Matteo Bortolini

Renouncing for Dummies. The Axial Breakthrough and the Form of Life of Intellectuals

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The heritage of the so-called axial breakthrough is assessed in relation to the role and habitus of the intellectual, seen as an interpreter of social and historical phenomena, a descendant of the intellectuals who inaugurated the axial age, and an active subject whose life is called into question by the spiritual and symbolic heritage of the axial breakthrough itself. Extending Robert Bellah's interpretation of the axial age, the hypothesis is that intellectuals should be seen as the heirs of the axial breakthrough's renouncers and, as such, they should live according to its rules and norms. An historical excursus on the habitus and the ways of past intellectuals leads to a critique of current cultural climate and educational institutions as havens for proper intellectual work and forms of life.


  • Axial Breakthrough
  • Renouncers
  • Intellectuals
  • Habitus
  • Solitude


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