The Axial period
The Axial period refers to the time when people learned how to survive in the most appropriate lands and accumulate resources. This was also the period when people already had a considerable bulk of knowledge and experience that was essential for the survival of the human kind. At a certain point, between 800 B.C.E. and 200 B.C.E., it was necessary to conceptualize all that knowledge, which resulted in the emergence of quite similar concepts in different parts of the Ancient World.
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It is possible to note that people developed concepts that were based on the previous experience that enabled them to evolve into societies. Each of these groups, Egyptians, Greeks, Chinese, Mesopotamian, and other communities needed the glue that could keep the order that had been established. This was the time to develop codes of conduct and morality that could be regarded as the foundations of people’s interaction in the land they had.
For example, Egyptians depended heavily on their ability to manage floods that provided fertile lands, so they developed a strict hierarchy where roles were quite distinct (Lockard, 2010). In Ancient Greece, the environment was less hostile, so the society was divided into less rigid groups. However, all these cultures needed people to follow a specific set of rules that promoted the common good.
It is noteworthy that these rules were reflected in specific laws, but they were also revealed in philosophies, religions, and folklore. It can be rather hard to separate serious thinking about faith and proper conduct. For instance, the Bible can be seen as a literary version of a set of laws that regulated the conduct of Jews. The people were taught how to live in order to be righteous and “lift it up, be not afraid,” but those rules were also based on the need of the society to survive (Isaiah 40:55 New King James Version).
It is not necessary to separate serious thinking about right conduct, but people should make sure they review and follow the major standards described in multiple resources (laws, religious texts, and myths). All these are pieces of the larger experience of the human kind, so people’s survival depends on their ability to use those universal laws.
Axial Period and Modernity
According to Black (2008), the period between 800 B.C.E. and 200 B.C.E. was not the only Axial Age. The time of Reformation and the emergence of Christianity and Judaism were also ‘axial’ (Black, 2008). I quite agree with this statement as the periods mentioned, as well as the beginning of the 21st century, are characterized by substantial shifts in human thought. The rise of new religions was justified by the changing environment and certain changes in the way societies could be managed. I would like to stress that these new religious thoughts are deeply rooted in the basic provisions of the paradigms that had existed before.
Likewise, Judaism was a product of the analysis and synthesis of the knowledge that had been accumulated for centuries or even millennia. The new religions appeared in the lands where societies made a significant stride towards globalization, so they needed a new philosophical and religious paradigm that emerged.
The 21st century is another age characterized by huge transformations that are mainly related to communication and globalization. Therefore, we are likely to witness the emergence of a new (or only slightly novice) framework that will shape people’s conduct and beliefs. The secularization of societies can be regarded as one of the signs of this change. At that, the transformation will occur at a higher pace due to technological advances.
Ideas and concepts spread within minutes or even moments in the modern world. Hence, we are about to develop a new scope of standards and concepts that will regulate our further life. Again, these new rules will not be dramatically different from what is present these days, but they will be more appropriate for the conditions we find ourselves in. The understanding of the right and wrong will help us to interact effectively and survive as societies.
Black, A. (2008). The axial period: What was it and what does it signify? Review of Politics, 70(1), 23-39.
Lockard, C. A. (2010). World. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.