Axial Age (also Axis Age, from German: Achsenzeit) is a term invented by German philosopher Karl Jaspers. It refers to ancient history from the 8th and the 3rd century BCE. He says that this time was a turning point in human history.
New ways of thinking appeared in Iran, India, China and the Greco-Roman world. There were new religions and philosophies. This all happened in places across Eurasia, without obvious contact between the people of these areas.
What is it[change | change source]
Confucius and Laozi were living in China, all the schools of Chinese philosophy came into being, including those of Mo Ti, Chuang Tse, Lieh Tzu and a host of others; India produced the Upanishads and Buddha and, like China, ran the whole gamut of philosophical possibilities down to materialism, scepticism and nihilism; in Iran Zarathustra taught a challenging view of the world as a struggle between good and evil; in Palestine the prophets made their appearance from Elijah by way of Isaiah and Jeremiah to Deutero-Isaiah; Greece witnessed the appearance of Homer, of the philosophers – Parmenides, Heraclitus and Plato, – of the tragedians, of Thucydides and Archimedes. Everything implied by these names developed during these few centuries almost simultaneously in China, India and the West.— Karl Jaspers, Origin and Goal of History, p. 2