By Emeritus Professor of Sociology Johann P Arnason, Shmuel N Eisenstadt, Bjorn Wittrock
The overarching subject of the ebook is the ancient that means of the Axial Age, more often than not outlined as a interval of a number of centuries round the center of the final millennium BCE, and its cultural recommendations. The civilizational styles that grew out of this highly artistic part are a very profitable topic for comparative research. The ebook comprises essays on cultural ameliorations in old Greece, historic Israel, Iran, India and China, in addition to heritage advancements within the middle civilizations of the traditional close to East. An introductory part bargains with the historical past of the controversy at the AxialAge, the theoretical questions that experience emerged from it, and the current kingdom of the dialogue. The ebook might be worthy for comparative historians of cultures and religions, in addition to for ancient sociologists attracted to the comparative research of civilizations. it's going to additionally aid linking the fields of classical, biblical and Asian experiences to broader interdisciplinary debates in the humanities sciences.
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Extra info for Axial Civilizations And World History (Jerusalem Studies in Religion and Culture)
31 But then Jaspers seems to contradict himself when he admits that a “spiritual tension” remained active. At the same time, he argues that the decline went hand in hand with imperial resurgence: “Everywhere the first outcome of the decline was an order of technological and organizational planning”;32 the Qin, the Maurya and the Hellenistic and Roman empire-builders are listed as protagonists of this trend. The imperial idea as such is not an axial invention: for Jaspers, it is a heritage from the ancient civilizations, and its revival is in that sense a return to an earlier phase of history.
But when it comes to a concrete interpretation of the course of history, the idea of a “synchronistic world epoch” is implicitly abandoned in favour of a very different guideline: the distinction between primary and secondary Hochkulturen. This is not Weber’s version of the distinction between pre-axial and axial civilizations; rather, it represents an alternative perspective on world history, one which prevents Weber from taking the axial hypothesis beyond tentative beginnings. As a result, the Chinese and Indian developments which were first (in the introduction) compared to Greek and Jewish breakthroughs, are later (in the main text) analyzed as shifts within the spiritual universe of primary cultures.
He does not mention any particular text. The editors of the Max Weber Gesamtausgabe propose to fill the gap with a reference to “ Meyer, Geschichte des Altertums, I, 1. , S. ” But if we turn to this text, we find no explicit discussion of the parallels mentioned by Weber, and nothing at all about any “cosmic –biological” background. What we do find, however, is an argument that has some bearing on the question of the Axial Age. Meyer analyzes what he calls the three basic polarities of history: innovative ideas against traditional habits, the inner world against the external one, and individual against collectivity.