The Axial Ages of World History: Lessons for the 21st Century
“Throughout human history, perhaps even pre-human, there has been a tension between the need for order and the forces that cause change. That tension is greater now than ever, because, in our increasingly globalized world, the rate of change is also increasing. This book finally explains how we can cope: we have stories. We live our narratives.” Brian Spooner, University of Pennsylvania, is editor of Globalization: The Crucial Phase and Literacy in the Persianate World: Writing and the Social Order
"The idea that Axial Ages occurred, and that they provide warnings/opportunities for us today, seems both new and useful. But the value of this book is additional to this stance, in that it looks at cultural change - civilizations - from a complexity viewpoint. These changes are certainly complicated, but the pressures are interwoven and therefore need to be understood as complex. The book does a good job of explaining our present cultural difficulties - our prospective emergencies social, ecological and physical - in a wholly new way. Perhaps we'll get new answers..." Jack Cohen, evolutionary biologist, is co-author of The Collapse of Chaos, with Ian Steward.
"This is a challenging and creative tour de force on comparative, global, world history and cross-cultural, complex societal dynamics. Without doubt one of the most stimulating works in the tradition of big history and macro analysis.” Claudio Cioffi-Revilla, George Mason University, is author of Power Laws in the Social Sciences: Discovering Non-equilibrium Dynamics in the Social Universe.
“In this book, Dmitri Bondarenko (Russia) and Ken Baskin (USA) compare Modernity with the period historians know as the Axial Age (800-200 BCE) as times of transformation, responding to rapidly increasing social complexity. In doing so, they try to apply the experience of the earlier period, and the time of cultural achievement that followed it, to our time of ideological tension among civilizations. The great achievement of this relatively small book is the lucid way in which the co-authors present a picture of complex worldwide developments, based upon their mastery of recent and older literature, and their efforts to point to a way out of the hopelessly divided socio-political situation of today.” Henri J.M. Claessen, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Leiden University, is author of Structural Change; Evolution and Evolutionism in Cultural Anthropology.
“With a lens of great magnification, the authors search through the intricacies of history, selecting its most important threads to weave together. What emerges is a rich tapestry in which the underlying trajectory of history, not clearly visible to the untutored eye, is brought boldly to the surface. And far from being couched in academic jargon—as one might have supposed—the book is a rare combination of brilliant analysis and beautifully crafted prose. Moreover, it ends on a hopeful note with the authors prescribing what they think societies must do if they are to confront and surmount the challenges that lie ahead.” Robert L. Carneiro, Curator Emeritus of Anthropology, American Museum of Natural History, is author of Evolutionism in Cultural Anthropology: A Critical History.
"I find this a very insightful book, that will help readers to place current cultural developments within the framework of our common past, while contemplating what the future may bring." Fred Spier, University of Amsterdam, is President, International Big History Association, and author of Big History and the Future of Humanity.