February 4, 2013

Karl Jaspers, Arnold Toynbee and Eric Voegelin on the Axis of Time

Axial Age or Axial Period (Ger. Achsenzeit, "axis time") is a term coined by German philosopher Karl Jaspers to describe the period from 800 to 200 BC, during which, according to Jaspers, similar revolutionary thinking appeared in Persia, India, China and the Occident. The period is also sometimes referred to as the Axis Age.

Jaspers, in his Vom Ursprung und Ziel der Geschichte (The Origin and Goal of History), identified a number of key Axial Age thinkers as having had a profound influence on future philosophies and religions, and identified characteristics common to each area from which those thinkers emerged. Jaspers saw in these developments in religion and philosophy a striking parallel without any obvious direct transmission of ideas from one region to the other, having found no recorded proof of any extensive intercommunication between Ancient Greece, the Middle East, India, and China. Jaspers held up this age as unique, and one to which the rest of the history of human thought might be compared. Jaspers' approach to the culture of the middle of the first millennium BC has been adopted by other scholars and academics, and has become a point of discussion in the history of religion.

Continued. . .
Karl Jaspers, Arnold Toynbee and Eric Voegelin on the Axis of Time. Source: Uncle Theodor.