Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

The Spirit and Insights of the Axial Flowerings: A Paradigm for Conflict Resolution?
by Ahamed, Zaherali K., Ph.D., George Mason University, 2013, 311; 3606384
Abstract (Summary)

The purpose of this study is to consider the relevance and applicability of the spirit and insights of the Axial Flowerings to the modern practice of conflict resolution.

Jaspers, a German philosopher, articulated the term Axial Age in his book that was translated into English in 1953. Jaspers identified, in the context of history, the Axial Age as a pivotal change in human condition that was marked by the emergence of reflexivity, historicity and agentiality of the individual in four distinct and distant areas - China, India, eastern Mediterranean, and Greece.

Jaspers' focus on the Axial Age was Eurocentric, and rooted in the ethos of Christianity. In recent years, Jaspers' term has been expanded and elaborated to include Axial civilizations more broadly, and Axial Age civilizations to bring into consideration the undocumented civilizations, as also other contemporary ancient civilizations that did not feature in Jaspers' thesis.

Ideas have been the well spring of intellectual development of mankind. Ideas agitated by seminal thinkers have been agents of change, for better or for worse, throughout history. There is, thus, a direct nexus between the history of ideas, and the Axial Flowerings. Modern scholars have debated religion, ethics, culture, power distribution, social justice, as also individuals and their relationship to associational living, that were the core concerns of society of the Axial epochs. Religion, and its contradictory proclivities of violence and non-violence; ethics and its binding force; culture and its varied manifestations; individuals and communities and their varying values; power and its asymmetries; are as germane to the present day discourse of conflict resolution, as they were in those far away times. Moreover, recently, additional subjects such as other civilizations, cultures, education, and the global ramifications of each, have entered the discourse of Axial Age, Axial Flowerings and other Axial breakthroughs.

The current convention of the conflict resolution discipline is that it is a 20th century dispensation. My study argues that looking through the lenses of the history of ideas and the Axial Flowerings, points to ancient and noble ancestry for conflict resolution. It is, after all, a trite saying that from time immemorial conflict has been ever present in associational living, and that all conflicts are ultimately settled by each society through culturally legitimated processes.

I, therefore, argue detailed study of the Axial Flowerings together with the history of ideas is a fit and proper paradigm for conflict resolution, and presents a great opportunity to learn and profit from multi-disciplinary, and multi-dimensional insights of the Axial Age and the Axial breakthroughs, and to relate these to the present conditions.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Avruch, Kevin, Rubenstein, Richard E.
Commitee: Scimecca, Joseph A.
School: George Mason University
Department: Conflict Analysis and Resolution
School Location: United States -- Virginia
Source: DAI-A 75/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Religion, Philosophy, Ethics, Peace Studies
Keywords: Axial flowerings, Conflict analysis and resolution, History of ideas, Professional code, Religion, Sages
Publication Number: 3606384
ISBN: 9781303635090
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