The concept 'axial age' or new light on the question of globalization
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The aim of this paper is to shed new light on the question of globalization, using the concept 'axis time' or 'axial age', coined by Jaspers, and developed further by Eric Voegelin and Shmuel Eisenstadt. It argues that the current processes of globalization can be better understood through the developments of the 'first global age', the age of the world-conquering empires (Persian, Macedonian and Roman). Using contemporary work in comparative anthropology and mythology, especially by Victor Turner (liminality) and Rene Girard (sacrificial crisis), it reconstructs axial age thought and spirituality, from classical Hebrew prophecy and the pre-Socratic philosophy to Buddha and Plato as attempted responses given to the liminal crisis of the age of empire-building, focusing on the restoration of measure. In its last section the paper argues that the sociologically effective response to the crisis was given by the rise of Christianity, as it managed to reverse the spiraling movement of violence and conquest by an opposite type of spiral, based on grace and gift-giving.
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