The Moral Revolution/Axial Age As Progressive Regression
Drawing from these sources and from my own theory of history as involving a paradoxical contraction of mind, I propose a new way of viewing the moral revolution/axial age. History can be understood as the development of anthropocentric mind, contracting from long term evolutionary attunement to the informing properties of wild nature to a human centered outlook progressively dependent on human constructions of domesticated settlement. The axial “heightening of the specifically human in man,” as Jaspers put it, may have come at the cost of disowning the living primate animal in man and the sustaining wild habitat of the biosphere. “Reflective” civilization was enabled to take one step further from the wild, not as progress, but as progressive regression, regressive in the sense that, far from controlling nature, humans began to consume it in an unsustainable Malthusian-like trajectory whose limits are being reached in our time.