VII. Our Earthuman Ascent: A Major Evolutionary Transition in Individuality
7. Systems History: Personal and Planetary Individuation
Tehranian, Majid and David Chappell, eds. Dialogue of Civilizations: A New Peace Agenda for a New Millennium. London: I. B. Tauris, 2002. Articles from four international conferences held in Okinawa, Moscow, Oxford and Cyprus in search of a palliative unity in diversity. An introductory essay, Informatic Civilization, by Majid Tehranian offers a succinct capsule of history from Nomad to Neosphere. The theologian Hans Kung then provides a reality check preface, from which we quote. But it ought to be noted that all the authors are men, unless an integral feminine complement is included a real cease fire, worldwide truce and social rapprochement will not occur.
There will be no new world order without a world ethic, a global or planetary ethic.
Turchin, Peter. A History of Possible Futures. Cliodynamics: Journal of Quantative History and Cultural Evolution. 9/124, 2018. The University of Connecticut systems historian joins with nine coauthors such as Sergey Vavrilets, Nina Witoszek and Stefan Thurner to scope out ways to quantify Multipath Forecasting of Social Breakdown, Recovery and Resilience methods going forward.
Turchin, Peter. Arise ‘Cliodynamics’. Nature. 454/34, 2008. The University of Connecticut historian and author proposes an academic project in search of systemic, shared patterns and processes in the rise and fall of cultures, nations and empires. A book on the subject entitled Secular Cycles, coauthored with Sergey Nefedov, is to be published in late 2008 by Princeton University Press.
Turchin, Peter. Secular Cycles. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009. The University of Connecticut biologist, anthropologist and founding editor of Cliodynamics: The Journal of Quantitative History and Cultural Evolution develops a tacit premise with a long pedigree that the course of human affairs can ultimately be understood as an exemplary reflection of underlying forces and patterns. Into the 21st century, a sufficient quantification is possible by way of, for example, a fractal topology of historical dynamics. A conclusion which is said to fulfill Leo Tolstoy’s prophesy, is that “general laws and regularities” are indeed present and visible across the chaotic centuries.
Turchin, Peter, et al. Quantitative Historical Analysis Uncovers a Single Dimension of Complexity that Structures Global Variation in Human Social Organization. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 115/2, 2018. A significant article by some fifty international, multidisciplinary coauthors such as David Christian, Andrey Korotayev, Amy Bogaard, and Harvey Whitehouse, broadly based at Oxford and Cambridge. An abstract Abstract broaches the project as it reaches a general but auspicious conclusion. As long intimated, from our global, retrospective vantage the presence of independent, constant, repetitive societal and cultural patterns at last becomes strongly evident. While these are not specifically seen as complex dynamic systems, the arduous homo sapiens, migratory, national, war torn course from a middle east cradle to planetary civilizations gains a deep dimension of independent, mathematical regularities. Search Neil Johnson, Pedro Manrique, et al for another statistical physics view.
Do human societies from around the world exhibit similarities in the way that they are structured, and show commonalities in the ways that they have evolved? These are long-standing questions that have proven difficult to answer. To test between competing hypotheses, we constructed a massive repository of historical and archaeological information known as “Seshat: Global History Databank.” We systematically coded data on 414 societies from 30 regions around the world spanning the last 10,000 years. We were able to capture information on 51 variables reflecting nine characteristics of human societies, such as social scale, economy, features of governance, and information systems. Our analyses revealed that these different characteristics show strong relationships with each other and that a single principal component captures around three-quarters of the observed variation. Furthermore, we found that different characteristics of social complexity are highly predictable across different world regions. These results suggest that key aspects of social organization are functionally related and do indeed coevolve in predictable ways. (Abstract)
Von Franz, Marie-Louise. Archetypal Dimensions of the Psyche. Boston: Shambhala, 1997. An esteemed protege of Carl Jung envisions an historic manifestation of the Cosmic Person.
But whether today, now that we are at the end of at least five thousand years of the development of consciousness, we must take a step backward into a primal barbaric state, or whether the Self of humanity will evolve further in the consciousness of the individual, I do not know. The only thing that seems sure is that today this archetype is trying to manifest in many individuals, and that now everything depends on how many of them will be able to understand this occurrence consciously and will undertake efforts for their own individuation, that is for the liberation of the homo altus, the greater inner person. (153)
Watson, Peter. The Modern Mind: An Intellectual History of the Twentieth Century. New York: HarperCollins, 2001. This 700+ page book sees its overarching theme as the convergence of disparate scientific and psychological disciplines into a single but ambiguous cosmic and earthly evolutionary scenario. At century end, a new fractal complexity promises to set aside a sterile physics and reveal a deep living order. But a dissonance remains within the subjective humanities, which have somewhat been on the sidelines. Again almost every person Watson chronicles is male. A 21st century resolve begs a reunion of gender and cultural complements.
Can There be a Quantitative Theory for the History of Life and Science?
Cliodynamics: Journal of Theoretical and Mathematical History.
The LANL physicist philosopher has worked over some years with ecologists James Brown and Brian Enquist to discern the presence of self-organizing, scale-invariant, network principles across multi-level complex biological and social systems. Lately, with Luis Bettencourt and colleagues, the project has moved on to discern their continuity with human settlements from hamlets to a metropolis. An extension is broached of such “generic, mathematical properties” to a grand sweep of history and evolution, so as to again unite physics and life via a creative universality.
Wright, Robert. Nonzero. New York: Pantheon, 2000. A well-researched argument for a consistent evolutionary penchant for cooperation among entities whence all benefit, rather than the popular view of zero-sum, win/lose competition. With this insight, biological development and human history attain a directional trend toward self-awareness and sociality, along with immense responsibilities.
In this view, the entire 3-billion year evolution of plants and animals is a process of epigenesis, the unfolding of a single organism. And that single organism isn’t really the human species, but rather the whole biosphere, encompassing all species. The human species - not to belittle the job - is just the biosphere’s maturing brain….Just as an organism’s brain, upon maturing, has stewardship of the body, the human species has now been given - for good or ill - stewardship of the biosphere. (316)