The Story of Big History
Author(s): Ian Hesketh
History of the Present, Vol. 4, No. 2 (Fall 2014), pp. 171-202
Published by: University of Illinois Press
Stable URL:


The goal is not to read a book; the goal is to read the story taking place
all around us.
—Brian Swimme and Thomas Berry, The Universe Story


Consilience has long been the dream of many scientiic thinkers, best ex-
pressed by the desire for a uniied theory that could explain essentially ev-
erything.1 Such a desire is based on the assumption that there is a general
unity that underlies the various branches of science, a unity that should
be expressed by a simple and elegant law of nature. “Best of all would be
if underpinning this scheme,” the astrophysicist Paul Davies explained in
regard to a universal theory of physics, “there was some sort of basic physical
principle that bestowed upon it a credibility and elegance, thus commending
it to us on aesthetic as well as scientiic grounds.”2 Ideally such a theory would
be best expressed in a “mathematical scheme,” one that could be represented
by a single and simple “formula compact enough to wear on your T-shirt.”3
And even better would be if such a theory could be extended to include not
just the natural sciences but the humanities as well.


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