ChangMMW2OutlineLectureOne2011

ChangMMW2OutlineLectureOne2011 - d) The Role of Spiritual...

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Week One Outline Lecture One—Introduction to the Axial Age I) Karen Armstrong’s The Great Transformation a) Double meaning of the title b) Fundamental questions Armstrong poses II) The Axial Age a) German philosopher Karl Jaspers i) Why “Axial”? (1) Synchronous emergence of all the great luminary sages (2) Mapped out the ethical, spiritual and philosophical agenda for humanity b) Why did they all emerge around the same time? i) Jaspers: “An interregnum between two ages of great empires, a pause for liberty, a deep breath bringing the most lucid consciousness” c) What historical changes shaped this Axial period? i) Urbanization and population density ii) Revolutionary technology iii) Traditional solutions for maintaining social order (1) Methods of conflict resolution among hunter-gatherers iv) Challenges of urbanization and technological innovation
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Unformatted text preview: d) The Role of Spiritual technology i) The Golden Rule ii) Meaning of Ekstasis e) Degenerated into institutional egotism i) Manifestations of religiously motivated intolerance, hatred, and violence ii) Departure from the spirit of the Axial sages (1) Emphasis was on praxis and self-reform (2) Wisdom forged in crisis; compassion borne of violence III) How does the Axial Age relate to us? a) Are we also at a pivotal point in history? b) Why bother with the Axial sages? i) If religion is to bring light to our broken world, we need, as [the 5 th century BCE Chinese philosopher] Mencius suggested, to go in search of the lost heart, the spirit of compassion that lies at the core of all the traditions...
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