Religion and Rationality, Poetry and Philosophy: In Search of the “Axial Breakthrough” in Ancient Greece

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Abstract

Axial age theory suggests that a major transformation of thought occurred across several civilisations, including ancient Greece, in the period 800–200 BCE. This paper questions whether any such transformation can be identified in ancient Greece. It focuses on texts associated with “mystery religions” and the works of Presocratic philosophers as potential evidence for transformation. It demonstrates that there was a continuity of thought throughout the period, and that “rationality” was never seen to be in conflict with “traditional religious ideas”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-554
JournalFudan Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences
Volume9
Issue number4
Early online date6 Aug 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016

Keywords

  • Axial Age
  • Religion
  • Poetry
  • Presocratic
  • Mystery
  • Greece
  • Herodotus
  • Parmenides

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