Axial Age

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Axial Age (also Axis Age,[1] from German: Achsenzeit) is a term invented by German philosopher Karl Jaspers. It refers to ancient history from between 8th to the 3rd century BCE. He says that this represents 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. Moreover they happened in parallel across Eurasia, without obvious contact.

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

References[change | change source]

  1. Meister, Chad (2009). Introducing Philosophy of Religion. Abingdon: Routledge. p. 10. ISBN 0-203-88002-1.