A result of study will depend on the basic choice of a methodological approach. The criterion of objectivity and universality of sociological knowledge requires to study a situation in all regions and countries of the world in view of global tendencies. This allows one to clarify the fact of the termination of one epoch and appearance of the other and possible ways of the transition to it. In this context, the American sociologist I. Wallerstein outlines the aspiration of sociology to become the exact science normative for the sphere of policy.
M. Archer comprehends conceptual problems of sociology in the opposite manner. She outlines that social science cannot play the role of radical transformer from the viewpoint of Comtes programming of the society. On the other hand, a use of the methodology of social engineering is connected with the orientation of scientific tools to mathematical logic. In the context of the present investigation of social-historical development, we assume an applied utilization of appropriate methods in the process of analysis of indices of societal characteristics. After the derivation of empiric indices, they should be undergone to comparative analysis.
A realization of the methodological approach to the study must ensure the possibility of a harmonic transition from the common to the partial (civilization country) and conversely, with the purpose to determine regular ties between social-historical phenomena and their specificity. In this case, all our positions will be restricted the time and experience we have cognized.
On the basis of representations of cyclicity of the social development, the main methodological idea of the project proposes the instrumental possibility, which is adequate to tasks of the study, to reconstruct the objective logic of principal historical changes, which are characterized such events as «revolutions», «transformations», state overturns, diverse social protests, numerous civil conflicts, local and global wars. Similar phenomena, as a rule, appear in the so-called transient states of social development, which can serve hypothetical indicators of epochal changes.
For analysis of these phenomena, we consider the study of A.L.Chi-zhevsky as methodologically acceptable. He demonstrated the interrelation between a historical process in the form of the social-historical activity of the mankind and processes in the Sun, a degree of its astrophysical activity. Having established a direct connection, Chizhevsky proved his hypothesis on the actual historic data starting from 500 BC and till the XIX century. Moreover, he emphasized that non every maximum of solar activity unconditionally stimulates the corresponding maximum of the historical activity. In order that happens, the proper immanent conditions should be available as a necessary requirement (in Chizhevskys opinion, these are social-economic and political along with, possibly, spiritual or social-psychological conditions).
An important methodological basis of the present investigation is the idea of cyclic character of the psychical development of the man because a personality is one of the main elements of any social structure. In this context, we distinguish theoretical-practical generalizations made by D.Feldshtein, which are substantial for our approach. By basing on the occupational approach (S. Rubinshtein, A. Leontev, A. Brushlinsky, et al.) and age periodization of psychological development of a personality in ontogenesis (D. Elkonin), which were advanced in psychology, Feldshtein demonstrated a cyclic (periodic) character of changes in the psychological structure of a personality and, respectively, in the psychological structure of activity, in which the communicative and objective plans are alternatively actualized.
The historical origin of leading activities allows one to rationally explain (rather than to simply state) analogies to the psychical development of the mankind and, in addition, sets reasonable limits for such analogies by differentiating a true cause-effect connection and an analogy based only on the general features similar for any process of development of a large system.
Every epoch in the psychological development of a personality consists of two periods regularly connected between themselves:
1. The mastering of tasks, motives, norms of human activity and the development of emotional-consumptional sphere;
2. The mastering of means of actions and the formation of operational-technical possibilities. In this case, the transition from one epoch to the next one occurs under the appearance of a discrepancy between operational-technical possibilities and problems and motives of the activity, on whose base they were formed.
Social changes can be considered in the context of societal processes, states, and features, which are realized in the frameworks of a unit epochal historical cycle. By societal psychics, we mean the most integral generalizing characteristics of social processes, a distinctive collective dictionary of the historical-cultural heredity of a society. The analysis of societal characteristics is related with the methodological problem of decipherability of the historical-cultural code keeping the solution of properties of the societal psychics, which are objectified in all things encountered by the man in the historical-cultural space.
However, the largest methodological problem arising in the process of investigation is identification of the subject of analysis, whose objective societal indices should give exact data for theoretical constructions of periodization of the social-historical process both in retrospect and prospect.
Methodological approaches used upon the elaboration of the basic conception in studying the social-historical development will be mainly conserved during the investigation of a specific applied field for further analysis in the sphere of political, legal, philological, and other sciences of the social and humanitarian profile.
Universal epochal cycle
of social development: structure
The informative characteristic of the conception may be presented in two main aspects: through defining the theoretical principles of the social-historical development and the hypothetical periodization of the world historical process on this basis.
The society as a subject of the history and civilization goes through a large life cycle in its development. In the context of the social philosophy and the philosophy of history, this thesis has already become a trivial truth. A prominent scientist Nils Bohr said that the truth may be trivial and deep. A statement, opposite to the trivial truth is simply false, and the statement, opposite to the deep truth, is also true. The failure to perceive the idea of cyclicity of historical processes is mainly connected with the vulgar idea of progressive development that will inevitably lead the mankind from the «kingdom of necessity» to the «kingdom of freedom», despite regressive tendencies. The perception of the idea of cyclicity in the spirit of the circuit of Ecclesiast is also connected with this conceptual approach: what took place then, is taking place now; what will take place, already took place. We conceive that the historical development of a socium is, in fact, a realization of epochal cycles, each consisting of two periods.
The first epochal period, «involution», has the semantic content of mastering the societal qualities acquired by the society in the previous period of development. The simplification of a social structure, traditionalism, and a reducion of social processes in space is characteristic of the involutionary stage. Such a society has «closed» character, helping to maintain the social stability. In such a socium, the degree of freedom of an individual is limited by influence of the collective. The emotional-sensitive psychotype of a personality is determining.
The second epochal period (evolution) is characterized by the development of social processes in space, complication of the social structure, and innovative activity. One of the tasks of the evolution is a modernization of the traditional society. The historical indication of the evolutionary period is the acquisition of new social characteristics by the society, including the actualization of signs of the own preceding period of development or attributes, characteristic of the societies at a higher level of historical development. The social balance is maintained by innovative accumulations. «Involution» and «evolution» are the normative conditions of a society. The liberation of an individual and the strengthening of the objective-cognitive component in the psychological structure of a personality becomes the fundament of the innovative activity in the involutionary period. The main characteristic of the evolution is the stability of changes.
Normative periods in the history of the society alternate with transient periods, when the structures of the socium and fundamental institutions are transforming.
An increase in the historical activity depends on the interaction of three fundamental factors: the social-political, social-economic, and natural-cosmic. Moreover, the significant influence of the spiritual sphere should be added to the mentioned above. Let us emphasize that the absence of the preconditions for intensive activity of one of those factors does not launch the mechanism of transformation on the whole.
An important role in a change of the periods of an epochal cycle is played by the social-historical phenomena of wars. The subjects of military actions make and finish wars at