Fortress Press

The Age of the Sages: The Axial Age in Asia and the Near East

The Age of the Sages

The Axial Age in Asia and the Near East

Mark W. Muesse (Author)


By setting traditions and thinkers such as Zoroaster, Gautama Buddha, and Confucius and others side by side, we are able to see more clearly the questions with which they struggled, their similarities and differences, and how their ideas have influenced religious thought down to our day.
  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9780800699215
  • eBook ISBN 9781451438611
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 224
  • Publication Date August 1, 2013


Introduction: What Was the Axial Age?

Part One—West Asia
The Noble Ones • The World of Zoroaster • Zoroaster’s Legacy

Part Two—South Asia
Preaxial India • The Start of the Indian Axial Age • Death and Rebirth • The Quest for Liberation • The Vedantic Solution • The One and the Many • The Life of Siddhartha Gautama • “I Am Awake” • Why We Suffer • The Noble Path • From Buddha to Buddhism • Jainism

Part Three—East Asia
East Asia before the Axial Age • The World of Confucius • The Foundations of Confucianism • The Cultivation of Virtue • Early Confucianism and the Rise of Daoism • The Daodejing • Daoist Politics and Mysticism

Conclusion: Reflections on the Axial Age



"Mark Muesse has created a unique introduction to world religions that delves into the historical phenomenon of the Axial Age and shows in a fascinating comparative perspective how Axial sources still guide us in our effort to live as responsible individuals."
—Steven Smith
Millsaps College