Charmides, or Temperance by Plato

By Plato

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This Paleolithic Age (the Old Stone Age) stretches from the earliest moments when humans began to use primitive stone tools down to about 8000 BCE. It comes to an end at the same time as what geologists call the Pleistocene epoch (commonly referred to as the Ice Age), which gives way to the Holocene epoch in which we now live. Archaeologically, the geologists’ Holocene epoch begins with the Neolithic Age (the New Stone Age), marked by the rise of farming and the domestication of animals. The Neolithic Age in turn comes to an end with the widespread use of metal tools (the Bronze and Iron Ages).

We are supposed to believe in it even though it turns out slightly later in Armstrong’s introductory pages that axiality is only present in the axial age from time to time, and in different measure and style, among the different axial civilizations. ” But no matter: “Despite these difficulties, the general development of the Axial Age does give us some insight into the spiritual evolution of this impor29 tant ideal,” and so the book proceeds. It proceeds through many twists and turns that I do not need to rehearse here.

Reflections It is not clear to me that Arnason’s criticism of Eisenstadt is entirely fair, at least in one respect: the extent of Eisenstadt’s recognition of diversity among the so-called axial civilizations. ” He is also clear, though, about what differentiated them in terms of how far (or whether) they institutionalized these transcendental visions in their pristine forms, and about what part their views of divine revelation and reason played in this process. The various compromises reached on such matters differed from each other (he claims) as a result of the various “basic ontological conceptions of the nature of the chasm between the transcendental and the mundane spheres and of the ways of bridging this chasm .

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