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