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How do models of transcendence differ, depending on whether they presuppose a final reckoning between Good and Evil or no such horizon of salvation (within an end-time scenario, i.e. eschatology)?
There are two different models that attempt to illustrate the concepts of transcendence (Miron, 2013). In the break model, there is the recognition of the enforcing availability of a transcendent datum that surpasses the immanence with its various manifestations, particularly consciousness, history, time, and the subject. It is apparent that the transcendent datum occurs in abundance overshadowing its various manifestations following its independent permanence. This phenomenon takes center stage because it does not have a concrete and temporal nature of history, and thus it is not concerned with the problem of historical continuity between different periods. The break model can be attributed to the temporal dimension, making it metaphysical. However, in real-time, when current research is taking place, the model acts as the platform on which the events appear (Miron, 2013). In such a case, it does not constitute any aspect of the events. Moreover, when real time becomes an active element, there is the occurrence of a break in it, signifying a break from atemporality to temporality and historicity. This could also be seen as a transition from a metaphysical domain to a real domain (Miron, 2013).
Conversely, in the continuity model, the predominant power that constitutes not only the meaning and human significance, is in immanence in all forms (Caputo & Michael, 2007). Unlike the break model that boasts of unity as a result of permanence and independence, the continuity model has diversity, plurality and change. The underlying feature of continuity is the conscious act of the subject that shows activism towards the real events encompassing the human world both in the present and in the past. Although a transcendent datum can be present, the conscious act of the subject has priority, as well as primacy over it. In line with this, the continuity model groups events in three groups: historical, real and temporal (Caputo & Michael, 2007).
Question 3. How is the idea of a universal monarchy/empire that emerges during the Axial Age related to the primacy of the moral self in Axial teachings?
The axial period was coined by Karl Jaspers in reference to what he saw as the simultaneous developments in different and separate societies particularly India, Iran, China, Greece and Israel (Black, 2008). He visualized a new departure within mankind. There is a widely accepted world view that something was special in the history of the world at the time when preaching by Hebrew prophets around the time of the exile, the first development of philosophy and science in Greece, and the rise of Confucianism in China. There was also the exposition of religious philosophy in India and the emergence of legalists in the third century. The preaching was widespread and simultaneous (Black, 2008).
Karl opined that the axial period was an illustration of a new departure within mankind (Tattersall, 2006). It meant a kind of critical, reflective, assessment of the actual, as well as vision of what lies beyond. Jaspers and others who studied the axial period opine that the intellectual and spiritual developments that characterized the whole axial period have had a significant impact on humanity. Their effects have shaped what the world is today. Many agree that it is when the foundations of the world civilizations were engineered (Tattersall, 2006).
It is now viewed as the single greatest turning point of the world with respect to the things of the mind (Trigger, 2006). Jaspers and those who support his thinking hold the opinion that subsequent developments of humanity in the mental domain stemmed from these sources. Taking this perception into consideration, one would then say that people like Confucius, Plato and Isaac performed breakthroughs that formed the terrain of what was to come (Trigger, 2006).
During the axial period, the idea of a universal monarchy was predominant. At that time, there were know well-established political systems, and people in that age relied on their spiritual leaders for guidance (Salvatore, n.d). In that case, most people adhered to universal laws and had a supreme connection with the higher powers. In line with this, the concept of self was very important. Everyone was concerned with how their self is relating to the higher powers (Salvatore, n.d).
Question 3. To what extent and how has the Axial breakthrough created new individual and collective resources for remedying to the ‘overreach’ created by the competition for accumulating power and wealth at the social and political levels?
Different studies that have assessed the axial period highlight one common aspect. They opine that the axial period has shaped the current political, economic, religious and philosophical dimensions (Salvatore, n.d). The axial region was characterized by changes in the basic religious concepts and the adoption of new ones (Salvatore, n.d). There was a sudden alteration the humans’ spiritual development, and this has shaped the current spiritual systems. Monumental advances in religions, politics, economy, technology, philosophy, and many forms art took place simultaneously. These developments have had an effect on the current world and people’s thinking (Armstrong, n.d).
Firstly, people seem to have become conscious of themselves (Tomek, 2006). Most importantly, their perception of their position in the world has taken a new direction. Secondly, philosophy and science were born, and they continue to shape every aspect of life in the current generations. In addition, the axial period allowed the emergence of competition with respect to world views. The drastic changes in religious beliefs led to an almost collapse of previously held religious beliefs. Competition has now set in, in the many political, philosophical and religious systems that were engineered during the axial period (Tomek, 2006). The world order is determined by wealth. The most powerful nations are those that command top notch technological advancements and their political systems control global commerce. Similarly, individuals who are rich are controlling governments and commerce in their respective regions. Those who have no wealth or political influence have been turned into onlookers. They have to work for the rich in order to earn a living (Tomek, 2006).
The resources that the axial period has created have been institutionalized. In order to access them, one has to break the barriers that surround them. Unfortunately, not all can break the barriers that are protecting the resources and wealth that has been generated. The political class and those who have managed to break the barriers have formed amalgamations that have further made it hard to access those resources and wealth. In essence, there is competition for nearly everything in the world today. In fact, the initially highly guarded domains such as religion are no longer boasting of sacredness as some have been politicized and economized.
Armstrong, K. (n.d). The Great Transformation.
Black, A. The "Axial Period": What Was It and What Does It Signify? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Caputo, John D., and Michael J. Scanlon, (2007). eds. Transcendence and Beyond: A Postmodern Inquiry. Bloomington/Indianapolis: Indiana UP.
Daodejing (n.d). The Daojing Teachings.
Miron, R. (2013). Models of Presence and Loss of Transcendence in History. Philosophy Study, 3(4), 331-351.
Salvatore, A. (n.d). World Religions and the Cultures they Create.
Tattersal, I. (2006). The Rise of Homio Sapens: how we became to be humans. Scientific American, pp. 101.
Tomek, V. (2006). The Axial Age, previous eras, & consequences of the Axial Age. Retrieved from http://www.religioustolerance.org/tomek26.htm
Trigger, B. (2006). Understanding early Civilizations: A Comparative Study. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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