September 2022: Liberty and Virtue in the Axial Age

Please join us in September 2022 for an enlightening online experience with Peter Mentzel.

Pre-registration is required, and we ask you to register only if you can be present for ALL sessions. All readings are available online. Participants who successfully complete ALL sessions will be eligible to receive an Amazon e-gift certificate.

The concept of the Axial Age was invented by the German philosopher Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) to describe the remarkable changes in religious thinking that occurred in most of the world during the first millennium BCE, roughly 800-200 BCE.  Jaspers observed that during this period, religious practices and beliefs shifted from the worship of local, tribal, or civic deities (often focusing on temple ceremonies and sacrifices), toward more universal and transcendent approaches to religion.  To put it another way, the teachers of Axial Age religions and philosophies were concerned with man’s place in the universe, his relationship to God and to other human beings, and whether or not there were any transcendent truths that applied to all people. 

Three of the most emblematic figures of the Axial Age are the Buddha (560-480 BCE), Confucius (551-479 BCE), and Socrates (470-399 BCE). This OLL Virtual Reading Group will discuss selections from the works of these three figures, drawn from the holdings of the Online Library of Liberty.  We will focus on how they each approached questions of freedom, human flourishing, transcendence and the Good Life within the overall context of the Axial Age transformation.  

The readings and sessions are as follows:

Session I: Thursday, September 15, noon-1pm EDT: The Buddha and the Way to Liberation

The Gospel of Buddha - Chapters 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 23, 24, 25, 32, 40, 41, 43, 45, 46, 48, 51, 52, 53, and 59

The Axial Age: 5 Fast Facts

Session II: Thursday, September 22, noon-1pm EDT: Confucius on Virtue and Duty

The Ethics of Confucius - Chapter 1

The Analects of Confucius - Volume II, Book IV; Volume IV, Book VIII; Volume VI, Book XII; and Volume VIII, Book XV

Session III: Thursday, September 29, noon-1pm EDT: Socrates on How to Live Virtuously and Die Well
The Dialogues of Plato, Volume IProtagoras

The Dialogues of Plato, Volume II - Apology

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