The word evolution refers to social changes that are carried out according to general principles. In the evolutionary process, each new state about the previous one appears to be better both quantitatively and qualitatively. Evolution is interpreted as a process carried out by itself and is thus a kind of self-development. This approach is a tool for cognition of the current stage of history, the study of the state of society.
The concept of evolution literature also encompasses the field of ideas and feelings that, for one reason or another, have found expression, among other things, in literature or exclusively in it. Like any other, the evolution of literature is accomplished using the creative modification of ready-made elements; creativity wields the obligatory forms of tradition, based on which it creates new conditions, new categories of thought, and new instruments of apperception. Thus, adapting to the development of social thought and the peculiarities of people’s way of life, the romanticism genre is modified into realist literature and then – into modernist and postmodernist literature. Each transformation is a direct consequence of the need to rethink reality, given the development of technology or the structure of society.
A similar logic applies to the development of theater and the music scene, whose currents mostly coincide with those of literature and other arts and similarly evolve in response to the development of humanity. The affirmations of life, which very often set the tone for modifications of the arts, require detailed consideration in the context of evolution. Affirmations reflect psychologically adapting to various phenomena of reality, such as the beginning and end of life, living conditions, political regimes, and many other critical societal events. Along with the thinking of mankind, the development of its way of life inevitably changed the ways of interpreting the world. Thus, having mastered the scientific means of studying reality, many abandon religion in favor of atheism. On the contrary, when experiencing cataclysms or political upheavals, some societies revert to religious or mythological perceptions of reality because what is happening around them is too unusual or difficult to explain scientifically.
As far as nature is concerned, attempts to explain its characteristics are common to all the world’s cultures, and their content has depended to a large extent on the level of progress. For example, relying on the relatively recent means of scientific cognition, Charles Darwin justified the theory, which was considered dominant for over a century (Shapiro 39). The perception of nature in artistic terms also evolved along with the exodus of the population from the countryside to the city. For this reason, many specific traits of American urbanists can be identified.
Views of freedom were also subject to trends in the development of social thought. The phenomenon was seen as part of religious thought. Then, the term political and economic freedom emerged during the separation of church and political power (Janaro and Altshuler 438). The term became an object of study in emerging disciplines. For example, freedom came to be discussed from the perspective of genetics and psychology.
As a topic for contrast, the theme of stability can be considered. It manifests itself in all spheres of culture and social thought. Stability is the ability to maintain meaningful, future-proof development and behave in an unchanging, recognizable, predictable way in a wide range of situations. Throughout human history, many events or phenomena have broken predictability and established patterns (Antonelli and Rehbein 44). The most striking example in literature is the emergence of the Renaissance, which took readers back to their ancient origins. The Renaissance, which manifested itself in other spheres of art, drew people’s attention to a philosophy that had been forgotten in the Middle Ages. It did not preserve society in its views and served as a solid foundation for the emergence of progressive lines of philosophy. A striking refutation of stability in the field of art is the development of music, which often returned to its folk and even primitive origins (Golemboski 54). A similar phenomenon was observed in the theater field, where the era of modernism became an arena for experimentation that included references to features from other generations. For example, while telling the events of the contemporary world, many modern plays incorporate elements of mythology and ritualism.
In terms of life affirmations, it is interesting to trace how society’s attitude toward death has changed. The tendency of the scientific perception of the end of existence as the result of a worn-out body or an accident seemed unchanged. Nevertheless, the beginning of the 21st century saw a return to Gothic culture in many cultures, which implies the romanticization of death as an act of liberation of the soul.
The most apparent refutations of the term stability of development are found in the realm of freedom. The proclamations of individual rights and freedoms during the prosperity of ancient Greece were abolished in medieval times and replaced by religious tenets. For this reason, it took humankind another century to redefine and rearticulate the natural rights of men (Janaro and Altshuler 440). Occasional totalitarian political regimes denying individual freedom clearly demonstrate society’s propensity for instability.
In the context of nature, the stability of its development is disturbed by the fact that human activities sometimes have unpredictable consequences for flora and fauna. This thought ran the risk of abolition during the heyday of nihilism in the second half of the 19th century (Janaro and Altshuler 415). The period of industrialization also fostered a consumerist attitude toward nature. And previously flourishing ideas about respecting the environment and seeing it as a temple were forgotten for several centuries.
Antonelli, Gilberto, and Boike Rehbein. Inequality in Economics and Sociology: New Perspectives (Routledge Studies in Development Economics). Routledge, 2019.
Golemboski, David. Religious Pluralism and Political Stability: Obligations in Agreement (Routledge Innovations in Political Theory. Routledge, 2022.
Janaro, Richard Paul, and Thelma C. Altshuler. The Art of Being Human: The Humanities as a Technique for Living. 11th ed., Pearson, 2019.
Shapiro, James. Evolution: A View from the 21st Century. Fortified. 2nd ed., Cognition Press, 2022.