We keep referencing the eonic effect, so-called, what do we mean by it? we had a huge literature on this in the old Darwiniana, but we will start over here, slowly. Here is a first take…
The question of the ‘eonic effect’ has perhaps been unnecessarily complicated by attempts to explain it. It should be seen as, on one level, a very simple structure in world history, one that should be common knowledge. In one way it already is common knowledge. For example if you reify ‘modernity’ you are aware without being aware of the tail end of this eonic effect, or eonic sequence. Why do you use that term? Again, we use the term ‘middle ages’. ?? Middle of what? In terms of the eonic effect it is the ‘middle’ of the ‘eon’ (a dangerous term) or epoch, or better yet, second interval in world history between classical antiquity and the modern period. We almost have it, all we have to do is add the phase of ulterior antiquity, i.e. the period of the dawn of higher civilization ca. 3000BCE (in sumer and egypt). But wait, wasn’t the ‘real’ beginning much earlier here, for Egypt and Sumer? A good point, but modernity wasn’t true beginning either. The period just before 3000 BCE was not the beginning but did show a tremendous relative set of changes. In fact, we guessed this answer, given a lot of evidence, because we are starting to see what is going on.
So in the simplest terms the eonic effect is a clear pattern of ‘eras’ or intervals from ulterior antiquity to classical antiquity to modernity. It is possible that this pattern of directionality is due to chance (we can make a good case the intervals are ca. 2400 years in length, which would not be ‘chance’) but the more we study it the more organized and patterned it appears to be. It leaves its signature of a recognizable type of dynamical system. We can’t make any hard generalizations based on such a short sequence, but we can see that it is probably much longer, and that with the discoveries of Sumer and Egypt we have for the first time a three term sequence, barely, the minimum required to speak of a sequence. A close look suggests very clearly we have longer sequence starting with the neolithic, but the evidence is still a bit thin before the invention of writing. We should reflect carefully: it makes a BIG difference whether or not we consider historical directionality to be real.
You may be skeptical of this ‘claim’, but the tide turns, so to speak, and you will see that one should end up more skeptical of the contrary claim of randomness. Every generation of scholars has denied the existence of a larger historical structure. But, all of a sudden, we see, or suspect, that is false. What on earth is going on? We can hardly analyze such a structure (which gets more complicated as we go on)?
We are probably catching a glimpse of a process of directionality (hence teleology) in world history as the development of civilization shows a definite rhythm. That’s the gist.
How can we use the term ‘evolution’? Simple: the term means ‘development’ and world civilization shows a clear developmental process or processes. It may even have a relationship to what we call the ‘evolution’ of organisms. What???? The reason is simple, if not proven: it is our guess that the ‘evolution’ of organisms ends up with the history (evolution) of man, thus the two, evolution and history overlap, and the evolution of man at this point turns into the history of man, what is the difference? evolution is more or less passive, while history starts to be more active: so the two connect with the evolution from passive to active! This is still occurring in history. Note that we have spoken of the ‘evolution’ of civilization. But this is really an elaborate later phase of something we often neglect in studying the of evolution of man (or any animal): his group status, i.e. his proto-culture beyond his body genetics. What is that? Simple again. We use the term ‘species’ to describe evolution, that is, it is the ‘evolution’ of a group of some kind. It is not clear how we distinguish the issue of culture and the issue of genetics. They should be connected, no doubt. But both are crucial to ‘evolution’, especially with man. So once we have species, we have groups, and this turns into ‘culture’, clearly present in embryo with all types of men (and animals?) and in the last ten thousand years this ‘culture’ suddenly ‘evolved’ into civilization. Looking at the eonic effect we can see that this again is probably not at random….
The eonic effect is complicated by an additional discovery of not just a sequential effect, but a parallel effect, as with the ‘axial age’. This spetacular addition to the riddle we can leave to another discussion, our initial snapshot being enough. People who ascribe to the Darwin paradigm of random evolution will not easily accept such claims about history, insisting it is all happening at random.
My advice here would be, don’t bet on it.
This is one selection from World History and the Eonic Effect on this question:
3.1.1 An Evolution Formalism and the Eonic Model
This phenomenon which we have called the eonic effect gives us an entirely new insight on the question of evolution. It presents us with a complete evolutionary sequence in all its complexity and refuses us a theory unless we can explain all its aspects. Further, as we begin to discover, the dynamic itself is hidden from view behind its manifestations. All we can do is to track ‘evolution’ (or, in this case, what we will call the ‘eonic evolution’ of civilization) over the range for which we have data. The result is illuminating and will transform our understanding. Compared to the complexity of this pattern the claims for natural selection as a driver of evolution seems naïve and delusive. We can see that world history is operating on an entirely different principle.
The eonic effect shows a clear pattern of developmental sequencing, and we can also call it the eonic sequence, as evidence of the ratchet or ‘eonic’ evolution of civilization. The justification of the term ‘evolution’, qualified by the term ‘eonic’, is direct: first, any form of development attracts the term (some writers, to be sure, distinguish development and evolution, perhaps influenced by Darwinism), and, second, the uninterrupted sequence from the earliest dawn of man to the rise of civilization is all of a piece, and we cannot ascribe random evolution to the emergence of man if we find a process of non-random evolution at its latest stage. We have already derived the connection by asking our paradoxical question, when did evolution stop, and history begin? We can see that there must be a Transition between the two, and that this, very logically, would break down into a series of transitions alternating with regular history. Such thinking would seem very strange did we not see exactly that in the record. The term ‘eonic’ can be taken to mean ‘discrete’, or ‘stepping’, as opposed to ‘continuous’, in long-term units of time. ‘Eonic evolution’ might also be called ‘ratchet evolution’. This dynamic is non-genetic and acts directly on the self-consciousness of individuals.i
We can explore a simple model of the eonic effect, which we can summarize here. But we must remain empirical, and our model is merely a set of descriptive terms that can help us to understand what we are seeing. We construct a basic evolution formalism, something quite absent in Darwinism, because it looks at evolution on only one level. As we examine the eonic effect, we can see that it only makes sense if we consider its action on two levels. This kind of thinking was clearly touched on by the idea of ‘punctuated equilibrium’, but the idea became confused with Darwinian thinking. Consider the implications of this fascinating terminology: we see one level of a continuous stream of life evolving by one process and another level that intermittently punctuates this. The first is microevolution and the second macroevolution. Normally we cannot distinguish the two because we don’t have the right data. But with the eonic effect that data is unmistakable and gives us an experience of what ‘evolution’ really is, beyond the purely genetic, or natural selection.
The Evolution Formalism: An Eonic Model Our model is not a theory of evolution, but a simple outline or empirical periodization of world history based on the pattern of transitions and the ‘medieval’ periods in between evolution seen in an empirical sequence. That’s it. But the correlation of the data to this simple scheme is very strong, and we know we are onto something, but what? Our distinction of System Action and Free Action comes to the rescue: our evolution formalism suggests that the sequence of transitions can be seen as ‘macro’ evolution while the human free action that emerges in its wake is ‘history’, or the record of free activity. This approach is unavoidable: we can see that the ‘eonic sequence’ changes its action at different stages, making generalizations perilous. ‘Evolution’ is itself evolving, as it were.
We need to bring in our idea of System Action and Free Action to connect the processes or levels: thus, we see the transition from evolution to history, in the form of a series of transitions, and these transitions show the driving ‘force’ of evolution (system action) and at the same time are realized as emerging history given as the expression by free action of system action. Thus history, as free action, is emerging from evolution, as system action. We will connect this idea to the thinking of Kant by looking at the relationship of system action and free action in terms of causality and freedom, and to how our data resolves this seeming contradiction, allowing us in principle to look at a science of history as the ‘evolution of freedom’. It is not necessary to worry too much about this model: it is enough to follow the basic outline of world history given by the eonic effect itself. That simple world history will start in the next chapter. Here is a short list of ideas connected to our data:
The Eonic Effect Against expectation, world history shows a non-random pattern: we see a macrohistorical ‘evolution’ or ‘rolling out’, in the ‘macro’ variety, associated with the emergence of civilization in a long frequency or directionality, suggesting long-range feedback or system return, morphing in direct and focalized fast transitions the large-scale event-space of cultural entities.