• Entry
  • Reader's guide
  • Entries A-Z
  • Subject index

Axial Age

The Axial Age was a significant moment in the development of ancient religious cultures. In 1949, the German philosopher Karl Jaspers (1883–1969) suggested the term Axial Age, or Axial Turn, for the period around the fifth century BCE, a time when, throughout much of the world, a new kind of thinking gained force. It questioned wisdom based on tribe, tradition, or shamanic mysticism, offering instead new answers, grounded at least in part in intellectual analysis, concerning the gods, the nature of the universe, and the meaning of human life, and emphasizing individual freedom and moral responsibility. Jaspers also stressed that while in pre-Axial societies the spiritual world tended to be close to earth and a model of the earthly world, now the divine was far ...

    • Loading...
    locked icon

    Sign in to access this content

    Get a 30 day FREE TRIAL

    • Watch videos from a variety of sources bringing classroom topics to life
    • Read modern, diverse business cases
    • Explore hundreds of books and reference titles