2023 IBHA Conference Abstracts (to Date)
|Name: Abel A. Alves & Carol J. Blakney
Nametag: Abel A. Alves
Professor of History
Ball State University & Carol Blakney
Title: The Biohistory of Feminism
Abstract: Although the term “feminism” first appeared in nineteenth-century Europe, behaviors associated with feminism have appeared across cultures in the historical record. Women form coalitions and display as alphas in the face of male resistance, countering patriarchy with deeply rooted universals also found among our primate cousins. In early modern Europe and contemporary Ghana, market women have cooperated to control resources, just as bonobo female coalitions control food and eat before males. From ancient Egypt’s Hatshepsut to Ndongo and Matamba’s Njinga Mbande, Elizabeth I of England and Catherine the Great in the early modern period, there have been highly successful historical female alphas, even as alpha females occur among nonhuman animals. If the quest to control resources, the forming of coalitions to exert power and the claiming of alpha status are behaviors associated with feminism, then there is an adaptive, evolutionary basis to the movement. There is a deep history of feminism.
|Name: Daniel Barreiros
Panel Title: Approaches to a Big Socioeconomic History
Panel Abstract: Approaches to a Big Socioeconomic HistoryFrom the early days of academic disciplinarization in western universities, Economic History was a gateway to conjuncture studies and structural analysis. Escaping from the tight grip of short term histories (most often related to military, diplomatic and political issues), Economic History has been more receptive than other historical subdisciplines to embrace long duration approaches. Cliometrists, Institutionalists, Marxists and World-Systems Analysts, among others, are used to recognize secular trends emerging from multiple short term interactions. But what if the scope of economic history is not restricted to the limits of Braudelian durations? Could it be extended to a point where phenomena, processes and events produced in evolutionary and cosmological temporalities become visible in economic dynamics? What is the nature of economic agents? Are there non-human economic agents? Are economic systems thermodynamic entities in a non-equilibrium state, just like living organisms and stars? Can human ethology, fixed by natural selection, impact economic inequalities, class struggle and social hierarchies? What does collective learning and cultural evolution have to do with economic and institutional innovation? These are questions that drive the development of a Big Economic History.Class, Commerce and Climate: an investigation on a set of circumstances for the rise of capitalism in 15th century England
Daniel Vainfas (email@example.com)
This communication explores some of the intricacies of the relationship between climate change in the 14th century, long-distance trade in the Baltic region, and the class structure in England, all three taken as explaining factors for the rise of capitalism. Drawing on historical documents, archaeological findings, and paleoclimatic data, we examine the effects of climate change on long-distance trade in the Baltic and how its impacts on the social structure of England, as well as how the changing landscape of the English coast in turn affected its export drive. In particular, the paper examines the effects of climate change on the growth of the English wool industry and England’s position in the international division of labour in 15th century Northern Europe We argue that the confluence of autonomous social dynamics and the climate change itself created a special set of circumstances in which capitalism coalesced.Civilization and Technology: antientropic concepts, tools and consequences
Felipe Blois (firstname.lastname@example.org)This presentation will examine the role of complex societies as antientropic catalytic structures and entities that go against the disorganizing tendency of the universe. It will also address how technology provides means to counter entropy in new and more expansive ways, through devices and techniques that can produce, utilize, and concentrate energy. Life itself represents a break in the inorganic thermodynamic patterns of the known universe. The increasing complexity produced by life, through natural evolution and social organization, creates a positive feedback in its ability to manipulate and concentrate increasing levels of energy. That is, in natural and economic terms, energy is the ability to change reality to further an intended purpose or interest. The limits of this potential increase as life develops cognitive capacities to utilize more resources, to organize itself cohesively into larger and larger groups, forging more efficient patterns of behavior through biological and social symbiosis. Such developments may expand operational energy paradigms, but their ability to break them is limited, since it does not alter the availability of relevant materials or energy resources. This is done through technology, the result of interactions between available resources, an epistemic social base, and ways of thinking for practical purposes. This constitutes an ongoing (but not necessarily intentional, structured) process of reshaping and remaking the economic boundaries of a society. In this way, economic revolutions (Neolithic, Industrial) were dramatic changes in that energy sources became widely available in ways that allowed for the continued existence and renewal of their new economic frontier, achieving a new degree of antientropic existence. The so-called “Great Divergence” between Western Europe, together with some of its colonies, and the rest of the world in the 18th and 19th centuries would therefore be not only an event particular to one historical (and terrestrial) context, but also the expression of a general and potentially recurring process brought into being when two societies with enormously different antientropic potentials are in contact and within reach of each other. This fact may have important consequences for humanity, given the new “technological revolutions,” but it may also be relevant for us to think about the possible historical development of exobiological species and societies.The question of property and trade: cognition, behavior and human evolutionBernardo Nery (email@example.com)Property and trade are centerpieces in economic thought. However, mainstream economics takes this concept for granted, being formally out of the debate since the development of classical political economy. Using Big History as a transdisciplinary starting point, we present a hypothesis about how a general idea of property and trade may have been produced by evolutionary cognitive mechanisms in Homo sapiens, developed since the last common ancestor with common chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). We conclude that a general idea of ownership may have arisen from what is called, in early ethology, “possession behavior,” while the idea of trade (and a set of related behaviors) depends on transdominial mental mechanisms, serving the purpose of maintaining and promoting social cohesion at intragroup and intergroup levels.Social Classes and Social Cognition in Capitalism: The enmeshment of Social Institutions and Human EthologyDaniel Barreiros (firstname.lastname@example.org)When applied to the study of complex societies, evolutionary psychological approaches can lead to a reductionist view of human social behavior that fails to accurately describe the structural complexity that arises from the multirole and multi-identity nature of human interactions. These studies often treat ingroup formation and ingroup sociality as unmediated processes, as if they emerge directly from human social ethology. As a result, these approaches end up producing strange interpretations that, for example, reclaim the “natural state” of national identities and social class behavior, as if nations and classes were somehow hardwired into human cognition. Big History, with its “play of scales,” allows us to understand that human social ethology, fixed by natural selection over millions of years in primate evolution, provides archetypal structures that are expressed, suppressed, or combined by cultural evolutionary selection. It is this scalar interplay between ethology (constructed in evolutionary time) and social institutions (products of the Braudelian longue durée) that gives rise not only to the intellectual concept of social classes, but to the very set of social behaviors and expectations that effectively produce, reproduce, and reinforce class-based social inequalities in capitalist societies.Bios: Daniel Barreiros is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Economics, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Professor at the Comparative History Graduate Program (PPGHC-UFRJ). He is also a researcher at the Bioethics and Applied Ethics Center. He received a PhD in Social History from the Fluminense Federal University, Niterói, Brazil. Daniel is specialist (“lato sensu”) in History of the International Relations (State University of Rio de Janeiro, UERJ), and is a U.S. Department of State Alumni from the Study of the US Institute on United States Foreign Policy (Research Fellow at the Department of Political Sciences and International Relations, University of Delaware). He is a member of the Board of Trustees and Vice-President of the International Big History Association (IBHA). His research is centered on the Big History of intersocial conflict and cooperation, which includes geopolitics and world-system analysis in a complexity and thermodynamic perspective.
|Felipe Blois (email@example.com)
Civilization and Technology: antientropic concepts, tools and consequencesThis presentation will examine the role of complex societies as antientropic catalytic structures and entities that go against the disorganizing tendency of the universe. It will also address how technology provides means to counter entropy in new and more expansive ways, through devices and techniques that can produce, utilize, and concentrate energy. Life itself represents a break in the inorganic thermodynamic patterns of the known universe. The increasing complexity produced by life, through natural evolution and social organization, creates a positive feedback in its ability to manipulate and concentrate increasing levels of energy. That is, in natural and economic terms, energy is the ability to change reality to further an intended purpose or interest. The limits of this potential increase as life develops cognitive capacities to utilize more resources, to organize itself cohesively into larger and larger groups, forging more efficient patterns of behavior through biological and social symbiosis. Such developments may expand operational energy paradigms, but their ability to break them is limited, since it does not alter the availability of relevant materials or energy resources. This is done through technology, the result of interactions between available resources, an epistemic social base, and ways of thinking for practical purposes. This constitutes an ongoing (but not necessarily intentional, structured) process of reshaping and remaking the economic boundaries of a society. In this way, economic revolutions (Neolithic, Industrial) were dramatic changes in that energy sources became widely available in ways that allowed for the continued existence and renewal of their new economic frontier, achieving a new degree of antientropic existence. The so-called “Great Divergence” between Western Europe, together with some of its colonies, and the rest of the world in the 18th and 19th centuries would therefore be not only an event particular to one historical (and terrestrial) context, but also the expression of a general and potentially recurring process brought into being when two societies with enormously different antientropic potentials are in contact and within reach of each other. This fact may have important consequences for humanity, given the new “technological revolutions,” but it may also be relevant for us to think about the possible historical development of exobiological species and societies.
|Beatriz Pimentel – UFRJ, Brazil
Daniel Barreiros, UFRJ – Brazil
Daniel Vainfas, UERJ – Brazil
Walter Silva – UFRRJ, Brazil
Panel Title: War, Politics, and Big History: between structure and contingency
Panel Abstract: Panel; War, Politics, and Big History: between structure and contingencyWestern political thought since the 17th century has walked a tightrope, with a structural concept of (unchanging) human nature on the one hand, and modern subjectivity on the other. The theoretical struggle between necessity and freedom, structure and agency, determination and contingency has often led to a dialogue of the deaf, in which both sides continue to interpret the political world while ignoring or dismissing in limine the warnings emerging from the opposing theoretical field. Big History’s game of scales is a methodological and theoretical tool capable of bridging the gap between short-term political agency, long-term political mentalities, and the unconscious archetypes produced by human ethology, leading to a “total” political analysis. This panel is an attempt to take studies of the history of war and political behavior beyond the conventional zero-sum game between structuralist and agency-based approaches.Chimpanzee behaviour and Clausewitzian war: differences and similarities in the realms of politics and conflict
Beatriz Pimentel (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Daniel Vainfas (email@example.com)
This communication explores the connections between chimpanzee intragroup social behaviour, intergroup aggression, and the classic approach to war theory developed by Clausewitz. Drawing on research from primatology, anthropology, and military studies, we argue that chimpanzee social behaviour, as well as their antisocial attitudes towards out-group primates, provide valuable insights into this 19th century approach to war. As chimpanzees live in complex societies with hierarchies, alliances, and coalitions, they offer an interesting framework to explore the implications of politics and conflict and can help inform our understanding of war and military strategy. We draw on the work of Clausewitz to explore the similarities and differences between chimpanzee behaviour and the classic approach to war theory. Specifically, we focus on the role of politics and aggression in determining the outcomes of conflicts from both in-group and out-group perspectives.The Evolutionary Roots of Warfare and Its Ecological Conditions
Walter Silva (firstname.lastname@example.org)
My aim in this presentation is to approach warfare from the long-term perspective held by Evolutionary Psychology. The theory of warfare developed by Tooby and Cosmides (1988, 2010) suggests that warfare requires elaborate cooperation among members of one group to coordinate their aggressive actions against another group. It also suggests that sexual access to women would have been the key reproductive resource that selected for men to evolve specific psychological mechanisms for warfare. This long-scale understanding will allow a better understanding of the causes of war, so that we can reflect on contemporary wars through the understanding that the human phenomenon of violence is sensitive to ecological conditions. Cultural, political, and economic institutions therefore need to take this long-term evolutionary perspective into account in order to create social conditions that promote more peaceful environments.International Order and Cognitive Evolution: a Big History approach to the Concert of Europe (1815-1848)
Daniel Barreiros (email@example.com)
A deep understanding of decision-making, strategy, and mobilization in the international arena can benefit from a multi-scalar historical approach. Big History, as the study of the “play of scales” between cultural, evolutionary, and cosmological processes, can be a formidable tool to enhance our ability to interpret how political actors conceive, represent, and implement strategic policies. In a world in need of peacemaking and anticipatory capacity, big historians can help track, signal, and denounce potential sources of disorder in the international system. In this paper, I propose a multi-scale analysis of the Concert of Europe (1815-1848) as a case study. As policymakers attempt to make sense of multiple systems of interrelated actors, to make decisions, and to predict the behavior of others, they employ an intricate set of mental tools created by feedback between ethological cognitive archetypes (fixed by natural selection) and cultural information (produced by these archetypes but also capable of mobilizing, suppressing, or combining these innate structures). The statesmen who gathered at the Congress of Vienna (1814-1815), in an effort to model a post-revolutionary system of political stability in Europe did so by mentally conceiving 1) the Great Powers as a single high-status individual in a social group composed of other lower-status individuals (the other European nations); 2) the Great Powers as an egalitarian ingroup, governed by consensus and protected from internal disputes. We conclude that both images, which somehow shaped the institutions and policies of the Concert of Europe, violated strict ethological expectations and were thus progressively unstable and prone to collapse unless an increased expenditure of energy (in attention, in repression) was maintained. Therefore, the failure of the Concert of Europe can be read as an indirect product of a mismatch between short-term institutions and human ethological expectations.Bios: Daniel Barreiros is an Associate Professor at the Institute of Economics, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Professor at the Comparative History Graduate Program (PPGHC-UFRJ). He is also a researcher at the Bioethics and Applied Ethics Center. He received a PhD in Social History from the Fluminense Federal University, Niterói, Brazil. Daniel is specialist (“lato sensu”) in History of the International Relations (State University of Rio de Janeiro, UERJ), and is a U.S. Department of State Alumni from the Study of the US Institute on United States Foreign Policy (Research Fellow at the Department of Political Sciences and International Relations, University of Delaware). He is a member of the Board of Trustees and Vice-President of the International Big History Association (IBHA). His research is centered on the Big History of intersocietal conflict and cooperation, which includes geopolitics and world-system analysis in a complexity and thermodynamic perspective.
|Andrey M. Burovsky
Born in 1955 in the city of Krasnoyarsk.
PhD since 1987.
Professor since 1996.
Since 2005 I have been living in St. Petersburg.
Member of the Writers’ Union. Member of the Union of Scientists.
Author of 250 articles and 6 monographs. Main monographs: “Big History” (KMK, 2022) and “Theory of Places of Development” (KMK. 2023)
Main interests: Stone Age archeology, Bronze Age archeology, human interaction with the landscape, global evolution, cultural evolution, literature, paleontological theory.
Paper Title: The most general patterns of Big History
Abstract: From the point of view of Academician Nikita Moiseev, since the 1980s there has been a real opportunity to write a Big History (Moiseev, 1995). This optimistic position was based on two achievements of science of that time:
– on the already developed theory of systems, which makes it possible to consider any essence of the material world as non-equilibrium to varying degrees, complex internally heterogeneous and, therefore, dynamic systems to varying degrees.
– on ideas about the structure and history of the Universe, which began with the Big Bang.
Cosmologists even then had very different ideas about the probable history of the universe. But it might seem to a philosopher and non-specialist scientist that fundamental laws have been discovered that should no longer and cannot be revised.
According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe that we now observe emerged 13.799 ± 0.021 billion years ago from some initial singular state and has been continuously expanding and cooling since then (Woolfson, 2013).
The timing of the “beginning of the Big Story” would be a very convenient starting point. Something like the year of the “Foundation of the City” in Ancient Rome, the First Olympiad in Hellas, or the “Christmas”, which atheists shyly began to call “our era.”
The difficulty is that we know only a small part of the visible Universe – the Metagalaxy.
It is more than likely that beyond the cosmos we observe, there may be spaces with completely different physical characteristics.
Perhaps the Metagalaxy is only an insignificant part of the Multigalaxy about which we have no idea at all.
Even with respect to the Metagalaxy known to us, it is possible that the Stationary Theory of the Universe (Hoyle at all, 2000) or the theory of “eternal inflation” is valid, according to which the picture of the Big Bang corresponds to the position only in a part of the Metagalaxy, but does not describe the entire Universe.
If the Big Bang theory is correct, then firstly, it is not clear to what extent the compression of the Universe took place?
According to George Gamow’s calculations, the Universe has never contracted to a singular point (Gamow, 1952).
Secondly, regardless of the degree of compression, the question arises – what was before the Big Bang?
If we accept the model of the “pulsating” Universe (Steinhardt, Turok, 2007; Gorkavyi., Vasilkov, 2016), our entire Big History is the history of only one expansion phase known to us. And there could be any arbitrary number of such phases – even thousands or millions. That is, we study and describe only an insignificant fragment of the history of the Universe.
If we reject the theory of the “pulsating Universe”, the question remains unresolved: “what was BEFORE”.
Probably, at the present level of knowledge, it is most honest to speak about one of the periods of the Big History of a part of the Universe.
|Name: Mark Ciotola <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Nametag: Mark Ciotola
San Francisco State University
Title: Resource-Based Predecessor and Parallel Schools of Thought to Big History
Abstract: Resource-Based Predecessor and Parallel Schools of Thought to Big HistoryDuring the 20th century, several schools of thought had developed that could be considered under the scope of Big History. These schools of thought involve viewing the progression of human society and history as a subset of a larger physical universe and both driven and constrained by its physical realities. This paper examines such schools of thought, and the figures and movements behind them. This paper begins with an examination of the pioneering work of geologist Donnel Foster Hewett in the early 1900s on analyzing metal mining patterns over time, identifying structures that would in complexity theory be called forms of emergence. It then delves into the 1920s Technical Alliance ideas related to structural changes and resource utilization issues that result in recessions and business cycles. The related Great Depression-era Technocracy research endeavor and movement founded by activist Howard Scott and geologist M. King Hubbert and how the work of Hewett is applied to the emergence of resource utilization structures such as peak oil as well as peak labor are discussed. A parallel exploration is made of the ecologists’ approaches to interpreting economic and even social phenomena using a similar energy- and resource-based perspective. Alfred Lotka lays the foundation for the ecologists interpretation. Howard Odum expands this groundwork into an elaborate body of knowledge and a systems theory approach involving the Sun-Earth-Space environment that is the result of cosmological processes. Then the contemporary manifestation of such schools such as Emergy Systems and the Europe-originated Earth Organization for Sustainability are explored.
|Name: Todd Duncan < email@example.com>
Title: Fundamental Physics and Big History: Exploring Perspectives on Ultimate Reality
Abstract: All attempts to address the challenges of humanity on a finite planet are shaped by our view of the nature of reality, a view which influences the questions we ask and the solutions we can see. The narrative of Big History provides a science-based version of such a framework within which to articulate and solve the problems we face. In this presentation I’ll explore what some emerging ideas in fundamental physics have to say about the nature of ultimate reality that might influence this framing narrative, and thus might influence our problem-solving framework.
Other Notes: * This presentation would work well as part of a panel, with presentations addressing this theme from different disciplinary perspectives. My colleague Jenna Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org, Pacific U. Dept. of English) is planning to submit a complementary presentation that could be combined into a joint session with mine, and we’d welcome others to join us.
|Name: Rob Grace
Title: Human Rights: A Big History Perspective
Abstract: This paper presents a big history perspective on human rights. The paper will proceed in two main parts. Part 1 will present a narrative of the emergence of human rights in the context of the 13.8 billion-year history of the observable universe. This narrative will situate the notion of human rights within 1) the framework of an emerging strand of international relations theoretical scholarship oriented toward probing international behavior through the lens of quantum mechanics; 2) the evolution of sentient life on Earth; 3) notions of fairness observable in non-human animals; and 4) recent scholarship in the field of neuroscience that examines possible foundations of human rights in the structure of the human brain. The overall objective of this narrative will be to pry the topic of human rights from the usual fields of law, political science, and history, examining the topic through a more interdisciplinary lens. Part 2 will offer comments on the likely long future of human rights. In particular, this part will examine the human rights implications of the rise of artificial intelligence; the end of humanity via destruction or through a process of evolution; and the entropic reality that will ultimately render impossible any form of sentient life. Taken together, these two parts will offer a portrait of the place of human rights within the full ambit of the observable universe
|Name: Sergey Grinchenko
doctor of technical sciences, professor,
Federal Research Center “Informatics and Control” RAS,
Title: DIGITAL PERSPECTIVE OF BIG HISTORY
Abstract: The age of the global history of humankind is estimated in different ways: from the emergence of ancient civilizations, from the Upper Paleolithic revolu-tion, from the appearance of the first man Homo sapiens, etc. Obviously, in or-der to clarify this choice, it is necessary to use some method of a systemic na-ture. In particular, the informatics-cybernetic model (ICM), which considers the integral Humanity as a self-governing hierarchical network system, permanently tracking, according to search optimization algorithms, target criteria of an ener-gy nature, with fixing its results in the form of system memory of the corre-sponding hierarchical subsystems [Grinchenko, 2007, 2020]. Spatio-temporal characteristics of global evolution in the framework of the ICM represent some modification of the Zhirmunsky-Kuzmin number series – a geometric progres-sion with the denominator , revealed by them in the study of critical levels in the development of biosystems [Zhirmunsky, Kuzmin, 1982].
Applications of the results of mathematical-cybernetic modeling of histori-cal processes in the archaeological era and their correspondence to the empirical data of paleontologists, archaeologists and historians are presented in the mono-graphs [Shchapova, Grinchenko, 2017] and [Shchapova et al., 2019].
From the standpoint of ICM, the stages of complication of information technologies (IT) and production technologies (PT), socio-economic formations (SEF) and civilizational structures of the Humanity system in the course of its historical development look as follows (Fig. 1).
0). Cephalization of vertebrates ~428 million years ago, culminating in the emergence of the neocortex ~140.1 million years ago, in catfish ranges up to ~4.2 m in size.
1). The emergence of “pre-pre-humans” Hominoidea and the beginning of their development of IT signal postures/sounds/movements ~28.2 million years ago, culminating in the emergence of Hominidae ~9.26 million years ago, in the “yard”/ “family” in territories (radius of a circle of the same area) up to ~64 m in size, and with an accuracy of anthropogenic impacts up to ~28 cm.
2). The emergence of “pre-humans” Homo erectus/Homo ergaster and the beginning of their development of IT facial expressions/gestures ~1.86 million years ago, culminating in the emergence of Homo heidelbergensis ~0.612 mil-lion years ago, in “settlement” areas up to 1 km in size , and the accuracy of an-thropogenic impacts up to ~1.8 cm.
3). The emergence of Homo sapiens-1 man and the beginning of his devel-opment of IT speech/language ~123 thousand years ago, with a culmination (Upper Paleolithic revolution) ~40.3 thousand years ago, in the areas of the “okrug” up to ~15 km in size, and the accuracy of anthropogenic impacts up to ~1.2 mm. The beginning of the development of the General Public Fund “Primitive-communal system” and the first “proto-civilizations”.
4). The emergence of a complicated human Homo sapiens-2 and the be-ginning of his mastery of IT writing/reading ~8.1 thousand years ago, with a culmination (urban revolution of the axial time) ~2.7 thousand years ago, in ar-eas of “super-district” up to ~222 km, and the accuracy of anthropogenic im-pacts up to ~ 0.08 mm. The beginning of the development of the OEF “Feudal-ism” and local civilizations.
5). The emergence of a more sophisticated human Homo sapiens-3 and the beginning of the development of IT replication of texts ~ 1446, with a culmina-tion (industrial revolution) ~ 1806, in the areas of the “supercountry” up to ~ 3370 km in size, and the accuracy of anthropogenic impacts up to ~ 5 µm. The beginning of the development of the OEF “Capitalism” and region-al/subcontinental civilizations.
6). The emergence of an even more complicated man Homo sapiens-4 and the beginning of his development of IT local computers ~ 1946, with a culmi-nation (microprocessor revolution) ~ 1970, in the “Planet Earth as a whole” ar-ea up to ~ 51 thousand km in size, and accuracy anthropogenic impacts up to ~0.35 µm. The beginning of the development of the OEF “Digitalism-1” and Planetary Civilization.
7). The emergence of a more complex human Homo sapiens-5 and the be-ginning of his development of IT telecommunications / networks ~ 1979, with a culmination (network revolution) ~ 2003, in the “Near-Earth Space” area with a size (radius of a ball around the Earth) up to ~773 thousand km, and the accu-racy of anthropogenic impacts up to ~23 nm. The beginning of the development of the OEF “Digitalism-2” and the Civilization of the Near-Earth Space.
8). The emergence of an even more complex human Homo sapiens-6 and the beginning of the development of promising nano-IT ~ 1981, with a culmi-nation (nano-revolution) ~ 2341, in the Intermediate Space area up to 11.7 mil-lion km in size, and accuracy anthropogenic impacts up to ~1.5 nm. The begin-ning of the development of the OEF “Cyphralism-3” and the Civilization of the Intermediate Space.
At the same time, the following is fulfilled: the principle of systemic cu-mulation: the emergence of new systemic entities does not mean the elimination of similar ones that have previously arisen; and the principle of systemic con-sistency: this emergence is accompanied by cardinal complications in the struc-ture and adaptive behavior of those that have previously arisen, with a decrease in their relative role [Grinchenko, 2020].
Thus, the digital perspective of Big History is viewed in the direction of the trend of global-cosmic evolution of the self-controlling hierarchical-network system of Humankind.
Ibha Presentation Type: Powerpoint Presentation
Ibha Category Times: 6pm
Ibha Category Issues: Complexity
Other Notes: To be presented at the Complexity Workshop
Bio: Grinchenko Sergey Nikolaevich
doctor of technical sciences, professor,
Federal Research Center “Informatics and Control” RAS,
Leonid E. Grinin & Anton L. Grinin
Chemical Evolution in Big History
Unfortunately, there is insufficient research on the course of chemical evolution in the framework of the study of both Big History and evolution. At best, one may find rather brief fragments describing the emergence of hydrogen and helium atoms and accumulation of heavy element atoms. However, the formation of atoms (especially of light elements) is rather pre- chemical evolution or the creation of its conditions, then the chemical evolution in the full sense of the word. The latter is a development of various and more complex types of , atoms and molecules, and it starts later and under different conditions (see below). Insufficient attention to chemical evolution is all the more disappointing since it is the very important part of megaevolution and Big History, which at some of its stages even act as the leading line (in particular, during the formation of pre-life on the Earth fifth billion years ago). Notably, it is possible to distinguish both the general line of chemical evolution, which apparently begins soon enough after the Big Bang, and its particular phases. Without understanding the history of chemical evolution, one can hardly perceive either the mystery of the origin of life or the development of life during the initial periods. After all, for a certain period, the chemical language remained almost the leading one for information exchange, not only within the evolution of life, but also during the period preceding it. The matter is that during the period between the Earth formation and emergence of life – which is, in fact, pivotal for the whole megaevolution, and at the same time, the least known and most obscure – the chemical evolution was integral and interrelated with geological, mineralogical and biological evolution. Thus, the study of chemical evolution is of utmost importance for understanding both the history of life (since chemical abiogenic evolution is the transition from inert to living matter) and the history of Earth (geological evolution).
The paper presents a brief history of chemical evolution: from the formation of the first atoms in the Universe to abiogenesis on Earth, that is, the stage of pre-life and formation of prerequisites for the emergence of the first living organisms.
The authors point out that chemical evolution in the full sense (see above), a) begins when the temperature drops to 5 thousand degrees, but actually the favourite condition for it is at relatively low plus temperatures; b) proceeds in space constantly even in the condition of deep sub-zerotemperatures; c) some of its characteristics are known from the studies of gas and dust clouds where there are many dozens of different matters including organic ones; d) and it should proceed even more actively within the framework of planetary evolution, as well as on other bodies (including comets), which we can assume from the studies of the Solar system bodies.
The history of chemical evolution before life’s origin can be divided into three stages: the formation of atoms (pre-evolution); history before the start of the abiogenic phase on the Earth; and abiogenic chemical evolution.
However, the authors would like to elaborate a more detailed periodization of chemical evolution before life’s origin. Thus, we define the following sequence: 1) the formation of atoms of the first elements (hydrogen, helium, and lithium); 2) the formation of atoms of heavier substances up to and including iron; 3) the formation of atoms of elements heavier than iron (perhaps two stages should be distinguished here: one – up to bismuth or another radioactive element, the other includes the formation of radioactive elements); 4) the formation of simple compounds (inorganic and organic); 5) the formation of compounds associated with formation of minerals on planets; 6) synthesis of more complex organic formations, like nucleotides (on the Earth); 7) synthesis of more complex polymers that are incapable of replication yet; and 8) synthesis of replicators and substances associated with origin of life.
One should also pay attention to the important feature of chemical evolution which distinguishes it from other lines of evolution, namely, its co-evolutionary nature. We show that chemical evolution at all its stages acted as a part of a co-evolutionary tandem: first, as a part of cosmic and stellar-galactic evolution, then as a part of planetary evolution, since it is on planets (where temperature parameters are much more comfortable for chemical reactions) that a new qualitative stage in the development of chemical evolution begins. Finally, on the Earth, it developed first as a part of geochemical evolution, and then as a part of biochemical evolution, and this development still goes on. One should pay attention to the co-evolution of chemical and mineralogical evolution (in particular, of crystals, which represent a truly amazing world, especially in terms of evolution and similarity of their functions with living organisms). Both these branches are components of the geochemical evolution.
Leonid E. Grinin, Russia
President of the Eurasian Center for Big History & System Forecasting, Russian Academy of Sciences
Evolutionary phases of Big History
The present article is devoted to the issue of unity of laws, patterns and mechanisms of evolution at all its stages and levels of Big History and megaevolution. Despite the enormous differences between cosmic, planetological, chemical, biological, and social evolutions, there are many similarities. Unfortunately, quite a few works are devoted to their identification.
Besides, it might be show that one can reveal a number of similarities at all levels and phases of megaevolution, which can be generalized in universal laws, rules, mechanisms, patterns and principles of evolution. One should note that in fact none of the important laws and principles, not any of the important rules of evolution, have been ‘lost’ in the process of transition from lower to higher levels. They were only modified and became more complicated, and there also appeared some new principles and rules (and in retrospect one can see their rudiments at the lowest levels of evolution).
In the present article we will consider a number of such important similarities, which, in our opinion, clearly demonstrate the systemic-structural and functional-evolutionary unity of the world at its different levels and in different areas. The understanding of these similarities deepens our perception about all stages of Big History and its regularities, and leads us away from the false idea that social evolution in all aspects is different from the evolution of previous levels.
It seems undoubtedly fruitful to present all forms of evolution as a single and universal process, or as phases of Big History. By analyzing these phases, conventionally speaking, in the ‘horizontal’ dimension, as manifestations of evolutionary laws in different forms of matter, one can clearly figure out the general evolutionary similarities. However, we consider the transitions to a new level within Big History framework already in the frame of ‘vertical’ dimension as qualitative breakthroughs in the framework of the Universe development.
The ‘vertical’ view of Big History is generally accepted while the ‘horizontal’ approach is infrequently used. In the present article we tried to combine these two approaches. We would like to reconsider the vertical structure of Big History that had never been done before. We show a picture of Big History which consists from at least 10–12 phases. It gives us an opportunity to portray a rather voluminous and dialectical picture of the unfolding universal evolution instead of a common and too rough scheme: cosmic – biological – social. For realization of our goal the notions of main and transitional phases of Big History are introduced; and the importance of its planetological and chemical phases is shown.
Evolution is a category whose definition provokes endless disputes. The matter is that ‘evolution’ (as well as ‘progress’, ‘development’, ‘change’, etc.) is among the terms with a too broad meaning. Evolution is a process that started simultaneously with the emergence of our Universe (if there had ever been such a beginning). In any case, evolution can be considered as a form of matter existence. In the present article we will use the terms Big History, ‘universal evolution’ and ‘megaevolution’ as synonyms. We will use these terms for the process encompassing all evolutionary levels and lines from Big Bang to contemporary phenomena; they are used simultaneously in two meanings, namely: the evolution of the Universe and evolution as a universal process.
We also will describe some of the universal evolutionary properties that manifest themselves at all phases of Universal evolution including social evolution which comes as one of the number of forms of evolution and then as an outcome of the preceding development.
|Name: Lowell Gustafson
Title: Emergent Complexity: A Rationale for the University
Abstract: Emergent complexity is a key theme of big history. Disciplines from the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities contribute evidence towards a substantiated account of development from quarks, protons and neutrons, atoms with 1 or 2 protons and electrons, stars and galaxies, atoms with more than 2 protons, chemicals, second and third generation stars, terrestrial planets like Earth, the origin and increasing complexity of life forms, one of these forms being hominins and then humans, and increasingly complex relationships among humans in kinship groups, villages, cities, nations and empires, and global systems. Humans, each with a hundred billion neurons and maybe a trillion synapses, now number some 8 billion, with more humans connected digitally to each other than ever before. This emergent complexity has never been steady and its future remains uncertain. What it does provide is an intellectual rationale – a universe of knowledge – to which all disciplines of the university contribute. Each part of this account has been made possible only through disciplinary focus. The account as a whole has been possible only through the synthesis of each of these parts all within a university.
|Name: John Hasse < email@example.com>
Department of Geography, Planning & Sustainability
Title: The Nexus of Storytelling and Collective Learning: A symbiotic spark for human emergence
Abstract: This essay explores the implications of storytelling as an essential as a complimentary concept to collective learning for capturing the essence and meaning of human emergence in Big History Threshold 6. The paper makes the case that storytelling provides the mechanism through which collective learning occurs explaining how cultural knowledge diffuses through time and space, what drives human belief systems, what compels social actions as well as explaining the means through which humans technologically progress. On the scale of universal evolution, humans are the only known species that can tell the story the universe thanks to our brains evolved capacity to conceptualize, communicate and comprehend explanatory narrative. The paper invites the Big History community to consider the roll of storytelling as a uniquely transdisciplinary nexus that can complement collective learning, pull together many big history threads and help tell Big History as a common human origin story for the Anthropocene.
|Name: Nick Hoggard
Title: The Thirteen Threshold Theory: Feigenbaum’s universal constant in the evolution of intelligent life.
Abstract: The evolution of intelligent life on Earth has followed a pattern that is well-known in Non-linear Dynamics (aka Chaos Theory). Evolutionary processes (that is, reproduction with variation and heredity) arise at regular intervals. Each process has a faster means of adaptation and a new method of transmitting information about to the next generation. Each interval is shorter than the previous by a factor of 4.66920…. In Chaos Theory, the pattern of shrinking intervals (found in many natural phenomena, the simplest of which is a dripping water tap) is called a Period-doubling Cascade, and the number is known as the Feigenbaum constant delta.This is an information-centred theory of evolution that unites biological, cultural and technological evolution. The thresholds are shown to be: 1) Big Bang, 2) Life, 3) Multicellular Life, 4) Behavioural Flexibility, 5) Tool Use, 6) Tool-making, 7) Using Tools to Make Tools, 8) Composite Tools, 9) New Inventions, 10) New Livelihoods, 11) Writing, 12) Printing, 13) Computing.The theory predicts more thresholds, ending within 200 years, or possibly earlier.
|Name: Kenji Ichikawa
Title: Layered Structure of Little Big History ―Case Study of Enoshima, Japan
Abstract: Enoshima Island, located in Sagami Bay on the Pacific coast of Honshu, Japan, is a small land-locked island about 400 meters from land, 4 kilometers in circumference, 0.38 square kilometers in area, 60.4 meters above sea level, and with a population of 350 people. Enoshima is one of the three major Benzaiten shrines in Japan and has attracted people to the island as a sacred place of Benzaiten worship. In this presentation, as a case study of Little Big History, I will explore the question of why people have been attracted to Enoshima, drawing on a variety of academic disciplines. As a result, the layered structure of Little Big History can be seen on Enoshima. By clarifying how the layers have accumulated over time, I will propose a broader view of history that could not be captured by a single discipline.
|Name: Andrey Korotayev
Title: Patterns of complexity growth in the Big History:
A preliminary quantitative analysis
Abstract: The paper presents preliminary results of a quantitative analysis of two patterns of complexity growth in the Big History – decelerating universal (cosmic) evolutionary development evidenced in the Universe for a few billions of years after the Big Bang (around 13.8 billion BP) and accelerating global (biosocial) evolutionary development observed for about 4 billion years on the planet Earth since the emergence of life on it. It is shown that the first pattern can be described with an astonishing accuracy (R^2 = 0.999996) by the following equation: y = C1/(t-t1*), where y is the rate of the universal complexity growth (measured as a number of phase transitions [accompanied by the growth of complexity] per a unit of time), C1 is a constant, and t-t1* is the time since the Big Bang Singularity (t1*~13.8 billion years BP). In the meantime, it was earlier shown that the second pattern could be described with an almost as high accuracy (R^2 = 0.9989 to 0.9991) by the following equation: y = C2/(t2*-t), where y is the rate of accelerating global (biosocial) evolutionary development, C2 is another constant, and t2*-t is the time till the 21st century Singularity (t2*, estimated to be around 2027, or 2029 CE). The implications of the similarity of both patterns are discussed.
|Name: Gustavo Lau
Guest Professor, Simón Bolívar University
Title: Some Applications of a Big History Concept
Abstract: Using analogies we introduce the Big History concept of bottom-up story: how from small entities, nature and humans create larger ones that in many instances can reproduce or be reproduced. A pedagogical application is the description of some collective learning thresholds. Applying the concept to books and book collections we suggest a philanthropic idea. This simple and potentially powerful application mixes low and high technology: using online bookstores, we propose the reproduction of personal book and video collections in public libraries. We give an example, at Simón Bolívar University in Venezuela, where this has already happened. We finish proposing to use this idea to create a Big History book and video collection that could be donated to educational institutions around the world where a Big History course could be taught remotely.
|Bernardo Nery (firstname.lastname@example.org)
The question of property and trade: cognition, behavior and human evolution
|Name: Stephen Satkiewicz
Title: Principles of Strategic Big History
Abstract: This paper intends to present the foundation for the sub-field of Strategic Big History – which is the interdisciplinary study of the influence of strategy on the evolution of social complexity. Building upon the foundations of strategic history, the next level is the macro-scale analysis of how complex societies have addressed their strategic and grand strategic contexts, and how this is often both a cause and effect on the evolution of societies to adapt to greater levels of complexity. Building upon the insights from geopolitics, grand strategy, military history, complexity sciences, and strategic studies in general – this paper presents a further developments in the Big History of War and Social Evolution with potential for deeper theoretical insights.
|Name: Jenna Thompson < email@example.com>
Nametag: Jenna Thompson
Title: Enlarging Our Map of Reality: Exploring the Threshold Between Thoughts and Words
Abstract: Finding a sustainable path forward as a species will require new patterns of thinking, choosing, and acting. The words we use to describe reality are a reflection of how we think, and the way we think affects the words we choose. The patterns become mutually reinforcing and keep us in familiar loops. What happens to our thinking (and our capacity to imagine and create sustainable paths forward) when we develop an interdisciplinary vocabulary to describe reality? What happens to our map of reality when we use this new vocabulary? In this presentation I will explore how the loop between thought-patterns and word-patterns offers a subtle threshold we can expand into its own generative space.
Other Notes: * This presentation would work well as part of a panel, with presentations addressing this theme from different disciplinary perspectives. My colleague Todd Duncan (firstname.lastname@example.org, Pacific U. Dept. of Physics) is planning to submit a complementary presentation that could be combined into a joint session with mine, and we’d welcome others to join us.
Complexity, The Future, Other
Destination infinity: an estimated time of arrival
History is a moral, intellectual and physical journey whose endpoint is complete knowledge/understanding of what Kenneth Boulding identified as the universe’s two key mysteries — the nature of consciousness and the origin of thermodynamic potential, i.e. how the universe came to be and how it came to know itself. In this paper, I make a “back of the envelope” calculation to decide when humanity will reach this far-off goal. The strategy is to work out the complexity of a cosmic civilisation that has reached that endpoint and to compare that with the rate of complexification of human society as evidenced by history to date. The main contribution of the paper is to investigate metrics of complexity that are sufficiently general and abstract that they can encompass such a vast trajectory.
This is a contribution to the Complexity and Big History Workshop being organized by Andrey Korotayev and David LePoire and has been discussed with the workshop organizers.
|Panel title: Science, Environment and Society – STEAM Education and Big History in Hong Kong
Description: According to the Hong Kong’s 2022 Policy Address, the government has expressed a strong emphasis on the need to advance local STEAM education. Locally, some Big History enthusiasts have been introducing and teaching this emerging framework at universities and secondary schools. In this session, our enthusiasts will share how they see Big History in relationship with STEAM, sustainability and the topics that amazed them and how they alter it for their own needs.
Bio of confirmed guests:
Panel (in alphabetic order)
|Name: John Marc Widdowson
Title: Destination Infinity: An Estimated Time of Arrival
Abstract: History is a moral, intellectual and physical journey whose endpoint is complete knowledge/understanding of what Kenneth Boulding identified as the universe’s two key mysteries – – the nature of consciousness and the origin of thermodynamic potential, i.e. how the universe came to be and how it came to know itself. In this paper, I make a ‘back of the envelope’ calculation to decide when humanity will reach this far-off goal. The strategy is to work out the complexity of a cosmic civilization that has reached that endpoint and to compare that with the rate of complexification of human society as evidenced by history to date. The main contribution of the paper is to investigate metrics of complexity that are sufficiently general and abstract that they can encompass such a vast trajectory.