Buku A Short History of Myth (The Myths) by Armstrong Karen

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A Short History of Myth (The Myths) by Armstrong Karen

Author:Armstrong, Karen [Armstrong, Karen]

Language: eng

Format: azw3

Publisher: Canongate U.S.

Published: 2012-01-04T16:00:00+00:00

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A Short History of Myth (The Myths) by Armstrong Karen

v

The Axial Age (c. 800 to 200 BCE)

By the eighth century BCE, the malaise was becoming more widespread, and in four distinct regions an impressive array of prophets and sages began to seek a new solution. The German philosopher Karl Jaspers called this period the ‘Axial Age’ because it proved to be pivotal in the spiritual development of humanity; the insights gained during this time have continued to nourish men and women to the present day.67 It marks the beginning of religion as we know it. People became conscious of their nature, their situation and their limitations with unprecedented clarity. New religious and philosophical systems emerged: Confucianism and Taoism in China; Buddhism and Hinduism in India; monotheism in the Middle East and Greek rationalism in Europe. These Axial traditions were associated with such men as the great Hebrew prophets of the eighth, seventh and sixth centuries; with the sages of the Upanishads, and the Buddha (c. 563–483) in India; with Confucius (551–479) and the author of the Dao De Jing in China;68 and with the fifth-century tragedians, Socrates (469–399), Plato (c. 427–347) and Aristotle (c. 384–322 BCE) in Greece.

 

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A Short History of Myth (The Myths) by Armstrong Karen

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A Short History of Myth (The Myths) by Armstrong Karen

Author:Armstrong, Karen [Armstrong, Karen] , Date: July 6, 2019

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Author:Armstrong, Karen [Armstrong, Karen]

Language: eng

Format: azw3

Publisher: Canongate U.S.

Published: 2012-01-04T16:00:00+00:00
v

The Axial Age (c. 800 to 200 BCE)

By the eighth century BCE, the malaise was becoming more widespread, and in four distinct regions an impressive array of prophets and sages began to seek a new solution. The German philosopher Karl Jaspers called this period the ‘Axial Age’ because it proved to be pivotal in the spiritual development of humanity; the insights gained during this time have continued to nourish men and women to the present day.67 It marks the beginning of religion as we know it. People became conscious of their nature, their situation and their limitations with unprecedented clarity. New religious and philosophical systems emerged: Confucianism and Taoism in China; Buddhism and Hinduism in India; monotheism in the Middle East and Greek rationalism in Europe. These Axial traditions were associated with such men as the great Hebrew prophets of the eighth, seventh and sixth centuries; with the sages of the Upanishads, and the Buddha (c. 563–483) in India; with Confucius (551–479) and the author of the Dao De Jing in China;68 and with the fifth-century tragedians, Socrates (469–399), Plato (c. 427–347) and Aristotle (c. 384–322 BCE) in Greece.

There is much about the Axial Age that remains mysterious. We do not know why it involved only the Chinese, Indians, Greeks and Jews, and why nothing comparable developed in Mesopotamia or Egypt. It is certainly true that the Axial regions were all caught up in political, social and economic upheaval. There were wars, deportations, massacres and destruction of cities. A new market economy was also developing: power was passing from priests and kings to merchants, and this disturbed the old hierarchies. All these new faiths developed not in remote deserts or mountain hermitages, but in an environment of capitalism and high finance. But this upheaval cannot fully explain the Axial revolution, which made an indelible impression on the way that human beings related to themselves, to each other, and to the world around them.

All the Axial movements had essential ingredients in common. They were acutely conscious of the suffering that seemed an inescapable part of the human condition, and all stressed the need for a more spiritualised religion that was not so heavily dependent upon external rituals and practice. They had a new concern about the individual conscience and morality. Henceforth it would not be sufficient to perform the conventional rites meticulously; worshippers must also treat their fellow-creatures with respect. All the sages recoiled from the violence of their time, and preached an ethic of compassion and justice. They taught their disciples to look within themselves for truth and not to rely on the teachings of priests and other religious experts. Nothing should be taken on trust, everything should be questioned, and old values, hitherto taken for granted, must be subjected to critical scrutiny. One of the areas that required re-evaluation was, of course, mythology.

When they contemplated the ancient myths, each of the Axial movements adopted a slightly different position. Some were hostile to certain mythical trends; others adopted a laissez-faire attitude.

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