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New section: Started September 2023.

Please note: the discipline of Big History tries to find a common scientific narrative between the evollution of matter, life, and human culture. The Russian World-Systems Analysis School has more recently attempted a synthesis of the civilizational approach, world systems analysis, and big history.

Evolution, as applied to human culture, is also the domain of Integral Theory, which builds on the findings of Adult Developmental Theory.

We recommend reading these introduction:

Eight big questions

Geoffrey West:

"What conditions favor the formation of cooperative groups?

What conditions maintain cooperation during group transformation?

What conditions favor division of labor?

What conditions favor communication that coordinates co-operation at the group level?

What conditions lead to negligible conflict within groups?

What conditions favor mutual dependence?

How are new conflicts of interest suppressed in groups that have already made a major transition?

What conditions favor the breakdown of major transitions?"


Bibliography on Big History

This more recent trend aims to integrate physical-cosmic, life and earth, and human cultural history in one integrated but largely 'materialist' and academically justified narrative, with the aim of teaching children students and citizens a positive story of cosmic and human evolution.

  • Intro: Big History as the Study of All Existence: Rodrigue, Barry H. 2022. “Big History — A Study of All Existence: Part 1: A World Connected.” Journal of Big History 5 (1): 1-47.DOI [1]: "This is a brief overview of the field of big history and my personal reflection on its significance."

Please note

- the distinction between World History vs Global History and how it relates to Big History.

- the distinction between Big History and 'Deep History', which is a less ambitious attempt to extend the history of humanity to the start of its cultural life, i.e. before the advent of writing.

This is its foundational book:

  • Deep History. The Architecture of Past and Present. By Andrew Shryock and Daniel Lord Smail. University of California Press, 2011. [2]

The Books

As recommended by Sohail Inayatullah:

  • Erwin Laszlo, Evolution ‑‑ The Grand Synthesis, 211 pp. Boston: Shambhala Publications Inc, 1987.

"This is a basic textbook for anyone interested in evolutionary futures studies. Articulates extensive and intensive dimensions of evolution." [3]

  • Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan, Origins of Sex: Three Billion Years of Genetic Recombination. New Haven, Yale University Press, 1986.

"Background for understanding the world at the cellular level. What this means for human survivability (the cooperative metaphor) is discussed." [4]

  • Elisabet, Sahtouris. EarthDance: Living Systems in Evolution. New York:, 2000. 403 pages.

"Presents a view of evolution from the gaian perspective. Inspiring and well-written." [5]

Before Big History

  • The Self-Organizing Universe. Eric Jantsch. Pergamon Press, 1980: "Jantsch looked at all of history in terms of what he called 'process structures'. The honour of being the first to design a general structure for big history should therefore go to Erich Jantsch." - Fred Spier [6].

(Please note the heterodox version of the same idea: The Reflexive Universe, by Arthur Young.)

  • The Universe Story: From the Primordial Flaring Forth to the Ecozoic Era – A Celebration of the Unfolding of the Cosmos. By Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1992

[7]: stresses the integral role of humanity in the unfolding of the universe.

Big History

  • Cosmic Evolution: The Rise of Complexity in Nature. By Eric Chaisson. Harvard University Press, 2001: "complexity emerges when energy flows through matter. Only in this way it is possible for more complex structures to arise." See: Cosmic Evolution as the Rise of Complexity in Nature.
  • Christian, David. Maps of time: an introduction to big history. University of California Press, 2004: Tells the story as a series of telescoping time periods, each representing a new threshold of complexity.


  • Two books about the increase in complexity over time, in both biological and cultural evolution:


Pages in category "Evolution"

The following 118 pages are in this category, out of 118 total.

Media in category "Evolution"

The following 2 files are in this category, out of 2 total.