Religion, the Axial Age, and Secular Modernity in Bellah's Theory of Religious Evolution

October 1, 2012

In "Religion, the Axial Age, and Secular Modernity in Bellah's Theory of Religious Evolution" Casanova addresses and critiques Robert Bellah's theory of religious evolution, as well as various theories and principles associated with the Axial Age, the time period in the last millennium before Christ, when many of the world's religions underwent similar transformations. Casanova argues that any theories based on the Axial Age struggle with multiple difficulties, especially in trying to compare different time periods and classifications. Casanova also calls into question the "axial" nature of the Axial Age. Finally, Casanova notes that both he and Bellah struggle to answer the question of whether or not modern secular humanism is the logical endpoint of the Axial Age, or a secular breakthrough similar to the Axial Age. This essay is a chapter in The Axial Age and Its Consequences (edited by Robert Bellah and Hans Joas).

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