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The Origin and Goal of History

4.6 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0837189833
ISBN-10: 0837189837
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, German (translation)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 294 pages
  • Publisher: Praeger (January 12, 1977)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0837189837
  • ISBN-13: 978-0837189833
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #8,741,087 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Christine on January 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
This work describes the concept of the Axial Age and answers some early criticisms of the idea. Then Jaspers proceeds to develop a sweeping overview of human history from pre-history onward.

I don't see, however, that this work "makes mincemeat of Darwinian thinking" as is asserted by a previous reviewer. Rather, the concept that there could be parallel evolutionary developments re-evolving similar responses to similar situations is quite in accord with evolutionary thinking. There are numerous examples of such parallel developments in biological evolution (see Simon Conway-Morris' "Life's Solution"). No one to my knowledge is trying to suppress the simultaneous domestication of grains in (as I recall) seven locales around the planet (see Jared Diamond's "Guns Germs and Steel" for example).

Further, the assertion that the axial developments were completely independent (which was Jaspers' view as well as that of the previous reviewer) is on somewhat shaky ground owing to the work of Thomas McEvilley "The Shape of Ancient Thought", for example, who traces the continuous interplay of peoples along the axis thereby providing excellent opportunities for cross-fertilization of spiritual and philosophic ideas.

There is no disputing several centuries of Euro-centric views of history and Jaspers was one of the few in his era to thoughtfully step outside that box - and there are still only a few who have (Burkert and Hobson come to mind).

I do agree with the previous reviewer that this work is certainly worth being reissued or made available via books-on-demand.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
From the basic concept of awakening (transition) out of blind routine into human consciousness, to placing that turn to humanity in a broad view of planetary space and historical time, this book was for me the read of a lifetime. Jaspers put a lifetime of intellect and study into this book, and it rewards the reader handsomely. I have annotated my copy with (so far) ten pages of notes, typewritten and single-spaced. It's that good!
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Format: Hardcover
Karl Jasper is one of the few German Philosophers that writes to the point in clear normal language. No created fancy words or over the top philosophical terms. I tried to collect or read as much of his writings I can find. Sadly his best works are mostly out of print. I once had a copy of "Man in the Modern Age" custom printed & bounded in the early 1990's. Written in the 1930's Karl Jaspers could foresee into the future the plight of mankind.

This book, "The Origin & Goal of History" I found a hard back copy at a Roman Catholic monastery, I checked it out & took it home for a few weeks. What a mind opening delight. This time Karl Jaspers turns his eyes to the past & develops a complete thesis of historical theory: Humanity's origin as ONE giving birth to 4 river civilizations that fragments into many cultures unto the AXIAL AGE from 800 to 200 BC were philosophical & religious thought blossoms & spreads to enlighten mankind through out the world. Then the later raise of vast empires unto the modern age with its 2 World Wars until globalization forces mankind to rethink & rejoin as a whole.

When I wrote this review there were 3 books at around $65.00, someone was tempted!
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Format: Paperback
I have been viewing the last hundred years dimly, and find that Karl Jaspers, writing in German in 1949, had hopes for the future that hardly address the shambolic psychopathology of a world ruled by the land of Nimrod. When mankind started to consider itself civilized, there were many empires competing for control of the world, and the Roman empire provided enough Christianity to give Jaspers hope the West would not sink back into the fatalism of Asia.

Whatever fashions itself out of Asia
and must sink back into Asia is transitory (p. 70).

Jaspers wanted superiority to:

the brutal force of the desire to dominate --
delight in violence, in cruelty --
the empty will to prestige --
the desire for wealth and pleasure --
the erotic instincts, which force themselves
to the front wherever they are given
the opportunity (pp. 220-221).
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