Johann P. Arnason

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Axial Detachment: Reflections on Bellah's "Conclusion"

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Axial age, detachment, Plato, Buddha, theory.

The concluding chapter of Robert Bellah's Religion in Human Evolution revisits the axial age and outlines arguments that could be developed further. In particular, he notes hitherto unexplored parallels between different axial traditions, with special emphasis on affinities between Platonic and early Buddhist conceptions of radical change to modes of thought and life. These analyses may be read as beginnings of a search for the common denominator of axial transformations, defined in a way that would differ significantly from Eisenstadt's version. Against this background, Bellah discusses the legacy of the axial age and underlines its problematic and inconclusive character. The overall picture is difficult to reconcile with an evolutionary meta- narrative.

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