This website is a development from my site Rochelle's Philosophy Website which presents my views on historical change.The issues raised are also common to sociology as they concern ideas of long term social change and anthropology as they effect ideas of cultural evolution. This website is given much more of a sociological and anthropological perspective than my previous website.
Many attempts have been made in the past to understand and explain the course of human history. None have been terribly successful. The key to understanding the course of human history is to divide human history into that part that can be rationally understood and that part that cannot be rationally understood. The part that can be rationally understood is human social and cultural history; the part that cannot be rationally understood is related to political history and the rise and fall of states, empires and dynasties. It is possible to discern a pattern in human social and cultural history and that pattern involves ever increasing knowledge being used to meet human needs. Human knowledge of the natural world such as the laws of physics, chemistry and biology and the properties of the materials in the natural world and how to manipulate and control the materials in the natural world provides us with improved means of meeting human needs. Human knowledge grows in a necessary order with the easiest discoveries being made first and more difficult discoveries being made later. The order of discovery determines the course of human social and cultural history as new discoveries lead to social change and cultural evolution.
This site contains an outline of the idea I am proposing entitled How change happens and a series of case studies dealing with some of the most important events in human history. The case studies include the development of stone tools, the discovery of how to use and control fire, the discovery of agriculture and pastrolism, the invention of pottery and metallurgy, the invention of glass, the telescope and microscope, the invention of writing and printing, the development of astronomy, the discovery of the periodic table in chemistry, the development of organic chemistry in the nineteenth century, the discovery of steam power, the discovery of electricity, the invention of the electric telegraph and telephone, the invention of radio and television, the invention of photography and motion pictures, the invention of the internal combustion engine, the motor car and the aeroplane. These case studies are designed to illustrate the ideas contained in the How change happens paper in greater detail and the case studies are sumarised in the paper called The course of human history which serves as a conclusion page for the case studies. The case studies follow similar but not identical formats. In general they have a description of the development of the idea or invention followed by a description of the social and cultural effects of the idea or invention. This is then followed by a discussion of why the idea or invention happened at all and why it occurred at the particular time it did, in human history. The case studies make some use of counter-factuals to show how, if the laws of the natural sciences or the properties of matter in the natural world were different, the course of history, social change and the evolution of cultures would have been different. The Bibliography contains references used in common in many of the papers on this website, although the papers on the periodic table, organic chemistry, the discovery of writing and the discovery of steam power all have their own independent bibliographys