Evolutionary Phases of Big History


Leonid E. Grinin
Anton L. Grinin


The present article is devoted to the issue of unity of laws, patterns and mechanisms of evolution at all its stages and levels of Big History and megaevolution. Despite the enormous differences between cosmic, planetological, chemical, biological, and social evolutions, there are many similarities. There are a lot of important and insightful works on the development of complexity in our Universe and in the course of Big History. Unfortunately, much less studies are devoted to analysis of universal similarities, patterns and rules within Big History. Mostly such research is focused on a few laws of Big History which are usually connected with development of complexity. However, laws in terms of the typological similarity of many patterns and rules in star-galaxy, planetological, chemical, biological and social phases of Big History, are of great importance. In the present article we will consider a number of such important similarities, which, in our opinion, clearly demonstrate the systemic-structural and functional-evolutionary unity of the world at its different levels and in different areas. The understanding of these similarities deepens our perception about all stages of Big History and its regularities, and leads us away from the false idea that social evolution in all aspects is different from the evolution of previous levels. In the first section our key goal is to give our own definitions of evolution which would cover as many variants of evolutionary changes as possible. In the second section we will try to give a rather voluminous and dialectical picture of the unfolding universal evolution instead of a short scheme: cosmic – biological – social. The notions of main and transitional phases of Big History are introduced; and the importance of its planetary and chemical phases is shown. In the third section we will show that one can reveal a number of similarities at all levels and phases of megaevolution, which can be generalized in universal laws, rules, mechanisms, patterns and principles of evolution. One should note that in fact none of the important laws and principles, not any of the important rules of evolution, have been ‘lost’ in the process of transition from lower to higher levels. They were only modified and became more complicated, and there also appeared some new principles and rules (and in retrospect one can see their rudiments at the lowest levels of evolution). Some of these laws and rules are described in this section. In the fourth section we will try to present some evolutionary and philosophical ideas that explain the profound similarity in the laws and patterns of megaevolution at all its levels and phases. In the conclusion we will discuss evolutionary and non-evolutionary matters.


Author Biographies

Leonid E. Grinin, National Research University Higher School of Economics , Moscow Institute for Oriental Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow

Leonid E. Grinin is Director of Uchitel Publishing, Volgograd, Russia. Beginning as a teacher in rural schools, he founded his publishing firm to develop educational materials in the 1980s. He then completed a Ph.D. at Moscow State University and expanded Uchitel to serve a global market in Russian and English. A sociologist, philosopher of history, and economist, his work focuses on identifying regularities of macroevolution. Among his thirty monographs are From Confucius to Comte: The Formation of the Theory, Methodology and Philosophy of History (2012, in Russian); Macrohistory and Globalization (2012); and The Big History of the Universe’s Development: Cosmic Evolution (2013, in Russian). Leonid co-authored Great Divergence and Great Convergence: A Global Perspective (2015) and co-edits the international journals, Social Evolution and History and Journal of Globalization Studies. A founding member and Deputy Director of the Eurasian Center for Megahistory & System Forecasting, access to his portal, Social Studies.

Anton L. Grinin, Moscow State University

Anton L. Grinin is a research fellow at Moscow State University and National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia. With a Ph.D. in biology, his academic interests include bioethics, evolutionary and future studies, the history and philosophy of technology, and globalization. He specializes in the technological revolution unfolding in the 21st century, especially in cybernetics. These events will result in the profound transformation of the economy and society, posing ethical-legal and other risks. Anton also investigates correlations between the Cybernetic Revolution, Kondratieff waves, and issues of global aging. The author of more than fifty publications in Russian and English, including two monographs, he has won the Gold Kondratieff Young Scholars Medal and the Alexander Belyaev Literature Award.