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Volume 34, 2017

Meaning and Publicity

Vittorio Cotesta
Pages 217-240

The Axial Age and Modernity
From Max Weber to Karl Jaspers and Shmuel Eisenstadt

This essay highlights the theoretical relations between Weber, Jaspers and Eisenstadt on the issue of the axial age and modernity. For Weber Modernity is an “axial age” but also an event in the history of Western rationalization. So we can’t say which is his idea on this topic. For Jaspers the axial revolution took place at the same time in China, India, and Greece. Modernity can’t be an “axial age” because it took place in the West and only after in these three civilizations. For Eisenstadt, on the contrary, modernity is a second “axial age”. He thinks the XX and the XXI century as an era of multiple modernities.

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