The Cycles

Recurrent Patterns in Cultural Evolution

For many years, I have been working on a theory of history as a pattern of cyclical recurrences, in which the same cultural phases repeat over and over.

Every recurrence follows a common template, a predictable sequence of culture-wide mood-shifts and significant moments of major social change. But at the same time, each recurrence is also unique, with its own characteristic problems and solutions and its own distinctive vision of the universe.

These cyclical repetitions taken in concert comprise the machinery of social evolution that has brought us from the Stone Age to the present day.

This theory as it stands is not an elegant one. It is vast and sprawling and simultaneously explains too much and too little. It most closely resembles the kind of unbridled speculation which was commonplace in the 18th and 19th centuries but came to seem immature and unprofessional to the far more disciplined folk of the 20th.

I have never felt entirely comfortable about the theory's untidiness, but since no amount of tinkering seeks likely to bring it to it into conformity with 20th century standards of neatness, I am now resigned to putting it up as it stands.

Family and friends assure me that they have found it useful even in its present inelegant state, and I can only hope that others will find it intriguing and enlightening as well.

1. History as an Alternation of Static and Creative Periods

2. The Sequence of a Cycle:  Five Phases from Here to the Bronze Age

Details of Fashion: A1

3. The Cycles Subdivided

4. Romans, Barbarians, and Crusaders

5. The Long and the Short: The Making of the Modern World

6. The Cycle Further Subdivided:  25 Special Moments

7.  Beyond Eurocentrism: The Clash of Civilizations

8. Worldviews and Supercycles

9. Visions of Reality:  The Deeper Structure of Worldviews

10.  When Visions Collide:  25 Special Moments Revisited

11.  Supercycles Revisited:  The Larger Patterns of History

12.  Time Out of Mind:   Reconstructing the Earliest Visions

Appendix A:  Some Details of History

Appendix B:  Some Details of Fashion

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Background courtesy of  Eos Development