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Cyclical theories of history.

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Written by   7
2 months ago

According to the cyclic theory, time should not be descriptively represented in a straight line but in a circle. The word cycle comes from the Greek "kylos" meaning circle. That is, the cyclical theory believes that history is like a circle in which everything that begins must end and everything that ends gives way to another beginning. Rome rose, prospered and fell. Renaissance Italy rose, prospered and fell. Contemporary Italy rose, has prospered with certain periods of adversity and, therefore, has not (yet) fallen.

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Since World War I, the impact of the materialist conception of history on historical writings has been very great. We could say that in all serious historical work done in this period its influence is felt. Symptomatic of this change has been the replacement, in the general interest, of battles, diplomatic maneuvers, constitutional discussions and political intrigues as the main subjects of historical study - "political history" in the broad sense - by the study of economic factors, social conditions, population statistics and the rise and fall of social classes.

On the other hand, the growing popularity of sociology has been another aspect of this trend; attempts have even been made at times to consider history as a branch of sociology. The more recent cult of "quantitative history," which makes statistical information the source of all historical research, perhaps takes the materialist conception of history to absurd extremes.

The current vogue for popular history and biography, which concentrates its interest on picturesque and sensational incidents, or on elementary psychology, rather than on social analysis, has led to a certain reaction against these tendencies, a reaction which has affected some academic historians. However, to predict the future of our society is a task from which I refrain, in all respects. To a society full of confusions about the present and which has lost faith in the future, history will seem like a collection of unconnected, meaningless events. If our society recovers its mastery of the present and its vision of the future, it will, by virtue of the same process, renew its knowledge of the past.

It is unquestionable that humanity has progressed enormously throughout history. The victims of epidemics and wars in the 21st century are considerably fewer than those of previous centuries. Technology and scientific advances have managed to bring human progress to all corners of the earth. Some more than others, of course. However, human emotions, fears, concerns, desires and expectations remain the same as they were centuries ago. Historical time cycles allow us to generate new prospective methodologies to shape both our past and our future. Numerous studies indicate that, in part, history unfolds following patterns and trends of the past.

In this sense, on the one hand, our physical and material conditions do indeed move forward (not always for everyone, an insulting economic inequality persists); on the other hand, our mental and psychological conditions are static or even cyclical. These theories were attractive to primitive or nascent societies, whose knowledge of the past was limited to a very short space of time. Today they can sometimes be interesting and even classificatory in order to compare a current situation or idea with others existing in another time. But these comparisons are superficial, since they refer to different societies. In the modern world, no cyclical theory of history can be taken seriously.


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Well, reading your article on every line I was made to remember the lines of future teller Nostradamus, which was "everything repeats". And I have changed this to, things change face changes but the environment never changes it gets repeated.

Like Babylon must fall, it is the situation scenario. Babylon fell two times and people are waiting for the third time to fall.

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2 months ago

You are very right in what you say, your example is very accurate, humanity is waiting for Babylon to fall again, thanks for commenting.

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