Ciclos Históricos Universales

  1. Job Flores Fernández
Supervised by:
  1. Francisco José Martínez López Director

Defence university: Universidad de Huelva

Year of defence: 2023


Type: Thesis


Does History repeat itself? What is repeated and on what frequency? What causes repetition or what factors affect it? This thesis analyses and compares the theories on historical cycles proposed by about fifty authors, and carries out a specific case study on the history of Western art. In the introduction, the concept of "cyclical history" is analyzed and the objectives are specified: 1) to study the existing theories to date, compare and synthesize them, 2) to know what causes the various researchers point to as the originators or influencial in these cycles, and 3) to carry out a specific case study on the history of Western art. Our hypothesis is that the stylistic oscillations in the history of art could be influenced by cycles of a different nature: economic, climatic, generational, etc. To deal with this complex issue, we proposed to use the mixed methodologies of foresight in the context of macrohistory, as well as those specific to comparative history. The materials would be the cyclical theories of various authors, and scientific papers on natural cycles as possible causes. And for the case study, the data related to the periods of Western art. The state of the art is divided into two sections: natural cycles (in the stars, tides, climate, etc.), and human cycles. This second block, the largest, is divided into three parts: cycles in myth, religion and philosophy; cycles in the arts of time and space; and cycles in the social sciences and history. The sections related to beliefs and the arts show how the West went from a cyclical conception of time to a basically linear one, but which still admits the concept of temporal cycle in a relative way. The section on social sciences and history divides theories into different categories to facilitate their analysis: 1) ancient and medieval cycles, 2) cultures and civilizations, 3) war, political and social, 4) economic and derived, 5) hegemonic, and 6) generational. In the methodology section, we begin by explaining the advantages for our study of choosing mixed procedures, and we place our research within the framework of macrohistory. Regarding the mixed methodologies used in foresight, we first highlight currents such as the so-called "long-term cycles", which fit exactly with the theme of our thesis. Within the quantitative methodologies we highlight the cyclical structure that the results of the exploratory analyzes of time series often present, and in the qualitative methodologies we focus on the historical analogy. We pay special attention to the latter in the section devoted to comparative history. Finally, we established our materials and work phases, in which an initial data collection, a comparative study of the results, and a final synthesis and classification would always appear. Regarding the results, we established two large blocks: human cycles and natural cycles. In the first section we carry out a comparative study of the numerous cyclical theories, among which we include our case study on artistic cycles. In the synthesis we highlight that, in general, these tend to present systems of cycles that can be combined with each other, similar to a certain extent, and sometimes with a systemic character, given that, for example, sometimes the same cycle appears in disparate topics such as the economy, the art or war. Finally, we established a general classification into short or generational cycles, medium or secular, and long or millennial cycles. Regarding natural cycles as causes or conditioning factors of human cycles, we concluded that we could speak of endogenous causes (the subjective point of view of the researcher, the influence of some cycles on others, and the generational factor), and exogenous (mainly climatic cycles, which in turn are influenced by a series of diverse natural cycles). In the case study, we verified that indeed the synchrony between natural cycles and between these and humans sometimes occurs, but that the simple coincidence does not imply a causal relationship. And finally, in the conclusions we make a synthesis by chapters and try to answer the initial questions. Basically, we summarize the fundamental concepts about time that include the idea of a cycle to a greater or lesser degree, and we classify the theories studied by their nature (cultural, social, economic cycles, etc.) and quantitatively (short, medium and long). We conclude that the synergies between them can be established, and also that there are numerous natural cycles that occur at the same time as the human ones. Of all of them, the generational and climatic cycles are the most cited in the various theories, without the mere coincidence between them being taken as a definitive or conclusive argument. Regarding the case study, we verified that cycles can be established in the History of Art, and that as in other fields of study, its cycles have clear affinities with other human and natural ones. In the final sections, we dedicate a few lines to repair the utilities that the cycles could have in the historical perspective, retrospective, and prospective (foresight), and we conclude with a final reflection on the conclusions drawn and on the new fields of research and the possibilities that these open before us. Finally, in the bibliography we collected some 400 works cited in the text, and in the two annexes the respective articles that we have published so far on the research developed in this thesis. This study was illustrated with about 100 tables and figures.