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Re: Affective measures in the social sciences produce more ideologic agitprop...
by Nemonemini
19 September 2002 22:41 UTC
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In a message dated 9/19/2002 5:51:20 PM Eastern Daylight Time, malexan@net-link.net writes:

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.

Good questions, valuable for me. The question of Islam and 12th century Europe are highly equivocal. The point is not to denigrate these periods, but to see that in relation to the eonic effect, these are relatively different, and not advancing explosive in a close time-frame that way the Greek phase or the modern phase does.
There is a change of direction, not just an advance, in the rise of the modern, and this shows a clustering of a truly massive clustering of creative advances in a rapid and exact time-frame, and importantly, in parallel independent areas, economy, arts, science, politics, philosophy, abolition, appearing of democracy, etc, etc... Nothing in the twelfth century remotely compares with this.

The synchronism of antiquity is not a question of religion. What is a religion?
Chinese history shows more than Confucius and Laotse at the phase era. India and Israel produce religions later, influenced by this period, but the actual period itself is slightly different.
Note that Israel's history is seen from after the birth of Christianity (by some) and a reconstructed 'Judaism' pushed backward. That's justifiable up to a point. But let us ask what really happened in this period? It is about the 'state' also, the 'kingdom of god' concept being an elegant blend of state thinking and religious thinking. So a close look shows even Israel not so different from the other cases. Please note that Islam and Christianity, along with the ism we call 'Buddhism' are later constructs. The Indian phase period shows a slew of philosophers, and in general we see the resemblance to the Pre-Socratic period in Greece.

Also, please note that part of the data is the Greek, where we see science born (or reborn), the birth of democracy from republics, a huge literature and artistic flowering, in general a host of contradictions.
So this Axial Age concept has already suffered 'scramble'. It is not a question of religion. Religion and science both show emergence here in parallel.

Also, most confusingly, much of what emerges from Israel later already existed before my phase era. A good example is Zoroastrianism grafted onto the Judaic stream during the Exile. Zarathustra is very ancient.

But note that this model is about relative accelerations, or transformations. Religion wasn't invented in this period, nor did I ever claim it thus.

I am not sure of the problem as to -600 versus before -700. In my set of transitions, I set up a rising curve after -900 and this climaxes around -600 at which point something born in the phase tends to flower fast, and then crystallize, usually by -400. You are right in one way, the data is thin around -900. But that hardly matters.
The core period is from about -750 to about -400, with a rough centre of gravity around -600.  It is not the number of things, but their quality and meaning. The birth of philosophy-science in the Pre-Socratics, for example. These are all massively clustered, and then the fall off occurs after -400.

The question of Indus is addressed. But note that here we see the use of the frequency approach. These things are happening on schedule. That does not mean things can't happen in the middle. The point of these phases is that they reach a peak which then shows diffusion. To speak of the Indus is misleading then. Does it not show influence from the birth of civilization?  Take a later example. The Romans. We see the Roman Empire as a middle phenomenon, but we don't include it in the phase period. It shows strong results of diffusion. That's especially clear in the Roman case. And note that the Empire is going into reverse. The source, the Republic, is, precisely the point, in phase.

We get the knack for the model, and see how the pieces fit. One of them is democracy. It happens twice, both in eonic correlation. The other times are drifting away.

It takes getting used to this kind of model. It is like a puzzle. The pieces have a shape, but they also have a meaning. Once we see the meaning of what this system is doing our confidence increases. The odds are against any other explanation, as it were.
It is also disconcerting to take the 'meaning' approach. Every hopes some massive functional measure will add up to a model in some 'science of history' .
But nothing can be measured here, except the timing. The meaning of the events is based on the emergence at a high level of values, and their realization.
The overall effect however shows the classic signature of a discrete-continuous system. Elegant, and once seen, simple, if mysterious.

John Landon
Website on the eonic effect
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