Karl Jaspers’ Conception of the Axial Age and the Idea of Paradigmatic Individuals
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This essay analyzes Karl Jaspers’ conception of the Axial Age and the comparative idea of paradigmatic individuals (Socrates, Buddha, Confucius, Jesus) among other relevant ideas (philosophical faith, biblical religion) in the light of post-secularity. The special focus is laid on the post-war situation in Western Europe which was one of the main factors of the formation of the aforementioned conceptions and ideas. The disaster which was brought by uncontrolled nationalism in Germany forced Jaspers to rethink the crisis of humanism after World War II. Using a comparative method Jaspers seeks a unity of human spirit and with this gesture his thinking appears to be a desire to have a foundation for the common being of contemporary society. Jaspers’ interpretation of paradigmatic individuals stimulated future research on comparative civilizational philosophies.
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