World History vs Global History

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Contextual Quote

"We have singled out five mainstreams of consecutive global transformations for millennia: increases of world population, of technological power, of organizational complexity, of mental information capacity, and perfection of cultural regulation mechanisms."



Akop P. Nazaretyan:

1. World History:

"In the 18th and 19th centuries, a conception of world history appeared with national histories and was based on the idea of pan-human progressive development. Current versions of it have divisions into periods, ascending from prehistory to modern times. Originally, world history was Eurocentric, which was strongly criticized by adherents of the ‘civilization approach’ in the 19th and 20th centuries, such as Nikolay Danilevsky, Oswald Spengler, the early Arnold Toynbee and others. Later, historical particularists, post-modernists, and religious and national fundamentalists joined the debate. Together with Eurocentric ideology, the idea of pan-human history was denied. Spengler (1980) even proposed to consider humankind as merely a zoological concept.


2. Global History:

"In the first half of the 20th century, the profound mutual influence of geological, biological and social processes was revealed. As a result, a novel cross-disciplinary field took shape – global history: The planetary story seen as the successive formation, evolution and interaction of the structures in which first biota and then society turned out to be the leading agents. Russian biochemist Vladimir Vernadsky, French anthropologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, and philosopher Édouard Le Roy were among the discoverers of global history. They showed that human history was a phase in the evolution of the Earth, which they predicted would culminate in a ‘Noosphere’ – the sphere of maximum intellectual control over planetary processes. Among those who contributed to the global history approach were (Golubev 1992; Snooks 1996, 2002, 2005; Iordansky 2009; Grinin, Markov, and Korotayev 2011; Lekiaviĉius 2011). Particularly, the Australian global scientist Graeme Snooks has developed and applied a general dynamic theory of life and human society.

3. Big History:

Akop P. Nazaretyan:

"Big or Universal History is a concept that considers evolution from the Big Bang to modern society. It took shape from about 1980 into the 1990s. At least, two crucial achievements in the 20th century science influenced this trend. First: Relativist evolutionary cosmology models had been mathematically deduced and then received indirect empirical support from discoveries, such as the red-shift effect, cosmic background radiation and others. Historical methods deeply penetrated into Physics and Chemistry: All material objects, from nucleons to galaxies, proved to be temporal products of a certain evolutionary stage, which had their histories, pre-histories and naturally restrained futures. Second: A set of natural mechanisms were discovered by which open material systems could spontaneously move away from equilibrium within their habitats and – using the environment's sources for anti-entropy work – sustain their non-equilibrium conditions. Self-organization patterns became a subject of interest in the Sciences and the Humanities. All the above-mentioned factors reveal that we can distinctly trace progressive vectors or mega-trends, which enter into social, biological, geological and cosmo-physical histories as a single and continual process. Moreover, although no direct contradictions with the laws of physical irreversibility have been found, the mega-trends' orientation conflicts with the classical natural science paradigm. Some astrophysicists (Chaisson 2001) describe this as the disparity between two ‘arrows of time’ – the thermodynamic and the cosmological ones. Indeed, available data allows us to observe evolution from the quark-gluon plasma up to star clusters and organic molecules, from the Proterozoic cyanobacteria up to the higher vertebrates and most complicated ecosystems of the Pleistocene, and from Homo habilis with pebble chips up to post-industrial civilization. Thus, as far back as our view reaches, the Universe has been evolving from the more probable or ‘natural’ states, from an entropy point of view, to the less probable (or ‘unnatural’) ones. True, the cone of evolution has been tapering. Most matter of the Universe (the so-called dark matter) has avoided evolutionary transformations and remained apart from atomic structures. A tiny portion of atomic structures has formed organic molecules. Living matter has apparently emerged in extremely rare and limited parts of cosmic space, and only one of hundreds of thousands of biologic genes on Earth has reached the social stage. Thus, we may agree with Eric Chaisson (2001) and David Christian (2004) that complexity and rarity go together. Still, the appearance of a qualitatively higher structure imparts a novel attribute of the Universe as a single whole."



* Article: Mega-Evolution and Big History. By Akop P. Nazaretyan. In the book: Evolution: A Big History Perspective 2011 82–100