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Re: Affective measures in the social sciences produce more ideologic agitprop...
by Mike Alexander
19 September 2002 21:50 UTC
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John Landon writes:
Everyone keeps talking about complex systems, and models,but if you present one for history, it suddenly seems mystical, which it isn't.  It's just a model!
Mike writes:
I've read a bit of your website.  As far as I can tell the eonic effect is something like this: around 3000 BC some important stuff happens, then around 600 BC some more important stuff happens and then around 1800 AD some more important stuff happens.  Hence, there is a 2400 year cycle of important stuff.
What I don't see is a lot of evidence.  I see statements like "We call the period from the fall of the Roman Empire until modern times a ‘middle age’. This ‘middleness’ is a clue to how we in fact take our own history, not quite sure why, although we can see that the source of this earlier world lies in the onset of the classical age, many centuries before. This era rose to a height that was never matched until after 1500." 
What is meant by "height".  In any sense I can think of, 12th or 13th century European civilization was a more advanced civilization than was ancient Rome.  I would say the same for Islamic civilization in the ninth or tenth centuries (the very middle of the "dark ages").
The big issue raised is the simultaneity of various religious movements around 600 BC.  We have the Hebrew prophets
Elijah (ca 850) Isaiah (ca. 745) Jeremiah (627) and Daniel (586) followed by the appearance of Zoroastrianism  (598), Taoism (571) Buddhism (534) Confucianism (529) and Jainsim (527). 
On the surface, the "sudden" appearance of all these new religions where few were seen before seems impressive--like something speical is happening.  But we have to consider the "sampling issue" before we come to such a conclusion.  Consider this figure.  It shows the plot of "generational frequency" of two kinds of events.  In black are shown the number of "unrest events" (revolts, riots, uprisings civil wars etc.) per moving 25-year period.  In red are shown the frequence of relgious events like those listed above per 25 year period.  Ignore the osicillations, just focus on the general levels. 
Clearly evident is a big red spike right around 600 BC.  This is your eonic effect.  But look at the black line.  It also rises around 600 BC.  The reason why it rises is I can't find many dated events for the period much before 700 BC.  In fact, relative to black events, the number of red events was higher before 700 BC than it was after.  In other words, perhaps the only reason why more religious things seem to have started happening then is because we know more about what happened then than what happened in the previous centuries. 
The situation is even more grim for the period around 3000 BC.  There is very little data, and I didn't see discussion of the Indus or the Oxus valley civilizations.
Mike Alexander,  author of
Stock Cycles: Why stocks won't beat money markets over the next 20 years and
The Kondratiev Cycle: A generational interpretation
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Tuesday, September 17, 2002 9:58 AM
Subject: Re: Affective measures in the social sciences produce more ideologic agitprop...

In a message dated 9/16/2002 10:07:18 PM Eastern Daylight Time, larondin@yahoo.com writes:

I’m actually surprised there hasn’t been more of this “Aeonic”-style interpretation of the Eonic Effect.  There are a lot of these mystical-evolutionary approaches out there & their founders/students are always on the look out for overarching intellectual theories to tie them all together and in with each other.

The statement about Steinerians is misleading. I only meant the sole individual trying to review the book.
Steinerians in general have shown no interest that I know of for this model, for precisely the reason that it is something different.

What is the point of the term 'eonic'? This was a label chosen more or less after the model was complete, with refrence to 'eons' only as a chuckle, and with reference also to the term 'eonic' in the electronic sense. Type 'eonix' into google, you will get a slew of DSP outfits, digital sampling chips, etc...
The analogy, and it was only another titular chuckle, was to the way you can 'sample' a fourier series in discrete intervals.
This example always intrigued me as I considered my 'discrete-continuous' model. We have a discrete series and a continuous history, and the relation of the two is the eonic effect.
The question of 'aeons' is hardly the cup of tea of modern science. I had never intended that as my meaning, but then again perhaps seem to invite it by the terms.
The eonic effect does explicate why that sense of 'aeons' arises. It is the effect of the overlay of a macro and a micro system.

I am critical of Steinerians then, but I am critical, as you are, of scientism also. It is overshoot and undershoot here, with Kant's warnings about metaphysics falling on deaf ears.
There isn't any causal model that is going to work on historical subjects, so that seems to transcendentalize freedom. But here Kant, behind his confusing terminology of 'transcendental idealism' (he uses 'transcendent' for what we mean by 'transcendental') which is something different. These terms are like archaic language for us now. But the present realm of scientism has been a total failure on history, as the Steinerians would be only to happy to point out.
The question of Steiner et al is simply not my territory, but I have learned from the eonic model to always be wary of passing judgement on the disparate variety the model absorbs from history. Anyway, modern psychology has totally filtered out the issues of the occult. Such issues can never be resolved either way. But the current skeptics movement, for example, has declared war on all of that. That's one way to blow the ball game. Not knowing means you don't know one way or the other. But the issues are indirectly addressed in all the classic Indian sutras, and such yogis look in some alarm at Western naivete. The problem is that Westerners in a dialectic have made their own mirror image mess of the questions, e.g. Theosophy, and that doesn't foot the bill either.
In general, man as man has been reduced to a strange creature by the Western science realm. And it is fated to collapse, as such. What can I say. If five thousand years of Buddhists and yogis speak about 'reincarnation' and the west decides this is superstition it becomes a zero sum game. So who will lose?
In the end such issues are Kantian style undecidable. So the presumption of science is part of what is leading to the postmodern attack on the west. At least a thousand New Age types have pointed out over and over again the Western failure here. But it seems people are determined to go down fighting.
I should hasten to add these are not my beliefs, and I adopt a very strict regime here to hold the dyke against mystical stuff with the beautifual Classical Samkhya which is easily adaptable to Western science, more or less, as a materialistic spirituality, as it were, a seeming contradiction in terms.

Again none of this is my business with the eonic model. Try as an exercise to consider a new name for the 'eonic model', e.g.  the 'intermittent effect', or the 'stepwise function effect', or the 'discontinuous effect', etc,  Trying with each term to be sure one knows what it is that one is referring to.
So the term 'eonic' was an afterthought for the title of a book. It is not the issue.

As to the Steinerians, I know very little about them. But they are not the idiots people make them out to be.
Like the old lady whose house was a Shoe, I have to welcome all these stray dogs into my consideration, because history is diverse, very diverse. And reducing everything to oversimplified categories wont work.
But the bottom line for the eonic effect is simple modelling, periodization, and notions of self-organization. But the scale of this macroevolution is quite remarkable.
Everyone keeps talking about complex systems, and models,but if you present one for history, it suddenly seems mystical, which it isn't.  It's just a model!

John Landon
Website on the eonic effect
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