Paolo Costa

The Theoretical Challenge of Axiality

  • Abstract

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Keywords: Axial Age; Karl Jaspers; Transcendence; Second-order Thinking; Dualism.

In the article, Karl Jaspers' thesis of axiality is analyzed from three points of view: as a historical claim, as a diagnosis of the present time and as a philosophical challenge. After a discussion of the tripartite structure of his argument, three aspects of the theoretical challenge of axiality are investigated in the final part of the essay: (1) the question of human unity in diversity; (2) the evolutionary significance of the discovery of «transcendence», understood as the inclusion into the struggle for existence of an ideal struggle for recognition; (3) the would-be impact that a purely immanent and horizontal life-form could have on the dialectics of sacralization and de-sacralization, which is a common trait of all axial and post-axial civilizations.

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