study of the eonic effect is not about another theory, in the detection of non-random patterning in world history using periodization, resulting in a simple descriptive model.
We need a public philosophy that is not beset with the wrong application of theories to human action in the tragedies of an Oedipus Paradox, which we will explore. Metaphysical Darwinism, echoing Adam Smith and Malthus, applied beyond the limits of observation to deep time, is then reapplied to history, and this blocks our perception of something unaccounted for by reductionists: the braiding of facts and values in the dynamic of evolution. Nothing could be simpler than the strategy of pointing this out, however cumbersome the details, and there is nothing complex about the eonic effect in that regard. All we have to do is show how this braiding occurs in action, visibly so in the vista of emergent civilization.
The earlier editions have been organized around the so-called ‘eonic model’, but the development of that is complete and can be displaced into the background under the term ‘evolution formalism’, which is a descriptive language that is useful but not essential, and which can be described in a few paragraphs. The fourth edition is instead focused on a simple outline of world history in a scheme of periodization that makes ‘seeing’ the eonic effect very easy. It is thus possible to bypass the ‘model’ and to simply follow the periodization of world history provided, attempting to visualize the stupendous vista, especially evident in the so-called ‘Axial Age’ at the core of our discussion. This attempted visualization shows that we can get a ‘glimpse’ of evolution (up to a point) even if we can’t produce a theory to explain it. The eonic model can be confused with a new theory of evolution, but it is not a theory, but a device to assist observation, to help us understand what we are seeing in world history, and probably something about the descent of man. Once that is accomplished we realize where we have been going wrong on the question of evolution theories.
The basic text has been extensively rewritten, in the light of this simplified perspective. The basic model of the eonic effect has remained stable over three editions, and that leaves the author with increased confidence in the method and demonstration. The evolution formalism was almost invented by S. J. Gould with his idea of punctuated equilibrium, which was a great idea before it got Darwinized in the process losing its clarity. The point is that any theory of evolution is about ‘what drives evolution’, and this should be formally consider a ‘macroevolutionary’ process, fully compatible with a microevolutionary complement, e.g. natural selection. The two levels are fully visible in the eonic effect, and are blended with a Kantian perspective to produce an extension to the ‘evolution formalism’, an ‘evolution of freedom’. It is significant that this is essentially the insight of Lamarck, the real founder of evolutionary thinking, whose work very naturally spoke of two levels at work, a drive toward complexity, and process of adapatation. This first intimation of the distinction of macro and microevolution was lost to the era of Darwinism, even as the distortion of the idea of evolution was proclaimed an advance in science. In any case this ‘evolution formalism’ points to something that is clearly evident in world history and is probably an invariant, other things being equal, in all processes of evolution. The question is abstracted analogous to Newtonian distinctions in the first and second laws of motion, which describe the presence or absence of a force. Somehow Darwinists have gotten the idea that evolution just happens by chance with nothing to produce it.
The basic issue should be to simply create a short world history, and show the eonic effect by doing so, in its empirical reality. Thus the basic question of the eonic effect is very simple: we see a clear structure of epochs connected by transitional intervals in the period of world history since the invention of writing. That empirical fact is unsettling, almost unnerving, because it tells us we can never be sure we have the right data to generalize to a theory for deep time, especially as to the evolution of man. We must be especially worried that the so-called Great Explosion in the transition to modern man is hiding precisely the kind of rich data that we see in the emergence of civilization. We must discipline ourselves to a realization that we simply do not have sufficient data to know how early man evolved. But the eonic effect gives us a possible set of hints. But we must learn to discipline our views of deep time: it is highly probable that the kind of pattern visible in world history is also present in earlier stages, but beyond the resolving power of our data.
The confusions of natural selection are especially dangerous here because they throw us out of whack: we imagine a kind of primordial battle of the beasts and think that this survival game was evolution. But world history itself gives us the remarkable hints of something much different, more benign, and probably beyond our immediate ability to grasp. We should be humble to acknowledge our evolution is still beyond our understanding. The directionality of the eonic effect shows us that a teleological critique of modern science is lurking in the wings, and there the heuristic thinking of the philosopher Kant on the subject are immensely useful. In fact, Kant gave birth to an early paradigm of biology/evolution, with the methodology of the teleomechanists. The eonic effect, unexpectedly, gives us some insight into ‘teleomechanics’.
The text is therefore basically an outline of history, and a very useful guide to its study as it resolves the issues of a ‘science of history’ in the context of a classic ‘philosophy of history’. This world history is also cast in the mould of the recent genre called ‘Big History’, history since the Big Bang, and that preamble to our subject is an illuminating contrast of scales, and a reminder that, as with the Big Bang, the important things can happen in short periods of time.
If we do nothing else we can convince the reader of the sheer size and complexity of the problem to be solved and the inability of standard theories, leastwise one such as that of natural selection, to account for the emergence of complexity. But history gives us one free gift of data taken as ‘evolution’ at close range. We follow the contours of nature’s answer using periodization to construct a ‘tracker-approximator’, which breaks the problem down into a series of intervals joined by transitions. Scientists talk a lot about Newton’s laws but in practice they are forced mostly to use a ‘tracker-approximator. Like the Kantian noumenon, the historical black box is locked and sealed, and beyond knowledge. Too bad for theories then, they have been used to torment people long enough. We can at least seize high ground with our simple model, there to be philosophic snipers picking off the schemes of propaganda elites need to keep the public under control. The age of Postdarwinism is here, all we have to do is realize it.