Axial Civilizations And World History (Jerusalem Studies in by Emeritus Professor of Sociology Johann P Arnason, Shmuel N

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

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

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As for the chronology, he 5 6 See Jaspers (1953), 16-18 and 278-79. Weber, A. (1950), 24; here I follow the translation in Jaspers (1953), 279. 24 johann p. arnason clearly prefers early dates: from the ninth to the sixth century bce. 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.

See Assmann (1996), 232-42, and (1991), 59-75. the axial age and its interpreters 45 dichotomy of monotheism and polytheism, and to highlight the specific characteristics of the religious imagination in early civilizations. The emphasis is on a twofold shift in religious consciousness: on the one hand, civilizations develop—in comparison with tribal societies and religions—more emphatic and structured sacralizing visions of the world, expressed in images of order, but on the other hand, they articulate—in connection with sacred kingship—stronger notions of divine guidance and authority as guarantees of a persisting world order.

The only real breakthrough, a disruption of the magical totality, occurred in the Hither Asiatic-Greek region; here the successive cycles of secondary Hochkulturen began with Persians, Jews and Greeks. Neither the first emergence of primary Hochkulturen, nor the distinction between primary and secondary ones, nor the further differentiations within each category, can be understood without reference to a further component of Weber’s conceptual scheme: the constant presence and periodic intrusion of the conquering nomads who both create and destroy cultures.

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