VII. Our Earthuman Ascent: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality
7. Systems History: Personal and Planetary Individuation
Crawford, Ian. Introduction to the Special Issue on Expanding Worldviews: Astrobiology, Big History, and the Social and Intellectual Benefits of the Cosmic Perspective. Journal of Big History. 3/3, 2019. This edition gathers papers from BH conferences and beyond as a collaborative Earthkinder stirs to a visionary sapience of our ancient heritage traced all the way to a singular cosmic origin. As a mainly male endeavor, the scenario remains bereft of any phenomenal nature and significance of its organic own which might explain and provide purpose. Among the entries are The Keen Longing for Unified, All-Embracing Knowledge by David Christian, Cosmic Perspectives and the Myths We Need to Survive by Charles Lineweaver (Abstract below), The Biological Overview Effect by CL and Aditya Chopra, Big History in its Cosmic Context by Joseph Voros, and Is the Universe Enough? by Mark Lupisella. See also a Life in the Universe 2019 conference (search Balbi) for more activities and vistas.
Big history can be defined as the attempt to understand the integrated timeline of the cosmos, Earth, life and humanity. The aim of this paper is to describe a dilemma that such a scientific, Darwinian big history must face: the inevitable incompatibility between an objective scientific search for truth and an evolutionary compulsion for brains to harbor useful fictions — the myths we need to survive. Science supports both sides of this dilemma. New and improved cosmic perspectives can’t just be scientifically accurate. To be of use they must leave room for the myths we humans need to survive. But, what are those myths? I discuss and question whether the following ideas qualify as such myths: a belief in an objective meaning for human life, humanism/speciesism, human free will and stewardship of the Earth. (Lineweaver Abstract)
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. The Mythic Potential of Evolution. Zygon. 35/1, 2000. Rather than seen only as technological progress, history should be equated with human personal growth as taught by the Buddhist progression from material to spiritual development. In such a view, “phylogeny recapitulates ontogeny” as human culture ascends through the same evolutionary stages.
de Landa, Miguel. A Thousand Years of Nonlinear History. New York: Zone Books, 1997. A fledgling attempt to use complex systems theory to interpret the three historical aspects of geology or materiality, biology and genetics, and the profusion of languages. De Landa then finds that: “…the same basic processes of self-organization take place in the mineral, organic and cultural spheres.”
Devezas, Tessaleno and George Modelski. Power Law Behavior and World System Evolution. Technological Forecasting & Social Change. 70/9, 2003. The authors employ complexity theory to discern “deep and general laws” and “common patterns” as the human species evolves “toward self-organization and higher complexity, i.e. a world system.” This entire historical course unfolds as a “millennial learning process” by way of self-similar, iterative dynamics.
The phenomenon at hand (the cascade of world evolutionary processes) is then a cascade of scale-invariant, interdependent, and structure-transforming processes at several levels of organization of the self-organizing complex world system. (852)
Diamond, Jared. Guns, Germs, and Steel. New York: Norton, 1998. A renowned work of scholarship that expands the study of the course of human history to include contextual factors such as ecologies and climates, agriculture, technologies and the impact of disease epidemics.
Diazi\-Diaz, Fernando, et al. Network Theory meets History: Local Balance in Global International Relations. arXiv:2303.03774. Into 2023, Institute of Cross-Disciplinary Physics and Complex Systems, IFISC, Spain, and University of Milan, Italy theorists including Ernesto Estrada are lately becoming able via complexity science and empirical analysis to discern the actual presence of real lineaments and forces which underlie past events and current affairs. An increased awareness of their definitive presence,, constrain and drive as rightly appreciated would be a vital benefit as near and far chaos so threatens us.
The resulting effect of global international relations is an intricate and dynamic web of alliances and conflicts. Here, we represent this web as a time-evolving signed network and define an index quantifying the proximity of every nation to its balanced condition. This condition emerges when a given nation belongs to a bloc of allies that only have enmities with a different confronted bloc. However, we find that large blocs of allies percolated by a tiny clique of mutual enemies, which are ubiquitous across history, are very unstable in terms of their balanced condition. We design a quantitative history approach to identify the nations playing a fundamental role in major events in human history over a period of almost 200 years. It is combined with historic narrative and the sociopolitical theory of balance of power to build up a new mixed approach to history based on network theory. (Abstract)
Edinger, Edward. The New God-Image. Wilmette, IL: Chiron Publishers, 1996. A Jungian psychologist traces a Western sense of the Divine from animism to tribal, matriarchal, polytheistic and universal monotheism on the way to its current recast in terms of psychic individuation. In so doing a profound shift is made in history from a parental emphasis to a “continuing incarnation,” a Divine being in gestation through the collective Self of humankind.
Gaddis, John Lewis. The Landscape of History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. The Yale University scholar resituates human history within the expanse of cosmic and earthly evolution, which can be seen in light of the complexity sciences to reveal a universal “self-similarity across scale.”
Galtung, Johan and Sohail Inayatullah, eds. Macrohistory and Macrohistorians. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997. A survey of twenty thinkers from world cultures spanning over two millennia – Ssu-Ma Ch’ien, Ibn Khaldun, Hegel, Marx, Toynbee, Spengler, Sorokin, Teilhard, et al - who have attempted a historical metatheory. The overarching issue seems to be whether history is linear, cyclical, or evolutionary.
Gimbutas, Marija. The Civilization of the Goddess. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991. The classic study by the Lithuanian – American, Harvard University, archeologist of an original cultural milieu that was essentially feminine in kind. Along with careful descriptions of prehistoric human settlements based on thorough field research, a chapter cites the initial advent of scriptural symbols and alphabets.
It is a gross misunderstanding to imagine warfare as endemic to the human condition. Widespread fighting and fortification building have indeed been the way of life for most of our direct ancestors from the Bronze Age up until now. However, this was not the case in the Paleolithic and Neolithic. There are no depictions of arms (weapons used against other humans) in Paleolithic cave paintings, nor are there remains of weapons used by man against man during the Neolithic of Old Europe. (ix-x)
Goerner, S. J. A “Knowledge Ecology” View of Creativity. Richards, Ruth, ed. Everyday Creativity and New Views of Human Nature. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2007. Systems philosopher Sally Goerner, Ph.D., is president of the Integral Science Institute in North Carolina. In this chapter, she summarizes her vision of a sequentially emergent cosmic creativity, now in evidence on a personal planetary scale.
I suggest that we need three ingredients to unify and mobilize the movement to a Global Integral Civilization: (a) a unified, scientifically sound worldview that has (b) emotional relevance, directs links to deeply felt aspirations and also common sense; and (c) practical utility, enough practical detail turn heartfelt dreams into well-functioning realities by providing effective solutions to pressing problems. (229)
Halal, William. The Lifecycle of Evolution. World Futures. 58/4, 2002. The seven stages of a global civilization as it emerges out of biological evolution are said to repeat the life course of an individual human being.
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