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Chinese Scholar Interprets the Periodic Table of Human Civilization: 4 Development Periods and 16 Stages

2019-06-11  

 

China News | May 24, 2019  20:52:37

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He Chuanqi, Director of China Center for Modernization Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences and Co-chairman of the International Modernization Forum, was presiding over the opening ceremony.  Photographed by: Sun Zifa

 

  According to the message of China News in Beijing on May 24 (reported by Sun Zifa), 150 years ago, Dmitri Mendeleev, a Russian chemist, put forward the periodic table of chemical elements. Inspired by it, He Chuanqi, Director of China Center for Modernization Research, Chinese Academy of Sciences, put forward the periodic table of human civilization course which divides the human civilization course from the birth of mankind to the late 21st century into four development periods: primitive culture, agricultural civilization, industrial civilization and knowledge civilization, with each period including four stages: starting stage, development stage, maturity stage and transition stage. New changes will take place in the 22nd century.

 

  With the theme of "Modernization and Human Development", the 3rd International Modernization Forum was open in Beijing on May 24. As a co-chairman of the International Modernization Forum, He Chuanqi presided over the opening ceremony and delivered a special speech titled "The Periodic Table of Human Civilization Course". 20 years ago, he put forward the periodic table of human civilization course in his book named "The Second Modernization: Enlightenment of Human Civilization Process". He believes that the transformation from the agricultural civilization to the industrial civilization, from the agricultural economy to the industrial economy, and from the agricultural society to the industrial society is the first modernization, and the transformation from the industrial civilization to the knowledge civilization, from the industrial economy to the knowledge economy, and from the industrial society to the knowledge society is the second modernization. On this basis, the periodic table, coordinate system and roadmap of human civilization and world modernization can be formulated to describe and reflect the correlation between civilization and modernization.

 

  He Chuanqi said, based on the productivity and labor force structure, the human civilization course can be divided into four historical stages: tool age, agricultural age, industrial age and knowledge age, and four social stages: primitive society, agricultural society, industrial society and knowledge society.

 

  Four far-reaching revolutions have taken place successively in human history: the tool-making revolution, the primitive agricultural revolution, the modern industrial revolution and the knowledge and information revolution. The four revolutions have resulted in four shifts in human history: firstly, the shift from the animal world to human society; secondly, the shift from the tool age (primitive times) to the agricultural age; thirdly, the shift from the agricultural age to the industrial age; and fourthly, the shift from the industrial age to the knowledge age. Every shift has promoted a huge progress in human civilization.

 

  On this basis, the frontier process of human civilization and world history from the birth of mankind to the late 21st century can be roughly divided into the tool age, agricultural age, industrial age and knowledge age, basically consistent with the social stage division, namely, the primitive society, agricultural society, industrial society and knowledge society.

 

       The tool age refers to the historical period between the birth of mankind and the emergence of civilizations, approximately from 2.50 million years ago to 3500 B.C., including four stages, namely, the early Paleolithic period at the starting stage, the middle Paleolithic period at the development stage, the late Paleolithic period at the maturity stage, and the Neolithic period at the transition stage; The agricultural age refers to the historical period between the birth of civilization and the industrial revolution, approximately from 3500 B.C. to A.D. 1760, including the period of ancient civilization at the starting stage when cities and countries took shape, the period of classical civilization at the development stage when science and religions appeared, the thriving period of Eastern civilization and medieval European civilization at the maturity stage, and the period of modern civilization initiation at the transition stage; The industrial age refers to the historical period between the industrial revolution and knowledge revolution, approximately from 1760 to 1970, including the mechanization and urbanization at the starting stage, the electrification and democratization at the development stage, the household mechanization and electrification at the maturity stage, and the automation and social welfare at the transition stage; The knowledge age refers to the historical period between the knowledge revolution and the late 21st century, approximately from 1970 to 2100, including the information revolution and high technology at the starting stage (1970 – 1992), the networking and intelligence at the development stage (approximately 1992-2020), the human body regeneration and man-machine integration at the maturity stage (approximately 2020-2050), and the time-space revolution and space travel at the transition stage (approximately 2050-2100). The characteristics of the maturity stage and transition stage are predictions.

 

  He Chuanqi also put forward the concept of "big period" for the course of human civilization. In his words, if the civilization development periods of different countries and nations are seen as a "small period" and the four development periods of the human civilization course are seen as an "intermediate period", there may be a "big period". Namely, the four development periods of the human civilization course constitute a big period. Wherein, the tool age is the period of civilization incubation, the agricultural age is the starting stage, the industrial age is the development stage, and the knowledge age is the maturity stage. After that, human civilization will enter the transition stage (the incubation period of new civilizations), and a new "big period" will start which may begin with "astronautic civilization".

 

  If the "big period" from the primitive culture to the knowledge civilization is named the "big period of earth civilization", the "big period" beginning with astronautic civilization can be named the "big period of space civilization". By that time, the earth will become the origin of human civilization, and the universe will become a big stage of senior human civilization. "An exciting 'age of space civilization' is coming".

 

  Speaking of the periodic table of human civilization and world modernization, He Chuanqi said, the civilization periodicity is just one of many characteristics of human civilization. Human civilization is not only an organic whole, but also a collection of civilizations from different countries and nations. Viewed from the former, the frontier process of the human civilization course is periodic and progressive; while viewed from the latter, civilizations around the world are diverse and not synchronized.

 

  He Chuanqi stressed that it is complicated in the future, and no people or model can provide an ideal solution. His analysis concerning the periodic table of human civilization is to raise problems instead of providing solutions. We look forward that there will be more in-depth related studies in the future.

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