Big History and the Future of Humanity / Edition 1

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"Big History" places the human past within the history of life, the Earth, and the Universe. In doing so, this emerging field of historical study provides us with an overview of the known past in its entirety, from the beginning of time until the present day. In Big History and the Future of Humanity, Spier presents a simple theoretical approach that not only makes big history accessible, but reveals what the future may hold for humanity." This original new approach interprets big history as the history of the rise and demise of complexity in all its myriad forms, from the greatest galaxy clusters to the tiniest sub-atomic particles. While focusing on energy flows through matter and the circumstances that produce complexity, the author traces the emergence and decline of all the major forms of complexity that have existed, including human societies and their products. Breathtaking in scope, Big History and the Future of Humanity offers provocative new insights into the origins and development of life and serves as an invitation to ponder humans' place in the cosmos in a fascinating new way.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Spier takes us one important step forward in making big history accessible to all.  I look forward to the next, more fully illustrated and documented, step in this process.”  (Journal of World History, 1 August 2012

"This is a deep and important book that promises to send scholars in many different fields off on new paths in search of a grand unified theory of history." (Journal of Global History, 2011)

"Personally, I think everyone should have access to this story, and I would put it at the heart of the national curriculum as well." (The Times Higher Education, September 2010) 

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781444334210
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 4/12/2010
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Fred Spier is Senior Lecturer in Big History at the University of Amsterdam and also teaches Big History at the Eindhoven University of Technology. He is the author of Religious Regimes in Peru (1994), San Nicolás de Zurite (1995), and The Structure of Big History: From the Big Bang until Today (1996).

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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 Introduction to big history 1

Ch. 2 General approach 18

Ch. 3 Cosmic evolution : the emergence of simple forms of complexity 41

Ch. 4 Our cosmic neighborhood : the emergence of greater complexity 62

Ch. 5 Life on Earth : the widening range of complexity 82

Ch. 6 Early human history : the emergence of the greatest known complexity 111

Ch. 7 Recent human history : the development of the greatest known complexity 138

Ch. 8 Facing the future 189

App A short time line of big history 206

Notes 208

Bibliography 239

Index 262

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