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Journal of Big History
Number of Followers: 3  

  This is an Open Access Journal Open Access journal
ISSN (Print) 2475-3610
Published by International Big History Association Homepage  [1 journal]
  • Cover, Table of Contents

    • Authors: David Blanks
      PubDate: 2022-04-26
      DOI: 10.22339/jbh.v5i1.5108
      Issue No: Vol. 5, No. 1 (2022)
  • From the Editor

    • Authors: David Blanks
      PubDate: 2022-04-26
      DOI: 10.22339/jbh.v5i1.5109
      Issue No: Vol. 5, No. 1 (2022)
  • Philosophical Questions Raised by Big History

    • Authors: Barry Wood
      PubDate: 2022-04-26
      DOI: 10.22339/jbh.v5i1.5160
      Issue No: Vol. 5, No. 1 (2022)
  • Figuring toward a Viable Future

    • Authors: David J. LePoire
      PubDate: 2022-04-26
      DOI: 10.22339/jbh.v5i1.5170
      Issue No: Vol. 5, No. 1 (2022)
  • Big History—A Study of All Existence

    • Authors: Barry Rodrigue
      Abstract: This is a brief overview of the field of big history and my personal reflection on its significance. Like others, I developed a macro-perspective of existence from the 1950s onward, as a natural way of thinking, without label or rubric. It was only in 2003 that I heard of big history and realized this concept expressed much of what I had been doing.
      This realization mirrored the experience of many others around the world in the second-half of the 20th century—interdisciplinary and macro-historical studies had emerged independently around the planet in a global conjuncture. It was a general human expression, representing an impulse of humanity.
      For my part, I had engaged in ethnographic studies in various locations, with a focus on human adaptation. I therefore saw cosmic evolution, big history, and universal studies as a component of humanity’s survival strategy—a concept especially understood by our post-Soviet and Asian colleagues. As a result, my focus in this two-part article is on how macro-historical studies relate to the theme of human survival in this modern era of climate crisis.
      Others will have a different focus and have been effected by different concepts and authors. Their views are just as valid, and I encourage them to share them. Big history is a house with many rooms.
      PubDate: 2022-04-26
      DOI: 10.22339/jbh.v5i1.5101
      Issue No: Vol. 5, No. 1 (2022)
  • Thresholds of Increasing Complexity in Big History

    • Authors: Fred Spier
      Abstract: In this article, the concept of Thresholds of Big History is critically examined. It should be abandoned because it is fundamentally flawed.
      PubDate: 2022-04-26
      DOI: 10.22339/jbh.v5i1.5120
      Issue No: Vol. 5, No. 1 (2022)
  • The Chicxulub File: Discovering the K-Pg Mass Extinction

    • Authors: Barry Wood
      Abstract: In 1979 geologists Luis and Walter Alvarez discovered a layer of iridium-rich rock in the Apennine Mountains dating from 66 to 65 million years BP, the time when dinosaurs went extinct. Their theory that an asteroid strike had caused this massive extinction remained speculative and controversial until the 1991 discovery of a telltale crater from a synchronous asteroid impact. The effects of this impact, centered at Chicxulub on the Yucatan Peninsula, were worldwide. Over the years, impact spherules were found at numerous sites, along with evidence of a massive tsunami throughout the Gulf of Mexico and adjacent coasts. From accumulating evidence, the theory was ratified in 2012, though many details remained unknown. However, a series of dramatic discoveries reported from 2019 to 2022 have led to a chronology of events both during and subsequent to the impact. Evidence for the rapid recovery and development of mammals has been found in the fossil record and, thus, the biological foundations of our own emergence. The final 2019 issue of Science (20 December) named this a “superyear” for studies of the Cretaceous-Paleogene (K-Pg) extinction as the runner-up science “breakthrough of the year.” Through these separate discoveries, a coherent hour-by-hour narrative has emerged, marking the onset of the Cenozoic era and providing a foundation for the emergence of Homo sapiens.
      PubDate: 2022-04-26
      DOI: 10.22339/jbh.v5i1.5130
      Issue No: Vol. 5, No. 1 (2022)
  • Big History and the Principle of Emergence

    • Authors: Ken Baskin
      Abstract: Life is a raucous carnival, full of “games” and “rides” whose ongoing interactions continually surprise us. Yet thinkers are too often tempted to treat it as a machine that spits out linear time lines of events, one leading deterministically to another. By its interdisciplinary nature, big history is inclined to treat the world as a carnival; yet the temptation to treat it in the more linear way sometimes prevails. This essay treats one key dynamic that governs life’s carnival—the principle of emergence. Emergence is the process by which a relatively simple entity interacts with its environment to become structurally complex, often in ways that seem impossible to anticipate. In this way, a seed becomes a fruit tree, a small community becomes a vast city, or a shamanic religion in a hunter-gatherer band evolves into a system of belief and practice shared by a billion people. By defining emergence and exploring religion as an extended illustration, this paper makes the case for more fully incorporating the principle of emergence into the study of big history.
      PubDate: 2022-04-26
      DOI: 10.22339/jbh.v5i1.5140
      Issue No: Vol. 5, No. 1 (2022)
  • Complex-Information Ethics Theory

    • Authors: Ken Solis
      Abstract:     If ethics is of any interest to big historians, it might be primarily for analyzing the “ought to haves” and the “ought not to haves” of prior large scale human actions, e.g., does an agriculture-based lifestyle cause more harms to humans overall as compared with a hunter-gatherer lifestyle' However, big historians are also often concerned about the future events of Earth that can be influenced by humans, such as climate change, mass extinctions, and the predicted technological singularity. Because those concerns encompass both human and non-human complex systems such as the biosphere and possible future advanced artificial intelligence, big history requires an ethical framework that addresses anthropocentric as well as non-anthropocentric concerns and perspectives.
          Complex-information (C-I) ethics is a new information-centric theory described in this paper. Several other information-centric variants have already been proposed. However, C-I theory seeks to enhance, broaden, and deepen this genre of ethical theory with the general directive that moral agents should perpetuate and enhance net positive deep informational artifacts and processes. Before introducing this directive, however, we will first explore and define its underpinnings in the disciplines of thermodynamics, information theory, and complexity science. By better understanding how entropy and its Janus-like counterpart, information, are relevant to C-I’s ethical directive, we can also better appreciate why complex systems, as defined by their key characteristics, have intrinsic ethical value. We will also examine why artifacts and processes with deep semantic value can have instrumental ethical value to agents. Although many, if not most, complex systems are ethically and pragmatically worthy of being perpetuated and enhanced, some are not because of their negative effects on the broader complexity landscape. A couple of important caveats to C-I’s directive are also described.
          By bringing the findings and analytical tools of key physical sciences to bear, C-I theory opens new avenues for exploring what we as moral agents ought and ought not to have done in the past, as well as what we ought or ought not to do presently and in the future. This class of ethical theories also delineates some of the primary bridges from the natural and physical sciences to the more subjective realm of philosophical ethics.
      PubDate: 2022-04-26
      DOI: 10.22339/jbh.v5i1.5150
      Issue No: Vol. 5, No. 1 (2022)
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