- ~ 800 BC
Beginning of the Axial Revolution
After the invention of new psychotechnologies like alphabetic literacy and the formation of the first large-scale trade networks, revolutionary new forms of thought start to emerge. Instead of just trying to understand nature through myths, people like Siddhārtha Gautama, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle try to understand human thought processes.
- ~ 500 BC
Siddhārtha Gautama (Buddha)
Siddhārtha Gautama (Buddha) is the embodiment of the axial revolution in India. He makes use of psychotechnologies like mindfulness and contemplation to teach that each one of us is always threatened by parasitic processing and modal confusion.
- 470-399 BC
Socrates is the embodiment of the axial revolution in ancient Greece. He invents new psychotechnologies like the Socratic method that aims to teach how much each one of us is bullshitting ourselves all the time.
- 428-348 BC
Plato develops the ideas of Socrates further and develops the notion of wisdom as an anagogic process, i.e. as a climb towards reality.
- 384-322 BC
"The core idea of rationality is your capacity for reflectively realizing your capacities for self-deception and illusion and for self correction. And for Aristotle that self correction is a process of also realizing your potential through the cultivation of character."
- 356-323 BC
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great was a disciple of Aristotle and was a world conqueror who creates an empire that takes the Greek way of thinking throughout most of the known world. But "whereas the Greek culture is spread throughout the world, it’s also thinned, it loses its depth." The death of Alexander ushers in a period of turmoil and cultural anxiety, a period where many people were expecting or were experiencing domicide.
- 323 BC - 0 AD
As a response to the widespread experience of domicide, the related existential distress, and meaning crisis, philosophy takes on a therapeutic dimension. Examples of philosophical schools that emerge during this time and that explicitly deal with existential questions are Cynicism (Diogenes), Stoicism (Zeno), Epicureanism (Epicurus).
- 0 - 30 AD
Jesus proposes agapic love and forgiveness as a way to cultivate wisdom. These are the core concept at the heart of what we now call Christianity.
- 30 - 300 AD
The gnostic movement takes the axial revolution to its culmination. They see gods (especially the god of the old testament) as the guards of our prison and propose that the goal is not to worship them but to transcend them. In particular, “for Gnostics the important thing was not to believe in Jesus, but as much as possible to become like Jesus to go through radical transformation that allows them to be one with God.” This goal is commonly called gnosis.
- 205 - 270 AD
Plotinus proposes a grand unified theory of ancient spirituality (now call Neoplatoniusmus) that integrates Plato’s spirituality and the idea of anagoge, Aristotle’s theory of knowing and of the structure of the world, and from the Stoics the whole therapeutic project of overcoming modal confusion.
- 354 - 430 AD
Augustine of Hippo
Augustine is deeply influenced by the ideas of Plotinus and proposes that Neoplatonism needs Christianity and that the healing and the response to evil that Gnosticism was looking for can actually be found in Christianity. By merging Plotinus' model with the ideas of Christianity he creates a fully integrated spiritual-scientific-therapeutic-existential framework that lasts for a thousand years.
- 1225 - 1274 AD
As a result of inventions like spaces between words, reading becomes more and more a silent activity. This leads to a different model of thought that gives priority to is coherence within a language rather than participatory transformation. This leads to a rediscovery of Aristotle’s ideas and to the emergence of what we now call science. To assimilate the Christian worldview with this new way of thinking, Thomas Aquinas proposes a clear distinction between the real world, which is accessible by reason, and the supernatural world which is only accessible by faith.