One of the subjects addressed by the first philosophers of antiquity was the question of change, also called the problem of change. So they posed a general question: How are things changed? The answers to this question were decisive in the history of philosophy and in various scientific theories. Gradualism
Gradualism versus catastrophism in the view of nature
We observe that all living beings and nature in general are in a process of permanent transformation. In this sense, in the natural sciences as a whole there are two main currents on this issue: gradualism and catastrophism.
As its name implies, gradualism refers to a slow and continuous process of transformation. The evolutionary theories of Lamarck and Darwin are clear examples of this theoretical view.
In the context of Darwinism, when an individual of a species has a mutation beneficial to its survival, this mutation will be inherited by its offspring (this process is the fundamental idea of the so-called natural selection). This type of evolutionary change is neither abrupt nor sudden, but takes place in a slow process of transformation, that is, in a gradual manner.
The opposite theory or view is catastrophism. According to him, the processes of nature occur because a sudden episode triggers a process of accelerated change.
Catastrophism is defended by some geologists to explain the Earth’s layers and their abrupt transformations due to climate changes .
Historical processes can be explained through gradualism or catastrophism
In addition to nature, history is in a process of permanent change. This means that historians are also asking themselves about the mechanisms of change throughout history.
Those who support the thesis of gradualism claim that evolution occurs from permanent reforms that succeed each other over time. Legislative changes, social trends, cultural trends and technological advances articulate a gradual process of historical evolution.
The thesis of gradualism in history is not shared by all historians. Some believe that the changes happen in a revolutionary way. The Copernican revolution is an illustrative example that shows how humanity took a qualitative leap with the new astronomical theories of Copernicus and Galileo.
Obviously political and social revolutions are also examples of the catastrophic paradigm in history.