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William McGaughey, cosmohistorical designer (or cosmohistorian)
William McGaughey is the author of A History of the Triple Existence: Matter, Life, and Thought. He is also the author of a book published in 2000: Five Epochs of Civilization: World History as Emerging in Five Civilizations.
What is the contribution to human knowledge and understanding of either book? It is not that new historical facts are being presented but that the presentation of history in its totality is designed in a new way. McGaughey’'s contribution is therefore that of a cosmohistorical designer.
Take the second book first. History of the Triple Existence is a book in the genre of Big History. Big History combines natural and human history. William McGaughey did not invent the scheme of Big History; David Christian, Fred Spier, Cynthia Stokes Brown, Craig Benjamin, and others did. However, he did contribute two elements of design in a unique way. First, the period of human experience in civilized society is organized according to the scheme of “five epochs of civilization”. (See below.) Second, thought is introduced as a new type of being, along with matter and life, whose emergence drives history in recent times. McGaughey's cosmology carries the development of thought forward from its glimmerings in the mind of prehistoric man to its culmination in artificial intelligence and robotics.
With respect to Five Epochs of Civilization, the periods of civilization are each introduced by a new communication technology which, in turn, creates a new dominant institution in society. The introduction of ideographic writing, alphabetic writing, printing, electronic recording and broadcasting, and computer-based communication have spawned the ages of government, world religion, commerce and education, and entertainment, respectively, with the Internet and related products in the process of becoming organized as a new civilization. The five civilizations correspond sequentially to certain periods in world history, although the timing may differ between geographically based societies.
What it is not: This is not a history centered upon the activities of government - dynastic successions, wars, laws, treaties, etc. That type of history is too narrow. McGaughey’s history is also not a moralistic scheme that sees history culminating in my particular nation or set of beliefs and values or even my particular species. Both books aspire to present a creation story of the world or universe as it exists. They show how a simple situation at the beginning developed into what we have today.
Apart from the three comments on the back cover, it is too soon for History of the Triple Existence to have attracted much comment. However, Five Epochs of Civilization received a generally favorable reaction from reviewers in diverse parts of the world. This suggests that regional, national, racial, or ethnocentric bias has been kept to a minimum.
From China: “"A great man (Chairman Mao) once said that people should pay attention to historical experience. McGaughey has drawn comparisons between past and present civilizations to draw out the similarities and differences in meaningful ways. With the common civilization model, he has identified education and commercial trade as salient features in the present civilization. Such a conclusion matches the Chinese 'open door' approach." - Adi Dai, Xin Hua Book Studies (Beijing)
From Pakistan: “"It is not easy to write a history of the world in the restricted space of a single volume ... What makes the writing of world history interesting is the search for underlying patterns beneath the confused mass of historical experience, the identification of processes which determine historical change and progress, and the prognosis of future on the basis of past and present trends. That precisely is the scope and subject matter of William McGaughey's brilliant book on world history, exploring five millennia of civilised existence of mankind and etching out the contours of an imminent new age."” - Sami Saeed, Dawn (Karachi)
From India: “"World History gives clues to the origin of contemporary society. Its knowledge will help to explain things that may seem illogical or obscure about the world in which we live today,' says the author who has presented the history of our civilization in five epochs of historical experience and associates each with distinct qualities and themes. In a brilliant analysis of the march of world history, he has recognised the contributions of different lands and races to the sum total of cultural evolution."” - V.K. Raman, The Hindu (Madras)
From Nigeria: “"In this unique book, William McGaughey adopts a radical style that portrays world history in an entirely new light. Due to the conservative nature of history writing, most history books are a mere rehash of earlier works. But this is not the usual run-of-the-mill book of history. While keeping to the basic historical tradition, stating the facts as they are, the author tries to weigh and interpret the facts against the various factors by which history takes its form. This book is a brilliant attempt to present in a most comprehensive and lucid manner the entire structure of human history in both space and time. And the author's peculiar approach makes it a successful attempt."” - Sumalia I. Umaisha, New Nigerian Weekly (Kaduna)
From the United States:
"My favorite reading is history and one of the most interesting books I've read is Five Epochs of Civilization by William McGaughey ... that presents history in a unique way, building on the work of Spengler and Toynbee. It will change your understanding of history by looking at the way civilizations arose and passed from the scene, each influencing the next. ... Great reading!" - Alan Caruba, Bookviews.com
“"Unique, challenging, informative, exceptionally well researched, Five Epochs of Civilization is a benchmark publication that will appeal to both academia and the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the evolution of human civilization to the present day - and into the new millennium." - James Cox, The Midwest Book Review
William McGaughey and Tatiana Shestova at the Globalistics-2013 international scientific conference at Lomonosov Moscow State University, October 25, 2013. The conference was held in memory of Russian scientist and cosmologist Vladimir Vernadsky’s 150th birthday.
homage to Vernadsky
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