Giacomo Maria Arrigo

Origin and fortune of the idea of the Axial Age: from Jaspers to Habermas

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«Axial Age» is a term coined by the German philosopher Karl Jaspers to describe a period of significant cultural and philosophical development that occurred between the 8th and 3rd centuries BCE in several regions across the globe. The article investigates the origin of the idea, which dates long before Jaspers, surveying its development to the present day. The proposed thesis is that, especially after the publication of Jürgen Habermas’ 2019 work, Auch eine Geschichte der Philosophie, the notion of the Axial Age, after having transited through sociology, returns to the realm of philosophy, becoming pivotal again for the solution of multicultural problems. The working hypothesis the article proposes is to look back to the Axial Age to find some universals to govern today’s religious pluralism, thus recovering Karl Jaspers’ original aim.


  • Axial Age
  • Karl Jaspers
  • Jürgen Habermas
  • Religious Pluralism


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