By Emeritus Professor of Sociology Johann P Arnason, Shmuel N Eisenstadt, Bjorn Wittrock

The overarching topic of the ebook is the old that means of the Axial Age, mostly outlined as a interval of a number of centuries round the heart of the final millennium BCE, and its cultural ideas. The civilizational styles that grew out of this enormously artistic section are a very worthwhile subject matter for comparative research. The booklet comprises essays on cultural variations in historic Greece, old Israel, Iran, India and China, in addition to historical past advancements within the center civilizations of the traditional close to East. An introductory part bargains with the background of the controversy at the AxialAge, the theoretical questions that experience emerged from it, and the current nation of the dialogue. The publication could be valuable for comparative historians of cultures and religions, in addition to for historic sociologists attracted to the comparative research of civilizations. it may additionally support linking the fields of classical, biblical and Asian stories to broader interdisciplinary debates in the humanities sciences.

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All other distinctive features of axial civilizations are related to this cultural core: the development of more complex modes of legitimation as well as more articulate expressions of protest, coalitions made up of a broader spectrum of elites, and ideological interpretations of social conflicts—to mention only the most salient trends. Visions of order are thus posited as central to the historical expe35 36 37 For the best discussion of this, see Knöbl (2001), pp. 239-55. See Eisenstadt (1963 and 1978).

3. In this context, we should reconsider the question of a common denominator—a shared set of cultural premises—for the axial breakthroughs. As noted above, the distinction between the transcendental and the mundane raises some questions of interpretation. More ambiguities emerge when it is linked to historical settings: the two levels of order relate to each other in different ways in the various axial traditions, and the meaning lent to their relationship depends on the overall logic of the respective worldview.

Assmann (1990), 37. Jaspers (1953), 4. 34 johann p. arnason dian axial breakthrough—less clear. We can make some kind of connection between state formation in the eastern Ganges plain and the rise of Buddhism, but it is much less obvious what the Upanishads might have had to do with that kind of background. When it comes to the Near East, the Jewish breakthrough has less to do with competition between “small states and cities” than with the uncertain fortunes of a small state in an environment dominated by overwhelmingly powerful empires.

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