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Re: The Eonic Effect and the problem of evidence
by Nemonemini
22 September 2002 21:06 UTC
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In a message dated 9/22/2002 3:49:45 PM Eastern Daylight Time, larondin@yahoo.com writes:

I’d like to hear some more about that sine curve from ancient to modern times that you were talking about in your post a few days ago.  Anything especially significant about it that we should know?

You post is packed with stuff, let me quickly answer this question. The reference is to David King, The Crisis in Our Time, Susquehanna U Pr. 1988, p.181.
That's a Univ stack item, have fun finding it. So let me summarize it, the sine curve starts about -700 and rises to its first peak near Roman Times, then starts its trough in the medieval period, then is on its way upagain in modern times.
There are many problems with that, but what I found interesting was the spontaneous gesture of someone actually doing that to the data. It shows that the 'eonic effect' is something people intuitively reckon with, you can't avoid it. Explaining it is another matter.
The problem with a sine curve is that the eonic effect doesn't show a local maximum in Roman times. Such a statement is meaningless perhaps, what are we measuring!!! By some measures it would work find. But in terms of the eonic effect the graph would be heavilty skewed toward the beginning, a lot like the 'transient curve' in an electronic rig. The Eonic effect is close to a steady state with a impulsive function in series. Around -700 we see the system taking off, and how!, peaking very early (look at the two centuries in Greece, after -600) then heading downhill fast, but downhill not very far, leveling out.

The problem with all this is that subjective graphs are not especially rigorous! What are we measuring? Part of the data is the high quality of Greek Tragedy, followed by its sudden oblvion. Or the brief appearance of democracy. Or the Hebrew Prophets. And so on. We have to do more than measure. We have to assess what's going on.

Dynamical models only work if you can assume causality in a strict sense. But the problem there is that causal systems can't evolve because they don't increase their information. No 'novelty' is possible. Self-organization models, therefore, are the next candidate. But they still have problems.
Anyway, you intuition is correct, the eonic data is packed with structure, and it is very intriguing to consider the possibilities.

My statement about economic history means that economies expand into fields of interaction, markets, while the eonic effect shows concentration in a series or in parallel. They are two different kinds of things. Note that the evolution of economies was indifferent to slavery. While the evolution of freedom is something else, and shows just that 'eonic' effect of concentration.
That's why the rise of the modern is confusing. We see the two overlaid. But a close look shows how to separate them.
However, note how much debate has attended this confusion. We see freedom emerge in modern times, but, at least in the beginning, we see slavery increasing. But note that the core zone generating the new bourgeois society is relatively free of slavery, while the market expansion generates the increase of slavery. We see how easily we can adapt the core and periphery argument to the eonic model, as long as we don't confuse the two. You see the problem theorists are having. Does the modern system start around 1500? But what about signs of capitalism in the medieval period. Or AGF with his five thousand year system.
The problem disappears in the eonic model, because we distinguish the 'eonic sequence' from the 'econosequence'.
In any case, that distinction of markets and core zones is crucial, and leaves the system of eonic evolution unbalanced. And that's why we are trying to model that imbalance.
So, if you stick to the eonic model, the core periphery issue is easy to rewrite in those terms.
Any form of evolution like the 'eonic evolution' of civilization is going to suffer wild imbalance around its transition periods, and we see that effect at once in the rise of the modern.
So, anyway, models are great but keep in mind that the theorists are also part of the model, evidence.
The modern transition is unique in showing the emergentist appearance of people trying to correct transitional imbalance. So people like Wallerstein and AGF are data in the model. Terrific.

John Landon
Website on the eonic effect
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