The End is Near? Critical Remarks on the Theory of Collapse

Petr Špecián



The study shows three fundamental weaknesses in contemporary Czech discourse on collapse of complex societies as prominently represented by Miroslav Bárta. First, the absence of scientific consensus regarding the determinants of the historical development has not been properly considered, and very limited attention has been dedicated to a theory that would provide a unifying framework for inclusion and interpretation of individual predictors. Second, there has been no clear answer to the question of which social structure, be it a state, a culture, or a civilization, exactly is the subject of examination, although a specific delimitation seems to be analytically necessary. Third, even a superficial examination shows many of the proposed predictors of the approaching collapse as deeply problematic. The study concludes that the current level of development of the scientific study of complex societies’ collapse does not provide ground to justify predictions that could pragmatically legitimize the social sciences and humanities.


collapse of complex societies; theory of history; predictors of collapse

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TEORIE VĚDY / THEORY OF SCIENCE – journal for interdisciplinary studies of science is published twice a year by the Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences (Centre for Science, Technology, and Society Studies). ISSN 1210-0250 (Print) ISSN 1804-6347 (Online) MK ČR E 18677 web: /// email: