Bellah, Robert N. — Religion in Human Evolution From the Paleolithic to the Axial Age 2011

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Yahweh, 298… 305; kings of Israel and, 267;
premonarchical Israel and, 287… 288, 289;
early state of Israel and, 294… 295; axial
breakthroughs and, 316… 323, 373; Zeus and,
Yahweh- alone movement, 299… 305, 307, 309,
jñavalkya, 517, 528, 702n134
Yamazaki Ansai, 691n213
Yang Xiao, 609n2
Yang Zhu, 437… 440
Yan Yuan (Yan Hui), 684n46
Yao, 686n77
Yeats, William Butler, 20
Yen, Douglas E., 641n20
ee, Norman, 666… 667n28, 668n45
Yoruba people, 213, 214
hira, 561… 563
Zaidman, Louise Bruit, 346, 665n1, 670n62
Zen Buddhism, 10… 11, 16… 17, 20, 120
Zeus, 327, 329, 373, 376, 665n10
Zevit, Ziony, 305, 659n57, 661n88
Zhou, Duke of, 654n139
Zhou Gong, 253… 254, 256… 257
445… 448; Mozi and, 434… 435;
and, 449; social welfare, 455, 456;
Xunzi and, 468… 469
Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu), 2, 4, 440, 690n192
Zhu Xi, 687n116
Zion, 296, 297… 298, 305, 660n81
Zisi, 463, 690n185
Zoroastrianism, 271
Zuckerkandl, Victor, 142, 635n77
Zu Ja, 251
Zuo zhuan,
402, 407
, Paul, 678n167
Work, play and, 573
Working world: multiple realities and, 2, 3, 4, 5;
overlapping realities and, 8; utilitarianism, 10;
play and, 90, 588… 590.
See also
Daily life
Works and Days
(Hesiod), 330… 331, 394
Worship and o
erings: Tikopia, Polynesia,
186… 187, 189; Mesopotamia and, 218, 219;
Western Zhou China and, 258… 259; Buddhism
and, 542.
See also
Rituals; Sacri“
Wrangham, Richard, 626n109
Wright, Robert, 100, 629n155
Writing systems: archaic societies and, 213… 214,
263… 264; Mesopotamia and, 224… 225, 649n51;
civilization and, 226; Egypt and, 230, 235… 236;
China and, 247, 248, 399… 400; axial age and,
269; theoretic culture and, 273, 280… 281;
external memory systems and, 273… 274; Greece
and, 334; India and, 481… 482; Indus Valley
civilization, 484; Magadha Empire and, 544,
546; Plato and, 680n197.
See also
Wu, King, 253… 254
Wu Ding, 249, 251, 259
Wyman, Leland C., 172, 639nn164,165,170,
Xenophanes, 374
Xia dynasty, 254
(heart/mind), 445, 468… 471
Xingu National Park, 139
Xuan, King, 462
Xun Qing, 480
Xunzi, 466… 474, 691nn207,212,215,216, 694n243;
Warring States Period (China), 425; Mencius
and, 464; Qin dynasty and, 477; human nature
and, 692n223
spirituality and, 104… 105; science and religion,
Weinfeld, Moshe, 306, 307, 658n45,
Wen, King, 253
West, M. L., 648h46, 666n19, 674n113
West- Eberhard, Mary Jane, xii, 609n9, 622n45
Western Zhou China, 253… 260; cultural
development and, 248; axial China and, 399… 401;
rituals and, 402… 405;
(the Way), 413… 414;
Xunzi and, 469
Wheatley, Paul, 653nn122,125,134,136; Shang
China and, 249, 251… 252; Western Zhou China
and, 254, 255
Whillier, Wayne, 701n115, 703n163
White, David, 703n162
White, Stephen, 674n111
Whitehead, Alfred North, 582
Whitely, Peter M., 641n18
Whiten, Andrew, 631n3
Whole, feeling part of: religious reality and, 5… 7;
experiential- expressive theory of religion, 11;
theories of religion and, 12; narratives and,
33… 34; being part of the universe and, 49, 55;
Navajo people and, 170… 172
Wildman, Derek E., 121, 631nn8,9
Wilkinson, Toby A. H., 230, 649… 650n62, 650n76
Williams, Bernard, 674n108, 679n189,
680nn199,205, 681nn206,208
Wilson, David Sloan, 100, 629n155
Wilson, John A., 647n19, 655n2
Wilson, Robert R., 661nn86,87
Winnicott, Donald W., 589, 712n43
Wisdom: Solon and, 347; Greek city- states and,
360… 363; Heraclitus and, 375, 376; sophists and,
380… 383; Socrates and, 384… 385; Aristotle
and, 594
Witchcraft, 143, 157, 639n168
Witherspoon, Gary, 166, 169… 170,
Wittgenstein, Ludwig, 628n141
Wittich, Claus, 612n3, 656n13
Wittrock, Björn, 656n16, 657n18
Witzel, Michael, 694n1, 695n16, 695nn9,16,
697nn38,39,43,44,45, 699nn73,74,77,78,
700nn97,104,105, 701nn110,112,113, 702nn134,
140; early Vedic India and, 485… 486, 487… 488;
middle Vedic transformation, 491… 492, 498… 499,
500; Vedic India and, 508; Upani
ad texts and,
509… 510
Wollheim, Erik, 657n32
Wood, Ellen Meiksins, 672n80
Vogt, Evon Z., 639n156
Von Reden, Sitta, 673n106
Von Rospatt, Alexander, 703n157
Waddell, Norman, 615n34
Wade, Nicholas, 100, 629n155
Walbiri, the, 146… 159.
See also
Waley, Arthur, 26, 616n56, 653nn121,133, 654nn146,
147,148,149,150,151,152,153,154, 683nn28,31,
684n47, 688nn142,143,146,164,169, 690n196;
and, 450, 451; Legalism and, 456, 457;
Mencius and, 465… 466
Walker, Leslie J., 662n106
Wallace, Anthony F. C., 638n147
Wallace, Ben J., 636n99
Wallin, Nils L., 632nn36,37
Walshe, Maurice, 704… 705n179,
Walzer, Michael, 227, 310, 649n54,
Warfare: Australian Aborigines and, 156; Navajo
people and, 162; chiefdoms and kingdoms,
194… 196, 197; Hawai
i and, 205; axial age
and, 270; Spring and Autumn Period, China,
401… 402; Western Zhou China and, 404… 405;
Warring States Period (China), 423… 424; Mozi
and, 430, 434, 436; Mencius and, 462; Mauryan
dynasty and, 547… 548;
and, 561,
561; ritual and, 623n65
Warring States Period (China), 255, 401; status
erences and, 406, 408;
410; Mozi and, 423… 424; Daoism and, 436… 437;
Mencius and, 459… 466; Xunzi and, 466… 474;
materialism and, 687n105
Warrior chiefs, 261, 401… 402
Warrior elites, 404… 405, 407, 668n45
Warrior kings, 496… 497
Washington, George, 645n82
Watson, Burton, 456, 612n5, 682n6, 686nn79,80,
81,82,83,86,89,90,95,96,97, 688n133, 689nn165,
168,170,172, 691nn200,206,207,208,210
Watt, W. Montgomery, 495, 698n56
Weber, Max, 603, 612n3, 640n7, 643n56,
656n13, 693n232, 713n75; daily life and, 2;
instrumental rationality, 10; science and
religion, 112… 113; state development and, 209;
axial age and, 271; Xunzi and, 470; Confucian-
ism and, 476, 479
Weil, Eric, 281… 282, 658nn40,41,43
Weinberg, Steven, 620nn9,11,12,14,18, 621n21,
620… 621n20; big- bang cosmology and, 50… 51;
science as narrative and, 53… 55; personal
Utopias: Plato and, 388; Farmers School and, 440;
agrarian utopia, 440… 441; Daoist Primitivism
and, 453; axial breakthroughs and, 576… 585,
596; play and, 585… 587; theoretic culture and,
593… 597; Aristotle and, 595
Vac (goddess), 507… 508
yas, 522
Valeri, Valerio, 644nn65,67,68,69,70,71,72,73,74,75,
644… 645n77, 645nn79,80,81,83,84,85,86,87,89,
95, 646nn100,101, 710n12; Hawai
i and, 199,
200, 202; paramount chiefs and, 202… 204, 206,
208; prophets and, 207; play and ritual, 571
Van Buitenen, J. A. B., 702n148, 708n246
Van den Hoek, A. W., 698nn65,66, 703n161
Van der Toorn, Karel, 288, 295, 659n54, 660nn70,85
Van Gennep, Arnold, 635n89
Van Norden, Bryan W., 684n48
Vansina, Jan, 635n76
system, 499… 500; middle Vedic transforma-
tion, 493… 494, 495, 496; late Vedic break-
through, 517;
and, 521… 525; social order
and, 526… 527;
(Manu) and, 555
ha, 702n134
Vassal treaties, 307, 308, 316, 661n93, 662n101
orstein, 499
Vedas, the, 522… 523, 551, 554, 555, 556… 557
Vedekar, V. M., 694n2
Vedic India: early Vedic India, 485… 491; middle
Vedic transformation, 491… 500; the ritual system
and, 500… 508; late Vedic breakthrough, 509… 527;
Buddhism and, 535; post- Vedic India and,
543… 566; Buddha and, 582… 583; oral culture
and, 694n6, 695n8
Veitch, John, 618n93
Vendler, Helen, 29, 617n66
Vernant, Jean- Pierre, 355… 356, 665n1, 668n45,
672nn84,85,86, 675n127
Vessantara J
563… 566
Veyne, Paul, 396, 681n211
Vidal- Naquet, Pierre, 677n162
Vinton, Patrick, 646n107
Visions, 15… 16, 173, 591
Vizedom, Monika B., 635n89
Vocalization, 128, 139… 140.
See also
Voegelin, Eric, 616n59, 650nn70,86, 655nn160,5,
656nn14,15,16, 670n69, 673n87, 677nn159,160,
679nn177,185, 680n204, 697n50; musical
symbolization and, 27; tribal religions, 232;
archaic societies and, 263, 264; axial age and,
271; Athens and, 349; Greek tragedy and, 356;
Parmenides and, 377, 378; Socrates and,
386… 387, 396; mythospeculation and, 651n92
Tribal religions
dominance hierarchies and, 262; Israel and, 284,
285, 286… 289; rituals and, 569… 570.
See also
Tribal to archaic transition
Tribal to archaic transition: drive for dominance and,
175… 182; Tikopia and, 182… 191; nurturance
and, 191… 192; Polynesia and, 192… 197; Hawai
and, 197… 209
Trigger, Bruce G., 211… 212, 213… 214, 646nn1,4,
5,6,7, 647nn8,9,11, 653n123, 697n45
Trompf, Garry, 637n142, 642n27
Truth: propositional theory of religion, 11;
embodiment of, 20; narratives and, 32… 35;
omas Hobbes and, 39; science and, 47, 115;
religion and, 96; appearances and, 102… 103;
Egypt and, 238… 239; mono the ism and, 276… 277;
Greek poetry and, 342… 343; Heraclitus and,
376; Parmenides and, 377… 378, 677… 678n162;
Socrates and, 384… 385, 386; Plato and, 393;
Vedic India and, 508; Buddhism and, 542;
philosophy and, 578; religious pluralism and,
602… 604
Tsuji Naoshiro, 699n81
Tu, Weiming, 692n227
Turner, David H., 156, 634n64, 637nn136,137
Turner, Victor W., 10, 141, 613n19, 627n135, 635n88
Tyrants: Greece and, 327, 335… 336, 341; Athens
and, 349; Seven Sages and, 360… 361; Socrates
and, 385; Plato and, 388, 389, 581
Ubeity, 148, 153, 157… 158
Ugarit, 288, 294, 297
Understanding Early Civilizations
211… 212
Unitive events: theories of religion and, 12… 13;
symbols and symbolism, 14; narratives and, 36;
Blaise Pascal and, 106… 107; lantern consciousness
and, 591
Unitive repre sen ta tion, 13, 14… 18
Universal history, 597… 600, 606
Universal values: Confucius and, 413, 415,
417… 418, 421… 422; Mozi and, 430; Confucian-
ism and, 480;
and, 520… 521;
(Manu) and, 554… 556;
(goodness) and, 683n35
Universe, origins of, 50… 55
ad texts, 509… 518, 554
Urak period, 216… 217
Urbanism, 213, 214… 215, 216, 287, 509
Urmono the ismus
(primeval mono the ism), 153… 154
Utilitarianism: reality and, xv; theoretic culture
and, xx, 280, 593… 594; working world, 10; Mozi
and, 430, 432… 433, 436, 686n91
Aristotle and, 396;
(Manu) and,
553… 554; cosmic theology, 659… 660n68
 eology of the Old Testament
eoretic culture: evolutionary order and, xix;
Egypt and, 240; axial breakthroughs and,
273… 282, 606; Israel and, 283, 313… 314,
321… 322; Greece and, 324, 352, 363… 369;
Heraclitus and Parmenides, 374… 380; Plato and,
390… 396, 680… 681n205; India and, 513, 514,
551… 552; types of consciousness and, 590… 593;
utopia and, 593… 597; Aristotle and, 594… 595;
relativism and, 605… 606; Navajo people and,
639n162, 640n179
577… 582, 590… 593, 594… 595
eory of mind,Ž 73
eravada Buddhism, 551, 708n262
omas, Rosalind, 668n47
ucydides, 381, 679n195
 y, Denmark, 195
Tikopia, Polynesia, 182… 191; nurture and, 191… 192;
spirit mediums and, 206; dominance hierarchies
and, 262, 570; settlement of, 642n39
Tillich, Paul, 11
Time: reality and, 2, 3; Sabbath and, 10; musical
symbolization and, 25; myths and, 33; big- bang
cosmology and, 51; play and, 568… 569; religion
and, 620n7; oral culture and, 635n76.
See also
Space and time
Tipton, Steven M., 612n34, 631n4, 713n75
Tocqueville, Alexis de, 637n128
Tomasello, Michael, 91, 92, 94, 614n26, 618n90,
623… 624n70, 625n105, 626n115, 627n134,
627… 628n136, 629n154, 633n41
Tome, Marshall, 638n145
Tools and toolmaking, 88, 124… 126, 269
Hebrew scripture
Toward a Psychology of Being
(Maslow), 5
Toward a World 
(Smith), 604
Tracy, David, 691n215
Transcendence, Confucianism and, 475… 476,
478… 479
Transcendent God, 98, 288, 320, 321… 322
Trans“ guration of Christ, 16
Transformation: unitive repre sen ta tion and, 16,
17… 18; Navajo people and, 163
Tribal religions, 117… 118; symbols and symbolism,
xvii; cultural development and, xix, 265… 266;
enactive repre sen ta tion and, 20; episodic culture
and, 118… 120; mimetic culture and, 120… 131;
mythic culture and, 131… 174; Kalapalo people
and, 138… 146; Australian Aborigines and,
146… 159; Navajo people and, 159… 174;
Symbols and symbolism: religion and, xiv… xv, xvii,
12, 232; overlapping realities and, 8; cultural-
linguistic theory of religion, 11; symbolic
repre sen ta tion of religion, 14, 21… 37; unitive
repre sen ta tion and, 15, 16, 17; religious
naturalism and, 102… 104; worship and, 189;
Buddhism and, 540… 541; thought and, 616n45
Synagogues, 323
Syncretists, 443, 459, 689n173
Szathmáry, Eörs, 60, 66, 622n32
Tahiti, 644n62
Tambiah, Stanley, 40, 619nn95,98
Tandy, David W., 667n33
Tattersall, Ian, 121… 122, 126, 631n10,
Taylor, A. E., 630n180
Taylor, Charles, 533… 534, 604, 668n40, 704n178,
Teacher- student lineages, 443, 472, 543
Technology: daily life and, xxiii; conceptual
repre sen ta tion and, 42; cognitive development
and, 126; agriculture and, 194; Mesopotamia
and, 215… 216; axial age and, 269; Greece and,
370… 371; China and, 424, 436; Upani
ad texts
and, 509
Teig, Mons, 617n67
Temiya, 584… 585, 586
Temples: Hawai
i and, 197; archaic societies, 214;
Egypt and, 241; Israel and, 293, 298, 315;
Yahweh- alone movement, 305; Greece and, 334,
344… 345, 370… 371
Ten Commandments, 663n115
Territorial states, 697n45; archaic societies, 213;
axial age and, 270… 271; early state of Israel and,
298; Western Zhou China and, 405; China and,
Tertiary pro cess play, 79
ales of Miletus, 360, 361, 364, 365, 366,
674nn111,115, 675n122
apar, Romila, 698n62, 698… 699n72, 703n161,
704nn170,171, 706nn206,207,208,210,211,212,
213, 707n221, 708n256; Vedic India and, 525,
526; renouncers and, 530; Buddhism and, 542;
Mauryan dynasty, 553;
and, 561
(Hesiod), 331, 343… 344, 366, 367, 511
eology: Egypt and, 240… 243; Western Zhou
China and, 260; early state of Israel and,
294… 298; Yahweh- alone movement, 299… 305;
Yahweh and, 299… 305, 316… 323; Deuteronomic
Revolution, 311… 312; pre- Socratic phi los o phers
and, 367… 368; Delphic theology,Ž 372… 373;
i and, 192… 193, 198, 208; archaic
societies and, 211… 212; Egypt and, 229; tribal
to archaic transition, 266; Greece and, 329,
330… 332, 334, 336… 337, 347… 348; Panhellenic
culture and, 338… 339; Plato and, 388; China
and, 402, 403… 404, 406, 407, 408, 424… 425;
Mencius and, 463; Xunzi and, 471… 472; Vedic
India and, 488, 506… 507, 508; middle Vedic
transformation, 493… 494, 495, 496, 498… 499;
Buddhism and, 537… 538; Magadha Empire and,
549; Pueblo people and, 641n18; rituals and,
Status leveling, Hawai
i and, 200… 201
Sternberg, Yitzhak, 681n213
Stevens, Holly, 617n74
Stevens, Wallace, 7, 15, 27… 28, 32, 613n14,
Stoicism, 621n22
Story of Atrahas
sŽ (Mesopotamian myth),
219… 220
Storytelling, 34, 44… 49, 148, 149
Strand, Mark, xx, 611n30
Strauss, Leo, 679n190, 680n203
Strehlow, T. G. H., 150, 636n114
Striker, Gisela, 678n166
Studies in Cognitive Growth
(Bruner), 18… 19
Subjectivity, unitive repre sen ta tion and, 16, 17
Submission, 192, 261.
See also
dras, 522, 523, 703n154
ering, Buddhism and, 532… 533
Sulawesian people, 155
Sullivan, William M., 631n4
Sumerian language, 224, 225
Sun, the, 52, 233, 245… 246
Sun and light, as symbols: unitive repre sen ta tion
and, 15, 16; poetic symbolization and, 32;
c discovery and, 40… 41; Akhenaten and,
277; Wallace Stevens and, 617n74
ga dynasty, 550
Surplus resource theory, 79… 80
Suttas, 531, 535… 537, 538
Suzerainty treaties, 306, 307
Swain, Tony, 147… 148, 150, 153, 156, 635nn92,93,
636nn97,98,103,104,105,106,116, 637nn125,
126,127,129,130,142, 642n27
Sweat houses, 163, 167
Swidler, Ann, 631n4
Symbolic play, 21, 23… 24
Symbolic repre sen ta tion of religion, 14, 21… 37,
614n22; iconic symbolization, 22… 24; musical
symbolization, 24… 27; poetic symbolization,
27… 32; narratives, 32… 37
Symbolic Species, 
(Deacon), 131… 133
Solomon, King, 293, 294, 666n21
Solon, 347… 349, 360, 361… 362, 392, 670n66
Soma, 489, 490
a (Brahmin), 535… 537
Song: mimetic culture and, 128, 129; Australian
Aborigines and, 152… 153; Navajo people and,
Son of Heaven, 429… 430, 432… 433
Sophists, 364, 380… 383, 384, 678n172
Sophocles, 352, 359… 360, 613n16, 672n86
Sourvinou- Inwood, Christiane, 356… 357, 358,
671n76, 672n84, 673nn88,89,90,91,94,105
Space and time: reality and, 2, 3, 4; Sabbath and,
10; children and young people, 21; conceptual
repre sen ta tion and, 37; big- bang cosmology and,
50… 51; play and, 91; Kalapalo people and, 142;
Australian Aborigines, 147… 148; Pueblo people
and, 164; Navajo people and, 165… 166; Tikopia,
Polynesia, 185… 186
Sparta, 347, 581, 582
Spawforth, Antony, 670n64
Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy
(Nightingale), 577… 582
Speech and language, 128, 507… 508.
See also
Spencer, Herbert, 66, 624n86, 640n176
Spinoza, Baruch, 713n60
Spirituality, xiv, 103… 109
Games and sports
Spriggs, Matthew, 644n62
Spring and Autumn Period, China, 401… 402
528, 530
Srinivas, Mysore Narasimhachar, 699n76
Staal, Frits, 501, 503, 697n34, 698n68, 699nn79,
80,85,86,87,88,89,90, 700nn98,101, 701n121
Stanner, W. E. H., 618n85, 635n94, 636n112,
636nn99,112, 637nn118,119,120,121,122,132,
133,134,135,140,143; narratives and, 36; myths
and rituals, 147; Mother- cults and, 155… 156;
Australian Aborigines and, 158
Stars, big- bang cosmology and, 52, 53
State, development of, 697n40, 697n45, 698n59;
technology and, 194; Hawai
i and, 208, 209;
archaic societies and, 210… 211, 262… 263; tribal
to archaic transition, 266; Israel and, 289… 298;
Greece and, 332, 340… 341, 397; India and,
491… 493, 507, 509, 525… 526; Magadha Empire
and, 544… 550; play and ritual, 570… 573;
legitimate authority and, 573… 576; divine
kingship and, 655n3
Status di
erences, 499… 500; dominance hierarchies
and, 178, 181; kinship and, 183, 698n62;
Tikopia, Polynesia, 187; worship and, 189;
early state of Israel and, 294… 295; di
and, 299; Second Isaiah and, 319
Smith, Morton, 660n82
Smith, Steven G., 713n76
Smith, Wilfred Cantwell, 604, 605… 606, 685n56,
Snell, Reginald, 710n3
Social bonding: evolution of new capacities and,
72… 74; parental care and, 74; group size and,
123; speech and language, 128, 129; mimetic
culture and, 130; dominance hierarchies and, 176
Social classes: theoretic culture and, xix; Hawai
and, 198; Egypt and, 234; Plato and, 388; caste
system and, 522; legitimate authority and, 574;
Greece and, 668n39, 671… 672n79.
See also
Dominance hierarchies; Status di
Social criticism, projected utopias and, 576… 585
Social order: religious observance and, xvii; musical
symbolization and, 25, 26, 27; narratives and,
35… 36; drive for dominance and, 74… 75; animal
play and, 78; rituals and, 93… 94;
Homo erectus,
122… 123; cultural development and, 137… 138;
Ancestral Law (Australian Aborigines), 150… 151;
family relationships and, 176; paramount chiefs
and, 206; Mesopotamia and, 221… 222; Egypt
and, 240; Shang China and, 252… 253; archaic
societies and, 263; Deuteronomic Revolution,
310; Socrates and, 386… 387; Spring and Autumn
Period, China, 405… 406; Mozi and, 428… 429,
and, 453; Daoist Primitivism and,
453… 454; Confucianism and, 477, 479; Vedic
India and, 506… 507; caste system and, 523; China
and India, 526; renouncers and, 529… 530;
Buddhism and, 543, 583… 585; death of leaders
and, 645n96
Social play, 78, 80… 82, 91
Social sciences, 678n172
Social welfare: Egypt and, 236… 237, 239… 240;
Shang China and, 253; Western Zhou China
and, 257… 258; archaic societies and, 264, 266;
early state of Israel and, 293; Yahweh- alone
movement, 302… 303; Moses and, 311; Greece
and, 345; Mozi and, 428… 430; Daoism,
455… 456; Mencius and, 462, 463; Xunzi and,
467; Magadha Empire and, 547, 548, 549;
po liti cal leadership and, 571… 572
Socrates, 673n106, 679nn177,178, 686n75;
conceptual repre sen ta tion and, 39; Plato and,
111, 388… 389, 391, 393, 578, 681n206; legitimate
authority and, 267; Seven Sages and, 362, 363;
mystery religions and, 372; philosophy and, 380;
Greece, 383… 387; renouncers and, 575; God and,
679n178; Athens and, 711n18
248; kings and, 249; axial China and, 399… 400;
capital cities and, 653n121; divination and,
Shao Gong, 256… 257
Shared intentionality, play and, 91
Sharma, Arvind, 696nn18,19
Shaughnessy, Edward L., 248, 256, 652nn113,
116,117, 654nn138,139,140,141, 682n3,
685nn69, 686n85
Shaw, Sarah, 709n266, 711n35
Shen Nong, 440… 441
Shepard motifs, 648n39
Shepardson, Mary, 638n146
Sherratt, Andrew, 215… 216, 647nn13,14,15, 656n10
(knights), 408, 452… 453
See Book of Songs
Shingaku, 692n223
Shorey, Paul, 679n194
Shrotri, Shridor B., 701n117
(reciprocity), 418… 419
See Book of Documents
Shun, Kwong- Loi, 684n48, 685n51, 690n187
Shunning, dominance hierarchies and, 180
Siblings, parental care and, 74
Signaling behaviors, animal play and, 81… 82
Signaling capabilities, cells and, 62
Silber, Ilana Friedrich, 539, 705nn192,193
Silverman, David P., 651n96
Simpson, W. K., 657n34
Simson, Frances H., 676n146
Singers,Ž Navajo people and, 165
Singing, enactive repre sen ta tion and, 24
Single- celled organisms, 57… 58
Sinos, Rebecca H., 350, 670n70
, 707… 708n247
Sivaraman, Krishna, 701n115, 702n132
Skalník, Peter, 646n3, 697n40
Skemp, J. B., 630n183
Skills, mimetic culture and, 125
Slavery, 335, 336, 524, 671… 672n79, 672n80
Sleep, xx, xxi, 2
Slingerland, Edward, 448, 687n119, 688n134
Smail, Daniel Lord, xi, 609n5
Smith, Barbara Herrnstein, 112… 113, 114, 115,
628n140, 629n154, 630nn186,187,188,189,190,
Smith, Brian K., 700nn92,93,94,95,99,100,
703n153; Vedic India and, 504… 505, 506, 507;
caste system and, 522… 523
Smith, John Maynard, 60, 66, 622n32
Smith, Jonathan Z., 135, 154, 633n56, 637n124
Smith, Mark S., 658nn46,52,53, 659nn55,57,65,67,
659… 660n68, 660nn69,73, 663n123, 664n124;
Schwarz, Maureen Trudelle, 167, 172… 173,
638nn150,152, 639nn163,166,169,174, 640n177
Science: technology and, xxiii; multiple realities
and, 4; conceptual repre sen ta tion and, 39,
40… 43; evolution as narrative, 44… 45, 46… 47;
big- bang cosmology and, 50… 51; religion and,
65… 66, 97, 106… 109; objectivity and, 82;
religious naturalism and, 97… 104; appearances
and, 103; agriculture and, 274; theoretic culture
and, 275… 276; Greece and, 324; philosophy and,
366, 367… 368, 578; China and, 421;
and, 551… 552; axial breakthroughs and,
595… 596; meta phors and, 619n97; atheism and,
620… 621n20; development of, 700n95
Scipio, 15… 16
Seaford, Richard, 344… 345, 370, 669… 670n57,
670nn58,59,60,67, 675nn129,130,131
Search for God in Ancient Egypt
240… 241
Secondary pro cess play, 78, 79, 80
Secondary products revolution, 215… 216
Second Isaiah, 319, 663n123
Second- order thinking, 275… 276, 421, 592
Secular Age, A
(Taylor), 533… 534, 604
Secular authority: chiefdoms and kingdoms, 196;
Mesopotamia and, 217; legitimate authority and,
266… 267; sophists and, 383
Sedley, D. N., 676n140
Seleucus Nicator, 546
Self: narratives and, 33… 35; co- emergence
hypothesis, 68… 69; empathy and, 73; Upani
texts and, 512, 515; late Vedic breakthrough,
517… 518; Buddha and, 531
Self- cultivation:
chapter of the
444; Mencius and, 461… 462, 464… 465; Xunzi
and, 473, 474
Self- domestication,Ž human evolution and, 87… 88
Self- handicapping, animal play and, 81
Sel“ sh Gene, 
(Dawkins), xii
Seminomadic cultures, 146… 147
Senart, Emile, 695n14
Seneca, 712n51
Serbo- Croat poetry, 482
Serious play, 24, 90, 91, 109… 111
500… 508; Upani
ad texts and, 510, 514… 515;
and, 520; caste system and, 522; China
and India, 526; Buddhism and, 540; Magadha
and, 545;
and, 553;
(Manu) and, 556; tribal religions and, 569… 570;
development of the state and, 570… 573; Plato
and, 579… 580; projected utopias and, 587;
warfare and, 623n65; drama and, 635n88;
economic costs of, 698… 699n72; status
erences and, 699n74; meditation and, 712n40
Rituals of reversal, 571
Rock and pillar inscriptions of A
oka, 546… 548, 550
Roessel, Robert, 638n146
Roetz, Heiner, 683nn34,35, 684nn46,50, 685nn51,
53,54,55,64, 686nn91, 689nn156,157,159,
690n178, 691nn209,210,212,214, 692n223,
(goodness) and, 412… 413;
Confucius and, 417… 419, 422; Daoist Primitiv-
ism and, 454… 455; Confucianism and,
479… 480
Roggeveen, 644n58
Role of Symbolic Capacity in the Origin of
ReligionŽ (Cashman and Deacon), 101… 103
Rongo (war god), 196
Rose, Deborah Bird, 156, 637n138
Rose, Peter W., 339, 667n37
Rosemont, Henry, Jr., 683nn30,33,35, 685n52
Rosenstock- Huessy, Eugen, 39… 40, 618n93
Roth, Guenther, 612n3, 656n13
Roth, Harold D., 687nn111,118,119,120,121,122,123,
125,126, 688nn127,128,138; Warring States
Period (China), 442… 443;
chapter of the
443… 445
Roughgarden, Joan, 609n7, 610n16
Rousseau, Jean- Jacques, 710n14
Route of Parmenides, 
(Mourelatos), 378… 379
Rowe, Christopher, 669n56, 679nn188,190, 680n204
Rowe, C. J., 630n183
(cosmic order), 508, 519
Runciman, W. G., 665n14, 666n22, 668n42,
681nn212,213; early Greek society, 332; Greek
city- states and, 340, 396… 397
Russell, Bertrand, 42… 43, 619n104
Sabbath, 10
Sackett, L. H., 667n31
Sacks, Oliver, 48… 49, 55, 620n6
Sacred, the: de“ ned, 1; symbolic repre sen ta tion
and, 22; science as narrative, 46… 47; rituals and,
94… 95; Tikopia, Polynesia, 183… 184, 187;
ian chiefs and, 198… 199; Confucius and,
18… 20; symbolic repre sen ta tion, 21… 37;
conceptual repre sen ta tion, 37… 43
Reptiles, 24n72, 66… 67, 70, 71, 623n59
(Plato), 388… 390, 393, 577… 582
Reciprocity, human- divine interactions, 485… 487
Reck, Andrew J., 615n33
Recognition, 320, 664n125
Redford, Donald B., 658n49
Redistribution, nurture and, 191… 192
Reductionism, 100, 114
Re” ections on Resemblance, Ritual, and Religion
(Smith), 504… 505
Rehoboam, King, 293
Reichard, Gladys A., 639nn158,160,166
Reincarnation, 516, 523, 532, 533
Reinventing the Sacred
mann), 98… 99
Relativism, religious pluralism and, 605
Relaxed “
elds, 587… 590; play and, 567… 568, 573;
tribal religions and, 569; renouncers and,
575… 576; religious institutions and, 597; human
progress and, 600; animal play and, 626n121
Relaxed selection,Ž 77… 78, 87… 88, 626n121
Religion: evolution and, xiii, xviii… xix; symbols and
symbolism, xiv… xv; common- sense world and,
xv… xvi; adaptations and, xxii; moral development
and, xxiv; de“ ned, 1, 612n1; multiple realities
and, 4; narrative truth and, 35; instrumental
rationality and, 38; science and, 55, 97, 106… 109;
spirituality and, 104… 109; archaic societies and,
212; deep history and, 709… 710n2.
See also
and the supernatural;
speci“ c religions
Religion as a Cultural SystemŽ (Geertz), xiv… xvi
Religious evolution, progressŽ and, xxii… xxiii
Religious leaders, 181, 190.
See also
Divine kingship;
Priests and priestesses
Religious naturalism, 97… 104
Religious pluralism, 602… 604
Religious reality, 5… 7
Religious repre sen ta tion, modes of, 11… 14, 117;
unitive repre sen ta tion, 14… 18; enactive
repre sen ta tion, 18… 20; symbolic repre sen ta tion,
21… 37; conceptual repre sen ta tion, 37… 43
Religious tolerance, 547, 548, 657n31
REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, xxi
(goodness), 411… 413, 416… 418, 461… 462,
Re nais sance,Ž eighth- century Greece, 332… 341
Renfrew, Colin, 632n18
Renou, Louis, 504… 505
Renouncers, 527… 530; late Vedic breakthrough,
and, 527; Buddhism and, 527… 530;
ces and, 535; Buddha and, 538, 584… 585;
and, 563;
Vessantara J
564… 565; legitimate authority and, 573… 576;
Plato and, 711n18
Repre sen ta tion, religious, modes of, 11… 14; unitive
repre sen ta tion, 14… 18; enactive repre sen ta tion,
kta Hymn, 493… 494
Pyramids, Egypt and, 233, 234… 236
Pythagoras, 25… 26, 372, 675… 676n137
(vital ”
uid), 444, 464… 465
Qin dynasty, 248, 255, 693n233; itinerant scholars
and, 425; Warring States Period (China), 425;
Xunzi and, 467; Confucianism and, 477;
Mauryan dynasty and, 544
Qin Shihuangdi, 693n233, 693nn233,236
Raa” aub, Kurt A., 669n56
Race, Empire, and the Idea of Human Development
(McCarthy), 597… 600
Racism, 598
Radin, Paul, 655n159
ma, 558, 560… 561
Ramanuja, 703n154
Ramanujan, A. K., 556
543… 544, 557… 558, 560… 561, 564, 577,
707… 708n247
Ranger, Terence, 618n83
Status di
Rapa Nui, 643… 644n58
Rappaport, Roy A., 136, 145, 633n58,
Rational speculation, Greece, 363… 369
Rau, Wilhelm, 699n78
Raven, J. E., 675n123, 676nn141,142,143,144
Reality: daily life and, xv; utilitarianism and, xv;
multiple realities, 2… 4, 628n142; religious reality,
5… 7; overlapping realities, 8… 11, 587… 590;
modes of religious repre sen ta tion, 11… 14; unitive
repre sen ta tion, 14… 18; enactive repre sen ta tion,
18… 20; symbolic repre sen ta tion, 21… 37;
conceptual repre sen ta tion, 37… 43; personal
spirituality and, 105… 106; mythic culture and,
142, 147; Australian Aborigines and, 153;
Heraclitus and Parmenides, 375; Parmenides
and, 379;
446; Daoist Primitivism
and, 453; Vedic India and, 505, 508; Upani
texts and, 513… 514; Buddha and, 531; philosophy
and, 578; William James and, 612… 613n7;
assimilation and, 615n37
Reason: conceptual repre sen ta tion and, 38; Blaise
Pascal and, 107… 108, 109; theoretic culture
and, 280; Greece and, 324, 363… 369; axial
breakthroughs and, 369… 371; Plato and,
389… 390; Mozi and, 427; Xunzi and, 466… 467;
Vedic India and, 513, 525… 526; Buddhism and,
540; lantern consciousness and, 592; Ten
Commandments and, 663n115
enlightenment and, 615n34; Alasdair MacIntyre
and, 627n133.
See also
pati, 504, 505, 699n78
Prakrit languages, 550… 551
Prayer, 29… 30
Precocial species, 68, 79
Predynastic Egypt, 229… 230
Prelinguistic language, 632n29
Premonarchical Israel, 284, 285… 289
Pre- Socratic phi los o phers, 363… 369, 373, 374… 383
Pretend play, 90, 569, 586
Price, Simon, 667n32, 668n42
Priests and priestesses: Tikopia, Polynesia, 184,
186… 187; Hawai
i and, 198; paramount chiefs
and, 202… 203; Mesopotamia and, 217; Egypt
and, 241; Israel and, 298, 315; Deuteronomic
Revolution, 306; Greece and, 335, 345… 346;
India and, 497… 498
Primary pro cess play, 78… 79
Primates: dominance hierarchies and, 75… 76,
175… 176; animal play and, 81… 82; great apes,
85… 86, 93… 94; parental care and, 85… 86;
episodic culture and, 118… 119; altruism and,
623… 624n70
Primitivism, Daoism and, 443, 445… 446, 453… 455
Pritchard, James B., 648h44
Procedural memory, 101
eodore, 498, 698nn68,69,70,71
ProgressŽ: religious evolution and, xxii… xxiii;
evolution of new capacities and, 66; Australian
Aborigines and, 156; metanarrative and, 598;
morality and, 598… 600; evolution and, 622n50
Prokaryotes, 57… 60, 61
Prophetic age,Ž 271
Prophetic Persona, 
(Polk), 317
Prophets: Hawai
i and, 206… 207, 645n99; Israel
and, 291… 292, 317… 319, 659nn62,63; Yahweh-
alone movement, 299… 305; Deuteronomic
Revolution, 308… 309, 312… 313, 315; renouncers
and, 575; projected utopias and, 576; Mesopota-
mia and, 648n43
Propositional theory of religion, 11
Protagoras, 678n173
Protodynastic Egypt, 230
Pinxton, Rik, 639n163
Pisistratus, 349… 350
Pittakos, 360… 361
Plains Indians, 162
Plato, 630nn180,181,183,185, 652n111, 669nn47,
54, 670n72, 673nn106,107, 674n108, 675nn122,
134, 678n172, 679nn179,195, 680nn197,
199,202, 681nn206,207,209,214, 713n59;
musical symbolization and, 26, 27; conceptual
repre sen ta tion and, 39; play and, 109… 111,
585… 586, 587; legitimate authority and,
266… 267; science and, 324; Homer and, 343;
Seven Sages and, 362… 363; morality and, 382;
sophists and, 383; Socrates and, 387, 681n206;
Greece and, 387… 396, 397; Confucius and, 409;
renouncers and, 575, 711n18; projected utopias
and, 576, 577… 582, 585; lantern consciousness
and, 591; philosophy and, 679n189, 681n208;
theoretic culture and, 680… 681n205; music
of the spheres and, 680n204; myths and,
Plausibility of Life, 
(Kirschner and Gerhart), xii,
60… 65
Play: mammals and birds, xiii; Darwinian selection
and, xxi… xxii; reality and, 3; symbols and
symbolism, 21; animal play, 74… 83, 567, 570,
588, 626n121; human evolution and, 89… 91;
rituals and, 91… 97; religion and, 109… 116, 567,
569… 570; development of the state and, 570… 573;
renouncers and, 575… 576; utopias and, 585… 587;
relaxed “
elds and, 587… 590; culture and, 611n31;
exercise play, 615n38; communication and,
625n104; Johan Huizinga and, 627n130;
in e qual ity and, 710n14; leisure and, 712n53
Plotinus, 652n111
Plutarch, 651n99
Poetic symbolization, 14, 27… 32
Poetry: theoretic culture and, xx; religious reality
and, 7; Greece and, 325… 326, 332, 341… 347;
Greek tragedy, 352… 360; Seven Sages and,
361; Parmenides and, 377, 378… 379; Plato and,
389… 391, 394; Aristotle and, 395;
of the
444… 445;
and, 449;
oral culture and, 482; Vedic India and, 486… 487,
490… 491, 694n6; Upani
ad texts and, 510… 511;
185… 186; Story of Atrahas
sŽ (Mesopotamian
myth) and, 219… 220; Egypt and, 232… 233; early
state of Israel and, 297; Hebrew scripture and,
322; pre- Socratic phi los o phers and, 366, 367;
Mozi and, 428… 429;
chapter of the
444… 445;
and, 450; Aryan
people and, 487; middle Vedic transformation,
493… 494; Vedic India and, 504, 505, 510… 511;
ad texts and, 511… 512;
(Manu) and, 555; Greece and Israel, 658n45
Ortiz, Alfonso, 638nn145,146,148,156, 639n162,
Osborne, Robin, 673n106
Osiris (god), 231
Otto, Eckart, 661n91, 661… 662n100, 662nn101,111
Outcast classes, 198.
See also
Caste systems
Overlapping realities, 8… 11, 587… 590
Pair bonding, 122, 177, 178
Paley, William, 65
Pali texts, 550… 551, 709n267
avas, 561… 563, 708n254
omas, 630n180
Panhellenic culture: eighth- century Re nais sance
(Greece), 333… 334, 335… 336; city- states and,
338, 666n25; festivals and, 577; civilizations
and, 666… 667n28; development of, 666n24;
Herodotus and, 667n34
ini, 513, 551, 701n121
Pantel, Pauline Schmitt, 346, 665n1, 670n62
Parable of the Cave (Plato), 578… 579, 585… 586
Parables, 531, 578… 579, 585… 586
Paramount chiefs: Hawai
i and, 195, 197, 198… 199,
Navajo people, 159… 174; powerful beingsŽ and,
188; origin stories and, 638n152; prehuman
uxŽ and, 638n152; locality and, 638n155;
philosophy and, 639n162; witchcraft and,
639n168; Peyote religion and, 640n178; theoretic
culture and, 640n179
Nazirites, 527
Needham, Joseph, 685n63
Negative theology, 12, 446, 518
Nehamas, Alexander, 676n146
chapter of the
443… 445, 464, 465
Nelson, Katherine, 618n79
Neo- Assyrian Empire, 270, 306… 307, 337… 338
Neoteny, 85, 87
Neusner, Jacob, 692n228
New Age spirituality, 156., 158, 603
New Kingdom Egypt, 240… 246
New Mexico Territory, 638n149
New Zealand, 197
Nga Faea people, 190, 642n39
Nga Ravenga people, 190, 642n39
Niche Construction
(Odling- Smee, Laland, and
Feldman), xiii
Nichols, Johanna, 631n6
Nietz sche, Friedrich, 375, 377… 378, 379,
670… 671n72, 672nn84,85, 676n177, 677n161
Nightingale, Andrea, 577… 582, 711nn18,20,21,22,
Nile Valley, 228… 229
Ninhursaga (goddess), 218
na, 516, 532, 533, 538, 541… 542, 557
Nissen, Hans J., 216… 217, 226, 647nn12,17, 648n37,
Nivison, David S., 686n85, 687n102, 689nn163,
170, 690n197, 691nn203,208; Mozi and, 430;
Mencius and, 437; Xunzi and, 466, 469
Nonverbal communication, xxii, 92… 94
Nonviolence: A
oka and, 548… 549;
(Manu) and, 554, 555;
561, 562;
Vessantara J
and, 565; play and,
Numbers, Books of, 315
Nurture, 68, 191… 192, 203, 221… 224, 266.
See also
Parental care
Nylan, Michael, 683n27, 687n116
Ober, Josiah, 353… 354, 668nn39,40,43, 670n71,
671… 672n79
Obeyesekere, Gananath, 629n161, 645n78,
701… 702n125, 705nn188,191, 708n260, 711n34;
karma and, 102; Upani
ad texts and, 514;
Buddhism and, 537; Buddha and, 538
Object play, 78
Mythospeculation: Egypt and, 240, 244; archaic
societies and, 264; axial age and, 276; Greece
and, 360, 377; India and, 494, 513; Eric Voegelin
and, 651n92
Myths: narratives and, 32… 33; science as narrative,
47; the supernatural and, 95; Plato and, 110… 111,
389… 391, 393, 578… 580, 680nn197,202;
language development and, 133… 134; rituals
and, 135… 136; Kalapalo rituals and, 145; Tikopia,
Polynesia, 185… 186; Mesopotamia and, 219… 220;
history as, 227… 228; Egypt and, 240, 241… 243;
China and, 249; theoretic culture and, 275… 276;
axial age and, 276; Hebrew scripture and, 284,
322; Greece and, 325… 326, 342; Aristotle and,
395; Confucius and, 416; India and, 486… 487,
492… 493.
See also
Narrative; Origin stories
Naddaf, Gerard, 680n196
Na“ ssi, Mohammad, 672n80
Nagy, Gregory, 343, 495, 496, 669n53, 698nn54,55,
Nanda dynasty, 545
Naqada, 229… 230
Narcissism, 13
Narrative, 14; mythic culture and, xviii… xix, 174;
symbolic repre sen ta tion of religion, 32… 37;
conceptual repre sen ta tion and, 38; science as
narrative, 45… 47; big- bang cosmology and, 54;
memory and, 101, 102; Australian Aboriginal
rituals and, 152… 153; Navajo people and, 166… 172;
archaic societies and, 263… 264; theoretic culture
and, 274, 279… 281; mono the ism and, 277;
Hebrew scripture and, 322… 323; Plato and, 393;
Confucius and, 416; Buddhism and, 540… 541;
559… 563; Indian epics and, 566;
metanarratives, 597… 600; autobiographical texts,
617n76; King David and, 660n72; philosophy
and, 705… 706n198
Narrative truth, 34… 35
(Creation hymn), 510… 511
Native American Church (Peyote), 173, 640n178
Native Americans, 154, 159… 174, 637n128
Natural Re” ections
(Smith), 112… 113
Natural selection, xx… xxii, 60, 66, 600, 624n86,
Natural Symbols
(Douglas), 31
(Paley), 65
Nature: religious naturalism, 97… 104; religion
and, 115; pre- Socratic phi los o phers and, 368;
Confucius and, 419… 420;
447… 448; Daoist Primitivism and, 454, 455;
Mencius and, 465… 466; Xunzi and, 469… 470
Navajo Lifeways
(Schwartz), 172… 173
Morris, Ian, 665n13, 666n26, 668nn39,41,45; early
Greek society, 328; eighth- century Re nais sance
(Greece), 340… 341
Mortuary rituals, Old Kingdom Egypt, 233… 234
Moses, 659n63, 661… 662n100; Hebrew scripture
and, 284, 285, 286; Elijah and, 300… 301;
Deuteronomic Revolution, 309… 312; Machia-
velli and, 662n106
Moses the Egyptian
(Assmann), 227
Moss, Lenny, 626n122
Motherese, 632n29
Mourelatos, Alexander, 378… 379, 678nn163,164
Mourning and MelancholiaŽ (Freud), 22
Mozi, 423… 435, 686nn91,92,93
(Chinese text), 426
s, Jochanan, 663n122
Muhammad, 267
Müller, Max, 700n91
Multicellular organisms, 58, 59… 60, 62… 64
Multiple realities, 2… 4; the sacred and, 1; overlapping
realities, 8; technology and, 42; play and, 76, 90,
91, 96; “
ction and fact, 628n142
Mumford, Lewis, 262, 655nn157,162
Munn, Nancy D., 635n91, 636nn95,96,100,102,103,
106,111,115, 637n141; Australian Aborigines and,
146, 147, 148, 150
Murinbata people, 155… 156
Murphy, Michael, 613n10
Murray, Oswyn, 667n32, 668n42
Mus, Paul, 484, 494, 508, 695n14, 700… 701n107
Music: mimetic culture, xviii; myths and, 33;
instrumental rationality and, 38; rituals and, 92,
136; speech and language, 128, 129; Kalapalo
people and, 139… 141, 142, 144; Australian
Aborigines and, 152… 153, 157; Navajo people
and, 166; mythic culture and, 174; Plato and,
392; Xunzi and, 473… 474; education and, 616n55
Musical symbolization, 14, 24… 27
Music of the spheres,Ž 15, 25… 26, 41, 680n204
Musilanguage, 129, 136
Mutation, random, 60, 64, 87
Mycenaean civilization, 327… 328
Myers, Fred R., 148… 149, 179… 180, 636n101,
Mysticism, 90n192, 443, 489… 490
Mythic culture: evolutionary order and, xviii… xix;
tribal religions and, 131… 138; Kalapalo people
and, 138… 146; Australian Aborigines and,
146… 159; Navajo people and, 159… 174; powerful
beingsŽ and, 188; cultural development and,
272… 273; gods and the supernatural, 276; Plato
and, 391… 392, 394… 395
and, 272; theoretic culture and, 278… 279;
modern era and, 281; Greece and, 342, 352; Plato
and, 391… 392, 394… 395
Mindfulness, Zen Buddhism and, 10… 11
Moab, 290
Modern era: religious development and, xvii;
theoretic culture and, xix; moral development
and, xxiii; speed of cultural change and, xxiii;
Navajo people and, 173… 174, 640n179; rituals
and, 278… 279, 571; Israel and, 597; Greek
tragedy and, 672n86, 673n92
Mo Di.
Moeller, Hans- Georg, 448, 449, 450, 451, 688nn135,
137,139,140,145,149,150, 689nn157,158
at, Anne Simon, 631nn8,9
Mohist tradition, 426, 441, 442, 443, 686n84.
See also
Mollgaard, Eske, 688n129
Momigliano, Arnaldo, 268, 275… 276, 656nn6,12,
Monasticism, 538… 539, 540, 542… 543, 596, 597
Money and the Early Greek Mind
(Seaford), 370
Monod, Jacques, 48, 104… 105, 620n5
Mono the ism: Middle Kingdom Egypt, 241; New
Kingdom Egypt, 244… 246; archaic societies
and, 263; Akhenaten and, 276… 277; Israel and,
298… 305, 316… 317; pre- Socratic phi los o phers
and, 367… 368; religious toleration and, 657n31
Monumental architecture.
Morality: moral development, xxiii, 46… 47, 48;
Australian Aborigines and, 150… 151, 158; Navajo
people and, 172; Egypt and, 237, 238… 239;
Western Zhou China and, 253… 254; archaic
societies and, 264; Seven Sages and, 361; Greece
and, 381… 382; Socrates and, 386; Plato and, 388;
the golden rule and, 418… 419, 688n129;
and, 447… 448; Daoist Primitivism and, 454… 455;
Legalism and, 458… 459; Mencius and, 461… 462,
464… 465; Xunzi and, 468… 472, 474; Brahmins
and, 536… 537; Buddhism and, 539… 540;
560… 561; Aristotle and, 593… 595;
human progress and, 598… 599; individual
responsibility for, 661n99.
See also
Ethics; Social
Moral upstarts, 573
Moran, William L., 661n94
Morgan, Kathryn A., 680n202
Morgan, Michael L., 372… 373, 676n138
Morowitz, Harold J., 98, 621n28, 628nn147,148
Morris, Adelaide Kirby, 617n73
Morris, Charles W., 615n33
Morris, Goodman, 631nn8,9
120; Daoism, 445; Buddha and, 583; rituals and,
Meggitt, M. J., 146, 151, 635n91, 636nn110,113,
Meier, Christian, 668n44, 670nn65,69,71, 671n78,
673n93; Greek city- states, 340… 341; Solon and,
348; Athens and, 349; Greek tragedy and,
357… 358
Mellars, Paul, 626n118, 627n123
Memory: religious naturalism and, 101; episodic
culture and, 119; external memory systems,
273… 274, 283, 363; Hebrew scripture and,
285… 286
eology, 651… 652n106
Mencius, ix, x, 459… 466, 690nn187,190,191,192,
692nn223,227; legitimate authority and, 267;
Yang Zhu and Mozi, 437; projected utopias and,
Mendenhall, George, 661n90
Merker, Björn, 632nn36,37, 633n59
Merton, Robert K., 613n19
Mesopotamia: divinity, kings and, 212… 213; human
ce and, 213, 648n32; writing systems, 214;
archaic religion, 214… 226; literacy and, 263… 264;
pre- Socratic phi los o phers and, 366… 367;
agriculture and, 647n12; government assemblies
and, 647n19; gods and the supernatural, 648n35;
prophets and, 648n43
Metanarratives, 322… 323, 597… 600
Meta phors: conceptual repre sen ta tion and, 39;
c discovery and, 41… 42; play and, 103;
language development and, 133; Parmenides and,
378… 379;
and, 449, 451… 452; late
Vedic breakthrough, 513; Upani
ad texts and,
514; science and, 619n97; craft literacy and,
685… 686n75
Meyer, John, 666n25
Middle Kingdom Egypt, 237… 240
Midgley, Mary, 48, 54, 609n7, 611n26, 620nn3,
4,5,19, 621n22
Milesian school of philosophy, 364… 369, 371, 373,
Military leadership: chiefdoms and kingdoms, 196;
i and, 198; Egypt and, 232… 233, 236;
archaic societies, 261; Israel and, 286, 290, 291;
Greece and, 328… 330, 334… 335; Warring States
Period (China), 424
Mill, John Stuart, 598… 599, 600, 713n64
Miller, Patricia Cox, 616nn53,54
Mimetic action, 128, 144… 145
Mimetic culture, xviii; rituals and, 92… 94, 134… 135;
tribal religions and, 120… 131; cultural development
642n29; Polynesia, 186… 188, 196; Hawai
and, 199, 203… 204; warriors and, 261
Mandalas, 23
Mandate of Heaven, 253, 254, 256, 257, 420
Mangaia people, 196
omas, ix… x, xi, 227, 609n1
Mantaro people, 195
Mantras, 507, 700n101
Manu, 707nn224,235,239
Maori people, 195, 643n52
Mao Zedong, 679n193, 684n45
Marcus Aurelius, 621n22
Marduk (god), 664n124
Marett, R. R., 20, 615n35
Margulis, Lynn, 622n31
Mark, Gospel of, 16
Martin, Richard P., 667n36, 673nn98,99,100,
101,102,103,104; Homer and, 339; Seven Sages
and, 361, 362… 363; pre- Socratic phi los o phers,
and, 451… 452
Maslow, Abraham, 5, 8… 9, 74… 75, 613n9, 624n77,
Masters, Roger D., 710n14
Masters of Truth in Ancient Greece, 
Matthew, Gospel of, 16
Maurer, Walter H., 489… 490, 507… 508, 696nn20,
32,33, 697nn35,47,48,49, 700n103
Mauryan dynasty, 544… 546, 549… 551, 553
Mauss, Marcel, 192, 484, 643n44, 645n80,
695nn13,15, 699n75
Mayan people, 213, 214
Mbuti pygmies, 138
McBrearty, Sally, 88… 89, 627n124
omas, 597… 600, 606,
713nn61,62,64,65,66,67,68, 714nn80,81
McClenon, James, 633n55
McIntosh, Jane R., 646n2
McKinney, Michael L., 626n112
McNeely, Connie L., 666n25
McNeill, William H., 228, 632n30, 649n57,
669n49, 684n45
McNeley, James, 639nn162,173
Mead, George Herbert, 37, 589, 615n33, 621n28,
627n126, 712n44
Meaning: evolution and, xiii… xiv; poetic
symbolization and, 28… 29; science as narrative
and, 54; Buddhism and, 533… 534
Meaning and Goal of History, 
(Jaspers), 604
Meditation: unitive repre sen ta tion and, 16… 17;
enactive repre sen ta tion and, 20; perception and,
Lloyd- Jones, Hugh, 325… 326, 665nn3,4
Locality: Australian Aborigines and, 146… 149,
156, 636n105; Kalapalo people and, 157; India
and, 530; Native Americans and, 637n128,
Locomotor- rotational play, 78
Loewe, Michael, 652nn113,116,117, 654n139,
682n3, 685nn69,85
Logic: narratives and, 36… 37; conceptual repre sen ta-
tion and, 37, 38; Plato and, 394… 395; Confucius
and, 421; Mozi and, 427, 432, 436; Xunzi and,
473; late Vedic breakthrough, 513; Buddhism
and, 540
Long, Anthony A., 676n140, 677n157, 678n167
Lono (Hawaiian god), 199, 200, 208
Lord, Albert Bates, 694nn5,6
Lorenz, Konrad, 70
Love: parental care and, 70… 71, 72; play and, 89… 90;
Yahweh and, 320; Greek gods and, 326;
jian ai
(universal love), 430, 431… 432, 433; Mohist
tradition and, 686n84
Love and Hate
(Eibl- Eibesfeldt), 70
Luckert, Karl W., 163, 638nn151,152,153
Luke, Gospel of, 16
Luria, A. R., 615n30
and, xviii… xix, 131… 133; origins of, xxii; enactive
repre sen ta tion and, 19; poetic symbolization,
27… 32; language codes, 31; narratives and,
32… 37; conceptual repre sen ta tion and, 40;
human evolution and, 84, 89; procedural
memory and, 101… 102;
Homo sapiens
and, 126;
rituals and, 145… 146; classical Chinese, 474;
language modules, 632n15; motherese, 632n29;
mantras and, 700n101.
See also
Meta phors
Languages: Australian Aborigines and, 157; Navajo
people, 159, 160; Mesopotamia and, 224… 225;
the axial age and, 475; Sanskrit and, 483; early
Vedic India and, 485, 487;
and, 520;
okas edicts and, 546… 547, 550… 552
Lantern consciousness, 590… 591, 592, 594
Laozi, 449, 690n192
Lariviere, Richard, 481… 482, 694n4
Larsen, Mogens Trolle, 338, 649n51
Later Mohists,Ž 432
Lattimore, Richmond, 666nn17,18
Lau, D. C., 616nn57,58, 687n101, 688nn141,144,
147,148,150,151, 689nn153,155,162,171,175,176,
and, 450; Daoist
Primitivism and, 454
Lawrence, George, 637n128
Laws: Code of Hammurabi and, 221… 222;
Deuteronomic Revolution, 312, 313, 314, 315;
Book of Leviticus and, 315; Israel and, 318,
319… 320, 323; early Greek society, 331;
eighth- century Re nais sance (Greece), 335; Greek
poetry and, 343… 344; Athens and, 348, 381;
Socrates and, 384… 385; Legalism and, 457… 459;
518… 521.
See also
Learning: behavioral evolution and, xiii; enactive
repre sen ta tion and, 19; conceptual repre sen ta tion
and, 37; stories of origins and, 45… 46; procedural
memory and, 101… 102; tools and toolmaking,
124… 125; mimetic culture and, 131; rituals and,
279; Buddhism and, 538; teachers and students,
See also
Lechner, Frank, 666n25
Legalism, 424, 425, 456… 459, 471, 477, 593
Legge, James, 682n6
Legitimate authority: dominance hierarchies and,
178… 180, 181… 182, 640n7; Tikopia chieftains
and, 184; paramount chiefs and, 203… 204,
205; archaic societies and, 211… 212, 261… 262,
263; Western Zhou China and, 256… 257; axial
breakthroughs and, 266… 267, 596; Mencius and,
462… 463; Xunzi and, 467… 468; China and,
ya) and, 553; renouncers
and, 573… 576; Buddha and, 583… 585
Kirch, Patrick V., 641nn19,20, 642nn29,39,
643nn52,53,55,57, 643… 644n58, 644nn59,60,
645n97, 646nn106,107; Ancestral Polynesian
Society, 182; Mangaia people, 196; Hawai
i and,
197, 208
Kirk, G. S., 675n123, 676nn141,142,143,144
Kirschner, Marc W., xii, 610n10, 622nn33,34,35,36,
37,38,39,40,42,43,45,46,48,49, 628n146;
facilitated variation, 60… 65; science and
religion, 97
Kleoboulos, 361
Kluckhohn, Clyde, 159, 639n168
Knoblock, John, 474, 480, 685n71, 687n110,
690nn197,198, 691nn199,204,205,206,211,212,
214,217,220, 692nn221,222,224,226, 694n243
Knowledge: conceptual repre sen ta tion and, 38;
c discovery and, 42… 43; Blaise Pascal
and, 107… 109, 709n1; Buddhism and, 706n200
Kohlberg, Lawrence, 454… 455, 689n157, 694n242
Kolakowski, Leszek, xxiv, 612n36
, D. H. A., 698nn65,66, 703n161
Kölver, Bernhard, 696n28
Konner, Melvin, 626n113
Krader, Lawrence, 209, 646n108
Krailsheimer, A. J., 630nn173,174, 709n1
Kramer, Samuel Noah, 648n39, 652n119, 655n156
na, 561
atriyas, 497… 499, 519, 522, 526, 562; Brahmins
and, 500, 518, 525; Upani
ad texts and, 511
(Hawaiian god), 199, 200, 201… 202, 208
omas, 41, 619n101
Kuhrt, Amélie, 647n24, 648nn36,38,43
Kulke, Hermann, 496… 497, 698n66
Kurke, Leslie, 670n70, 673nn98,99,100,101,102,103
etra region, 491… 500, 509
Kuru people, 491… 492, 497… 498, 699n78
LaFargue, Michael, 452, 688n152
Lafuma, Louis, 630nn174,175,176,177,178,179
Lagerwey, John, 653n120
, George, 133, 633n49
Laks, André, 680n204
Laland, Keven N., 610nn13,14
Lamb, Marion J., 610n9
Lamphere, Louise, 638n156
Lancey, David F., 710n16
Langer, Susanne K., 616nn50,60, 617nn64,75;
musical symbolization and, 24… 25; poetic
symbolization and, 27, 29; narratives and, 32
Langton, Marcia, 150… 151
Language: religion and, xiv; mimetic culture and,
xviii, 123… 124, 128… 130, 131; mythic culture
Kamehameha I, 208, 645n91
Kant, Immanuel, 688n129, 710n4, 712n42,
713n68; science and religion, 114; play and, 588;
morality and, 598… 599; Protestantism, 603
Karlgren, Bernhard, 654nn140,143,145
Karma: rebirth and, 102; Upani
ad texts and,
516… 517; Buddhism and, 532
man, Stuart, 98… 99, 621n28, 628nn149,150,
Kaufmann, Walter, 625n106
ya, 545, 593, 706n206
Keeley, Lawrence H., 633n39, 634n63, 643n50
Keightley, David N., 652nn116,118, 653nn120,124,
126,127,128,129,130,131,132, 654n139; China
and, 248, 252
Kellogg, Rhoda, 23, 616nn46,47,48,49
Kelly, Raymond C., 643n50
Kemp, Barry J., 227, 649nn55,61, 650nn64,77
Kennedy, John F., 645n96
Kepler, Johannes, 41
Kim, Hee- Jin, 615n34
Kings: Mesopotamia and, 216… 218, 222; Old
Kingdom Egypt, 231… 233; Middle Kingdom
Egypt, 240… 241, 243; human- divine interactions
and, 246; Shang China and, 249, 250, 251… 253;
Western Zhou China and, 253… 255, 256,
258… 259, 404; archaic societies and, 262, 263,
264, 266, 322, 572; Israel and, 267, 285, 319;
Hebrew scripture and, 284; early state of Israel
and, 290, 292… 294, 295… 298; premonarchical
Israel and, 291… 292; Yahweh- alone movement,
300… 301, 303… 305; Deuteronomic Revolution,
310… 311, 312; early Greek society, 326… 327,
330… 332; Greek city- states, 334… 335; Mozi and,
428… 429; Yang Zhu and, 439; Farmers School
and, 440… 441; Mencius and, 459, 460… 461,
462… 463, 465; Xunzi and, 469; China and,
477… 478; early Vedic India and, 487; middle
Vedic transformation, 491… 492, 493, 496, 499;
Vedic India and, 504; Mauryan dynasty and,
544… 550, 553;
and, 558;
560… 561;
and, 562;
and, 564… 565; Buddha and, 584… 585;
pyramids and, 650n77; God as king, 662n107.
See also
Chiefdoms and kingdoms; Divine kingship
Kinship: parental care and, 74; rituals and, 93… 94;
Australian Aborigines and, 146, 147, 150; status
erences and, 183, 698n62; chiefdoms and
kingdoms, 185; paramount chiefs and, 208;
archaic societies and, 212, 263; Shang China,
249… 250; early Greek society, 332
Jaspers, Karl, 604, 611n29, 654n142, 656nn7,
8,9,16, 657n18, 658n42, 702n125, 713n76; axial
age and, 268… 269, 270, 272
(caste), 521
Jebusites, 297… 298
ers, Robinson, 42, 619n103
Jenkins, Andrew, 650n69
Jeremiah, 308… 309, 317… 319
Jeroboam, 293, 294, 300
Jerusalem, 293, 295, 296, 298, 305, 315
Jesus Christ, 16, 35, 36
Jezebel, 300, 301
Jian ai
(universal love), 430, 431… 432, 433
Joas, Hans, 588… 589, 712n43, 712n45
e, Alexander H., 287, 290, 658nn50,51,
Johnson, Allen, 634n60
Johnson, Mark, 133, 633n49
Johnson, W. J., 708n257
Jones, L. Gregory, 618n85
Joseph and His Brothers
(Mann), ix… x, xi
Josiah, King, 305
Joyce, Michael, 630n185
Judah, Kingdom of: axial age and, 270; Israel and,
285, 286; early state of Israel and, 290… 291, 294;
divine kingship and, 296; archaic societies and,
298… 299; Assyria and, 308
Judaism, 315, 320, 323, 596… 597
Judges, premonarchical Israel and, 291… 292
Jung, Carl G., 616n49
(gentleman), 408, 414, 479, 480
Justice, 264; Mesopotamia and, 221… 224; Egypt
and, 237, 238… 239; Yahweh- alone movement,
302… 303; Greece and, 326, 347… 348, 373, 581;
China and, 417, 461… 462, 470… 471; play and,
587; Judaism and, 597
Kahn, Charles H., 673… 674n107, 674nn117,118,119,
675nn120,121,124,134,136, 675… 676n137,
677nn148,152,153,154,155,157,158, 678n175,
679n187, 680n199, 681nn205,208; pre- Socratic
phi los o phers and, 366… 368; Heraclitus and,
375… 376; Socrates and, 387; Plato and, 391
Kalaniopuu (Hawaiian chief), 197
Kalapalo people, 138… 146; Australian Aborigines
and, 157; good and evil, 159; cultural develop-
ment and, 160; dominance hierarchies and,
181… 182, 262; powerful beingsŽ and, 188;
rituals and, 569, 570; survival of, 634n66
Kalpas, time and, 620n7
Kamakau, S. M., 207, 645n81
Intelligent design, 55
Intention: attention and, 82, 104, 627… 628n136;
play and, 91, 94; episodic culture and, 119
International in”
uences: Panhellenic culture
and, 338; pre- Socratic phi los o phers and,
366… 367; India and, 483, 528; Australian
Aborigines and, 635n92; Hawai
i and,
Introduction to Big History, A
(Christian), xi
Inuit people, 138
Invasions and conquest: Egypt and, 228… 229;
Israel and, 290; Assyria and, 306… 307;
Mycenaean civilization and, 327… 328;
Athens and, 396; India and, 483; A
oka and,
547… 548
Irrigation systems, 194, 196, 219… 220
Isaac, Glynn, 647nn13,14,15
Isaiah, 304… 305, 307, 319, 661n87
Islam, 20, 267, 320, 323, 599, 655n4
Israel: legitimate authority and, 267; axial age and,
283… 289; premonarchical Israel, 284, 285… 289;
the early state and, 289… 298; mono the ism,
298… 305; Deuteronomic Revolution, 305… 315;
axial breakthrough and, 316… 323; Yahweh and,
373; renouncers and, 575; utopias and, 576,
596… 597; Greece and, 595… 596; gods and the
supernatural, 659n57; prophets and, 659nn62,63;
Zion and, 660n81
Ithaca, 332
Ivanhoe, Philip J., 474, 685n62, 689nn160,161,
I-You relationships, 82, 104, 105… 106
Jablonka, Eva, 610n9
Jablonski, Nina G., 631n6, 632nn18,32
Jacklin, Tony, 613n10
orkild, 647nn19,21,25,27, 648nn30,
31,33,34,35,45,47, 655nn2,158,161; Mesopota-
mia and, 217; Story of Atrahas
sŽ (Mesopotamian
myth) and, 219… 220; cosmos and, 266
Jaeger, Werner, 676nn141,145, 678nn170,171,
679nn181,183,184; sophists and, 382; Socrates
and, 386
Jainism, 530, 545, 705n181
Jakobson, Roman, 362, 673n103
James, William, 4, 612… 613n7, 657n24
Jamison, Stephanie, 696nn18,19,20, 700nn96,
104,105, 701nn112,113; early Vedic India and,
485… 487; Vedic India and, 508; Upani
ad texts
and, 509… 510
Jansenism, 107
Japan, 654… 655n155, 691n213
Human sacri“
ce: Hawai
i and, 193, 198, 201… 202;
Mangaia people, 196; paramount chiefs and,
202… 203, 207; archaic societies and, 213; Egypt
and, 234; Shang China and, 252; Vedic India
and, 503… 504; Mesopotamia and, 648n32
Hume, David, 657n31
Humphreys, S. C., 664n1
Hundun, parable of, 448
Hunter- gatherers: cultural development and, 114,
137, 138; attention and, 119; group size and, 123;
Kalapalo people and, 139; Australian Aborigines
and, 146… 159, 634n64; Navajo people and, 163;
dominance hierarchies and, 176… 182; agriculture
and, 194; aggression and violence, 195; extinction
events and, 601; economic surpluses, 643n47
Hussey, Edward, 376, 677n156
Hyksos people, 229, 243… 244
Hymn to Zeus
(Cleanthes), 373
Iconic symbolization, 14, 22… 24
Identity: narrative truth and, 34… 35; stories of origins
and, 45… 46; religion and, 115; Kalapalo people
and, 141… 142
I-It relationships, 82, 104, 105… 106
(Homer), 325… 326, 327, 330, 333, 339
Imagined Communities
(Anderson), 35
Imitation, mimetic culture and, 125
Inden, Ronald B., 524… 525, 703nn158,159,160
India: legitimate authority and, 267; axial age and,
481… 485; early Vedic India, 485… 491; middle
Vedic transformation, 491… 500; the ritual
system and, 500… 508; late Vedic breakthrough,
509… 527; Buddhism and, 527… 543; religion and
politics after Buddhism, 543… 566; constitution
of, 697n37
Indigenous peoples, 483, 487.
See also
Australian; Kalapalo people; Native Americans
Individualism, 443; Navajo people and, 171; Israel
and, 316… 317, 323; Socrates and, 386; Daoism,
chapter of the
443… 445
Indra, 486… 487
Indus Valley civilization, 210, 211, 483… 484,
646n2, 695n12
Inhelder, Barbel, 614n21, 615nn37,38,40
Initiation rituals, 155… 156, 157
Inka people, 213
Instruction to MerikareŽ (Egypt), 241… 242
Intellectual elites: axial age and, 269, 271; Seven
Sages and, 360… 363, 364, 365; Warring States
Period (China), 425… 426; Vedic India and, 527;
axial breakthroughs and, 574; despotism and,
per for mance and, 668… 669n47; po liti cal
leadership and, 668n45
Homo erectus:
prelinguistic religion and, xiv;
mimetic culture and, xviii, 122… 123; human
evolution and, 83, 84; tools and toolmaking,
88, 124… 125; language development and,
131… 133
Homo ergaster,
Homo habilis,
Homo Hierarchicus
(Dumont), 506
Homo Ludens
(Huizinga), xxii, 76, 90
Honneth, Axel, 320, 664n125
Hopi people, 161
Hornblower, Simon, 670n64
Hornung, Erik, 232, 649n59, 650nn71,72,73,74,
651n100, 652n112, 657n32; Old Kingdom
Egypt, 234; Middle Kingdom Egypt, 241
Horus (god), 229, 231… 232
Hosea, 301… 302, 304
House holder status, 528… 529, 535, 556, 704n167
Hrdy, Sarah Bla
er, 623nn53,57,66, 626nn115,116;
parental care and, 68, 69… 70, 72, 85… 86
Hsu, Cho- yun, 257, 654n142
440… 441, 459, 689n173
Huber, Pierre, 625n107
Hubert, Henri, 484, 695n13, 699n75
Hubris, 358
Hui, King, 462
Hui, Yan (Yan Yuan), 684n46
Huizinga, Johan, xxii, 611n31, 624nn83,85,
627n130, 628nn137,138, 629n163, 629… 630n165,
630nn181,182,184, 709n2; play and, 76, 90, 111;
rituals and, 94… 95; Plato and, 109, 110
Human- divine interactions: Mesopotamia and,
220… 221, 222… 224; Egypt and, 231, 239… 240,
242… 243, 244… 245, 246, 277; China and,
251… 252, 257, 259; Hebrew scripture and, 284,
310… 315; Yahweh- alone movement, 301… 304;
covenants and, 307… 308; Israel and, 316… 320;
Greece and, 325… 326; mystery religions and,
372, 373; Confucius and, 420; Mozi and,
429… 430, 432… 433; Mencius and, 460… 461;
early Vedic India and, 485… 487, 489… 490.
See also
Divine kingship; Gods and the
Human evolution: stories of origins and, 44… 49;
Homo sapiens,
83… 91; play and, 91… 97,
109… 116; rituals and, 92; religious naturalism,
97… 104; cooperation and, 104; personal
spirituality, 104… 109; cultural development and,
137… 138
Human nature, 461, 464, 467… 468, 568,
Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, ix, x, 664n129,
676n146, 678nn170,175, 679nn176,182; sophists
and, 382, 383; Socrates and, 386; Protestantism,
Heraclitus, 674n113, 676n146, 677nn148,153,154,
155,157,158, 679n176; mystery religions and,
372; Greece, 374… 380; Plato and, 392;
Parmenides and, 676n146
Hermits, 437… 438, 440.
See also
Herodotus, 667n34, 679n195
Heschel, Abraham J., 661n87
Hesiod, 665n11, 666nn19,20, 669n53, 674n114,
677n162, 679n195, 680n203; kings and,
330… 331; eighth- century Re nais sance (Greece),
334… 335, 339… 340; oral culture and, 342; truth
and, 342… 343; Greek poetry and, 343… 344;
pre- Socratic phi los o phers and, 365, 366, 367;
Plato and, 389, 390, 394; origin stories, 511;
Hebrew Scripture and, 666n19
Heterarchy, 217
Hezekiah, King, 307, 308
Hierakonpolis, 229… 230
Dominance hierarchies
Hierarchy in the Forest
(Boehm), 176… 177
High Gods, 153… 154, 250, 295… 296
Highland New Guinea, 185
Hiltebeitel, Alf, 562… 563, 708n259, 709n265
Hinduism: early Vedic India, 485… 491; middle
Vedic transformation, 491… 500; the ritual system
and, 500… 508; late Vedic breakthrough,
509… 527;
and, 520;
system and,
528… 529; Buddhism and, 543; time and, 620n7;
Oedipus complex and, 708n260
omas Mann and, ix… x; cultural change
and, x… xi; Mencius and, x; evolution and, xi… xiv;
narratives and, 35; big- bang cosmology and,
51; as myth, 227… 228; Hebrew scripture and,
283… 289; Greek poetry and, 342; China and,
407; Confucius and, 416.
See also
Deep history
Hittites, 306
omas, 39, 40, 261, 618nn91,92
Hobsbawm, Eric, x, 609n3, 618n83
Hobson, Deborah W., 661n98
Hochschild, Arlie Russell, 590, 712n49
Hodder, Ian, 647nn13,14,15
man, Michael A., 230, 650nn63,76
Holloway, Steven W., 296, 660nn71,75, 661n93
Homer, 665nn9,11, 666n24, 668n47, 669nn53,
56; eighth- century Re nais sance (Greece), 333,
334… 335; oral culture and, 341… 342, 482; Greek
poetry and, 343, 344; Greek tragedy and, 357;
philosophy and, 373; Xenophanes and, 374; Plato
and, 389, 390, 394; early Vedic India and, 489;
Halls, W. D., 695n13
Halpern, Baruch, 661nn98,99
Hamilton, Edith, 630nn180,183,185
Hammond, Norman, 647nn13,14,15
Hammond, Philip E., 646n104
Hammurabi, code of, 221… 222
Handshakes, 657n35
Han dynasty, 248, 459, 477… 478
457… 458
Hannon, Michael T., 666n25
Hanson, Victor David, 668n39
Harappan civilization.
Indus Valley
omas G., 636n99
Harmonice Mundi
(Kepler), 41
Hart, Keith, 633n58
Re nais sance (Greece), 336; Athens and, 349… 350;
Dionysus and, 356… 357; Cosmic God, 367… 368,
374, 376, 396, 664n124; pre- Socratic phi los o-
phers and, 367… 368; Milesian school of
philosophy, 373; Parmenides and, 379; Socrates
and, 384… 385, 386;
and, 451; early
Vedic India and, 486… 487, 489… 490; middle
Vedic transformation, 492… 494; Vedic India and,
500… 505, 508; late Vedic breakthrough, 512, 513;
ad texts and, 514… 515; salvation and, 523;
eology, 651… 652n106; Israel and,
See also
Divine kingship; Human- divine
interactions; Powerful beingsŽ
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang, 245… 246, 652n111
man, Erving, 618n82
Golden rule,Ž 418… 419, 688n129
Goldhill, Simon, 354, 388, 672nn81,82,83,86,
673n106, 679nn191,192, 711n18
Goldin, Paul Rakita, 473, 689n173, 691nn201,211,
Goldman, Irving, 190, 195, 642n32,
643nn40,41,44,45,51,54, 644nn66,76,
Goldman, Robert P., 707n241
ng, Frances, 671n72
Gombrich, Richard, 704nn172,173, 705nn182,
194,195, 709nn266,267,268; Buddha and, 531;
Buddhism and, 534, 535, 539… 540, 582… 583;
Vessantara J
Gonda, Jan, 508, 510, 697n47, 700n106, 701n114
Good and evil, 154, 159, 170, 422, 467… 468
Goodenough, Ursula, 100… 101, 629nn156,157
Goody, Jack, 658n39
Gopnik, Alison, 627nn125,126,127,128,129,131,
629n159, 712nn50,51,52; play and, 89… 90;
types of consciousness and, 590… 591; lantern
consciousness and, 591… 592
Gorgias, 380
Gottlieb, Beatrice, 619n95
Gottwald, Norman K., 658n47, 659n61
Gould, Stephen Jay, 602, 609n7, 611n23, 612n35,
621… 622n29, 622nn30,41, 623nn51,52, 628n145,
713n74; religious evolution and, xxiii; bacteria
and, 58, 59; multicellular organisms and, 63;
evolution of new capacities and, 66, 67; science
and religion, 97
Graham, A. C., 683n32, 684nn37,42,45, 685nn57,
58,60,73,74, 686nn76,84,87,88,93,94,98,100,
112,113,114,122,124, 688nn130,131,136,
690nn187,188,197, 691n202, 692n225,
693n234; Confucius and, 420; Mozi and, 427,
430, 431… 432; Yang Zhu and, 438;
Gehlen, Arnold, 626n122
Geller, Stephen A., 658n53, 659n63, 660n83,
661nn89,92, 662nn108,109,110,113,114,116,117,
Gellner, Ernest, 619nn94,102; scienti“
c discovery
and, 42; Deuteronomic Revolution, 306,
312… 315; Israel and, 321
Gender: drive for dominance and, 74… 75; Kalapalo
rituals and, 143;
and, 451… 452;
egalitarianism and, 524
Genes, xii, 121, 610n11, 622n45
Genesis, Book of, 95… 96, 227, 322, 489, 511,
705… 706n198
Gerhart, John C., xii, 60… 65, 97, 610n10, 622nn33,
Gernet, Louis, 324… 325, 664n1, 665n2, 666n27
Gerth, Hans, 693n232
Gestures: religious, 13… 14; enactive repre sen ta tion
and, 19… 20; animal play and, 81… 82; nonlin-
guistic communication and, 92; mimetic culture
and, 125, 127, 129; Kalapalo rituals and, 145;
language and, 632n34; handshakes and,
Gibson, Kathleen R., 86… 87, 626n118
Gideon, 291
Gilbert, Allan, 662n106
Gilgamesh, 224, 648n46
Gill, Christopher, 581
Gill, Sam D., 172, 639n157, 640n176
Girard, Rene, 643n57
Gledhill, John, 644n62, 649n51
Gnomic sayings, 361… 362
God: Martin Buber and, 106; religious pluralism
and, 604; as king, 662n107; names of, 663n116;
Socrates and, 679n178
Goddess, the, 157… 158
Gods and the supernatural: religion and, xiv; myths
and, 95… 96; religious naturalism and, 98, 99;
Kalapalo people and, 139… 141; Australian
Aborigines and, 153… 154; High Gods, 153… 154,
250, 295… 296; archaic societies and, 157… 158,
263; Navajo people and, 163; Tikopia, Polynesia,
185… 186, 187, 188… 189; Mangaia people, 196;
i and, 198… 202, 206… 207; Mesopotamia
and, 218… 224, 648n35; Egypt and, 230… 232,
240… 243, 244… 246; Shang China and, 250… 251;
Western Zhou China and, 253… 254; mythic
culture and, 276; premonarchical Israel and,
287… 289; early state of Israel and, 296… 297,
659n57; Yahweh- alone movement, 299… 305;
Greek gods and, 325… 326, 372… 373, 374; early
Greek society, 329, 330, 331; eighth- century
Fingarette, Herbert, 614n21, 618n80, 619n94,
684nn36,39,43,44,49, 685n66, 714n79;
(goodness) and, 413; Confucius and, 414… 416,
422… 423;
(ritual) and, 417, 419; religious
pluralism and, 604… 605
Finley, M. I., 354, 671n79
Fire: early Vedic India and, 489… 490; rituals and,
501… 502; Buddhism and, 535, 541
First Intermediate Period, Egypt, 236… 237
ree Minutes, 
(Weinberg), 54… 55
Firth, Raymond, 641nn20,22, 642nn23,24,25,26,
28,30,31,33,34,35,36,37,38,39; Tikopia,
Polynesia, 182, 183… 184, 188… 189; Maori
people, 195; spirit mediums and, 206
Flood, Gavin, 703n165
Flood myth, 220
Flow, 10; play and, 588, 590, 591; lantern
consciousness and, 592, 712n51; games and
sports and, 613n10
Forensic discourse, 243, 321
Forge, Anthony, 636n100
Form of the good,Ž Plato and, 580
Foucault, Michael, 689n157
Four Books, Confucianism and, 442
Four Noble Truths, 532, 540, 542
Frankfort, Henri, 231, 647n19, 650n65, 655n2
Frankfort, Mrs. Henri, 647n19, 655n2
Frauwallner, Erich, 694n2
Frede, Michael, 380, 678n166
Freud, Sigmund, 13, 612n6, 615n43, 623n63,
627n132, 708n260; play and, 22, 90… 91; Egypt
and, 227; dreams and, 612n6
Fried, Morton H., 642n26
Friedländer, Paul, 674n107
Friendship, 71, 463
Frye, Northrop, 709n269
Funeral rituals, 348, 446… 447
Gadamer, Hans- Georg, 390… 391, 680n198
Gagarin, Michael, 675n127
Galileo, 99
Games and sports, 3, 5, 9, 10, 91, 110, 111, 127,
333, 346, 349, 354, 572, 573, 588, 589, 613n10,
Gaodi, Han, 645n88
Garzilli, Enrica, 696n27
Gauchet, Marcel, 655n3
Geertz, Cli
ord, xiv… xvii, xviii, 609n2, 610nn17,
18, 610… 611n19, 611nn20,21,23,24,25,26,27,
612n34, 615n29, 619n95, 660n80; religious
evolution and, xxiii; de“ nition of religion and, 1;
cultural- linguistic theory of religion, 11; science
and, 45; play and, 96
El (god), 287… 289, 294… 295, 299
Elaborated codeŽ language, 31
Eldredge, Niles, 601, 602, 713nn69,70,71,72,73
Eliade, Mircea, 153… 154, 616n44, 637n123
Elijah, 299… 301
Elisha, 299… 300
Elkana, Yehuda, 275… 276, 657nn28,30
Elkin, A. P., 637n139
Ellmann, Richard, 615n36
Elvin, Mark, 476, 656n17, 693n231
Emergence: origins of life and, 57, 621n28; religious
naturalism and, 100… 101; personal spirituality
and, 105; science and religion, 114
Emerson, Gloria J., 639n162
Emotional modernity, 85… 86, 626n115
Empathy: mammals and birds, xiii; reptiles and,
24n72; parental care and, 69, 70, 72… 73;
evolution of new capacities and, 72… 74; gender
and, 75
Empedocles, mystery religions and, 372
Emptiness, Buddhism and, 12, 533… 534
Enactive repre sen ta tion, 13… 14, 18… 20, 614n22;
iconic symbolization and, 22… 23; rhythm and,
24; narratives and, 33; love and, 72; cognitive
development and, 614n28; thought and, 615n35.
See also
Mimetic culture
Energy, modern era and, xxiii
Enki (god), 218, 220
Enlightenment, 20, 537… 538, 540, 580, 615n34
Enlightenment, the, 40… 43, 96… 97
Enlil (god), 218, 219… 220, 221, 648n35
Eno, Robert, 421, 436, 441… 442, 685n61, 686n99,
687n115, 691n207
Ephal, Israel, 664n126
Epic of Gilgamesh,Ž 224
Epics: Hebrew scripture and, 284; post- Vedic India
and, 543… 544, 557;
559… 563;
Vessantara J
563… 566; Gilgamesh epic,
Epimenides, 372
Episodic culture, xviii, 118… 120, 130… 131, 133, 272
Episodic memory, 101, 102
Erdosy, George, 696nn21,22,23,24,25,26,30,31,
697nn41,42, 698nn63,72, 701n108; early Vedic
India and, 488, 489; middle Vedic transforma-
tion, 492, 496, 498
Ethics: parental care and, 70; evolution of new
capacities and, 83; theoretic culture and,
279… 280; Greek tragedy and, 357; Seven Sages
and, 361; Aristotle and, 395; Confucius and,
411, 416… 423, 430… 431;
(goodness) and,
411… 413; logic and, 432; Upani
ad texts and,
515… 516; caste system and, 523; Buddhism and,
mimetic culture and, 130; cultural development
and, 137; India and, 484
Dynasty 0 (Egypt), 649… 650n62
Earle, Timothy, 194, 634n60, 643n49, 644nn61,63,
Earth: Earths atmosphere, xi… xii; big- bang
cosmology and, 52… 53; early life on, 55… 60
Eckhart, Meister, 628n148
Economic practices: warfare and, 195; archaic
societies and, 214, 264; Mesopotamia and, 215,
649n50; Egypt and, 235; axial age and, 270, 370;
Greece and, 337, 672n80; rituals and, 698… 699n72
Economic prosperity: dominance hierarchies and,
181… 182; Tikopia, Polynesia, 187… 188; domestic
mode of productionŽ and, 193… 194; chiefdoms
and kingdoms, 196… 197, 208; Mesopotamia
and, 218… 219; archaic societies, 261; Israel and,
301; Athens and, 347; rituals and, 569;
hunter- gatherers, 643n47; Hawai
i and, 643n49
Ecstatic experiences, 17… 18
Edgerton, Franklin, 701n124
Edgerton, Robert B., 644n58
Education: Egypt and, 238; Greece and, 343,
382… 383, 392… 393, 595; philosophy and, 396;
Confucius and, 410… 411, 414, 421, 435… 436;
China and, 425, 443, 472, 474; India and, 496,
513… 514, 557, 575; axial breakthroughs and, 596;
music and, 616n55; leisure and, 713n59.
See also
Edwards, Jonathan, 6, 15, 613n12
Egalitarianism: human evolution and, 86; play and,
94; small- scale societies and, 175; dominance
hierarchies and, 176… 178, 192; Tikopia, Polynesia,
190… 191; redistribution and, 191… 192; Hawaiian
rituals and, 201, 571; paramount chiefs and, 208;
n Text 1130 (Egypt), 243; archaic societies
and, 260… 261; tribal to archaic transition, 266;
Greece and, 328… 329, 339, 345; India and,
495… 496, 523… 524; rituals and, 570.
See also
Dominance hierarchies; Social classes
Egypt, 227… 230; human sacri“
ce, 213; Old
Kingdom Egypt, 230… 236, 237; Middle
Kingdom Egypt, 237… 240; New Kingdom
Egypt, 240… 246; Israel and, 285, 286; Memphite
eology, 651… 652n106
Eibl- Eibesfeldt, Irenäus, 70… 72, 113,
Eighth- century Re nais sance (Greece), 332… 341
Eisenstadt, S. N., 655n155, 656nn16,17, 657nn18,28,
693nn231,238, 702n125, 703nn155,161; axial age
and, 271… 272; Confucianism and, 478… 479; caste
system and, 523
Dominance: social order and, 74… 76; evolution
of new capacities and, 83; tribal to archaic
transition and, 175… 182; Tikopia chieftains and,
184, 189; nurture and, 191… 192; human- divine
interactions and, 221; legitimate authority and,
Dominance hierarchies: science and religion,
114; Hawai
i, 192… 193; archaic societies and,
260… 262; tribal to archaic transition, 266;
eighth- century Re nais sance (Greece), 335; Vedic
India and, 506… 507; Buddhism and, 543;
and, 559; early development of the
state and, 570; chimpanzees and, 640… 641n8
Donald, Merlin, xviii… xix, 611n28, 622n47,
628n136, 629n154, 631nn1,2, 632nn15,16,19,21,
23,25,26,27,28,31, 633n39,40,41,44,45,48,49,50,
51,52, 657nn19,20,21,22,23,26,27, 674nn109,
110, 712n54; nonlinguistic communication
and, 92; play and, 94; cultural development and,
116, 118; mimetic culture and, 124, 125… 126,
128, 130, 131; language development and,
132… 133; myths and, 134; axial age and, 272… 275;
theoretic culture and, 280… 281, 363… 364
Doniger, Wendy, 494, 496, 553, 696n20, 697n51,
698nn52,53,60, 700n91, 701n116, 707nn222,
(Manu) and,
554, 555, 556;
and, 563
Donlan, Walter, 328… 329, 332, 665n15, 666n16
Doran, Timothy, 665n11, 670n66
Dougherty, Carol, 670n70, 673nn98,99,100,101,
Douglas, Mary, 31, 137, 315, 617n71, 634nn61,62,
DreamingŽ: Australian Aborigines and, 103, 147,
148, 149; Ancestral Law (Australian Aborigines),
151; dominance hierarchies and, 179, 262;
Christianity and, 636n99
Dream of Scipio, 
eŽ (Cicero), 15… 16, 25
Dreams, xxi, 2, 4, 15… 16, 612n6
Drenthen, M., 626n122
Dreyfus, Hubert L., 279, 658n37
Dreyfus, Stuart E., 658n37
Dualism, 12… 13, 102… 103
Dumézil, Georges, 495, 698n54
Dumont, Louis, 484… 485, 506… 507, 529, 695n15,
703n152, 704n170
Dunbar, Robin, 122… 124, 128, 129, 631nn11,12,
13,14, 632nn33,35,38, 634n64
Durkheim, Émile, 1, 612n1, 614n25, 627n135,
633nn54,58, 645n80, 664… 665n1, 678n172,
691n215; unitive repre sen ta tion and, 17… 18;
science and, 47, 112… 113; rituals and, 94;
Despotism: dominance hierarchies and, 76,
175… 176; chiefdoms and kingdoms, 177… 178,
260; Hawai
i, 192… 193; Athens and, 349; Vedic
India and, 525… 526; imperialism and, 598;
intellectual elites and, 693n241.
See also
Detienne, Marcel, 343, 669n51, 673n97, 677n162,
Deuteronomy, Book of, 305… 315, 660n76,
De Waal, Frans B. M., 610n15, 623nn54,55,56,58,
67,68,69,70, 624nn71,72,74,75,77,78,79,80,81,
82, 625nn101,102, 627n135, 633nn41,59, 640n1,
643nn42,43; parental care and, 68… 69, 85… 86;
evolution of new capacities and, 70, 72… 74; social
order and, 75… 76; animal play and, 81, 82, 91;
rituals and, 93; scienti“
c method and, 113;
family relationships and, 176
Dewey, John, 589… 590, 712nn46,47
Buddha and, 537… 538, 542, 543; A
and, 547, 548, 549; Buddhism and, 559
708n257; late Vedic breakthrough,
518… 521;
(ritual) and, 526… 527; Buddhism
and, 537… 538;
(Manu) and,
554… 556;
and, 557… 558;
and, 559… 563, 561… 563; Buddha and, 585
(Manu), 544, 552, 553… 557
Di (god): Shang China and, 250… 251, 252, 259;
Western Zhou China and, 253, 256
Dialogues: Plato and, 363, 391, 394; Upani
ad texts
and, 510
Diamond, Jared M., 121, 631n7
Dionysus: Athens and, 350, 351, 676n138; Greek
tragedy and, 355, 356; Apollo and, 670… 671n72
Discourse on NatureŽ (Xunzi), 469… 470
Discursive language, 32
Distributed self, 35
Divination: Mesopotamia and, 222… 223; Shang
China and, 248, 251, 253, 653n124
Divine kingship: archaic societies and, 212… 213,
265, 266, 572; Mesopotamia and, 217… 218;
Egypt and, 231… 232, 233, 234… 236, 277,
650n77; China and, 251… 253, 256, 477… 478;
axial religions and, 267; Israel and, 294,
296… 297, 659n62, 660nn72,73; Mycenaean
civilization and, 327; Greece and, 329;
development of the state and, 655n3
Di Xin, 249
Dodds, E. R., 665n7
Dogen, 615n34
Domestication, of animals, 87, 215… 216
Domestic mode of production,Ž 193… 194
Darwins Cathedral
(Wilson), 100
David, King: legitimate authority and, 267; early
state of Israel and, 293, 294, 295, 297; divine
kingship and, 660nn72,73; King Solomon and,
Davidson, Arnold, 678n166
Davies, Paul, 621n28
Dawkins, Richard, 609nn6,8, 610n16, 621nn23,
24,25,26,27, 622n44; evolution and, xii, xiii;
human capacities and, 55… 56; origins of life and,
56… 57; personal spirituality and, 105
Deacon, Terrence W., 610n13, 621n28, 626nn117,
119,120,121, 633nn46,47; human evolution and,
86, 87; religious naturalism and, 100… 104;
emotional experiences and, 114; language
development and, 131… 133
Death and afterlife: 
omas Mann and, x; narrative
and, 36, 102; Kalapalo people and, 143; Navajo
people and, 171; Mesopotamia and, 224; graves
and grave goods, 229, 230, 233… 234, 241,
252… 253; Egyptian mortuary rituals and,
233… 234; Old Kingdom Egypt, 233… 236;
funeral rituals, 348, 446… 447; China and,
446… 447, 450; India and, 516, 517… 518, 522,
523, 530; Buddha and, 538; play and,
586… 587
De Bary, William 
eodore, 693n240, 701n117
Deceit, 143… 144, 343, 393
DecenteredŽ world, 37, 38, 52
Deep history, xi; stories of origins and, 44… 49;
origins of the universe and, 50… 55; early life on
Earth, 55… 60; evolution and, 60… 66, 117; human
capacities and, 66… 74; animal play, 74… 83;
Homo sapiens,
83… 91; play and, 91… 97, 109… 116;
religious naturalism, 97… 104; personal spirituality,
104… 109; extinction events and, 601… 602;
religion and, 709… 710n2
Deer Park Sermon, 540
ciency cognition (D-cognition), 5, 8, 9,
590… 591
Delian League, 353
Delphic Oracle, 372, 384
Delphic theology,Ž 372… 373
Demeter, cult of, 372
Democracy: Greece and, 324, 668n39; Greek
city- states and, 341, 397, 671… 672n79;
Dionysus and, 350; Athens and, 353… 354;
Greek tragedy and, 357; sophists and, 383;
slavery and, 524; rituals and, 571; Plato and,
581… 582
De Revolutionibus
(Copernicus), 40… 41
Descartes, René, 39… 40, 106, 618… 619n93,
of, xxiii; facilitated variation and, 65; human
evolution and, 84, 137… 138; tools and toolmaking
and, 88; Merlin Donald and, 116, 118; episodic
culture, 118… 120; mimetic culture, 120… 131;
language and, 124, 131; mythic culture and, 137,
160… 161; Middle Kingdom Egypt, 237… 238;
China and, 247… 248, 447… 448; archaic societies,
263; tribal to archaic transition, 265… 266; axial
age and, 268… 269, 272; Greece and, 333… 334,
396… 398, 399; axial breakthroughs and,
369… 374; sophists and, 382; India and, 488… 489,
491… 493, 509… 510, 523… 524; Buddhism and,
527… 528; metanarrative and, 597… 600
Cultural- linguistic theory of religion, 11… 12
Cultural systems: religion and, xiv… xv, 610n18;
theoretic culture and, xix… xx; play and, 96;
science and religion, 97
Culture areas, 224
Culture wars, 112… 113, 599
Cuneiform writing, 224… 225
Currency, 270, 370
Cynics, 527
Daily life: religion and, xv, xv… xvi; religious
observance and, xvii; theoretic culture and,
xix… xxi, 278; technology and, xxiii; reality and,
2… 4; De“
ciency cognition (D-cognition) and, 5;
religious reality and, 5… 7; overlapping realities
and, 8… 11; unitive repre sen ta tion and, 15;
narratives and, 36; conceptual repre sen ta tion
and, 38, 39, 42; play and, 74, 76, 90, 588; mythic
culture and, 147; Australian Aborigines and, 149;
Plato and, 593
Dance: enactive repre sen ta tion and, 20; Kalapalo
people and, 140… 141; Tikopia, Polynesia, 186;
i and, 200… 201; Xunzi and, 473; play and
ritual, 571.
See also
(the Way), 413… 414, 420, 444, 527, 684n38
449… 453, 455… 456, 458, 688n139
Daoism, 435… 459, 476… 477; reality and, 2; private
life and, 435… 437; Yang Zhu and, 437… 440; the
Farmers School, 440… 441; de“ ned, 441… 443;
chapter of the
443… 445; the
and, 445… 448; the
449… 453; Daoist primitivism and, 453… 455;
politics and, 455… 459; Legalism and, 458;
renouncers and, 575; lantern consciousness and,
Darius I, 547
Dark Age (Greece), 328… 329, 337
Darwin, Charles, 49, 50, 66, 622n50, 623n51,
624n86, 625n107
Darwinian selection.
Natural selection
Connor, W. Robert, 350, 351, 352, 670n71,
Consciousness, types of, 590… 593
Conserved core pro cesses, 60… 66, 87
Contemplation, types of consciousness and,
590… 593
Cook, James, 193, 645n78
Cooper, Guy H., 638n151
Cooper, John M., 630n183, 679n179
Cooperation, 75… 76, 91, 104
Cooperative breeding, 85… 86
Copernicus, Nicolaus, 40… 41, 52
Cornford, Francis M., 366, 674n114
Cosmic evolution, 45, 46… 47, 53
Cosmic Evolution
(Chaisson), 46… 47
Cosmic God, 367… 368, 374, 376, 396, 664n124
Cosmic optimism, 48, 56… 57, 97, 100
Cosmic pessimism, 48, 54, 55, 97, 100
Cosmic reality, 25… 26, 27, 32, 46… 47
Cosmos: tribal to archaic transition, 266; pre-
Socratic phi los o phers and, 366… 367; Xunzi and,
470; Vedic India and, 504, 505
Costa, James T., 84, 622n50, 625n108
Covenant, with God: Israel and, 297, 316, 318, 319;
Deuteronomic Revolution, 306, 310… 315;
Assyrian models and, 307… 308; name of God
and, 663n116
Cowan, Marianne, 676n177
Craft literacy, 264, 685… 686n75
Creationism, 65, 115
Creation myths.
Origin stories
Creel, Herrlee G., 255, 653nn132,135,136,137,
Cretaceous- Tertiary extinction event, 67, 601,
Criticism: axial breakthroughs and, 268,
574… 575; theoretic culture and, 279… 280;
Israel and, 283; Greek poetry and, 344;
and, 452… 453; projected utopias and,
576… 585
Crook, John H., 119, 631n3
Cross, Frank M., Jr., 292, 659nn55,62
Crustaceans, body plans and, 63
Csikszentmihalyi, Mark, 479, 692n228
Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly, 10, 590, 613n18,
693n239, 712n48
Cultural breakdowns: axial breakthroughs and,
281… 282; Mycenaean civilization and, 327… 328;
Greece and, 371, 380… 383, 396… 398; Socrates
and, 384; Spring and Autumn Period, China,
405… 406
Cultural development: history and, x… xi; evolution
and, xii, xviii… xix, 83; play and, xxi… xxii; speed
Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 28
Collective e
ervescence, 17… 18, 130
Collins, Randall, 278… 279, 658n36
Collins, Steven, 540… 542, 694n1, 704nn174,175,
176,177, 705nn180,196,198,199,200,201,202,
709nn269,270,271, 711nn35,36,37,38,39;
Buddha and, 531, 585; Buddhism and, 534… 535;
Vessantara J
and, 564, 565
Comanche people, 162
Commoners: Hawai
i and, 198, 204… 206; Egypt
and, 234; New Kingdom Egypt, 244; China
and, 258, 402, 405, 424, 425, 683n21; archaic
societies and, 263; Greece and, 334, 336, 348,
349, 351, 353
Common- sense world.
Daily life
Communication: mimetic culture, xviii; musical
symbolization and, 24… 25; bodily capacities and,
87; rituals and, 92, 144; Heraclitus and, 375; play
and, 625n104
Community cohesion: Kalapalo people and,
141… 142; Navajo people and, 171… 172; Israel and,
317; Judaism and, 323; Athens and, 348
Compact symbolism, 232
Competition: Greek festivals and, 346… 347; Seven
Sages and, 365; play and, 572… 573
Complexity, evolution and, xxiii, 53, 59, 87
Conceptual repre sen ta tion, 14, 32, 37… 43,
133… 134, 614n22
Condensed language, 29, 31, 32
Cone, Margaret, 709nn266,267,268
Confucianism: “ lial piety, 430… 431; fate and,
433… 434; Mozi and, 433… 434;
445; Daoist Primitivism and, 453… 454; Legalism
and, 457… 459; Mencius and, 459… 466; Xunzi
and, 466… 474; axial breakthroughs and, 475… 480;
Vedic India and, 526… 527; renouncers and, 575;
utopias and, 576, 587, 593; lantern consciousness
and, 591;
(the Way) and, 684n38; Chinese
culture and, 684n45; Yamazaki Ansai and,
691n213; Ishida Baigan and, 692n223
Confucius, 409… 423, 616nn57,58, 654n139,
682n2, 683nn23,34, 684nn38,46, 685n62,
690n185, 692n228; musical symbolization and,
26… 27; Western Zhou China and, 255… 256, 260,
408… 409; legitimate authority and, 267; writing
systems and, 399; Spring and Autumn Period,
China, 401, 406; rituals and, 403; social status
of, 407; Mozi and, 426; innovation and, 427… 428;
“ lial piety and, 430… 431; education and,
435… 436;
and, 446… 448; oral culture
and, 682n2
Coningham, R. A. E., 695n12
Connolly, Kevin, 615n42
China: human sacri“
ce, 213; archaic religion,
246… 260; legitimate authority and, 267; literacy
and, 269; Greece and, 373; Vedic India and,
526… 527; oral culture and, 682n2; territorial
states and, 682n12
China, axial age and, 399… 400, 474… 480; pre-
Confucian China, 400… 409; Confucius and,
409… 423; Mozi and, 423… 435; Daoism, 435… 459;
Mencius and, 459… 466; Xunzi and, 466… 474
Chomsky, Noam, 632n15
Chosen peopleŽ: Israel and, 292, 295, 320; Athens
and, 350
Christian, David, xi, 609nn3,4, 620nn1,13,15,
16,17, 622n31; creation myths and, 45; big- bang
cosmology and, 52… 53
Christianity: daily life and, 4; negative theology
and, 12; enactive repre sen ta tion and, 20;
conceptual repre sen ta tion and, 39; Navajo
people and, 173; kings and, 267; Deuteronomic
Revolution, 315; Israel and, 320; community
cohesion and, 323; Greece and, 398; modern era
and, 599; truth and, 603; Australian Aborigines
and, 636n99; axial breakthroughs and, 655n4;
ces and, 670n59; Eucharist and, 700n92
Cicero, 15… 16, 25, 614n23
Citizenship, 340… 341, 359, 397, 524… 525,
City Dionysia, 351, 352, 353, 354, 671n76
City- states, 697n45; archaic societies, 213;
Mesopotamia and, 224… 225; premonarchical
Israel and, 287; Greece and, 326… 327, 369… 371;
early Greek society, 332; eighth- century
Re nais sance (Greece), 333… 337, 340… 341;
Panhellenic culture and, 338, 666n25; cultural
breakdowns, 396… 397
Civilization, 224, 226, 666… 667n28
Claessen, Henri J. M., 646n3, 697n40
Clay, Jenny Strauss, 343, 669n53
Clayton, Philip, 621n28, 629n156
Cleanthes, 676n140
Cleisthenes, 350… 351, 670n71, 671n76
Closing of the American Mind, 
(Bloom), 26
Clytemnestra, 357
Cogan, Mordechai, 664n126
Cognitive development: religious repre sen ta tion
and, 13; enactive repre sen ta tion and, 18… 19,
614n28; play and, 21, 89… 90; iconic symboliza-
tion and, 23… 24; poetic symbolization and,
30… 31; conceptual repre sen ta tion and, 37… 39;
animal play and, 78… 79; modes of religious
repre sen ta tion, 117; technology and, 126;
language development and, 133… 134; theoretic
culture and, 273… 274
Canaanites, 287, 288… 289
Candragupta Maurya, 545
Capacities, evolution of: behavioral evolution and,
xiii, xiv; cultural development and, xviii… xix;
ineŽ world and, xx… xxii; unitive repre sen ta-
tion, 14… 18; enactive repre sen ta tion, 18… 20;
symbolic repre sen ta tion, 21… 37; conceptual
repre sen ta tion, 37… 43; biological evolution and,
66… 74; animal play and, 80; human evolution
and, 86… 87
Capital cities, 401, 405, 408, 653n121.
See also
City- states
Carone, Gabriela Roxana, 387, 679n186, 680n202
Cartledge, Paul, 340, 664n1, 668n43
Cashman, Tyrone, 101… 104, 629nn158,160,162,164
Caste systems, 500, 506, 515, 521… 525, 703n154.
See also Var
Caston, Victor, 674n112, 675n127, 676n146
Ceausescu, Nicolae, 679n193
Chaisson, Eric J., 46… 47, 48, 53, 620nn2,14
ad, 513… 514
Chang, Kwang- chih, 248, 652nn113,115
Changing Woman, 166, 168… 169
Charlesworth, Max, 636n108
Charter, myth as, 142, 158, 172
Chase, Michael, 678n166
Chekki, D. A., 666n25
Chiefdoms and kingdoms: theoretic culture and,
xix; dominance hierarchies and, 177… 178;
development of, 182; Tikopia, Polynesia,
182… 191; Polynesia and, 192… 197; Hawai
i and,
197… 209; archaic societies and, 212… 213, 261;
Egypt and, 229… 230, 649… 650n62; early
Greek society, 328… 329; early Vedic India and,
487, 488… 489; middle Vedic transformation,
491… 492, 496… 500; rituals and, 570; Pueblo
people and, 641n19
Children and young people: theoretic culture and,
xxi; religious repre sen ta tion and, 13; enactive
repre sen ta tion and, 18… 20; play and, 21, 82,
89… 91, 109… 110, 588… 589; art of, 23… 24; poetic
symbolization and, 27… 28, 30; narratives and,
33, 34, 36… 37; conceptual repre sen ta tion and,
37… 39; attention and, 126… 127; enculturation
and, 126… 127; adualism, 614n21; lantern
consciousness and, 712n51.
See also
Chilon, 361
Chimpanzees: dominance hierarchies and, 76, 176,
640… 641n8; play and, 82; evolution of new
capacities and, 83; human evolution and, 83;
parental care and, 85; rituals and, 93; episodic
culture and, 119; mimetic culture, 120, 121
22… 23; poetic symbolization and, 30… 31;
narratives and, 34, 35, 36; science and, 40; modes
of religious repre sen ta tion, 117; theoretic culture
and, 274
Brunschvicg, Leon, 630nn174,175,176,177,178,179
Brunschwig, Jacques, 678n166
Buber, Martin, 625n106, 630nn166,167,168,169,170,
171,172; objectivity and, 82; spirituality and,
104, 105… 106; truth and, 115
Buddha, 702n134, 705n189, 711n34, 712n40;
narratives and, 35, 36; legitimate authority and,
267; axial breakthroughs and, 531; So
(Brahmin) and, 535… 537; enlightenment
and, 537… 538, 540;
and, 558… 559;
and, 561;
Vessantara J
565… 566; utopias and, 582… 585; play and, 586;
truth and, 602
Buddhism: daily life and, 4; practice and, 10… 11;
emptiness and, 12; enactive repre sen ta tion and,
20; languages and, 483; Upani
ad texts and,
516; axial breakthroughs and, 523; India and,
527… 543; Magadha Empire and, 545, 546, 547,
548… 549; Sanskrit and, 552;
(Manu) and, 557;
Vessantara J
563… 566;
renouncers and, 574… 575; projected utopias
and, 577, 587; Brahmins and, 582… 583,
704… 705n179; time and, 620n7; Nepal and,
703n157, 706n204; Jainism and, 705n181;
Oedipus complexes and, 708n260
Bureaucracy: writing systems and, 226; Shang
China, 249; Western Zhou China and, 255;
Legalism and, 457; Mesopotamia and, 649n51
Burghardt, Gordon, xxii, 612n33, 623n59,
624nn72,76,84,85, 625nn87,88,89,90,91,92,93,
94,95,96,98,99,100,103, 626nn111,121,
627n132, 709n2, 710nn5,15, 712n41; animal
play and, 76… 81, 90, 567; play bouts and, 91; play
and, 588… 589
Burke, Kenneth, 613n16, 618nn84,88, 619n100,
705… 706n198; beyondingŽ and, 9; narratives
and, 35… 36, 37; conceptual repre sen ta tion
and, 41
Burkert, Walter, 342, 667n35, 669n48,
670nn61,63, 675n136
Butterworth, George, 614n21
Byrne, Richard W., 631n3
ee, Gabrielle L., 635n89
Caillat, Colette, 695n16
Cairns, Huntington, 630nn180,183,185
Caizzi, Fernanda Decleva, 381, 678nn168,169,174
Cambridge History of Ancient China,
247… 248
Campany, Robert F., 691n215
Bogucki, Peter, 647n20
Boland, Eaven, 611n30
Boli, John, 666n25
Bonobos, dominance hierarchies and, 176, 191
Book of Documents
(China), 255… 256, 654n139
Book of Songs
(China), 254, 256, 257… 260
Bottéro, Jean, 221, 222, 223, 225, 647nn25,26,
Bourdieu, Pierre, 628n141
Boyd, Robert, 84, 626n110
Boyer, Pascal, 629n154
: Vedic India and, 508; Buddha and,
537… 538; Buddhism and, 705n189
hmanas, 491, 516, 700n91; middle Vedic
transformation, 491, 500; rituals and, 504… 505;
axial breakthroughs and, 508; late Vedic
breakthrough, 509… 510, 512, 514
Brahmins, 499, 697n36; middle Vedic transforma-
tion, 496, 497; Vedic India and, 501… 502, 506;
ad texts and, 511; death and afterlife,
516… 517; late Vedic breakthrough, 518… 519, 527;
caste system and, 522; renouncers and, 528;
Buddhism and, 531… 532, 534… 537; Magadha
Empire and, 545, 549, 550;
(Manu) and, 553… 554, 555, 557;
and, 564… 565
Brain size, human evolution and, 122, 123, 124
Brennan, Frank, 636n108
Brereton, Joel, 511… 512, 515, 696n20, 701nn117,
118,122,124, 702n127
Brettler, Marc Zvi, 662n107
d, 514… 515
Brisson, Luc, 389… 390, 679n195, 680nn196,197,
Brodie, John, 613n10
Bronkhorst, Johannes, 704n176
Brooks, Alison S., 627n124
Brooks, A. Taeko, 682n2, 683nn26,29,
685nn51,73, 687n121;
(Confucius), 410;
(goodness) and, 413
Brooks, E. Bruce, 682n2, 683nn26,29, 685nn51,73,
(Confucius), 410;
Basso, Ellen B., 634nn65,66,67,68,69,70,71,72,
641nn14,15,16,17, 710nn10,11; Kalapalo people
and, 138… 146; dominance hierarchies and,
181… 182; rituals and, 570
Basso, Keith H., 638n155
Bateson, Gregory, 81, 625n104
Being cognition (B-cognition), 5, 8, 9, 11, 12,
590… 591
, Marc, 80… 81, 610n15, 625n97
Bellah, Robert N., 612n34, 614n24, 631n4,
637n144, 639n156, 646n104, 655n155, 692n227,
703n155, 707n235, 713n75
Benedict, Ruth Fulton, 638n154
Ben- Rafael, Eliezer, 681n213
Benveniste, Emile, 495, 698n54
Berman, Morris, 633n57, 634n60
Berndt, Catherine H., 636n112
Berndt, Ronald M., 636n112
Bernstein, Basil, 31, 617n70
Bharata people, 487… 488
Bible, the.
Hebrew scripture
Bickerton, Derek, xii, xxii, 610n12, 612n32,
Big- bang cosmology, 50… 52
Big Men (Highland New Guinea), 185
Bilateral animals, 62… 64
ra, 544, 545
ra, 545… 546
Biological evolution.
Bipedalism, 84, 121… 122
Birds, xiii, xxi… xxii, 67… 68, 502… 503
Births: enactive repre sen ta tion and, 20; death
in childbirth and, 84; parental care and, 85,
631n10; Australian Aborigines and, 636n105
Birth Story of the Dumb Cripple,Ž 711n35
Blessingway ritual, 162, 165, 166… 172
Bloch, Marc, 664n1
Bloch, Maurice, 628n140
Bloom, Allan, 26, 616n55
Bloom, Irene, 701n117
Blumberg, M., 626nn119,120
Bodde, Derk, 652n119
Bodhi, Bikkhu, 705nn190,197, 711n34
Bodily capacities, human evolution and, 86… 87
Bodily habits and movements: enactive repre sen ta-
tion and, 13… 14, 19… 20; music and, 24; narratives
and, 33; Kalapalo people and, 140… 141; theoretic
culture and, 281; Plato and, 392; Daoism,
444… 445; language and, 632n34
Body plans, 62… 64, 66… 67
Boehm, Christopher, 176… 177, 640nn2,3,4,5
Athanassakis, Apostolos N., 666nn19,20, 669n50
Athena, 349… 350, 665n5
Athens: early Greek society, 328; population of, 335;
po liti cal leadership and, 341, 354; po liti cal/
religious reform in, 347… 352; Greek tragedy
and, 359; cultural breakdowns and, 381… 382,
396… 397; Socrates and, 384… 385, 386; Aristotle
and, 595; Athena and, 665n5; Dionysus and,
Atran, Scott, 629n154
Attention: play and, 91… 92; episodic culture and,
119, 120; enculturation and, 126… 127; intention
and, 627… 628n136
121… 122
Austin, John L., 617n65
Australian Aboriginal Religion as World ReligionŽ
(Turner), 156
Australian Aborigines.
Aborigines, Australian
Autobiographical memory, 101
Axial breakthroughs, 474… 480; cultural develop-
ment and, 269; social stress and, 281… 282;
Deuteronomic Revolution, 313… 314; Israel and,
316… 324; Greece and, 352, 356, 369… 374,
669n56; Parmenides and, 379… 380; Socrates
and, 383… 387; Plato and, 387… 396, 577… 582;
China and, 399… 400;
445… 446;
Mencius and, 463; Confucianism and, 475… 480;
late Vedic breakthrough, 509… 527; Buddha
and, 582… 585; theoretic culture and, 591… 597,
606; science and, 595… 596; Japan and,
654… 655n155
Axial religions, 265… 282; conceptual repre sen ta-
tion, 14; archaic societies and, 210, 256… 257;
Amarna religion, 246.
See also
China; Greece;
India; Israel
Aztec people, 213, 214, 641n19
Baal (god), 288, 289, 294, 300
Babylon, 225, 284, 285, 664n124
eodicy,Ž 223
Bacteria, 602; origins of life and, 57, 58… 59,
621… 622n29; conserved core pro cesses and, 61;
evolution of new capacities and, 66
Baiami (Aboriginal creator- God), 154
Baines, John, 234, 650n75, 651n96
Baldwin, J. M., 13
Bali, xvi… xvii, 660n80
Balm, I. D. M, 713n57
Barnard, Alan, 634n64
Barth, Fredrik, 634n62
Bary,  eodore de, 479
Bar- Yoseph, Ofer, 665n14
Basham, A. L., 702n151
589… 590; Japan and, 654… 655n155.
See also
Tribal to archaic transition
Architecture: archaic societies, 214; Mesopotamia
and, 214… 215; Egyptian pyramids and, 234… 236;
Greece and, 370… 371; Vedic India and, 501,
502, 503
Arguelles, Jose, 616n49
Arguelles, Miriam, 616n49
Aristocracy: chiefdoms and kingdoms, 183;
Tikopia, Polynesia, 190; Hawai
i and, 198; Egypt
and, 234; Greece and, 329, 334… 335, 336,
348… 349; Panhellenic culture and, 335… 336,
338… 339; Hesiod and, 339… 340; Warring States
Period (China), 425; play and, 572
Aristophanes, 384, 391
Aristotle, 613n16, 630n184, 665n7, 672n85,
678n172, 681nn207,209, 690n197, 691n214,
712n55, 713nn57,59; theoretic culture and,
279… 280; per for mance and, 363; philosophy
and, 365, 380, 681n208; Plato and, 391; axial
breakthroughs and, 395… 396; morality and,
593… 595
Armstrong, A. H., 616nn53,54
Arnason, Johann P., 272, 656n16, 657n18, 669n56
Ars PoeticaŽ (MacLeish), 29
Art, 4, 23… 24, 96, 273, 392, 588
Art as Experience
(Dewey), 589… 590
ya), 544, 545, 552… 553
Arthropods, 63
Aryan people, 482… 483, 485, 487
Asad, Talal, 610… 611n19
Asherah (goddess), 289, 294
oka, 706nn207,208, 707n243, 709n262; Mauryan
dynasty and, 544, 546… 550;
558… 559
system, 528… 529
Assemblies, po liti cal leadership and, 668n45
Assimilation, reality and, 615n37
Assmann, Jan, 649nn53,56,58, 650nn67,68,69,77,
78,79,82,83,84,85, 651nn87,88,89,90,91,93,94,
95,97,98,101,102,103,105, 652nn106,107,108,109,
110,111, 657nn32,34; Egypt and, 227, 238… 241;
history as myth and, 227… 228; Old Kingdom
Egypt, 231, 232; Egyptian pyramids and, 235;
Middle Kingdom Egypt, 237… 238; Co$
n Text
1130 (Egypt), 242… 243; New Kingdom Egypt,
244… 246
ur (god), 307, 309, 661n93
Assyria, 225, 270, 285, 306… 308, 309… 310, 313
ini), 551… 552
Aten (god), 246, 276, 277
Athabascan linguistic group, 160, 163
Ames, Roger T., 412, 683nn30,33,35, 685n52,
Ammon, 290
Amos, 301, 302… 303
Amun (god), 244… 245, 246
(Confucius), 409… 410, 415… 423;
Way), 413… 414; Mozi and, 426… 427; hermits
and, 438; Five Classics and, 442;
and, 449
Anasazi people, 641n21
Anaximander, 364, 366… 368, 371, 674nn113,116,
Anaximenes, 364, 366, 674n113
Ancestor worship, 250, 251, 259, 628n140
Ancestral Beings, Australian Aborigines and,
149… 153
Ancestral Law (Australian Aborigines), 150… 151,
155, 158, 180
Ancestral Polynesian Society, 182, 183, 195, 197
Ancient Mesopotamia
(Oppenheim), 225
Anderson, Benedict, 31, 35, 36, 617n72,
(ritual o$
cers), 181
Animals: evolution of, 60… 65; evolution of new
capacities and, 66… 74; animal play, 74… 83, 567,
570, 588, 626n121; rituals and, 92… 93; memory
and, 101; mimicry and, 128; domestication, of
animals, 215… 216; animal sacri“
ces, 345
(Egyptian ruler), 236… 237
Anthropic principle, 56
Antiphon, 381… 382, 383
Anxiety: daily life and, 2, 5; overlapping realities
and, 9; play and, 22; narratives and, 36
Apache people, 159, 160
Apollo, Dionysus and, 670… 671n72
Appearances, truth and, 35, 102… 103
Aranda people, 150, 154
Archaeological evidence: human evolution and, 84,
88, 89; premonarchical Israel and, 287; early
state of Israel and, 290; Mycenaean civilization
and, 327; late Vedic breakthrough, 509
Archaic societies, 210… 214, 260… 264, 689n154;
symbols and symbolism, xvii; theoretic culture
and, xix; Pueblo people and, 160; Hawai
and, 197… 209, 646n107; ancient Mesopotamia,
214… 226; ancient Egypt, 227… 246; Shang and
Western Zhou China, 246… 260; cultural
development and, 265… 266; Akhenaten and,
276… 278; Israel and, 289, 298… 299; kings and,
322; Greece and, 326… 332, 344… 347; Spring
and Autumn Period, China, 401… 402; India and,
484, 501… 502, 519, 520, 523, 559; middle Vedic
transformation, 491… 500; play and, 570… 573,
Abe, Masao, 615n34
Aberle, David F., 159, 640n178
Abiding Events, 147, 153, 157, 167
Abimelech, 291
Aborigines, Australian: unitive repre sen ta tion
and, 17… 18; enactive repre sen ta tion and, 20;
narratives and, 36; DreamingŽ and, 103;
cultural development and, 138, 160… 161; mythic
culture and, 146… 159; dominance hierarchies
and, 178… 180; powerful beingsŽ and, 188;
hunter- gatherers and, 634n64; international
uences and, 635n92; Christianity and,
636n99; birth rituals and, 636n105
Academic rituals, 8… 9
Acheulian hand axes, 125… 126
Achilles, 266… 267, 339, 665n6
Actions: enactive repre sen ta tion and, 18… 19;
Jackson Pollock and, 23; poetic symbolization
and, 29, 30
Adaptability, evolutionary, 100
Adaptations: religion and, xxii; parental care and,
71, 72
Adhami, Siamak, 702n134
Admonitions of IpuwerŽ (Egypt), 242
Adolescence, 143, 168, 170
Aeschylus, 352, 357, 358, 673n92
Death and afterlife
Agamemnon, 327, 339
Aggression and violence: mammals and birds, xiii;
evolution of new capacities and, 70, 83; reptiles
and, 71… 72; parental care and, 75; mimetic
culture and, 130; Australian Aborigines and, 156;
Tikopia chieftains and, 184; Tikopia, Polynesia,
189… 190;
and, 562.
See also
Agni, 489… 490, 501, 502… 503, 504
Agnicayana sacri“
ce, 500… 504, 506
Agnihotra ritual, 505… 506
Agrarian utopia, 440… 441
Agriculture: pastoral nomadism and, 137… 138;
Kalapalo people and, 139; Navajo people
and, 161; Pueblo people, 164; chiefdoms and
kingdoms, 194, 195; Hawaiian chiefs and, 199;
i and, 200; Mesopotamia and, 215… 216,
647n12; Story of Atrahas
sŽ (Mesopotamian
myth) and, 219… 220; Shang China and, 253;
archaic societies, 261; science and, 274; Israel
and, 301; eighth- century Re nais sance (Greece),
335; Upani
ad texts, 509; extinction events and,
601… 602; religious development and, 634n60
Ahab, King, 300, 301
Ahaz, King, 307
Aiello, Leslie C., 128, 631n6, 632nn18,32
atru, 544, 545
Akhenaten, 246, 276… 278
Akkadian language, 224… 225
Albert, Ethel M., 639n156
Albertz, Rainer, 288… 289, 293, 659nn56,58,65,
Alexander the Great, 546, 595
Allan, Sarah, 652n119
Allchin, F. R., 695n12, 696n30
Allen, James P., 277, 657n34
Allen, Joseph R., 653nn121,133
All- Father, 154
All- Mother, 155
Altars, 502… 503, 504
Altricial species, 68, 79, 84… 85, 88, 626n111
Altruism, 73, 623… 624n70
Notes to Pages 604…606
77. Wilfred Cantwell Smith,
Toward a World 
(Philadelphia: Westminster, 1981).
78. Charles Taylor,
A Secular Age
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007).
79. Herbert Fingarette,
e Self in Transformation: Psychoanalysis, Philosophy, and the Life
of the Spirit
(New York: Basic Books, 1963), 236… 237. Can we see a special kind of re-
nouncerŽ in Fingarette?
80. McCarthy,
Race, Empire,
223. Italics in the original.
81. Ibid., 187.
Notes to Pages 594…604
57. Aristotle,
De Partibus Animalium I and De Generatione Animalium,
trans. I. D. M.
Balm (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1972), 18, 645a.
58. Talcott Parsons,
Kant, of whom he is hardly uncritical, he draws signi“
cantly from Jürgen Habermass dis-
course ethics, as he acknowledges.
69. Niles Eldredge, 
e Sixth Extinction,Ž actionbioscience .org/newfrontiers/eldredge2
.html, 1.
70. Ibid., 2.
71. Ibid., 3… 4.
72. Ibid., 4… 5.
73. Ibid., 5.
74. Stephen Jay Gould,
e Structure of Evolutionary 
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 2002), 898.
75. For a fuller discussion of Webers views on religion, see Robert N. Bellah, Max We-
ber and World- Denying Love,Ž in
e Robert Bellah Reader,
ed. Robert N. Bellah and Steven
M. Tipton (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2007), 123… 149.
76. Karl Jaspers,
e Origin and Goal of History
(London: Routledge and Kegan Paul,
1953 [1949]). For a recent, very useful interpretation of the axial age and its relevance to
modernity, see Steven G. Smith,
Appeal and Attitude: Prospects for Ultimate Meaning
ington: Indiana University Press, 2005).
Notes to Pages 587…594
40. I know that there are those who dont consider meditation to be ritual and that the
Buddha dismissed Vedic ritual as unhelpful. But in my terms, even private meditation,
and surely communal meditation, is ritual. Anyone who has ever been in a Zendo would
see that.
41. See Burghardt,
Genesis of Animal Play,
393, on war as the ultimate form of playŽ for
many of the worlds leaders.
42. Kant,
Power of Judgment,
sec. 43, 183.
43. Hans Joas,
e Creativity of Action
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996), 164…
167, citing Donald W. Winnicott,
Playing and Reality
(Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1974).
44. George Herbert Mead,
Mind, Self, and Society
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
45. Joas,
e Creativity of Action,
46. John Dewey,
Art as Experience
(1934), in
John Dewey: 
e Late Works, 1925… 1953,
vol. 10 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1987), 283.
47. Ibid., 284.
48. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi,
e Psychology of Optimal Experience
(New York:
Harper and Row, 1990), chap. 7.
49. Arlie Russell Hochschild,
e Time Bind: When Work Becomes Home and Home Be-
comes Work
(New York: Metropolitan Books, 1997).
50. Alison Gopnik,
e Philosophical Baby: What Childrens Minds Tell Us about Truth,
Love, and the Meaning of Life
(New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009), 129.
51. Gopnik notes that ”
ow is something unique to adults, whereas lantern consciousness
is fundamental for babies but attainable under certain circumstances by adults. She gives the
example of open awarenessŽ meditation by Zen monks who consciously seek to prevent
spotlight consciousness so that they can be open to the whole undi
erentiated world.
e Philosophical Baby,
127… 128. Interestingly Pierre Hadot has described similar
practices among ancient Greek phi los o phers who tried to focus on the present moment
alone, without any concern for past or future. 
e practice was common to Stoics and Epi-
cureans, who otherwise di
ered on almost everything. He notes that for these thinkers,
e instant is our only point of contact with reality, yet it o
ers us the whole of reality,Ž and
he quotes Seneca describing that instant by saying, For Seneca, the sage plunges himself
into the whole of the universe
(toti se inserens mundo).
Ž Pierre Hadot,
Philosophy as a Way of
(Oxford: Blackwell, 1995), 229… 230.
52. Gopnik,
e Philosophical Baby,
53. Josef Pieper,
Leisure, the Basis of Culture
(New York: Pantheon Books, 1964), 11. Be-
cause leisure, as Pieper uses the term, is the quintessential relaxed “
eld, it clearly overlaps
with the meaning of play. In fact Piepers whole book could be seen as a meditation on play
as discussed in this concluding chapter.
54. It could be that it is related to episodic consciousness in Donalds terms, which in
Chapter 3 I have related to unitive consciousness.
55. Pierre Hadot,
What Is Ancient Philosophy?
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Press, 2002 [1995]), 78. My discussion of Aristotle draws heavily from Hadots chapter on
Aristotle in this book, 77… 90.
56. Hadot,
What Is Ancient Philosophy?,
Notes to Pages 574…585
17. Jürgen Habermas, Toward a Reconstruction of Historical Materialism,Ž in
nication and the Evolution of Society
(Boston: Beacon Press, 1979 [1976]), 163. Italics in the
18. Perhaps it would be best to call only Plato a renouncer. Andrea Nightingale argues
with Simon Goldhill, who called Socrates a performer in exileŽ because he did not display
his wisdom in the assembly or other po liti cal gatherings (except on one important occasion).
She holds that in his exchanges with his fellow citizens Socrates remained intimately tied to
the city. See Andrea Nightingale,
Spectacles of Truth in Classical Greek Philosophy:
Its Cultural Context
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 73 n. 2. Can we call
Socrates a dissident,Ž who, like Václav Havel, criticized his city but refused to leave it at
what ever cost? Fortunately Havel only had to serve four years in prison.
19. Of course, as in many legitimation struggles, what began as a tradition of criticism
could become a tradition of legitimation.
20. Nightingale,
40… 41.
21. Ibid., 74… 77.
22. Ibid., 78.
23. Ibid., 98.
24. Ibid., 80.
25. Ibid., 81.
26. Ibid., 80
27. Ibid., 105… 106.
28. Ibid., 106.
29. Ibid., 106… 107.
30. Ibid., 111.
31. Ibid., 110… 116.
32. Ibid., 134. Italics in original.
33. Ibid., 135.
34. On the Buddhas visions in his meditative tranceŽ on the night of his Awakening,Ž see
Gananath Obyeyeskere,
Imagining Karma
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002),
158. For the words of the Brahman, see
Ariyapariyesan Sutta
19… 21, in
e Middle Discourses
of the Buddha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikya,
trans. Bikkhu Bodhi (Boston: Wisdom,
1995), 261.
is is the well- known Birth Story of the Dumb CrippleŽ (
Mugapakkha Jataka,
no. 538) as recounted and partly translated in Steven Collins,
Nirvana and Other Buddhist Fe-
licities: Utopias of the Pali Imaginaire
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 425… 433.
For a complete translation, see 
e Story of Temiya, the Dumb Cripple,Ž in
e Jatakas: Birth
Stories of the Bodhisatta,
trans. Sarah Shaw (New Delhi: Penguin, 2006), 179… 221.
36. Collins,
37. Ibid., 430.
38. Ibid., 233… 234.
39. Ibid., 417. 
e quote is from Peter Brown,
Authority and the Sacred: Aspects of the
Christianisation of the Roman World
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 53. It
is worth noting that the gentle violenceŽ of which Brown speaks was in” icted by an empire
that had become Christian,Ž just as BuddhistŽ empires would do the same.
Notes to Pages 567…573
precede our own species and so arose in the Paleolithic period, I had come to see that the
deep background that made that origin possible was also of such importance that it needed
extensive discussion.
3. Friedrich Schiller,
On the Aesthetic Education of Man,
trans. Reginald Snell (New York:
Dover, 2004 [1801]).
4. Immanuel Kant,
Critique of the Power of Judgment,
ed. and trans. Paul Guyer (Cam-
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000 [1790]), sec. 43, 183.
5. Gordon M. Burghardt,
e Genesis of Animal Play: Testing the Limits
Mass.: MIT Press, 2005), 77… 78. Upon inspection I found that Burghardt not only refers to
Schiller in his book, but actually quotes a passage that partly overlaps the following quote
from Schiller on p. 28 of his book, a reference that I failed to follow up on “
rst reading. It was
Burghardt more than anyone else who opened my eyes to the enormous importance of animal
play in evolutionary history.
6. Schiller,
Notes to Pages 563…567
kingdom. Here the example of Aoka has a continuing afterlife. See Pollock,
Language of the
226… 237.
263. Ibid., 227.
264. Ibid., 554.
265. Hiltebeitel,
mal play and to Johann Huizinga for his work on play as the basis of human culture. Perhaps
just a word about why Chapter 2 was the only substantive chapter to be rewritten after the
others were completed (I did write a new Preface in the fall of 2009 to replace one that had
been written at the beginning before I had an adequate sense of where the book was going).
Although it is true that the understanding of biological evolution had changed dramatically
in the de cade or so since the “ rst draft was completed, to a lesser degree that is true of the
subject matter in each substantive chapter and alone would not have justi“
ed a rewriting.
e main reason is that, though I still believe that religion in any intelligible sense does not
Notes to Pages 559…563
and ultimate fate, and whose treatment by R*ma, are problematic indeed.  e standard En-
glish translation of the
is that published by the University of Chicago Press:
e Mahbhrata.
Vol. 1, bk. 1,
e Book of the Beginning,
trans. and ed. J. A. B. van Buuite-
nen, was published in 1973. 
ree more volumes have been published subsequently: vol. 2,
containing books 2 and 3; vol. 3, containing books 4 and 5; and vol. 7, containing book 11
and part 1 of book 12. 
ere are eigh teen books in all.
248. Pollock,
Language of the Gods,
17… 18.
249. Ibid., 225.
250. Pollock,
2:48… 52.
251. Ibid., 67… 68.
252. Ibid., 51.
253. On this point see Sheldon Pollock, 
and Po liti cal Imagination in India,Ž
Journal of Asian Studies
52, no. 2 (1993): 261… 297.
254. To explain the double parentage of the P*
avas would take far more space than I
have, this being an example of plot complexities defying brief description that characterize
the whole epic.
e cousin- brothers of the P*
Early India,
257. A translation of book 10 can be found in W. J. Johnson, trans.,
e Sauptikaparvan
of the Mahbhrata: 
e Massacre at Night
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1998). In his
interesting introduction, Johnson points out the cosmological level of the concept of dharma,
which is only one of several such levels treated in the vast epic. I have stayed with the ethical/
po liti cal level, which has implications for other levels of meaning, but is complex enough for
my brief treatment.
258. Doniger,
e Hindus,
266, 270.
259. Alf Hiltebeitel,
Rethinking the Mahbhrata: A Readers Guide to the Education of the
Dharma King
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001), 208. See his general discussion
of these issues, 202… 214.
260. It would take us too far a“
eld to discuss this incident in detail, but Gananath
Obeyesekere, in
e Work of Culture
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), 80… 81,
notes that it is the only Hindu example of Freuds classic Oedipus complex, and a highly
ambiguous one, whereas examples of the classic Oedipus complex are frequent in Buddhist
literature. See the whole discussion of the Hindu case, 75… 88.
261. Doniger,
e Hindus,
274… 275.
262. Pollock refers to the R*jas
ya as a consecration [of Yudhi
hira] as a
Language of the Gods,
226), the universal ruler. 
e term seems to have dropped out of later
Hinduism, though it continued to be important in 
eravada Buddhism. Pollock is particu-
larly interested in the conquest of the four directions by Yudhi
hiras four brothers in prepa-
ration for the consecration, and in the fact that the description of the conquest geo graph i-
cally includes the known world of Indic culture. 
e description of the world occurs three
times again in the
and helped de“ ne the po liti cal geography of subsequent
Indic civilization, and also the po liti cal trope that a truly good king is a world ruler (e.g.,
R*ma or the ruler described near the end of Manu above), regardless of the size of his actual
Notes to Pages 553…559
and especially her appendix 1, 
e Date of the
218… 225.
222. Wendy Doniger,
e Hindus: An Alternative History
(New York: Penguin, 2009),
223. Olivelle,
224. Patrick Olivelle,
e Law Code of Manu
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2004),
xix. Wendy Doniger has also translated Manu, in
e Laws of Manu
(New York: Penguin,
1991). Both are worth consulting. Olivelle is translating a critical edition of the text and has
a useful introduction. Doniger is translating the traditional version and also has a useful
225. Olivelle,
Law Code of Manu,
226. Doniger,
e Laws of Manu,
227. Ibid., xliii.
228. Doniger,
e Hindus,
209; but see her discussion of the ends of life in chap. 8.
229. Ibid., 210.
230. Doniger,
e Laws of Manu,
231. Olivelles translation is clearer in this passage. See his
Law Code of Manu,
232. Doniger,
e Hindus,
233. Olivelle,
Law Code of Manu,
14… 15. For Donigers translation of this passage, see
e Hindus,
is sounds remarkably like Calvinist double predestination if one can
make such a remote comparison.
234. Doniger,
e Laws of Manu,
235. In so doing, Manu illustrates a possibility that under quite other circumstances was
often a feature of Japa nese thought. See the introduction to Bellah,
Imagining Japan.
236. Olivelle,
Law Code of Manu,
237. Ibid.
238. Ibid., 218.
239. It would seem that Manu understood the position of universal ethics and con-
sciously rejected it. Instead he opted for moral/po liti cal regression, with unhappy conse-
quences for as long as his text was in”
240. Olivelle,
Law Code of Manu,
xli… xlv.
e standard En glish translation of the
e Rmya
a of Vlm
ki: An
Epic of Ancient India,
vol. 1:
trans. Robert P. Goldman (Prince ton: Prince ton
University Press, 1984). Five further volumes had been published by 2009, each volume
containing one book of the epic, with one more volume to go.
e Rmya
a of Vlm
ki: An Epic of Ancient India,
vol. 2,
ldon I. Pollock (Prince ton: Prince ton University Press, 1986), 70.
243. Ibid., n. 12, 70… 71. Pollock cites the inscriptions of Aoka that parallel passages in
244. Ibid., 70.
245. Pollock,
Language of the Gods,
246. Pollock,
247. One might want to qualify the idea of the
as a comedy if one seriously
considered the second most important character in the epic, R*mas wife S
t*, whose tribulations
Notes to Pages 542…552
that one is atemporal and the other necessarily temporal. For Burke, the “ rst three chap-
ters of Genesis, the Garden of Eden story, though narrative in form, can be reformulated
in philosophical,Ž that is, timeless propositional form, as the logical consequences that
necessarily follow the postulation of the idea of order. See Burke, 
e First 
ree Chap-
ters of GenesisŽ in
e Rhetoric of Religion: Studies in Logology
(Boston: Beacon Press,
1961), 172… 272.
199. Collins,
200. Ibid., 243… 244. My whole discussion of the knowledgeŽ the gaining of which is so
central to the Buddhist Path as not only cognitive but also a
ective and behavioral draws
largely from Collinss book. For a summary discussion of Buddhist knowledge as the gain-
ing of skill rather than fact alone, see Collinss summary,
201. Ibid., 245.
202. On this Weberian characterization of the Sangha, see Collins,
203. Patrick Olivelle,
e Origin,
pt. 2, 
e Growth of Buddhist Cenobitical Life,Ž
35… 77.
204. With the exception of Sanskrti Buddhism in Nepal, pointed out above.
205. For a good brief summary of this history, see Hartmut Scharfe,
e State in Indian
(Leiden: Brill, 1989), chap. 6, A Synthetic View of the Development of the State
in India.Ž
206. I use the spelling of Kau
ya preferred by Romila 
apar in her important book
Aoka and the Decline of the Mauryas,
rev. ed. with new afterword (Delhi: Oxford University
Press, 1997). 
e new afterword discusses research between the “ rst edition of 1961 and the
publication of the revised edition. Other authors prefer the spelling Kau
207. Romila 
Early India: From the Origins to AD 1300
(Berkeley: University of
California Press, 2004), 162… 163. For Aokas
I will use italics to distinguish it
from Buddhist Dhamma.
208. My account of Aoka and his teaching relies largely on 
apars book,
cluding her translations of the edicts in appendix 5. In addition to the afterword in that
book, which takes account of research up until 1997, her treatment of Aoka in
Early India,
though abbreviated, gives her views as of 2002 when it was “ rst published.
209. See on the Web the Wikipedia article Full Translation of the Behistun
210. Translated by 
211. From Pillar Edict 7, translated in ibid., 265.
212. From the 11th Major Rock Edict, translated in ibid., 254… 255.
213. From the 12th Major Rock Edict, translated in ibid., 255.
214. Sheldon Pollock,
e Language of the Gods in the World of Men: Sanskrit, Culture,
and Power in Premodern India
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006), 5, 7.
215. Ibid., 2… 10.
216. Ibid., 60.
217. Ibid., 50.
218. Ibid., 3, 76.
219. Ibid., 300.
220. Ibid., 198.
Notes to Pages 535…541
say the least, one- sided.Ž Maurice Walshe, trans.,
e Long Discourses of the Buddha: A Trans-
lation of the D
gha Nikya
(Boston: Wisdom), 22.
180. Collins,
Sel” ess Persons,
32… 33.
is teaching was shared with and even conceivably borrowed from the Jains, who
took it to lengths to which Buddhism usually did not go.
182. Gombrich,
How Buddhism Began,
68… 69. Gombrich notes that the Mah*y*na tradi-
tion gave expression to this basic idea in one of the most famous passages in the whole of
Mah*y*na literature, the allegory of the [world as a] burning house in the
Lotus S
ter 3)Ž (69).
a Sutta, D
gha Nikya
4, in Walshe,
e Long Discourses,
125… 132.
184. Ibid., 128.
185. Ibid., 129… 131.
186. Ibid., 132.
187. Ibid., 550 n. 169.
188. Obeyesekere,
Imagining Karma,
189. Although
in the singular, either as the highest god or as the absolute, is not
to be found in the Suttas, Brahmas, in the plural, are among the many gods that continued
to be recognized by Buddhists. Having a Brahma request that the Buddha take on the life-
long arduous task of teacher to the world is one of the ironies that the Suttas delight in. Not
least of the ironies is that Vedic orthodoxy limited the teaching of liberating truth to a few,
whereas here Brahma urges the Buddha to make it available to all.
Ariyapariyesan Sutta
19… 21, in Bikkhu Bodhi, trans.,
e Middle Discourses of the Bud-
dha: A Translation of the Majjhima Nikya
(Boston: Wisdom, 1995), 260… 262.
191. Obeyesekere,
Imagining Karma,
114… 115. 
e passage is from the
e Buddhas Last Days) 3.7… 8. For another translation, see Walshe,
Long Discourses,
246… 247.
192. For an excellent discussion of the relation of Buddhist monasticism to the laity, see
Ilana Friedrich Silber,
Virtuosity, Charisma, and Social Order: A Comparative So cio log i cal
Study of Monasticism in 
eravada Buddhism and Medieval Catholicism
(New York: Cam-
bridge University Press, 1995). It is in this book that Silber argues for Buddhism and Chris-
tianity as the only religions where true monasticism developed.
193. Ibid., 67.
194. Richard F. Gombrich,
eravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to
Modern Colombo,
2nd ed. (London: Routledge, 2007), 66.
195. Ibid., 78.
196. Here I am drawing from Steven Collinss discussion in his
Nirvana and Other Bud-
dhist Felicities
(New York: Cambridge University Press, 1998), 282… 285.
197. Bikkhu Bodhi,
e Connected Discourses of the Buddha: A Translation of the
Nik*ya (Boston: Wisdom, 2000), 1846. 
e Deer Park Sermon is to be found in the
yutta Nikya
198. Collins,
284. For Collinss idea of nirvana as, in the linguistic sense,
syntactic as well as semantic and pragmatic, see below. Kenneth Burke has written an es-
say that moves in the opposite direction from Collins but makes the same point: the inter-
changeability of systematic and narrative thought, with the remaining signi“
cant di
Notes to Pages 529…534
167. Olivelle quotes from dharma texts to show how strongly the house holder order was
upheld: All orders
subsist by receiving support from the house holder,Ž and As all
rivers, both great and small, “ nd a resting- place in the ocean, even so men of all orders “ nd
protection with house holders,Ž from
there is one
only, because the others do
not beget o
spring,Ž from the
Baudriliya Dharmasutra.
See also Patrick Olivelle,
e Origin
and Early Development of Buddhist Monachism
(Colombo: Gunasena, 1974), 5.
168. Olivelle,
 e rama System,
169. Ibid., 227.
170. Romila 
apar, Renunciation: 
e Making of a Counter- Culture?Ž in
Indian Social History: Some Interpretations
(Bashir Bagh: Orient Longman, 1978 [1976]),
is is one of four papers that are particularly helpful in understanding the role of re-
nouncers in Indian history. 
e others are Louis Dumont, World Renunciation in Indian
Religions,Ž in
Religion/Politics and History in India: Collected Papers in Indian Sociology
Hague: Mouton, 1970 [1960]); Jan Heesterman, Brahmin, Ritual, and Renouncer,Ž in
Inner Con” ict of Tradition: Essays in Indian Ritual, Kingship, and Society
(Chicago: Univer-
sity of Chicago Press, 1985 [1964]), 26… 44; and Charles Malamoud, Village and Forest in
the Ideology of Brahmanic India,Ž in
Cooking the World,
74… 91. Heesterman and Mala-
moud deal largely with the early period; 
apar and Dumont deal with Indian history as a
apar, Renunciation,Ž 63.
172. Richard Gombrich,
How Buddhism Began: 
e Conditioned Genesis of the Early
(London: Athlone, 1996), 51.
173. Gombrich,
How Buddhism Began,
174. See Steven Collins,
Sel” ess Persons: Imagery and 
ought in 
eravda Buddhism
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), 125; Collins in this book presents the full-
est account of
available in En glish.
175. Ibid., 136… 137, referring to
Majjhima Nikya
176. My description of these three fundamental categories is a condensation of Collinss
exposition of them in his
Sel” ess Persons,
29. A recent book by Johannes Bronkhorst,
Magadha: Studies in the Culture of Early India
(Leiden: Brill, 2007), o
ers a radical alterna-
tive view of the origin of these three ideas, suggesting that their origin is not in the Vedic
tradition but in the rather di
erent culture of Greater MagadhaŽ that developed outside the
Vedic orbit and was only gradually assimilated to the Vedic tradition. I am in no position to
evaluate this argument, which runs counter to other sources I have used. 
e specialists will
have to decide these issues, but, as I have learned from scholarship on the Hebrew scriptures,
arguments about chronology can go on interminably when there is little or no basis outside
the texts for dating them before or after other texts.
177. I am very indebted to Collins,
Sel” ess Persons,
esp. 191… 193, for his illuminating
discussion of
178. Charles Taylor,
A Secular Age
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2007),
6… 7.
179. Maurice Walshe, in the introduction to his translation of the
Digha Nikaya,
says that
in the treatment of the Brahmins in the Buddhist texts one is insistently reminded of the
New Testament picture of the Pharisees, though in both cases the picture as presented is, to
Notes to Pages 521…529
152. Halbfass,
Tradition and Re” ection,
chap. 10, Homo Hierarchicus: 
e Conceptual-
ization of the Var
a System in Indian 
ought,Ž 352. Halbfass says that he is not defending
Dumonts famous book in this chapter, but that he does agree with what Dumont called the
main ideaŽ of his book, that is, the idea of hierarchy separated from powerŽ (350).
153. Brian K. Smith,
Classifying the Universe: 
e Ancient Indian Var
a System and the
Origins of Caste
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), 82.
154. It might be thought that the great phi los o phers of later centuries would have rejected
these exclusions of =
dras, but such is not the case. Both =a

kara and R*m*nuja agreed with
the exclusion of =
dras from the study of the Vedas. =a

kara even approved the rule that
dras who listened to Vedic texts should have their ears “ lled with molten metal. Halbfass,
Tradition and Re” ection,
380… 381.
155. S. N. Eisenstadt,
Japa nese Civilization: A Comparative View
(Chicago: Chicago Uni-
versity Press, 1996); and Robert N. Bellah,
Imagining Japan: 
e Japa nese Tradition and Its
Modern Interpretation
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).
156. Eric Voegelin,
Israel and Revelation,
vol. 1 of
Order and History
(Baton Rouge: Loui-
siana State University Press, 1956), 164.
157. Alexander von Rospatt reminds me that classic Indian Buddhism did survive to the
present in one traditionally Indian area: Nepal, particularly the Kathmandu Valley. It is only
there that Sanskrit Buddhism can be found today, I am grateful for this and other sugges-
tions that he gave me.
158. Ronald B. Inden,
Imagining India
(Cambridge: Blackwell, 1990), 73… 74.
159. Ibid., 217
160. Ibid., 212… 262.
From Lineage to State,
171… 172. S. N. Eisenstadt and Harriet Hartman, Cul-
tural Traditions, Conceptions of Sovereignty and State Formation in India and Eu rope,Ž in
van den Hoek, Kol , and Oort,
Ritual, State and History,
493… 506, discuss Indian society in
a way that supports and extends 
apars analysis. 
ey write, Indian politics developed
predominantly patrimonial characteristics, the rulers relying mostly on personal loyaltyŽ
(499). Society they see as composed of rather complex networks of ascriptive and particular-
istic groups that were by no means similar to geo graph i cally limited tribalŽ solidarities, but
could be extended to wide areas. Caste solidarities were particularistic yet could provide
some functional equivalents to more universalistic solidarities because of their capacity to
transcend local geography.
162. Charles Malamoud, Semantics and Rhetoric in the Hindu Hierarchy of the Aims
of Man, Ž in his
Cooking the World: Ritual and 
ought in Ancient India,
trans. David White
(Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1996 [1989]), 125, 128. Malamoud translates the ends as
and Desire
Ž (113).
163. Whillier, Truth, Teaching, and Tradition,Ž 53.
164. Olivelle, in
e rama System,
cites a number of places in the epics where the term
is used for a variety of Br*ma
ical asceticsŽ (15 n. 34).
165. Patrick Olivelle, 
e Renouncer Tradition,Ž in
e Blackwell Companion to Hindu-
ed. Gavin Flood (Oxford: Blackwell, 2003), 277. For a fuller description, see Olivelle,
 e rama System;
and Olivelle,
166. Olivelle,
e rama System,
Notes to Pages 515…521
is one of the few scholars of early India who have explicitly discussed the axial- age question,
citing Jaspers and Eisenstadt.
126. Olivelle,
127. Brereton, 
e Upani
ads,Ž 124.
128. For the modern thinkers, see Wilhelm Halbfass,
India and Eu rope: An Essay in Un-
(Albany: SUNY Press, 1988).
129. Olivelle,
130. Ibid., 140.
131. Ibid., 142. A somewhat di
erent version of this dialogue appears in the
6.2, Olivelle,
81… 84. PleasantŽ and foulŽ appear to describe behavior
appropriate to caste status rather than conforming to universal ethical norms.
132. Kenneth H. Post, Spiritual Foundations of Caste,Ž in Sivaraman,
Hindu Spiritual-
133. Olivelle,
134. Witzel has an interesting discussion of Y*jñavalkya as one of the few
people in
the oldest strata of Indian literatureŽ [italics in original], the others being Vasi
ha and the
Buddha. Vasi
ha appears brie”
y but vividly in the
bk. 7, but is the only such “
to stand out until late Vedic times when Y*jñavalkya appears. Because Y*jñavalkya is the very
embodiment of the Upanishadic axial transition, and axial transitions often produce striking
Notes to Pages 509…514
with the divine, and the renouncer who, through austerities and meditation, “ nds that his
is identical with the Absolute
Yet I think they both see that what I
call theory was present in the case of the renouncer but not in the case of the Vedic sacri“
Mus, if I understand him correctly, “ nds Upanishadic thought so theoretical that it cannot
er salvation and must be replaced later in Hinduism by
(devotional) religion, whereas
Buddhism managed to combine the Upanishadic breakthrough with the Br*hmanic emphasis
on practice.
108. See Erdosy, City StatesŽ; and Erdosy,
Urbanisation in Early Historic India
British Archaeological Reports, International Series, 1988).
109. Olivelle,
110. Witzel, Tracing the Vedic Dialects,Ž 245.
111. Olivelle,
112. Jamison and Witzel, Vedic Hinduism,Ž 75.
113. Ibid., 75… 76.
114. Jan Gonda,
58… 61.
115. Wayne Whillier, Truth, Teaching, and Tradition,Ž in
Hindu Spirituality: Vedas
through Vedanta,
ed. Krishna Sivaraman (New York: Crossroad, 1989), 48.
116. OFlaherty,
Rig Veda,
25… 26. Note that this hymn, like
V 10.90, is quite late, any-
where between 1000 and 600 .
e Doctrine of the Upani
and Early Buddhism,
trans. Shridor B. Shrotri (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1991 [1923]),
chap. 1, 
e Older Upani
ads,Ž for many helpful suggestions.
118. Brereton, Upanishads,Ž 121.
119. Halbfass,
Tradition and Re” ection,
yaka Upani
1.4.10, in Olivelle,
121. Pa
inis Sanskrit grammar (ca. 400 ) is generally accepted as the beginning of
c linguistics and the stimulus for modern Western developments in that “
eld. Staal
argues that P*
inis linguistics developed out of a science of ritualŽ and was related to the
need to understand what was by then archaic Vedic language (
Rules without Meaning,
33… 60).
122. I will be using the translations of Olivelle,
148, and Brereton, 
e Upa-
ads,Ž 122. 
Chndogya Upani
is the most important early Upani
besides the
yaka Upani
123. Olivelle,
124. Ibid., 154, except for the last paragraph, which is from Brereton, 
e Upani
124. Olivelle, for reasons that he explains in his notes, translates the famous last sentence,
tvam asi,
as And thats how you are, =vetaketu,Ž whereas Brereton is closer to traditional
translations. Edgerton, for example, translates the phrase 
at art thou, =vetaketu.Ž Frank-
lin Edgerton,
e Beginnings of Indian Philosophy
(London: George Allen and Unwin, 1965),
125. Gananath Obeyesekere,
Imagining Karma: Ethical Transformation in Amerindian,
Buddhist, and Greek Rebirth
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 111. Obeyesekere
Notes to Pages 504…508
91. Wendy Doniger OFlaherty, in a brief review of early Western views, which she entitles
e Western Scorn for the Br*hma
as,Ž quotes Max Müller, one of the nineteenth- century
found ers of the study of early Indic religion, as writing in 1900: However interesting the
as may be to students of Indian literature, they are of small interest to the general
e greater portion of them is simply twaddle, and what is worse, theological twad-
dle.Ž Some years earlier Müller had even called the Br*hma
as the twaddle of idiots and the
ravings of madmen.Ž For this and similar quotations, see her
Tales of Sex and Violence: Folk-
lore, Sacri“ ce, and Danger in the
ya Br*hma
a (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
1985), 3… 6.
92. Brian K. Smith,
Re” ections on Resemblance, Ritual, and Religion
(Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 1989), 31. It is worth remembering that equationsŽ are common in ritual
thought: for many Christians the bread and the wine in the (sacri“
cial) ritual of the Eucha-
the body and blood of Christ. And in John 14, when Jesus says, I am the way, and
the truth, and the life,Ž Christians have understood that as more than meta phorical.
93. Ibid., 46.
94. Ibid., 50.
95. Ibid., 50… 51. Smiths description of the natural state is reminiscent of the second law
of thermodynamics. However, what Hermann Oldenberg meant by his term pre- scienti“
scienceŽ was not exactly this, but rather the im mense e
ort to correlate and classify, which
does indeed lie behind what we would call real science. See Hermann Oldenberg,
senschaftliche Wissenschaft: Die Weltanschauung der Brhma
(Göttingen: Vanden-
hoek and Ruprecht, 1919).
96. Jamison and Witzel, Vedic Hinduism,Ž 38.
97. Frits Staal,
Rules without Meaning: Ritual, Mantras, and the Human Sciences
York: P. Lang, 1989), 101.
98. Staal,
99. Smith,
Re” ections,
100. Ibid., 199.
101. Actually Staal says that because ritual is older than language, probably by hundreds
of thousands of years (see chapter 3 of
Rules without Meaning
), mantras occupy a domain
that is situated between ritual and language.Ž He notes that there are mantra like sound
structures among animals.Ž Staal,
Rules without Meaning,
102. From the perspective of later Hindu thought, the entire Veda is sometimes associ-
ated with the idea of a protosemantic presence of words and sounds. In this view, the Veda
is primarily word
and thus distinguished from the Pur*
as, which are said
to be
that is texts in which meaning and information predominate.Ž Wil-
helm Halbfass,
Tradition and Re” ection: Explorations in Indian 
(Albany: SUNY
Press, 1991), 6.
103. Maurer,
Pinnacles of Indias Past,
280… 281.
104. Jamison and Witzel, Vedic Hinduism,Ž 67.
105. Ibid., 66.
106. Jan Gonda,
Notes on Brahman
(Utrecht: J. L. Beyers, 1950), 62… 63.
107. Both Lévi (in
La doctrine du sacri“ ce,
see esp. 10… 11) and Mus (in
) point
out the structural parallel between the sacri“
cer who, through the ritual, becomes identi“
Notes to Pages 498…504
the sovereignty of the kingŽ (paramount chief) to the extent that 
apar describes as an
arrested development of the state.Ž
From Lineage to State,
73. Witzel, Early Sanskritization,Ž 47.
74. Ibid., 39… 40. A uni“
ed system of ritual appropriate to each status level would be an
outcome similar to the pro cesses of ritual reform that we noted in China before the Warring
States period.
75. Hubert and Mauss in their book
Sacri“ ce
avoid the ambiguity in the Vedic sacri“
system between the person for whom the sacri“
ce is performed and the priest performing the
ce by calling the former the sacri“
erŽ and the latter the sacri“
cer,Ž but this usage has
not been followed by later authors.
76. Mysore Narasimhachar Srinivas,
Religion and Society among the Coorgs of South India
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1952); and Srinivas,
e Cohesive Role of Sanskritization
(Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1989).
77. Witzel, Early Sanskritization,Ž 51.
78. We are, I believe, entitled to call the Kuru realm the “ rst state in India. To quote W.
Rau, who has described the social and po liti cal conditions of the YV Sa
hit* and Br*hma
period in such detail: 
e Indians of the Br*hma
a period lived in po liti cal organizations
which, with good reasons, can be called states. Ž Ibid., 51… 52. In his work on early India,
Witzel frequently cites Wilhelm Rau,
Staat und Gesellschaft im alten Indien, nach den
Brahmana- Texten dargestellt
(Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1957).
79. See the great two- volume work of Frits Staal, ed.,
Agni, the Vedic Ritual of the Fire
(Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1984). It is worth noting that the 1975 per for mance took
twelve days, whereas in the Middle Vedic period it would have taken a year: in this case one
day for one month.
80. Staal does not actually make this claim, but it can be found on the Web in connection
with the per for mance he recorded.
81. Tsuji Naoshiro, 
e Agnicayana Section of the Maitr*ya
hit* with Special
Reference to the M*nava =rautas
tra,Ž in Staal,
82. Jan Heesterman, Other Folks Fire,Ž in Staal,
2:76… 77.
83. Agni is of course “
re, and cayana is the piling upŽ of the bricks that will make the
84. Ibid., 78.
85. Staal,
86. Ibid., 196.
87. Ibid., 128.
88. Ibid., 306… 307.
89. Ibid., 65. It is worth noting that every brick is not only a part of Praj*patis body, but
a verse of the Veda.
90. Ibid., 65. Staal, it should be noted, puts no stock in this kind of Br*hma
ic specula-
tion, “ nding it completely unhelpful in understanding the ritual, and noting that the Nam-
budiri Brahmins who performed the 1975 ritual gave no such explanations, just saying
this is the way they have always done it. For Staal it is the rules that count, a kind of ritual
syntax, not the meaning, which is ephemeral and largely irrelevant. But it all depends on
what one is looking for.
Notes to Pages 494…498
52. Ibid., 31… 32.
53. Ibid., 31.
54. Georges Dumézil,
Les dieux souverains des indo- européens
(Paris: Gallimard, 1977).
Nagy also draws from the work of Emile Benveniste,
Notes to Pages 490…494
34. Frits Staal,
Exploring Mysticism: A Methodological Essay
(Berkeley: University of Cali-
fornia Press, 1975).
35. Maurer,
Pinnacles of Indias Past,
is a term that can apply to a god, to absolute reality, to a class of scriptures,
and to the priestly class. I follow the usage of some but not all Indologists in calling the latter
group Brahmins to avoid terminological confusion.
37. It is interesting to note that in the Indian constitution the name of the country is
given as IndiaŽ or Bharat.Ž 
is choice of BharatŽ as a name for the country probably re-
ects the prestige of the great Indian epic, the
which looks back to this early
period but was composed considerably later.
38. Witzel, Early Sanskritization,Ž 46.
39. Ibid., 47. 
e last section of chapter 4 of this book deals at length with the po liti cal
and ritual situation in Hawaii.
40. Claessen and Skalnik say that it is almost impossible to pinpoint the precise
moment of the birth of the state,Ž and speak of inconspicuous pro cessesŽ that slowly
produce institutions that only in retrospect can be recognized as characteristic of the
state. Henri J. M. Claessen and Peter Skalník, eds.,
The Early State
(The Hague: Mou-
ton, 1978), 620… 621. This was the case in Hawaii and probably in Middle Vedic Ku-
Notes to Pages 485…490
17. Michael Witzel, 
e Development of the Vedic Canon and Its Schools: 
e Social
and Po liti cal Milieu,Ž in
Inside the Texts beyond the Texts: New Approaches to the Study of the
ed. Michael Witzel (Cambridge, Mass.: Department of Sanskrit and Indian Studies,
Harvard University, 1997), 263.
18. Stephanie W. Jamison and Michael Witzel, Vedic Hinduism,Ž in
e Study of Hindu-
ed. Arvind Sharma (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 2003), 65… 113; this
article was written in 1992/95, and a long version (1992) is available at www .people .fas .harvard
.edu/ ~witzel/ vedica .pdf. Long version, p. 63, slightly edited, removing references and such. 
almost book- length essay is the best general introduction to Vedic religion that I have come
19. Ibid., 53.
20. Walter H. Maurer,
Pinnacles of Indias Past: Selections from the
vol. 2 (Phila-
delphia: John Benjamins / University of Pennsylvania Studies on South Asia, 1986), 67.
Jamison and Witzel recommend this and Wendy Doniger OFlahertys
e Rig Veda: An
(London: Penguin 1981) as two useful translations of selected hymns in the ab-
sence of a modern scholarly translation of the entire text. But Joel Brereton and Stephanie
Jamison will bring out such a complete translation in the near future.
21. Michael Witzel, Early Indian History: Linguistic and Textual Pa ram e ters,Ž in
Indo- Aryans of Ancient South Asia: Language, Material Culture and Ethnicity,
ed. George
Erdosy (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1995), 93.
22. Ibid., 109.
23. Michael Witzel, 
gvedic History: Poets, Chieftains and Politics,Ž in Erdosy,
24. Ibid.
25. Ibid., 337.
26. Ibid., 338.
27. Michael Witzel, How to Enter the Vedic Mind? Strategies in Translating a
Text,Ž in
Translating, Translations, Translators: From India to the West,
trans. Enrica Garzilli,
Harvard Oriental Series, Opera Minora, vol. 1 (Cambridge, Mass.: Department of Sanskrit
and Indian Studies, Harvard University, 1996), 5.
28. Michael Witzel, Early Sanskritization: Origins and Development of the Kuru State,Ž
Recht, Staat und Verwaltung im klassische Indien
 e State, the Law, and Administration
in Classical India], ed. Bernhard Kölver (Munich: Oldenbourg, 1997), 30.
29. Michael Witzel, 
e Realm of the Kurus: Origins and Development of the First
State in India,Ž
Nihon Minami Ajia Gakkai Zenoku Taikai, Hokohu Yoshi
[Summaries of the
Congress of the Japa nese Association for South Asian Studies] (Kyoto, 1989), 2. 
e Soma
ritual will be discussed further below.
30. George Erdosy, City States of North India and Pakistan at the Time of the Buddha,Ž
in Allchin,
is statement summarizes his discussion in the previous chap-
ter of the same book, 
e Prelude to Urbanization: Ethnicity and the Rise of Late Vedic
Chiefdoms,Ž 75… 98.
31. Erdosy, 
e Prelude,Ž 82… 83.
32. Maurer,
Pinnacles of Indias Past,
10… 11.
33. Ibid., 76.
Notes to Pages 482…485
great religious traditions, scripture as spoken and heard has priority over scripture as written,
even when the latter is greatly respected.
8. Hartmut Scharfe, in trying to explain the ban on writing, says, S*yana wrote in the
introduction to his
gveda commentary that the text of the Veda is to be learned by the
method of learning it from the lips of the teacher and not from a manuscript. Ž Hartmut
Education in Ancient India
(Leiden: Brill, 2002), 8. Oral transmission was thus
deeply embedded in the personal relation between teacher and student.
9. Michael Witzel suggests that non- Sanskrit loanwords in the
V show that village life,
music and dance, and low level religion (Small Tradition) are indigenous, thus not Indo-
Aryan.Ž Personal communication.
10. Steve Farmer et al., 
e Collapse of the Indus- Script 
e Myth of a Literate
Harappan Civilization,Ž
Electronic Journal of Vedic Studies
11, no. 2 (2004): 1… 39.
11. Asko Parpola, Study of the Indus Script,Ž
Transactions of the International Conference
of Eastern Studies
50 (2005): 28… 66.
12. R. A E. Coningham argues that, though much was lost after the high point of Harap-
pan culture, including the signs that may have been a script, the decline during the second
millennium  was not as extreme as often imagined. He concludes that the foundations
for the emergence of the Early Historic [mid- “ rst millennium ] city were already being
laid during the second millennium BC.Ž See Coningham, Dark Age or Continuum? An
Archeological Analysis of the Second Emergence of Urbanism in South Asia,Ž in
e Archae-
ology of Early Historic South Asia: 
e Emergence of Cities and States,
ed. F. R. Allchin (Cam-
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 72.
13. Henri Hubert and Marcel Mauss,
Sacri“ ce,
trans. W. D. Halls (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1964 [1898]); Sylvain Lévi,
La doctrine du sacri“ ce dans les Brahmanas
(Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1966 [1898]).
14. Paul Mus,
Barabudur: Sketch of a History of Buddhism Based on Archaeological Criti-
cism of the Texts,
trans. Alexander W. Macdonald (New Delhi: Indira Gandhi National
Centre for the Arts, Sterling Publishers, 1998 [1935]), xxiii. 
e other book was Emile Sen-
arts edition and translation of the
B had-ra\fyaka Upani\tad.
15. I also found a charming anecdote about a fellow student of Dumont that reveals the
teaching not only of Mauss, but of the whole Durkheimian school: Toward the end of the
year in which he was to take his diploma in ethnology, a fellow student told me that a strange
thing had happened to him. He said something like this: 
e other day, while I was stand-
ing on the platform of a bus, I suddenly real
ized that I was not looking at my fellow pas-
sengers in the manner I was used to; something had changed in my relation to them. 
was no longer myself and the othersŽ; I was one of them. For a while I was wondering what
was the reason for this strange and sudden transformation. All at once I realized: it was
Mauss teaching. 
e individual of yesterday had become aware of himself as a social be-
ing; he had perceived his personality as tied to his language, attitudes and gestures whose
images were re”
ected by his neighbors. 
is is the essential humanist aspect of the teach-
ing of anthropology.Ž Louis Dumont,
Homo Hierarchicus: 
e Caste System and Its Implica-
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980 [1966]), 7… 8.
16. Michael Witzel, Tracing the Vedic Dialects,Ž in
Dialectes dans les littératures Indo-
ed. Colette Caillat (Paris: Collège de France, Institut de Civilisation Indienne:
Depositaire exclusive: Édition- di
usion de Boccard, 1989), 124.
Notes to Pages 480…482
242. Roetz puts aside the question of religion in de“ ning what he means by the axial
transition in early China (
Notes to Pages 475…479
to central tendencies of premodern Chinese culture generally, including the many tensions
and con” icts within it.
229. Benjamin Schwartz, 
e Age of Transcendence,Ž in
Wisdom, Revelation, and
Doubt: Perspectives on the First Millennium
.., special issue,
104, no. 2 (Spring
1975): 3.
230. Schwartz,
World of 
231. See his singularly obtuse essay Was  ere a Transcendental Breakthrough in
China?Ž in
e Origin and Diversity of Axial Age Civilizations,
ed. S. N. Eisenstadt (Albany:
SUNY Press, 1986), 325… 359. I admire Elvins work on Chinese economic and ecological
history, which is his primary interest.
232. Max Weber, Konfuzianismus und Taoismus,Ž in
Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Religions-
(Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1921), 1:276… 536. Translated into En glish by Hans
Gerth as
e Religion of China
(Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1951).
233. Because what we know of the Qin dynasty comes from writers in the following Han
dynasty who had a strong motive to blacken its reputation, we dont really know how many
books were burned or scholars killed, if any. 
at Qin Shihuangdi, under the in”
uence of Li
Si, attempted to suppress critical thought seems, however, to be certain.
234. Graham,
Disputers of the Tao,
235. Schwartz,
World of 
236. Puett,
To Become a God,
245. Paul Goldin has given a similar description of the re-
gime of Qin Shihuangdi as Li Si saw it: Any institution whose authority did not derive di-
rectly from the emperor inherently challenged the foundations of the empire and had to be
destroyed. Phi los o phers and teachers, who routinely appealed to traditions, scriptures, and
august pre ce dents, would have constituted a conspicuous example of what Li Si feared most.
e Qin empire was not merely an empire; it was a uni“
ed cosmos with a proper cosmology.
e ruler of the cosmos, similarly, was not merely an emperor or great king; he was the cen-
ter of the cosmos, the prime mover of all order and logic.Ž See Li Si Chancellor of the Uni-
verse,Ž in Goldins
After Confucius,
237. Puett,
To Become a God,
312… 313.
238. S. N. Eisenstadt, 
is Worldly Transcendentalism and the Structuring of the
World„ Webers Religion of China and the Format of Chinese History and CivilizationŽ
(unpublished, 1980), 51. 
is paper was published in German as Innerweltliche Transzen-
denz und die Strukturierung der Welt: Max Webers Studie über China und die Gestalt der
Chinesischen Zivilisation,Ž in
Max Webers Studie über Konfuzianismus und Taoismus: Interpre-
tation und Kritik,
ed. Wolfgang Schluchter (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1983). A short-
ened version was published in
Journal of Developing Societies
1, no. 2 (1985): 168… 186.
239. Csikszentmihalyi, Confucianism,Ž 122.
240. To give just one example where a number of sharply critical Confucians are dis-
cussed, see Wm. 
eodore de Bary,
e Trouble with Confucianism
(Cambridge, Mass.:
Harvard University Press, 1991).
241. Leys,
xxvii. I am sure Leys is aware of the dark side of Chinese history when
the government of the intellectual eliteŽ was unable to control the horrors of despotism. Here
I take him to be emphasizing only the relative benevolence of Chinese rule, given the preva-
lence of the horrors of despotism in all human history, not least in the modern world.
Notes to Pages 473…475
221. Ibid., 3:72.
222. Ibid., bk. 20, 3:80.
223. Heiner Roetz argues that Xunzis rejection of our nature as the source of our better feel-
ings is more a rejection of the Daoists than of Mencius. To make nature a norm not only de-
stroys morality. It is treason to man himself, who is thrown back into the animal kingdom
where he, contrary to the assertion of the Daoist utopia, cannot survive.Ž
Confucian Ethics,
224. Ivanhoe,
Confucian Moral Self Cultivation,
37. Compare Knoblock,
225. A. C. Graham, Being in Western Philosophy Compared with
Chinese Philosophy,Ž
Asia Major
8, no. 2 (1961), as reprinted in Graham,
Studies in Chinese
226. Knoblock,
227. In the early 1950s I began a Ph.D. program specially created for me in sociology and
what was then called at Harvard Far Eastern Languages.Ž Even though I was intending to
specialize in the study of Japan, I was required to study Chinese, and I took a semester of
classical Chinese in which I read selections of the original texts of the
and the
In my dissertation on religion in the Tokugawa period I took as a case study an
eighteenth- century Japa nese religious- ethical movement called Shingaku (Ch.
heart learningŽ), and translated as an appendix a short work, the
Ishida Sensei Jiseki,
together by the disciples of the found er of the movement, Ishida Baigan, composed of short
anecdotes and brief dialogues with his students, obviously following the pattern of the
(See Robert N. Bellah,
Tokugawa Religion
[Glencoe, Ill.: Free Press, 1957], appendix 1,
A Memoir of Our Teacher, Ishida,Ž 199… 216. When, in 2000, I was invited by the remain-
ing followers of Shingaku to speak in Kyoto at a commemoration of the founding of the
movement, they asked me if they could translate the appendix. But, I said, it is in Japa nese.
However, they replied, we cannot read it, but we can read your En glish translation. Premod-
ern Japa nese, even as late as the eigh teenth century, cannot be read by educated Japa nese
unless they are specialists.) Baigan was, among other things, a Confucian, and a great ad-
mirer of Mencius along with several neo- Confucian thinkers. I had to work hard at translat-
ing his many references to Chinese thought. I might also note that Benjamin Schwartz was
one of my teachers and Weiming Tu was one of my “ rst graduate students, and later a col-
league at Berkeley. None of this makes me a specialist in ancient Chinese thought. It does,
however, make it easier for me to follow translations when I have the Chinese text in hand.
228. I do want to avoid essentialismŽ with respect to either Chinese culture or Confu-
cianism. Chinese culture, like all cultures, is complex and diverse; we could well speak of
Confucianisms rather than of Confucianism„ I have tried to suggest the di
erences be-
tween even the major “
gures who have most powerfully shaped the tradition. Mark Csik-
szentmihalyi has reminded us that Confucianism refers to a number of related phenomena:
for purposes of this chapter, the school, or rather schools, who transmitted the Classics, that
is Ruists, with an interpretation deriving from Confucius but di
erent depending on di
ent teacher- student lineages, is most important, but the term also has been used to denote a
variety of po liti cal ideologies, bureaucratic status ethics, and familial practices. See Mark
Csikszentmihalyi, Confucianism,Ž in
Gods Rule: 
e Politics of the World Religions,
ed. Jacob
Neusner (Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2003), 213… 214. But even in
denoting the range of meanings of Confucianism, one is struck by how many of them apply
Notes to Pages 467…473
199. Ibid., 168.
200. Burton Watson,
Hsün Tzu: Basic Writings
(New York: Columbia University Press,
1963), 37.
e best treatment of this issue in Xunzi that I have come across is Paul Rakita
Rituals of the Way
(Chicago: Open Court, 1999), 1… 13, 72… 81.
202. Graham,
Disputers of the Tao,
203. Nivison, 
e Classical Philosophical Writings,Ž 792. Italics in original.
204. Knoblock,
bk. 21, 3:107; Watson,
Hsün Tzu,
131… 132.
205. Knoblock,
bk. 23, 3:166… 167.
206. Knoblocks translation,
3:14… 22. Watson translates the title as A Discussion
of Heaven.Ž
bk. 17; Watson, trans.
Hsün Tzu,
80… 81. Robert Eno, in
e Confucian Cre-
ation of Heaven,
has a judicious discussion of the various meanings of
in Xunzi, and
insists that they span the gamut between naturalism and theism. See chap. 6, Ritual as a
Natural Art: 
e Role of Tien in the
Hsun Tzu,
Ž 131… 169.
bk. 9, translation from Nivison, 
e Classical Philosophical Writings,Ž 796,
adapted from Watson,
Hsün Tzu,
bk. 4, translation from Roetz,
Confucian Ethics,
210. Ibid., bk. 21, 159… 160, as modi“
ed with the help of Watson,
Hsün Tzu,
211. Translation from Goldin,
73. Compare
bk. 19, in Knoblock,
bk. 29, translation from Roetz,
Confucian Ethics,
64… 65. Compare Knob-
3:251… 252. Knoblock translates the title of book 29 as On the Way of Sons.Ž
e whole of this short book is remarkable. Some have held that this book and other late
ones were appended by disciples, but Knoblock believes they were teaching texts of Confu-
cian traditions that Xunzi used with his own students.
213. One can imagine Yamazaki Ansais hair standing on end if he ever read this state-
ment. Ansai was the found er of absolutist Confucianism in Tokugawa Japan, and, according
to Herman Ooms, erasedŽ any notion in the Confucian tradition that a superior could be
disobeyed. See Herman Ooms,
Tokugawa Ideology: Early Constructs, 1570… 1680
(Prince ton:
Prince ton University Press, 1985), 247.
bk. 2, translation from Roetz,
Confucian Ethics,
223, modi“
ed with the help
of Watson,
Hsün Tzu,
24. Compare Knoblock,
Xunzi: A Translation and Study of the Com-
Notes to Pages 461…467
177. Schwartz,
World of 
178. 7A21, translation from Roetz,
Confucian Ethics,
86, as modi“
179. Lau,
6A7, 164.
180. Ibid., 1A7, 58.
181. Lau,
1A4, 52.
182. Ibid., 4A14, 124.
183. Ibid., 1B8, 68.
184. Ibid., 7B14, 196, as modi“
185. Ibid., 5B7, 157. Brooks and Brooks, in
e Original Analects,
285, argue that Zisi
could not have been Confuciuss grandson, though he was a successor in his family line.
186. Lau,
5A5, 144.
187. For an excellent discussion of human nature in Mencius, see A. C. Graham, 
Background of the Mencian 
eory of Human Nature,Ž in
Studies in Chinese Philosophy
(Albany: SUNY Press, 1990), 7… 66. See also Kwong- Loi Shun,
Mencius and Early Chinese
(Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1997), 180… 231.
188. Graham,
Disputers of the Tao,
. For those interested in the controversy over hu-
man nature, this would be a good place to begin.
189. Lau,
2A6, 82.
190. I. A. Richards, in his
Mencius on the Mind: Experiments in Multiple De“ nition
don: Kegan Paul, 1932), 80, notes, We have reason to suppose that Mencius pronounce-
ments ought probably to be read more as injunctions than as statements,Ž thus pointing out
their performative intent, without necessarily denying them theoretical validity.
ere is a short passage,
4B12, in Lau,
130, that reads: Mencius
said, A great man is one who retains the heart of a new- born babe. Ž Here Mencius uses the
common Daoist symbol of the baby, but perhaps with the emphasis on the moral potential
of the baby rather than its premoral power.
192. D. C. Lau argues that Mencius is more truly a mysticŽ than Laozi or Zhuangzi be-
cause not only does he believe that a man can attain oneness with the universe by perfecting
his own moral nature, but he has absolute faith in the moral purpose of the universe.Ž
193. Ibid., 2A2, 77… 78.
194. Benjamin Schwartz reminds us that this very contrast between a naturalistic and a
theistic interpretation of Heaven is an antithesis which we impose on the text.Ž
World of
289. In general Schwartzs discussion of the religious dimension of early Chinese
thought is particularly judicious.
195. Lau,
7A1, 182, as modi“
196. Waley,
ree Ways,
116… 117. 
is passage was read at Waleys funeral.
197. Nivison, 
e Classical Philosophical Writings,Ž 791; Graham,
Disputers of the Tao,
237. John Knoblock goes so far as to say, 
e domain of knowledge traversed by Xunzis
thought exceeds that of any other ancient Chinese thinker and bears comparison only with
Aristotle in the West.Ž Knoblock,
Xunzi: A Translation and Study of the Complete Works,
vol. 3 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1994), vii.
198. John Knoblock,
Xunzi: A Translation and Study of the Complete Works,
vol. 2 (Stan-
ford: Stanford University Press, 1990), 168.
Notes to Pages 453…461
153. Lau,
Tao Te Ching,
154. Pines translation,
Foundations of Confucian 
155. Lau,
Tao Te Ching,
esp. 29… 30, 41… 42.
156. Roetz,
Confucian Ethics,
157. Ibid., 257. I have found the work of Hans- Georg Moeller, both his
Daoism Explained
and his
Philosophy of the Daodejing,
to be extraordinarily helpful: no one that I have read has
opened up the depths of the images in these texts and the rich network of meanings between
them as well as he has. But when, at the end of
e Philosophy of the Daodejing,
he develops,
with the help of Michel Foucault, a nonhumanist or post- humanist philosophy as a counter-
part to his interpretation of Daoism as a prehumanist philosophy, it seems to me he merely
ends up in Kohlbergs stage 4
158. Ibid., 255.
159. Translation from Roetz,
Confucian Ethics,
160. Chap. 75, in Philip J. Ivanhoe, trans.,
e Daodejing of Laozi
(New York: Seven
Bridges Press, 2002), 78.
161. Ibid., 30.
162. Chap. 30, Lau,
Tao Te Ching,
163. It is interesting that, in his magisterial overview of early Chinese philosophy, David
Nivison devotes one section to Han Feizi, Laozi, Legalism, and Daoism.Ž Nivison, 
Classical Philosophical Writings,Ž 799… 808.
164. Arthur Waley,
ree Ways of 
ought in Ancient China
(London: Allen and Unwin,
1939), 199
165. Burton Watson,
Han Fei Tzu: Basic Writings
(New York: Columbia University Press,
1964), 14.
166. Schwartz,
World of 
167. Ibid., 336.
168. See Burton Watsons translation of selections from the
containing a brief
biography of this interesting and tragic “
Han Fei Tzu,
2… 3.
169. Waley,
ree Ways,
202… 203.
ese passages are as modi“
ed by Nivison in 
e Classical Philosophical Writings,Ž
801, from Watsons
Han Fei Tzu,
35, 38.
171. Lau,
Tao Te Ching,
172. Watson,
Han Fei Tzu,
98… 99.
173. See the translation of the
chapter on rulership in Roger Ames,
e Art of
Rulership: A Study in Ancient Chinese Po liti cal 
(Honolulu: University of Hawaii
Press, 1983). Paul Goldin argues that the Huainanzi was not syncretist in the sense usually
assumed, but borrowed from various schools to support a singularly authoritarian form of
government that was certainly not Confucian. See Paul R. Goldin, Insidious Syncretism in
the Po liti cal Philosophy of
Ž in
After Confucius: Studies in Early Chinese Philoso-
(Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2005), 90… 111.
174. Schwartz,
World of 
175. Lau,
1A6, 53… 54, modi“
ed with the help of Schwartzs translation of part
of this passage,
World of 
176. Lau,
2B13, 94, as modi“
Notes to Pages 445…452
127. Ibid., 72.
128. Ibid., 153… 161, cites numerous passages on inner cultivation in the
closely parallel the
129. Eske Mollgaard translates this passage as a moral imperative: Do for others in not
doing for others.Ž He “
nds a resonance with Kants categorical imperative that overcomes the
limitations of the golden rule. His argument is interesting, if not entirely convincing. See his
Zhuangzis Religious Ethics,Ž
Journal of the American Academy of Religion
71, no. 2 (2003).
130. Graham,
 e Chuang Tzu,
131. Ibid., 123… 124.
132. Here there is perhaps a resonance with the Farmers School.
133. Burton Watson,
e Complete Works of Chuang Tzu
(New York: Columbia Univer-
sity Press, 1968), 105.
134. On
in the Analects, see Slingerland,
E\n ortless Action,
43… 76. Slingerlands
book is concerned with
in early Chinese thought, with the exception of Legalism,
where he “ nds the use of the term to be completely divorcedŽ from its use in other strands
of thought (288).
135. Hans- Georg Moeller,
Daoism Explained: From the Dream of the Butter” y to the Fish-
Notes to Pages 437…445
101. Translation from Graham,
Disputers of the Tao,
54; D. C. Lau, trans.,
mondsworth: Penguin, 1970), 188.
102. Nivison, 
e Classical Philosophical Writings,Ž 768.
103. Graham,
Disputers of the Tao,
55, attributes chaps. 28… 31 of the
and chaps.
1:2, 1:3, 2:2, 2:3, and 21:4 of the
Lüshi chunqiu
to the Yangist tradition.
104. Graham,
Chuang Tzu,
264… 265.
105. Graham points out that in the Warring States period, many came to prefer the
comforts of private life to the burdens and perils of the increasingly murderous struggle for
power and possessions.Ž
Disputers of the Tao,
106. Ibid., 56.
107. Ibid., 59… 64.
e Book of Lieh- tzu,
trans. A. C. Graham (London: John Murray, 1960), 148f.
Lüshi chunqiu
2/2.2, Valuing LifeŽ chapter. Translation from Graham,
Disputers of
the Tao,
Lüshi chunqiu
1/2.1, translation from Knoblock and Riegel,
Annals of Lu Buwei,
111. Harold D. Roth,
Original Tao: Inward Training
(Nei- yeh)
and the Foundations of
Taoist Mysticism
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1999).
112. 
erefore if the gentleman is left with no choice but to preside over the world, his
best policy is Doing Nothing.Ž
11, translation from Graham,
Chuang Tzu,
113. Graham,
Disputers of the Tao,
66… 67.
114. Ibid., 72… 74.
115. Eno,
Confucian Creation,
191… 192. Eno goes on to say that there is no convincing
etymology of the term
(192… 197).
116. It was the Song dynasty phi los o pher Zhu Xi (1130… 1200) who elevated the Four
Books over the Five Classics.Ž Nylan,
e Five ConfucianŽ Classics,
117. Cited in Michael J. Puett,
To Become a God: Cosmology, Sacri“ ce, and Self- Divinization
in Early China
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002), 253.
118. Roth,
Original Tao,
119. Edward Slingerland argues that the
is older than the
Inner Training,
as Roth translates,
Inward Training
), whereas Roth holds that the
is the oldest Daoist
text. See Slingerlands
E\n ortless Action: Wu- wei as Conceptual Meta phor and Spiritual Ideal in
Early China
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), 280… 282.
120. Roth,
Original Tao,
7… 8; see also 195
121. Ibid., 25, 213, citing Brooks and Brooks,
e Original Analects,
122. Roth,
Original Tao,
107. In the same place, Roth considers whether the use of
originally spirit,Ž as in ancestral spirit,Ž could involve a generalization of the earlier sha-
nistic practice of invoking the
at the ancestral sacri“
ces. Michael Puett strongly op-
poses that idea, also put forth by A. C. Graham,
Disputers of the Tao,
., and argues that
represents a rejection of traditional ritual practice and a claim for individual self-
divinization, an idea not entirely convincing to me. See Puett,
To Become a God,
123. Roth,
Original Tao,
109… 115.
124. Graham,
Disputers of the Tao,
125. Roth,
Original Tao,
126. Ibid., 42.
Notes to Pages 427…437
warns against using the meta phors and analogies in a text to prove the social origin of
the authors. Socrates frequently uses examples from the crafts, but then he was a
76. Graham,
Disputers of the Tao,
77. Translation from Puett,
e Ambivalence of Creation,
47. It should be noted that in the
Yao was the “ rst of the ancient kings.Ž
78. Ibid., 43.
79. Burton Watson,
Mo Tzu: Basic Writings
(New York: Columbia University Press,
1963), 88.
80. Ibid., 34.
81. Ibid., 35.
82. Ibid., 83.
83. Ibid., 37.
84. Graham considers the phrase universal loveŽ to be misleading because it is both too
vague (
implies for each rather than for all) and too warm (the Mohist
is an unemo-
tional will to bene“
t people and dislike of harming them). 
e Mohists were rather dour
people whose ears were open to the demands of justice rather than to the appeal of love.Ž
Disputers of the Tao,
85. David S. Nivison, 
e Classical Philosophical Writings,Ž in Loewe and Shaugh-
Ancient China,
86. Watson,
Mo Tzu,
87. Graham,
Disputers of the Tao,
42… 43.
88. Ibid., 43.
89. Watson,
Mo Tzu,
90. Ibid., 84.
91. Roetz,
Confucian Ethics,
27, 243. It should be clear that Mozis utilitarianism was
theoretical; indeed, he seemed to believe it was the only completely convincing theoretical
basis for his moral concerns. But he and most of his followers were not utilitarian in the
sense of making ones own self- interest primary. 
ey were sel”
essŽ in their activism, largely
in defense of the weak. 
e same point could perhaps be made with respect to philosophical
utilitarianism in eighteenth- and nineteenth- century Britain.
92. Of Mozis theismŽ Benjamin Schwartz writes, the subtle mysterious dialectic of the
interplay between divine plan and human action which we “ nd in the Hebrew Bible cannot
be found here.Ž
World of 
93. Graham,
Disputers of the Tao,
49. Mozi a$
rms the existence of gods and ghostsŽ
along with Heaven and gives them the same function.
94. Ibid., 50.
95. Watson,
Mo Tzu,
Against Fatalism,Ž 117… 123.
96. Ibid., Moderation in Funerals,Ž 65… 77; Against Music,Ž 110… 116.
97. Ibid., Moderation in Expenditure,Ž 62… 64.
98. A. C. Graham,
Chuang Tzu,
276… 277.
99. Eno,
Confucian Creation,
50… 52.
100. Translation from Schwartz,
World of 
259, and Graham,
Disputers of the
Notes to Pages 417…427
51. Ibid., 111… 118. Shun also pairs
in contrast to
See Shun, 
68… 69. Brooks and Brooks, as in the passages quoted above, translate
as right.Ž Shun
translates it as rightness.Ž Leys, like Roetz, translates it as justice.Ž
52. Translation from Ames and Rosemont,
e Analects of Confucius,
omitting the trans-
lation of
53. Roetz,
Confucian Ethics,
54. Ibid., 142, transcribed exactly.
55. Ibid., 135.
56. See Wilfred Cantwell Smith,
e Meaning and End of Religion
(New York: Macmil-
lan, 1962).
57. Graham,
Disputers of the Tao,
58. Ibid., 17.  e best treatment of the idea of Heaven in the
that I know of is
in Schwartz,
World of 
122… 127.
59. See
60. Graham,
Disputers of the Tao,
61. Robert Eno,
e Confucian Creation of Heaven: Philosophy and the Defense of Ritual
(Albany: SUNY Press, 1990), 41.
62. See Philip J. Ivanhoe,
Confucian Moral Self Cultivation,
2nd ed. (Indianapolis: Hack-
Notes to Pages 413…417
36. Herbert Fingarette,
e Secular as Sacred
(New York: Harper Torchbooks,
1972), 77.
37. Graham,
Disputers of the Tao,
here, however much its usual Confucian use is social and po liti cal, would seem
to carry a transmundane meaning. Or could we say that Confuciuss ideal society, the Way
of the ancients, is itself something sacred?
39. Fingarette,
19… 20.
40. In other translations, this is often included in 10:12.
41. Simon Leys,
e Analects of Confucius
(New York: Norton, 1997), 192.
42. Graham,
Disputers of the Tao,
43. Fingarette,
65, 67… 68.
44. Ibid., 68… 69. He goes on to say: 
e vision of emerging unity among men was thus
not merely a po liti cal vision„ though even as such this Confucian vision was one of the most
grandiose„ and successful„ of any po liti cal vision in recorded history. But it was a philo-
sophical vision, even a religious one. It revealed humanity, sacred and marvelous, as residing
in community, community as rooted in the inherited forms of lifeŽ (69).
45. See William McNeill,
Mythistory and Other Essays
(Chicago: Chicago University
Press, 1986). A. C. Graham comments as follows on the central role of Confucianism in the
transmission of the historical tradition: 
e strength of the Confucians was that as preserv-
ers of the Zhou tradition they were the guardians of Chinese civilization as such. It was
never quite possible to treat them as just another of the competing schools unless, like the
First Emperor beginning history with himself, or Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolu-
tion, you could contemplate razing it to the foundations to make a wholly new start. One
may add that since Confucianism roots all its general ideas in the minute study of existing
custom, arts and historical pre ce dent, it alone held the promise of the full integration of the
individual into his culture, community, and cosmos which must be part of the secret of
Chinas social immortality.Ž
Disputers of the Tao,
46. Roetz,
Confucian Ethics,
122. I have substituted the original terms for Roetzs transla-
tions and slightly revised the passage in light of other translations. It is worth noting that
Yan Yuan, often referred to as Yan Hui, in earlier passages of the
seems to under-
better than anyone, perhaps better than Confucius himself, so here it is a bit odd
that he seems unclear about it. It is also worth noting that, probably because of his closeness
Yan Yuan is treated by Confucius in these earlier passages as the beloved disciple,Ž
the most promising of his disciples, though he died young.
47. Again I have substituted the original Chinese terms for Waleys translation of them.
48. Kwong- Loi Shun has an interesting article in which he discusses both of these pas-
Notes to Pages 406…413
16. Ibid., 366.
17. Ibid., 365.
18. Ibid., 28.
19. Ibid., 32.
20. For a discussion of the historical reliability of the
see Pines,
Foundations of Con-
26… 39. Mark Lewis, in
Sanctioned Violence
(1990), relies heavily on the
for his portrait of Chunqiu society, but in
Writing and Authority in Early China
SUNY Press, 1999), he expresses doubts as to its reliability. Falkenhausen lends considerable
support to the reliability of the
by “ nding numerous archaeological con“ rmations:
Notes to Pages 399…406
non- Sinological reader, pinyin has advantages and disadvantages. ZhouŽ in this sentence is
closer to the actual pronunciation than ChouŽ in the Wade- Giles system.
closer than
Tao Te Ching.
On the other hand,
may be challenging. X as in
comes clearer when we remember that it is hsinŽ in Wade- Giles, and
as in
clearer when we remember that it is chiŽ in Wade- Giles.
2. It is important to remember that at the time of Confucius, and through most of the pre-
imperial period, even though written texts of various sorts existed, teaching was primarily
in par tic u lar, were memorized, but so were some of the
e writ-
ten texts we have are not necessarily the same as what is referred to in the
of Confu-
e books we know as the
and the
almost certainly include material
that was written well after the time of Confucius, and perhaps lack some of what was avail-
able to him. For an extreme view that there were no references at all to the documents and the
odes in the earliest stratum of the
and that the books that came to be known by these
names may not even have been written, but certainly were not compiled, until well after Con-
fuciuss death, see E. Bruce Brooks and A. Taeko Brooks,
e Original Analects: Sayings of
Confucius and His Successors
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), 255.
3. Edward L. Shaughnessy, Western Zhou History,Ž in Michael Loewe and Edward L.
e Cambridge History of Ancient China
(Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1999), 292… 351.
4. Mark Edward Lewis,
Sanctioned Violence in Early China
(Albany: SUNY Press, 1990).
5. Ibid., 17.
6. Ibid., 17. Translation is Lewiss. Compare James Legge,
e Chun Tsew with the Tso
vol. 5 of
e Chinese Classics
(Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1960
[1895]), 382. Burton Watson has translated a volume of selections from the
that is much
easier to use than Legge and gives the ”
avor of the text, but is only a small portion of the
whole. See his
e Tso Chuan: Selections from Chinas Oldest Narrative History
(New York:
Columbia University Press, 1989).
7. Lothar von Falkenhausen,
Chinese Society in the Age of Confucius (1000… 250
Archaeological Evidence (Los Angeles: Cotsen Institute of Archaeology, UCLA, 2006), 156.
8. Ibid., 12.
9. Lewis,
Sanctioned Violence,
10. Ibid., 25.
11. Ibid., 38.
12. As Falkenhausen puts it, In China the notion of a centrally administered bounded
territory was an Eastern Zhou innovation. In the early Bronze Age, and still for much of the
time documented by the
Zuo zhuan
[that is, the Spring and Autumn period], po liti cal au-
thority radiated outward from a politys capital
petering out fairly quickly as distance
from the capital increased . . . By Warring States times, by contrast, the principal meaning
had become state rather than capital, and the exact delimitation of each states ter-
ritory became a matter of major importance.Ž
Notes to Pages 395…399
Sense of the Past,
179. Charles Kahn says something similar: For Plato philosophy is essen-
tially a form of life and not a set of doctrines.Ž
Plato and the Socratic Dialogue,
206. Again, Williamss insight is helpful: Not everything asserted in a dialogue, even by
Socrates, has been asserted by Plato: Socrates asserting may be Plato suggesting. Because
Plato is an im mensely serious phi los o pher, who indeed set philosophy on the path of claim-
ing to address our deepest concerns by means of argument, orderly inquiry, and intellectual
imagination . . . we may well underestimate the extent to which he could combine intensity,
pessimism, and even a certain religious solemnity, with an ironical gaiety and an incapacity
to take all his ideas equally seriously.Ž
e Sense of the Past,
149… 150.
207. Plato in the
had this insight but never developed it as Aristotle did in his
208. Could we say that Plato su
ered the birth pangs of philosophy, but Aristotle found
it already a healthy young person? Parmenides had put rigorous argument on the agenda of
Greek thought, though his rigor was as much intimidating as appealing. Plato developed argu-
ment as a rich and subtle resource, but although he returned over and over again to a few
central questions, he provided a series of not always compatible ways to answer them, rather
than a single coherent system. (Kahn and Williams, among others, agree with this point.)
Aristotle was the “ rst to create something like a systematic philosophy, though not yet as
modern phi los o phers would attempt to do, given the priority of practical concerns in Aristo-
tles thought.
209. Hadot in his
Philosophy as a Way of Life
shows that Aristotle and his followers were
as devoted to a way of life as were the followers of Plato or any other philosophic school.
210. See Luc Brisson,
How Phi los o phers Saved Myths: Allegorical Interpretation and Classi-
cal Mythology
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004 [1996]).
211. Paul Veyne,
Bread and Circuses: Historical Sociology and Po liti cal Pluralism
Penguin, 1990 [1976]).
212. Runciman, Doomed to Extinction,Ž 348… 367. Runciman very succinctly sums up
his argument as to why no Greek polis was able to go the way of Rome or Venice: the
were all, without exception, far too demo craticŽ (364).
213. W. G. Runciman, 
e Exception 
at Proves the Rule? Rome in the Axial Age,Ž in
Comparing Modernities: Pluralism versus Homogen[e]ity,
ed. Eliezer Ben- Rafael and Yitzhak
Sternberg (Leiden: Brill, 2005), 125… 140. He says that in selectionist evolutionary theoryŽ
there is a universal underlying pro cess of heritable but interacting levels of biological, cultural,
and social evolution. Distinctive species, cultures, and societies are all the outcome of the dis-
path dependent
sequences in which selective pressure comes to bear on the extended
phenotypic e
ects of information transmitted either ge ne tically (by strings of DNA passed
from parents to o
spring), culturally (by imitation or learning), or socially (by imposition of
institutional inducements and sanctions)Ž (139).
e Axial Age III
1. Following current standard practice, I have used the pinyin system of Romaniza-
tion throughout, and, even in direct quotations, have changed other systems to pinyin. For
someone of my age, raised on the Wade- Giles system, this has not been easy. For the
Notes to Pages 390…394
196. Luc Brisson,
Plato the Myth Maker,
trans. and ed. Gerard Naddaf (Chicago: Chicago
University Press, 1998 [1994]), 90.
197. Brisson suggests that Platos ambivalence about writing is in part due to his historical
situation, a moment when oral culture was still vital but writing was becoming ever more
important: Platos testimony on myth is thus balanced on a razors edge. At the turning point
between two civilizations, one founded on orality and the other on writing. Plato in fact de-
scribes the twilight of myths. In other words, Plato describes that moment when, in ancient
Greece in general and at Athens in par tic u lar, memory changes; if not in its nature, then at
least in its means of functioning. A memory shared by all the members of a community is now
opposed by a memory which is the privilege of a more limited number of people: those for
whom the use of writing is a matter of everyday habit.Ž
Plato the Myth Maker,
38… 39.
198. Hans- Georg Gadamer, Plato and the Poets,Ž in
Dialogue and Dialectic: Eight Her-
meneutical Studies on Plato
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1980 [1934]), 46.
199. Kahn,
Plato and the Socratic Dialogue,
xiii… xiv. Bernard Williams says something
similar: 
e resonance of [Platos] images and the imaginative power of his style, the most
beautiful ever devised for the expression of abstract thought, implicitly a$
rm the reality of
the world of the senses even when the content denies it.Ž
e Sense of the Past,
654a… b, trans. Trevor J. Saunders, in Cooper,
201. Ibid., 653c… d.
202. Kathryn A. Morgan, in her
Myth and Philosophy from the Presocratics to Plato
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000), gives a valuable reading of Platos myths. Carone
also appreciates the myths in Platos later dialogues, which she says supplement the argu-
ments and carry a degree of their own truth. She argues, however, that in cases where a myth
used to supplement an argument seems to contra
dict it, the argument has to be given priority.
Platos Cosmology,
14… 16. Neither Morgan nor Carone discusses myth in Plato outside of
what he himself designates as myth.
203. David K. OConnor, Rewriting the Poets in Platos Characters,Ž in
e Cambridge
Companion to Platos Republic,
ed. G. R. F. Ferrari (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
forthcoming). OConnor points out that it was Leo Strauss who “ rst developed the argu-
ment about the use of Hesiods races of metal in the
in Strausss On Platos Repub-
licŽ in
e City and Man
(Chicago: Rand McNally, 1964), 50… 138.
204. My inclusion of the
among the great literary dialogues might need some defense.
See the particularly appreciative essay on the
by André Laks in Rowe and Scho“
and Roman Po liti cal 
258… 292; and, of course, Voegelins great chapter on the
Plato and Aristotle,
215… 268, which ends, Plato died at the age of eighty- one. On the eve ning of
his death he had a 
racian girl play the ”
ute to him. 
e girl could not “
nd the beat of the no-
mos. With a movement of his “
nger, Plato indicated to her the Mea sure.Ž
205. Bernard Williams makes my point in his own way: Plato did think that if you de-
voted your life to theory, this could change your life. He did think, at least at one period,
that pure studies could lead to a transforming vision. But he never thought that the materials
or conditions of such a transformation could be set down in a theory, or that a theory would,
at some suitable advanced level, explain the vital thing you needed to know . . . Rather, Plato
seems to have thought that the “ nal signi“
cance of philosophy for ones life does not lie in
anything that could be embodied in its “ ndings, but emerges, rather, in its activities.Ž
Notes to Pages 383…390
176. Hegel,
History of Philosophy,
1:368… 371. 
ere is a subjective element in Heraclitus
when he wrote (D.101) I went in search of myselfŽ (or I searched into myselfŽ), but it is
hardly central in his work.
177. Eric Voegelin,
Plato and Aristotle,
vol. 3 of
Order and History
(Baton Rouge: Louisi-
ana State Press, 1957), 8. Socratess
had no positive teaching and was heard only
when it wished to restrain Socrates from something.
178. It has been tempting for translators of the
to use the word God,Ž because of
the feeling that Socrates, as early Christians believed, was so close to the Christian usage,
but it is much safer to translate
as godŽ or the god,Ž though it would be equally un-
wise to identify this unspeci“
c term with Apollo or any par tic u lar Greek god.
29d… e, 30a, trans. G. M. A. Grube, in Plato,
Notes to Pages 379…383
that is open to rational challenge. It is the “ rst version of objective truth, a truth established
in and through dialogueŽ (130… 134). Lloyd, in
Magic, Reason and Experience,
describes what
the new kind of truth is: in the rigorous deductive form of its argumentŽ it is revolutionaryŽ
(70). But he also points out that what we may broadly call empirical methods and evidence are
not merely not used: they are ruled outŽ (71).
163. Alexander Mourelatos,
e Route of Parmenides: A Study of Word, Image and Argu-
ment in the Fragments
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1970), 36… 37.
164. Ibid., 160… 161
165. Ibid., 177.
166. Michael Frede, 
e Phi los o pher,Ž in
ought: A Guide to Classical Knowledge,
ed. Jacques Brunschwig and Geo
rey E. R. Lloyd (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Press, 2000), 8, 10. Frede develops further his characterization of the di
erence between
classical and modern conceptions of rationality in the introduction to Michael Frede and
Gisela Striker, eds.,
Rationality in Greek 
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996),
1… 28. On the practicalŽ aspect of classical thought, see Pierre Hadot,
Philosophy as a Way of
Life: Spiritual Exercises from Socrates to Foucault,
ed. Arnold Davidson, trans. Michael Chase
(Oxford: Blackwell, 1995).
167. Paul Woodru
, Rhetoric and Relativism: Protagoras and Gorgias,Ž in Long,
Greek Philosophy,
168. Fernanda Decleva Caizzi, Protagoras and Antiphon: Sophistic Debates on Justice,Ž
in Long,
Early Greek Philosophy,
169. Ibid., 324… 325.
170. Werner Jaeger,
e Ideals of Greek Culture
(Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1945), esp. vol. 1, bk. 2, 
e Sophists,Ž 286… 381. See also Hegel,
History of Philoso-
1:355: Indeed, the sophists are the teachers of Greece through whom culture “ rst came
into existence in Greece, and thus they took the place of poets and rhapsodists, who before
this were the ordinary instructors.Ž
171. Jaeger,
172. But if the sophists can be considered the forerunners of reductionist and positivistic
social science, it was surely Plato and Aristotle who invented humanistic social science.
When Durkheim “ rst began to teach, he assigned Aristotles
to his graduate students
as their basic text.
173. On the sophists in general and Protagoras in par tic u lar as progressive demo crats, see
particularly Eric Havelocks
e Liberal Temper in Greek Politics
(New Haven: Yale Univer-
sity Press, 1957).
174. Caizzi, Protagoras and Antiphon,Ž 331.
175. Kahn, in his very large book on the verb to beŽ in ancient Greek thought, a book
originally undertaken to get behind,Ž as it were, the concept of Being in Parmenides, con-
“ rms Hegels idea of objective reasonŽ when he writes of Parmenides, but also of much later
Greek thought, that there was a virtual non- existence of the concept of the self or subject
in classical Greek metaphysicsŽ as a consequence of the great positive achievement in this
eld: the serenely objective concerns with the concepts of predication, existence, and truth
in their general form.Ž Charles H. Kahn,
e Verb BeŽ in Ancient Greek
Notes to Pages 375…378
148. Charles H. Kahn provides an excellent introduction in
e Art and 
ought of Hera-
clitus: An Edition of the Fragments with Translation and Commentary
(Cambridge: Cam-
bridge University Press, 1979). Heraclitus seems to dare his reader to not just read what he
says, but to performŽ it, in that the riddle- like quality of his sayings require a very active
response if one is to make any sense of them.
149. Havelock,
Literate Revolution,
240… 246.
150. Ibid., 245.
151. Ibid., 246. Havelock does not give this honor to Anaximander, whether because he
doesnt consider him to have been writing philosophical prose, or because we have only one
sentence of the prose he was said to have written.
152. Kahn,
Art and 
88… 89.
153. Heraclitus, D.41, in Kahn,
Art and 
154. Ibid., 172.
155. Heraclitus, D.32, in Kahn,
Art and 
83. Heraclitus puns in Ionic dialect, so
that the name of ZeusŽ can also mean the name of lifeŽ (267).
156. Edward Hussey, Heraclitus,Ž in
e Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philoso-
ed. A. A. Long (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 88… 112; the quotation
is on 108.
157. Heraclitus, D.1, in Kahn,
Art and 
29. Anthony Long treats
which he
leaves untranslated, as perhaps the key term in Heraclitus. Long also notes two important
innovations in the thought of Heraclitus: Heraclitus is the earliest Greek thinker to postu-
late an everlasting world, and he is also the earliest to apply the term
(meaning a
beautiful structure) to the World.Ž A. A. Long, HeraclitusŽ in
Routledge Encyclopedia of
vol. 4 (New York: Routledge, 1998), 368.
158. Heraclitus, D.34, in Kahn,
Art and 
159. Voegelin,
e World of the Polis,
160. Ibid., 211.
161. Nietz sche,
Philosophy in the Tragic Age,
77. Nietz sche describes the momentŽ in
Parmenidess life when he discovered Being as a turning point not only in his own life but
in the history of early Greek thought: Once in his life Parmenides, perhaps at a fairly ad-
vanced age, had a moment of purest absolutely bloodless abstraction, unclouded by any real-
is moment„un- Greek as no other in the two centuries of the Tragic Age„ whose
product is the doctrine of Being„ became for Parmenides own life the boundary stone that
separates two periods. At the same time however, this moment divides Presocratic thinking
into two halves. 
e “ rst might be called the Anaximandrian period, the second the Par-
menidean properŽ (69).
ere is a wide consensus that Parmenides represents a signi“
cant break in the his-
tory of Greek thought. Detiennes
Masters of Truth
is described in the foreword by Pierre
Vidal- Naquet as a prehistory of Parmenides poemŽ (8). Detienne, after pointing out that
the whole setting of the poem refers back to the attitudes of the diviner, the poet, and the
magus,Ž that the form of the poem owes more than a little to Hesiod, and that the prologue
resorts to the religious vocabulary of the sects and brotherhoods,Ž holds that it nonetheless
represents something radically new: Parmenides
truth pronounced by a man con-
nected in some way with the masters of truth, is also the “ rst kind of truth in ancient Greece
Notes to Pages 373…375
He writes, 
e notion of cosmic harmony expressed in numerical ratios and conceived as
astral music is one of those ideas of genius that has remained amazingly fruitful over the
centuries,Ž and concludes that because there was no other Pythagorean of comparable stat-
ure, the idea may well go back to Pythagoras himself.
138. Michael L. Morgan,
Platonic Piety: Philosophy and Ritual in Fourth- Century Athens
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990), 15. It is worth remembering that in Athens, at least,
Dionysiac religion, through the City Dionysia and the per for mance of tragedy, was integrated
into the polis religion, which was not therefore exclusively Delphic, in Morgans sense. Also
the cult at Eleusis was very much part of Athenian life. Initiation into the cult was open to any
Greek speaker who could pay the fee, but Athens considered the cult an ornament to its own
preeminence among the poleis.
139. G. E. R. Lloyd,
Adversaries and Authorities: Invest
igations into Ancient Greek and
Chinese Science
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 21, 24. Italics in the
140. For a translation of the hymn, see A. A. Long and D. N. Sedley,
e Hellenistic Phi-
los o phers,
vol. 1 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 326… 327. For Cleanthes,
Zeus, though omnipotentŽ and prime mover of nature,Ž is only the most majestic of im-
mortals,Ž nor does Cleanthess devotion to Zeus become central for all later Stoics.
141. Kirk, Raven, and Scho“
e Presocratic Phi los o phers,
168. See also the respectful
treatment of Xenophanes in Werner Jaeger,
eology of the Early Greek Phi los o phers
ford: Oxford University Press, 1947), 38… 54.
142. Kirk, Raven, and Scho“
e Presocratic Phi los o phers,
143. Ibid., 169.
144. Ibid., 169… 170.
145. Jaeger,
146. For the argument that Heraclitus and Parmenides were essentially doing the same
thing with di
erent means, see particularly Alexander Nehamas, Parmenidean Be-
ing / Heraclitean Fire,Ž in Caston and Graham,
Presocratic Philosophy,
45… 64. Hegel has an
interesting take on these two. Parmenides, he says, began philosophy proper. A man now
constitutes himself free from all ideas and opinions, denies their truth, and says necessity
alone, Being, is the truth. 
is beginning is certainly still dim and inde“ nite, and we cannot
say much of what it involves; but to take up th
is position certainly is to develop Philosophy
proper, which has not hitherto existed.Ž Of Heraclitus he writes, 
e advance requisite
and made by Heraclitus is the progression from Being as the “ rst immediate thought, to the
category of Becoming as the second. 
is is the “ rst concrete, the Absolute, as in it is the
unity of opposites. 
us with Heraclitus the philosophic Idea is to be met with in its specu-
lative form . . . Here we see land; there is no proposition of Heraclitus which I have not
adopted in my Logic.Ž G. W. F. Hegel,
Lectures on the History of Philosophy,
vol. 1, trans.
E. S. Haldane and Frances H. Simson (Atlantic Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press, 1974),
254, 279. Hegel does not argue that Heraclitus was later than Parmenides; his connection
between them is logical, not chronological.
147. Friedrich Nietz sche,
Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks,
trans. Marianne
Cowan (Chicago: Regnery, 1962), 50
is book was left un“ nished at Nietz sches death;
his notes and fragments were published posthumously.
Notes to Pages 367…372
120. Ibid., 199. 
e pre sen ta tion of natural science as a kind of epic poem is still very
much alive today, as we saw in Chapter 2.
121. Ibid., 238… 239.
e quote is from Platos
899b.9, where it is thought to be attributed to 
123. G. S. Kirk, J. E. Raven and M. Scho“
e Presocratic Phi los o phers,
2nd ed. (Cam-
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 145.
124. Kahn,
201… 202. Italics in original.
125. Paul Ricoeur,
e Rule of Meta phor: Multi- Disciplinary Studies of the Creation of
Meaning in Language
(Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977 [1975]), 42… 43. Ricoeur
219… 240.
136. Charles H. Kahn,
Pythagoras and the Pythagoreans: A Brief History
Hackett, 2001), which draws on and to some degree improves the fundamental work on
Pythagoreanism, Walter Burkerts
Lore and Science in Ancient Pythagoreanism
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1972 [1962]).
137. Kahn speculates that in the absence of de“ nite information to the contrary, the basic
Pythagorean mathematical conception of the cosmos may well have been Pythagorass own.
Notes to Pages 363…367
Cambridge University Press, 1996). See also the chapter on dialogue in Paul Friedländer,
Plato: An Introduction
(New York: Pantheon Books, 1958 [1954]), 154… 170.
is point was suggested to me by Bernard Williams in his Plato: 
e Inventor of
Philosophy,Ž reprinted in
e Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy
(Prince ton:
Prince ton University Press, 2006 [1998]), 150… 151. 
e translation is Williamss. For Plato,
imageŽ means a copy rather than an original„ second best, that is.
109. Merlin Donald,
Origins of the Modern Mind: 
ree Stages in the Evolution of Culture
and Consciousness
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991); for hybrid system,Ž
110. Ibid., 335. By external memory sourcesŽ Donald means, primarily, written texts.
111. Stephen White, after critically examining the oral traditions upon which our
knowledge of 
ales is based, concludes that he was a pioneer in the very pragmatic realms
of commerce and politics, both regional and international, as well as engineering, survey-
ing, and navigation.Ž In sum, 
ales it seems pioneered the quantitative treatment of em-
pirical data. Call him a phi los o pher or not, he fully deserves credit as the found er of Greek
astronomy.Ž Stephen White, 
ales and the Stars,Ž in
Presocratic Philosophy: Essays in
Honor of Alexander Mourelatos,
ed. Victor Caston and Daniel W. Graham (Aldershot: Ash-
gate, 2002), 3.
112. On this point see the chapter titled Tradition and InnovationŽ in G. E. R. Lloyds
e Revolutions of Wisdom: Studies in the Claims and Practice of Ancient Greek Science
ley: University of California Press, 1987), 50… 108.
113. M. L. West, in his
Early Greek Philosophy and the Orient
(Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 1971), gives numerous Mesopotamian and Persian parallels, particularly to Anaxi-
mander, Anaximenes, and Heraclitus.
114. Francis M. Cornford,
From Religion to Philosophy: A Study in the Origins of Western
(New York: Harper Torchbook, 1957 [1912]), 66. In his
Principium Sapientiae:
e Origins of Greek Philosophical 
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1952),
187… 201, Cornford gives a more nuanced picture of the background of Ionian cosmogony,
tracing the continuities with Hesiod while recognizing the signi“
cant abandonment of myth-
ological beings as actors in the story. See also West,
Early Greek Philosophy,
on the Mesopota-
mian and Persian in” uences on the Ionian phi los o phers.Ž
115. Because our knowledge of 
aless thought is both sparse and questionable, it is not
clear that he really did argue for water as the primal element, but if he did, he was not far
from several Middle Eastern creation myths that saw the world beginning with water„
Genesis 1:2, for example.
116. G. E. R. Lloyd,
Magic, Reason and Experience: Studies in the Origin and Development
of Greek Science
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979); on Anaximanders contri-
bution to astronomy, see 170; on the Milesian cosmogonies as being primarily contributions
to a new or reformed theology, Ž see 11. In general Lloyd is skeptical about the sources for
the thought of the Milesian phi los o phers.
117. Charles H. Kahn,
Anaximander and the Origins of Greek Cosmology
Notes to Pages 356…363
87. Voegelin,
e World of the Polis,
251: 
e leap in being does not assume the form of
an Israelite revelation of God, but of the Dionysiac descent into man, to the depth where
Dike [Justice] is to be found.Ž
88. Sourvinou- Inwood,
Tragedy and Greek Religion,
197… 200.
89. Ibid., 153.
90. Ibid.
91. Ibid., 291.
92. I was privileged to attend a splendid per for mance of the
at the Aurora 
in Berkeley, California, in 2005. 
e play was necessarily somewhat adapted,Ž but the writ-
ers carefully avoided obvious references to the American invasion of Iraq, which could be seen
as a kind of reverse West invades East to Aeschyluss East invades West. 
e Auora audito-
rium is so small that the audience is virtually inside the play, and I think we all felt, quite
powerfully, that the play was about us.
93. Christian Meier,
e Po liti cal Art of Greek Tragedy
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Uni-
versity Press, 1993 [1988]), 78.
94. Sourvinou- Inwood,
Tragedy and Greek Religion,
95. Near the end of the Peloponnesian War, at a moment when defeat had become pal-
pable, the island of Samos demanded and received Athenian citizenship, an example of what
was desired but denied earlier, and which came too late by then.
96. Lyric poetry from the seventh century on was of no small importance in Greek cul-
tural history, but the highly condensed nature of the present treatment precludes giving it
serious attention.
97. On these early developments, see especially Detienne,
Masters of Truth.
98. I have found Richard P. Martins article 
e Seven Sages as Performers of Wisdom,Ž
in Dougherty and Kurke,
Notes to Pages 354…356
participation. Ober argues against this view as well, indicating that many citizens were not
slaveholders. See Ober,
Mass and Elite,
24… 27. Of course, a similar argument could be made
about women„ without them to run the
the men would not have had time to be
80. Because my analysis focuses on the cultural level, and then on the religious and po liti-
cal institutions that underlie it, I have necessarily neglected the economic structure of an-
cient Greece, about which so much has been written. Let me say just a word here about
matters I cannot consider in this chapter. 
e classic Marxist characterization of the ancient
economy as a slave economy has been pretty well abandoned, even though the importance of
slavery is not denied. A good treatment of the relatively marginal importance of slavery in
the lives of the peasant- citizens of ancient Athens is given by Ellen Meiksins Wood in her
Peasant- Citizen and Slave
(London: Verso, 1988). Mohammad Na“ ssi sums up the evidence
for a relatively modern market economy in ancient Athens in his article Class, Embedded-
ness and the Modernity of Ancient Athens,Ž
Comparative Studies in Society and History
no. 2 (2000): 207… 238. For a full discussion of the argument over the nature of the ancient
economy, see Mohammad Na“ ssi,
Ancient Athens and Modern Ideology: Value, 
eory and
Evidence in Historical Sciences, Max Weber, Karl Polanyi and Moses Finley
(London: Institute
of Classical Studies, 2005).
81. Simon Goldhill,
Love, Sex and Tragedy: How the Ancient World Shapes Our Lives
cago: University of Chicago Press, 2004), 223.
82. Ibid., 224… 226. 
e Isocrates quotation is from 226.
83. Ibid., 227.
84. Jean- Pierre Vernant,
Myth and Tragedy in Ancient Greece
(New York: Zone Books,
1988 [1972]), 185. Sourvinou- Inwood,
Tragedy and Athenian Religion,
50… 53, argues that
the chorus, out of which tragedy perhaps initially evolved and which was never absent in
any tragedy, represented the people of Athens worshipping Dionysus in the present, as well
as what ever role they had within the drama. If she is right, the chorus linked play and audi-
ence in a way no modern play can do. Nietz sche in
e Birth of Tragedy
interestingly antici-
pated this view: What must be kept in mind in these investigations is that the audience of
an Attic tragedy discovered
in the chorus of the orchestra. Audience and chorus were
never fundamentally set over against each other: all was one grand chorus of singing, danc-
ing, satyrs, and those who let themselves be represented by them . . . An audience of specta-
tors, such as we know it, was unknown to the GreeksŽ (54; italics in the original).
85. Vernant,
Myth and Tragedy,
187… 188. For Aristotle on poetry as more philosophical
than history, see
Notes to Pages 351…354
to the power of music that he ascribes the following consequences: Now the slave emerges
as a freeman; all the rigid, hostile walls which either necessity or despotism has erected be-
tween men are shattered. Now that the gospel of universal harmony is sounded, each indi-
vidual becomes not only reconciled to his fellow but actually at one with him„ as though
the veil of Maya had been torn apart and there remained only shreds ”
oating before the vi-
sion of mystical Oneness. Man now expresses himself through song and dance as the mem-
ber of a higher community; he has forgotten how to walk, how to speak, and is on the brink
Notes to Pages 344…351
the more normal Mesopotamian case where the sacri“
ce was dedicated primarily to the god
and only the king or priests could partake.
58. Ibid., 53.
59. Ibid., 49, italics added. Because this was still true in Greek cities under Rome, it is
clear why Christian refusal to participate in civic sacri“
ces or eat sacri“
cial meat (Christians
had their own sacri“
ce) placed them outside the bounds of the civic community.
60. Ibid., 49… 50. Italics in original. Seafords discussion in
Money and the Early Greek
sums up and expands the rich treatment of these issues in his
Reciprocity and Ritual:
Homer and Tragedy in the Developing City- State
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994).
61. Walter Burkert,
Greek Religion
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985),
95. Burkert writes almost without priestsŽ because there were a few vestigial hereditary
priesthoods, perhaps the most signi“
cant of which was the priesthood at Eleusis.
62. Zaidman and Pantel,
Religion in the Ancient Greek City,
63. On the pro cession, see Burkert,
Greek Religion,
99… 101.
64. See article FestivalsŽ in
e Oxford Classical Dictionary,
3rd rev. ed., ed. Simon
Hornblower and Antony Spawforth (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003), 593.
65. Meier,
Greek Discovery of Politics,
44… 45.
66. I am indebted to an unpublished paper by Timothy Doran, 
Antisocial Behavior,
and Polis Building in Solons Po liti cal and Poetical E
ortsŽ (2005), for my understanding of
this aspect of Solons teaching.
67. Seaford,
Reciprocity and Ritual,
74… 114.
68. See Parker,
Athenian Religion,
43… 55.
69. Christian Meier,
Athens: A Portrait of the City in Its Golden Age
(New York: Holt, 1998
[1993]), 71; Meier goes on to say, Although he demanded more from himself than from oth-
ers, he expected nothing more for himself in return, and he did not seek to be superior to the
common man.Ž Eric Voegelin,
e World of the Polis,
vol. 2 of
Order and History
Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1957), 199; Voegelin goes on to say, [Solon] cre-
ated the type of the lawgiver, the
Notes to Pages 342…344
accompaniment, is better described as chanting than simply reciting,Ž and goes on to cite
535b… e as indicating that the rhapsode not only uses costume and gesture but is
so overcome with emotion at critical moments in the narrative that he is as one possessed,
and moves the audience to similar emotion (118).  is suggests a powerfully mimetic aspect
in Homeric per for mance.
48. Walter Burkert,
History in Greek Mythology and Ritual
(Berkeley: University of Cali-
fornia Press, 1979), 23. Italics in the original.
49. For the argument that historyŽ and mythŽ inevitably overlap, see William McNeill,
Mythistory and Other Essays
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986).
50. Lines 26… 28, trans. Athanassakis.[0]
51. Marcel Detienne,
e Masters of Truth in Ancient Greece
(New York: Zone Books,
1996 [1967]), 52, where he speaks of performative truth,Ž and 89… 106.
52. Eric A. Havelock,
Preface to Plato
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press,
1963), 61… 86. See also, Eric A. Havelock,
e Greek Concept of Justice: From Its Shadow in
Homer to Its Substance in Plato
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1978),
106… 122.
53. Jenny Strauss Clay,
e Wrath of Athena: Gods and Men in the Odyssey
(Prince ton:
Prince ton University Press, 1983), 244. Her quote is from Gregory Nagy,
e Best of the
Achaeans: Concepts of the Hero in Archaic Greek Poetry
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University
Press, 1979), 18. Clays work has been instructive for my purposes. Although she is not inter-
ested in the social context and con“ nes hersel
f to close readings, her concern for early Greek
theology in each text she studies has been helpful. In addition to her work on Homer, cited
above, she has written on the Homeric Hymns in
e Politics of Olympus: Form and Meaning
in the Homeric Hymns
(Prince ton: Prince ton University Press, 1989), and on Hesiod in
iods Cosmos
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).
54. Havelock,
62. It is worth remembering that the title of Platos last great work
in po liti cal philosophy,
is, in Greek,
55. Although the verb from the same root,
is present and will, as we shall see
below, turn out to be signi“
56. Whether these texts are any more criticalŽ than some texts to be found in many pre-
axial societies is an open question. Kurt A. Raa”
aub has gone so far as to argue that in
Homer the axial transition had already occurred in Greece: see his Polis, the Po liti cal, and
Po liti cal 
ought: New Departures in Ancient Greece, c. 800… 500 ,Ž in
Axial Civiliza-
tions and World History,
ed. Johann P. Arnason et. al. (Leiden: Brill, 2005), 253… 283. But
aub has confused po liti cal thought with po liti cal theory, which emerges only in the late
“ fth / early fourth centuries, the time of the axial transition in Greece, as we will see. Raaf-
laub develops his views of early Greek po liti cal thought further in his Poets, Lawgivers, and
the Beginnings of Po liti cal Re”
ection in Archaic Greece,Ž in
e Cambridge History of Greek
and Roman Po liti cal 
ed. Christopher Rowe and Malcolm Scho“
eld (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2000), 23… 59.
57. Richard Seaford in his
Money and the Early Greek Mind: Homer, Philosophy, Tragedy
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 52, points out, however, that the Greek
ce, though always dedicated to a god, was a communal event, with the meat shared
among the participants and with only the bones and the fat burned for the god, as against
Notes to Pages 340…342
39. An extensive treatment of the
and their importance in early Greek society is
given by Victor Davis Hanson in
e Other Greeks: 
e Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots
of Western Civilization
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995). Hanson has a prin-
cipled objection to the term peasant,Ž which he sees as indicating a degree of dependence
and subservience missing among those he prefer
s to call farmers.Ž See also: Ian Morris,
e Strong Principle of Equality and the Archaic Origins of Greek Democracy,Ž in
Dmokratia: A Conversation on Democracies, Ancient and Modern,
ed. Josiah Ober and
Charles Hedrick (Prince ton: Prince ton University Press, 1996), 19… 48. Morris has discussed
the ongoing con” ict between middling ideologyŽ and elitist ideologyŽ in
Archaeology as
Cultural History: Words and 
ings in Iron Age Greece
(Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2000),
chap. 5, Antithetical Cultures,Ž 155… 191. He believes that by about 500 , elitist ideology
had pretty much evaporated and middling ideology became hegemonic. 
e emergence of a
conservativeŽ criticism of Greek democracy in the fourth century was based in large part on
principles that had originally been part of middling ideology.
40. Josiah Ober uses the term dignityŽ to characterize the citizens of Athenian democ-
racy; see Josiah Ober,
e Athenian Revolution: Essays on Ancient Greek Democracy and Po liti-
(Prince ton: Prince ton University Press, 1996), 87. He borrows his sense of the term
from Charles Taylor, 
e Politics of Recognition,Ž in Charles Taylor et al.,
Examining the Politics of Recognition
(Prince ton: Prince ton University Press, 1994), 25… 73.
41. Ian Morris,
Burial and Ancient Society
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1987), 2… 3. Italics in original.
42. W. G. Runciman, Doomed to Extinction: 
as an Evolutionary Dead- End,Ž
in Murray and Price,
 e Greek City,
43. Paul Cartledge, Comparatively Equal,Ž in Ober and Hedrick,
44. Christian Meier,
e Greek Discovery of Politics
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univer-
sity Press, 1990 [1980]), 21; see also 144: 
e city was grounded in its citizens, not in an
autonomous state apparatus. 
e citizens constituted the state.Ž
45. Warrior assemblies and city assemblies are known from many parts of the world: see,
for example, Yo
in the index. 
ere is a question whether the
polis assemblies had been originally warrior assemblies and only later assemblies of all (adult
male) citizens. Jean- Pierre Vernant has argued for the priority of warrior assemblies that were
then transformed into citizen assemblies. His chapter City- State WarfareŽ in his
Myth and
Notes to Pages 336…339
ee, referring to early Mesopotamian civilization in Sumeria (discussed in Chapter 5 of
this book), emphasizes that the civilizationalŽ ideology includes notions about what each
constituent stateŽ should be like. See his
Myths of the Archaic State: Evolution of the Earliest
Cities, State, and Civilizations
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005), 17. In the
case of Greece, the polis as a po liti cal form, including a strong belief in its autonomy and the
lack of even a lingering notion that, as was believed in Sumeria, centralization was desirable,
was part of Panhellenic civilization. Yo
ee also notes that civilizations are often constituted in
cant part by the long- distance trading and gift exchange of elites, as would seem to have
been the case in Greece.
29. Orlando Patterson,
Slavery and Social Death: A Comparative Study
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982); and Patterson,
vol. 1:
Freedom in the Mak-
ing of Western Culture
(New York: Basic Books, 1991).
30. Robert Parker, in his
Athenian Religion: A History
(Oxford: Oxford University Press,
1996), speaks of Greek women enjoying cultic citizenshipŽ (80). He also says that though
lacking most po liti cal rights, [Athenian] women are citizensŽ when it comes to religion (4).
Several important festivals were restricted to women participants.
31. M. R. Popham and L. H. Sackett,
Lefkandi I, the Iron Age: 
e Settlement and the
Notes to Pages 329…335
in question are those that recount the adventures of Odysseus and his followers (
Notes to Pages 325…329
tural historians of ancient Greece and especially ancient Greek religion and mythology
dominated for the past three de cades by J.- P. Vernant. It is no accident (as they say) that
both Schools were crucially in”
uenced in their origins by the work of the sociohistorical
psychologist Émile Durkheim.Ž Translators introduction in Louise Bruit Zaidman and
Pauline Schmitt Pantel,
Religion in the Ancient Greek City
(Cambridge: Cambridge Univer-
sity Press, 1989), xv… xvi.
2. Louis Gernet, Ancient FeastsŽ (1955), in
e Anthropology of Ancient Greece
more: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981 [1968]), 35. 
with which this passage
closes were love feastsŽ in which gods and men participated together.
3. Hugh Lloyd- Jones,
e Justice of Zeus
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971),
3, citing
2:462f. and 17:446… 447.
4. Ibid., 3… 4.
5. Although there is no evidence that the Greeks ever considered themselves chosen as such,
it is possible, as we will see below, that the Athenians felt chosen by Athena.
6. To a Greek audience it may be that Hector did not seem as admirable, particularly in
comparison to Achilles, as he does to us.
7. E. R. Dodds in
e Greeks and the Irrational
(Berkeley: University of California Press,
1951), 35, 54, citing Aristotles
Magna Moralia
1208B.30 and
Nicomachean Ethics
But Dodds also points out that we can hardly doubt that the Athenians loved their god-
dessŽ (54).
e term
was also used for Priam and a few other leaders.
9. Eric Havelock has a useful discussion of the terminology of
in Homer
e Greek Concept of Justice: From the Shadow in Homer to the Substance in Plato
bridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1978), 94… 99.
10. In Chapter 6 we saw that the opposite is true in the Hebrew scriptures, where Yahweh
is more often referred to as king than as father, even though, on the whole, Yahweh is more
fatherlyŽ to the Israelites than Zeus is to the Greeks.
11. My research assistant, Timothy Doran, did a comprehensive search for me of all the
uses of
in Homer, Hesiod, and the Homeric hymns. Also, his “ ndings on
Zeus as
were most helpful.
12. See Jonathan M. Hall,
indeed a dialect of Greek, the DoriansŽ can be viewed as a cultural or military group in
Mycenaean or archaic times. See also Halls
Hellenicity: Between Ethnicity and Culture
cago: Chicago University Press, 2002).
13. Ian Morris,
Archaeology as Cultural History: Words and 
ings in Iron Age Greece
(Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 2000), 202, 203, 206… 207.
14. Oscillations between hierarchy and egalitarianism in the ancient Near East have been
documented from the earliest times. On the Natu“
ans in the Levant, see Ofer Bar- Yoseph,
From Sedentary Foragers to Village Hierarchies: 
e Emergence of Social Institutions,Ž in
e Origins of Human Social Institutions,
ed. W. G. Runciman (New York: Oxford Univer-
sity Press, 2001), 1… 38.
15. Walter Donlan, Chief and Followers in Pre- State Greece,Ž in
e Aristocratic Ideal
and Selected Papers
(Wauconda, Ill.: Bolchazi- Carducci, 1999), 355. 
e books of the
Notes to Pages 319…324
124. Ibid., 179. 
e criticism of idolatry, though understandable in terms of the emphasis
on Yahweh as the one God, was quite unfair. 
e Babylonians, for example, had great a
tion for Marduks temple and his image contained therein, but they did not believe his im-
age wasŽ Marduk, only that he was on occasion present there. Marduk was a great cosmic
God of storm and empire and could never be wholly identi“
ed with any image. See Jon
Levenson, Is 
ere a Counterpart in the Hebrew Bible to New Testament Antisemitism?Ž
Journal of Ecumenical Studies
22 (1985): 242… 260.
125. Axel Honneth,
e Struggle for Recognition: 
e Moral Grammar of Social Con” icts
(Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1996). Honneth has worked out his three phases of recognition
in the context of modern history and believes that they are not so clearly distinguished in
premodern times. I will argue that recognition as love and recognition as justice are explicit
in the Hebrew scriptures, but recognition as creator of value remains largely implicit.
126. Peter Machinist has surveyed the biblical passages that insist on Israels distinctive-
ness from other peoples and has found that they concentrate on two issues: the uniqueness of
Israels God and the uniqueness of Israel as a people. Machinist, 
e Question of Distinc-
tiveness in Ancient Israel: An Essay,Ž in
Ah, Assyria . . . : Studies in Assyrian History and An-
cient Near Eastern Historiography Presented to Hayim Tadmor,
ed. Mordechai Cogan and Is-
rael Ephal (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, Hebrew University, 1991), 196… 212.
127. Geller,
Sacred Enigmas,
128. Walter Brueggemann,
eology of the Old Testament: Testimony, Dispute, Advocacy
(Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1997).
129. An insight that Hegel came to see in his late lectures on the philosophy of religion,
after having initially thought of the Jews as living in bondage to the law. Georg Wilhelm
Friedrich Hegel,
Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion,
vol. 2 (Berkeley: University of Califor-
nia Press, 1987 [1827]), 679.
130. See Jon D. Levenson,
Creation and the Per sis tence of Evil: 
e Jewish Drama of Divine
(Prince ton: Prince ton University Press, 1988).
131. Ibid., 86.
e Axial Age II
1. Louis Gernet (1882… 1962) was the student of Durkheim who specialized in ancient
Greece; he was one year ahead of Marcel Granet, the Durkheimian who specialized in an-
cient China. Gernet spent thirty years, from 1918 until 1948, teaching Greek composition
at the University of Algiers. Although he continued to publish, he worked in comparative
isolation during these years when the Durkheim school was in disarray. But in 1948, at the
age of 66, he returned to Paris to teach at the École Pratique des Hautes Études, and it was
only then that he built up a following among younger classicists. On his career, see S. C.
Humphreys, 
e Work of Louis Gernet,Ž in her
Anthropology and the Greeks
Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978), 76… 106. Paul Cartledge makes note of the remarkable
revival of work in”
uenced by Durkheim in postwar France when he writes: In terms of
intellectual vitality and in”
uence there is only one possible rival within the domain of the
Sciences Humaines in France to the so- called 
School of so cio log i cally minded
historians inspired by Marc Bloch and Lucien Febvre, and that is the Paris School of cul-
Notes to Pages 315…319
113. See Gellers valuable interpretation of the Priestly work in chap. 4 of
Sacred Enigmas,
62… 86. For the later in”
uence of this tradition, see esp. 85… 86. Geller also interestingly
notes that P o
ers a New Cult, by no means identical with the old royal cult, for P ampu-
tated the role of the king completelyŽ (82).
114. Stephen A. Geller, 
e God of the Covenant,Ž in
One God or Many? Concepts of
Divinity in the Ancient World,
ed. Barbara Nevling Porter,
Transactions of the Casco Bay As-
syriological Institute
1 (2000): 286.
115. Jürgen Habermas, who “ nds the very germ of reason in the “ rst commandment, has
this to say: From a philosophical point of view, the “ rst commandment expresses that leap
forward on the cognitive level which granted man freedom of re”
ection, the strength to
detach himself from vacillating immediacy, to emancipate himself from his generational
shackles and the whims of mythical powers.Ž Quoted in Sandro Magister, 
e Church
Is under Siege, but Habermas, the Atheist, Is Coming to Its Defense,Ž www .chiesa .repub
blica .it .
116. Geller, God of the Covenant,Ž 293, but see the whole discussion, 290… 296. I have
added the rest of verse 5, which Geller doesnt quote here, together with the Hebrew for the
key terms, which he does discuss. In the same essay Geller discusses the relation between
Gods transcendence and his availability to humans in relation to the question of his name.
When Moses asks God for his name, God replies, I am what I amŽ (or shall be what I shall
beŽ) (Exodus 3:13… 14, Gellers translation). Given the ancient Near Eastern idea that ones
name is ones power, God is reticent in answering Mosess question. In two other passages
God (or an angel) refuses to give his name: Genesis 32, Judges 13. Yet God tells Moses that
Yahweh, he is,Ž the form the name I amŽ naturally takes in the third person (Exodus 15,
Gellers translation), is my name forever.Ž Geller comments: In such an ancient, and bibli-
cal, context it is clear that God has refused to reveal his true name to Moses, and to Israel.
He replies, I am what ever I am, and that will su$
ce. It is, in fact, a mild rebuke. But in
terms of the immediate context of rescue, and the future one of covenant, I am / shall be is
a totally meaningful name, because it takes up the promise earlier in the story that I shall be
with you. In other words, on a cosmic level God remains unknown and unknowable, but in
relation to Israel, he is to be forever accessible.Ž Geller, God of the Covenant,Ž 307.
117. Ibid., 295… 296.
118. Timothy Polk,
e Prophetic Persona: Jeremiah and the Language of the Self,
Supplement Series 32 (She$
eld: She$
eld Academic Press, 1984). Polk makes it clear that he
is analyzing the Jeremiah of the text as we have it, and is not trying to discover the realŽ
Jeremiah of history, a quest that may not be hopeless but is not essential for his purpose.
119. Polk,
e Prophetic Persona,
120. Ibid., 149… 150.
121. Ibid., 148.
122. See the remarkable essay by Jochanan Mu
s, Who Will Stand in the Breach? A
Study of Prophetic Intercession,Ž in
Love and Joy: Law, Language and Religion in Ancient Is-
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992), 9… 48.
123. Smith,
Origins of Biblical Mono the ism,
179. Smiths analysis of Second Isaiah,Ž
which I have found most helpful, says that the use of quotation marks reminds us that we do
not know if the author or authors of this text ever intended it to be read as a separate work.
Notes to Pages 309…315
time. Otto “ nds that other details of the Moses epic, however, were derived from contempo-
rary Assyrian royal ideology.
101. Ibid., 75. If the vassal treaty of Esarhaddon was the model for many of the stipula-
tions in Deuteronomy, it is hard to see how they would still have been available to provide a
model for writers in exilic or postexilic times.
102. Michael Walzer,
Exodus and Revolution
(New York: Basic Books, 1985), 66.
103. David Malo,
Hawaiian Antiquities
(Honolulu: Bernice P. Bishop Museum, 1951
[1898]), 57.
104. Walzer,
Exodus and Revolution,
66… 68.
105. Ibid., 126.
106. Machiavelli, calling Moses a prophet armed,Ž went on to say that all armed proph-
ets win, and unarmed ones fallŽ because people are variable and the prophet must be ready
to make them believe by force.Ž
e Prince,
chap. 6, in Niccolò Machiavelli,
e Chief
Works and Others,
vol. 1, trans. Allan Gilbert (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1965),
26. (Machiavelli is silent about the ways in which unarmed prophets may also win.Ž) In
3.30.4, Machiavelli discusses the passage from Exodus 32 cited above and writes,
He who reads the Bible with discernment will see that, before Moses set about making laws
and institutions, he had to kill a very great number of men who, out of envy and nothing
else, were opposed to his plans.Ž
e Discourses of Niccolò Machiavelli,
vol. 1, trans. Leslie J.
Walker (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975), 547. It is also of interest that Machia-
velli insists that if a new commonwealth is to be formed or an old one thoroughly reformed,
there must be one sole authority. He writes in
e Discourses,
1.9.2, in a context where Moses
is mentioned as an example, One should take it as a general rule that rarely, if ever, does it
happen that a state, whether a republic or a kingdom, is either well- ordered at the outset or
radically transformed vis-à- vis its old institutions unless this be done by one person. It is
likewise essential that there should be but one person upon whose mind and method de-
pends any similar pro cess of or ga ni za tion.Ž
Discourses of Niccolò Machiavelli,
trans. Walker,
is observation might be helpful in understanding the overwhelming emphasis on
the single ruler in all the early states.
107. Marc Zvi Brettler, in his
God as King: Understanding an Israelite Meta phor,
Supplement Series 76 (She$
eld: She$
eld Academic Press, 1989), holds that God as king is
the predominant relational meta phor used of God in the Bible, appearing much more fre-
quently than meta phors such as God as lover/husband or God as a father Ž (160).
108. Geller,
Sacred Enigmas,
109. Ibid., 31.
110. Ibid., 50.
111. According to Otto, Po liti cal  eology,Ž 65, Even the Deuteronomic revision of the
Covenant Code according to the aspect of cult- centralization in Deuteronomy was guided by
an anti- Assyrian impulse. If YHWH was to compete with the Assyrian God A
ur and Jerusa-
lem with the capital of A
ur, which housed the only A
ur temple in the Assyrian empire, then
YHWHs worship was not to be dispersed to several sanctuaries in Judean villages and towns.Ž
112. See Mary Douglas,
Leviticus as Literature
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999);
and, especially, Douglas,
Jacobs Tears: 
e Priestly Work of Reconciliation
(Oxford: Oxford
University Press, 2004).
Notes to Pages 304…309
86. Robert R. Wilson, in his
Prophecy and Society in Ancient Israel
(Philadelphia: Fortress
Press, 1980), gives a valuable summary of information about prophecy in comparative per-
spective, as well as in Israel.
87. On Isaiah, see Abraham J. Heschel,
e Prophets: An Introduction
(New York: Harper,
1969), 61… 97; and Wilson,
Notes to Pages 295…301
of world theology today in which the worlds religions pursue di
erent paths toward reality
and truth.Ž See his
Memoirs of God,
69. For the pro cess of convergence and di
erentiation, see Mark Smith,
Early History of
7… 9.
70. Van der Toorn,
Family Religion,
277… 281.
71. Steven W. Holloway,
ur Is King! A
ur Is King! Religion in the Exercise of Power in
the Neo- Assyrian Empire
(Leiden: Brill, 2002), 260.
e narrative tradition can be seen in part as a quali“
cation of the liturgical eleva-
tion of David to near- divinity. 
e David narrative (esp. 2 Samuel 9:1 to 20:26) is a liter-
ary masterpiece on a par, in the entire Hebrew Bible, only with the Joseph story in Gen-
esis. It is a depiction of David as very human, experiencing great triumphs but also
terrible loss, and su
ering the decline of extreme old age. But the narrative text also
contains the Lords promise that Davids house will stand forever„ it comes to David
through the words of the prophet Samuel, which echo the similar passage in Psalm 89.
See 2 Samuel 7:12… 16.
73. Smith,
Origins of Biblical Mono the ism,
160, discusses the arguments about whether
David is really addressed as GodŽ in this text. Many have attempted to read it otherwise.
74. For commentary on these passages, see Albertz,
History of Israelite Religion,
1:116… 122.
Note the New Testament resonance of these terms.
75. Holloway,
ur Is King!,
e dating of Psalm 89 and of various passages in it is not a matter on which I have
any competence to speak, but verses 30 to 33 sound very much like Deuteronomy, a late
monarchical text, and could well have been added later to qualify the extravagance of the
early text.
77. Jon D. Levenson,
Sinai and Zion: An Entry into the Jewish Bible
(Minneapolis: Sea-
bury, 1985), 108… 109.
78. For a discussion of these issues, see Albertz,
History of Israelite Religion,
1:122… 138.
79. Levenson,
Sinai and Zion,
80. Note that Cli
ord Geertz, in
eatre State in Nineteenth- Century Bali
(Prince ton: Prince ton University Press, 1980), describes a situation where each of several rul-
ers, dividing between them the small island of Bali, claimed to be ruler of the universe.
81. But we must remember that Israel has never abandoned Zion, has always held Sinai
and Zion somehow together. For a superb analysis of how this was possible, see Levenson,
Sinai and Zion.
82. For an extensive discussion of the Yahweh- alone movement, see Morton Smith,
estinian Parties and Politics 
at Shaped the Old Testament
(New York: Columbia University
Press, 1971). Yahweh aloneŽ is ambiguous from a theoretical point of view: it could mean
the obligation to worship only Yahweh although other gods exist, or it could mean only
Yahweh exists. Using Greek roots, the “ rst option is called monolatry and the second mono-
the ism. Yahweh aloneŽ translates Hebrew words and is preferable to language with built- in
Greek preconceptions.
83. Geller,
Sacred Enigmas,
84. Albertz,
History of Israelite Religion,
1:159… 170.
85. Compare van der Toorn,
Family Religion.
Notes to Pages 288…294
54. Karel van der Toorn,
Family Religion in Babylonia, Syria and Israel: Continuity and
Change in the Forms of Religious Life
(Leiden: Brill, 1996), 254… 255.
55. See especially Frank M. Cross Jr.,
Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic: Essays in the His-
tory of the Religion of Israel
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1970). See also
Mark S. Smith,
e Origins of Biblical Mono the ism: Israels Polytheistic Background and the
Ugaritic Texts
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2001).
56. Rainer Albertz,
A History of Israelite Religion in the Old Testament Period,
vol. 1,
the Beginnings to the End of the Monarchy
(Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press,
1994 [1992]), 32.
e evidence for a number of gods in early Israel is overwhelming. Ziony Zevit signals
this new consensus in his use of the plural in the title of his book,
e Religions of Ancient
Israel: A Synthesis of Parallactic Approaches
(London: Continuum, 2001). Mark S. Smith has
meticulously examined the evidence in several books:
e Early History of God: Yahweh and
the Other Deities in Ancient Israel
(San Francisco: Harper San Francisco, 1990; 2nd ed.,
Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2002);
e Origins of Biblical Mono the ism;
e Mem-
oirs of God
e use of the word polytheismŽ is purely descriptive. 
e su$
- ism
in this case
does not refer to any theory nor, certainly, does it refer to any contrast with mono the ism.Ž
58. Albertz,
History of Israelite Religion,
59. Jo
e, Rise of Secondary States,Ž 425.
60. Ibid., 445.
61. See the discussion of Gideon and Abimelech in Gottwald,
Politics of Ancient Israel,
42… 43.
62. Frank Cross, in his
Canaanite Myth,
writes, 
e institution of prophecy appeared
simultaneously with kingship in Israel and fell with kingship. 
is is no coincidence:. . . the
charismatic principle of leadership which obtained in the era of the Judges survived in its
liveliest form in the o$
ce of the prophetŽ (223). Cross argues that Samuel was paradigmatic
in that he designated the one chosen by Yahweh to be king; he judged the acts of the king
and could take away the designation; and he could declare holy war (223… 224).
e term for prophet came to be used for “
gures earlier than Samuel, above all for
Moses, the superprophet, but that is a later development, probably late- or postmonarchical.
On Moses as superprophet, see Geller,
Sacred Enigmas,
64. Even more strangely, it was God who incited David to make the census out of anger
at Israel. 2 Samuel 24:1.
65. Albertz,
History of Israelite Religion,
1:140… 143. Mark Smith has discussed the possi-
bility that the original God of the Exodus was El, not Yahweh. See his
Origins of Biblical
Mono the ism,
146… 148.
66. Divine sonsŽ follows the Greek text.  e Masoretic Hebrew text says children of
Israel,Ž but this is thought to be an alteration to avoid just the implications described
67. On the transition from general Western Semitic ideas of the pantheon to that of early
Israel, see the much richer and more detailed account in Smith,
e Memoirs of God,
119; and also Smith,
Origins of Biblical Mono the ism,
68. Mark Smith notes that history has seen a shift from a world theology relating [Israels]
god to the gods of other nationsŽ to a cosmic theology of a single deity,Ž to a common version
Notes to Pages 279…287
36. Randall Collins,
Interaction Ritual Chains
(Prince ton: Prince ton University Press,
2004), 53… 54. He also argues, convincingly to me, that genuine learning requires the physi-
cal presence of teachers and students, so that distance learningŽ is ersatz at best.
37. Hubert L. Dreyfus and Stuart E. Dreyfus,
Mind over Machine: 
e Power of Hu-
man Intuition and Expertise in the Age of the Computer
(New York: Simon and Schuster,
38. Jerome Bruner,
Acts of Meaning
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1990),
39. Walter J. Ong,
Orality and Literacy
(London: Methuen, 1982), 66… 67. 
is is not the
place to pursue the important issue of the relation between orality and literacy, but Walter
Ong in several books besides the one cited has made important contributions, as have Eric
Havelock and Jack Goody.
40. Eric Weil, What Is a Breakthrough in History?Ž
104, no. 2 (Spring 1975):
21… 36.
41. Ibid., 26.
42. Jaspers,
Origin and Goal,
43. Weil, What Is a Breakthrough,Ž 22.
44. Niels Peter Lemche, in
Prelude to Israels Past: Background and Beginnings of Israelite
History and Identity
(Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson, 1998), 222… 225, considers possible
dates and tends to believe, though there are valid arguments for a variety of dates, that the
Persian or Hellenistic periods are the most likely.
45. Moshe Weinfeld argues for a number of parallels between Greco- Roman migration/
foundation stories and Israelite ones. He cites, in par tic u lar, a number of structural parallels
between the
and the Abraham stories in Genesis. He also calls attention to parallels
with the Exodus/Moses narrative. See Weinfeld,
e Promise of the Land: 
e Inheritance of
the Land of Canaan by the Israelites
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 1… 21.
46. Mark S. Smith,
e Memoirs of God: History, Memory, and the Experience of the Divine
in Ancient Israel
(Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004), 24. Some have suggested that Exodus
15, Genesis 49, and Deuteronomy 33 may be premonarchical; others date them to the early
47. For a summary of these arguments, see Norman K. Gottwald,
e Politics of Ancient
(Louisville, Ky.: Westminster John Knox Press, 2001), 158… 162.
48. One might note that the pharaoh claims to have utterly destroyed the Israelites„ but
then victory inscriptions were famously exaggerated.
49. Donald B. Redford,
Egypt, Canaan, and Israel in Ancient Times
(Prince ton: Prince ton
University Press, 1992), 208… 209.
50. Alexander H. Jo
e, 
e Rise of Secondary States in the Iron Age Levant,Ž
Journal of
the Economic and Social History of the Orient
45, no. 4 (2002): 437.
51. Ibid., 440.
52. On the Edomite origin of Yahweh and the close relation between early Israel and early
Edom, see Smith,
e Memoirs of God,
27, 153… 154, 170… 171.
53. On the folk etymology of the name Israel as God rules,Ž see Stephen A. Geller,
cred Enigmas: Literary Religion in the Hebrew Bible
(London: Routledge, 1996), 22. On Isra- el
vs. Isra- yahu, see Smith,
e Memoirs of God,
Notes to Pages 272…278
18. Johann Arnason, 
e Axial Age and Its Interpreters: Reopening a Debate,Ž in Arna-
son, Eisenstadt, and Wittrock,
Axial Civilizations,
31… 32. He refers to a passage in Jaspers,
Origin and Goal,
19. Merlin Donald,
Origins of the Modern Mind: 
ree Stages in the Evolution of Culture
and Cognition
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991), 214.
20. Ibid., 269.
21. Ibid., 272.
22. Ibid., 312.
23. Ibid., 273.
24. Jerome Bruner,
Actual Minds, Possible Worlds
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Press, 1986), xiii. I discovered the source of the James quotation in Brute and Human Intel-
ligence,Ž in William James,
Writings, 1878… 1899
(New York: Library of America, 1992
[1878]), 911.
25. Lucien Lévy- Bruhl,
La mentalité primitive
(Paris: Librairie Felix Alcan, 1922); trans-
lated into En glish as
Primitive Mentality
(London: George Allen and Unwin, 1923). A care-
ful reading of Lévy- Bruhl will disclose that he was not as ridiculous as he has been made out
to be.
26. Donald,
Origins of the Modern Mind,
339… 340.
27. Ibid., 341.
28. Yehuda Elkana, 
e Emergence of Second- Order 
inking in Classical Greece,Ž in
Origins and Diversity,
40… 64. Eisenstadt frequently uses the phrase second-
order thinkingŽ as a synonym for his term re”
29. Momigliano,
Alien Wisdom,
30. Elkana, Emergence,Ž 64.
31. See David Hume,
e Natural History of Religion,
chap. 9, Comparison of these Re-
ligions [polytheism and mono the ism], with regard to Persecution and Toleration,Ž where
Hume compares polytheistic toleration with mono the istic zeal and rancour, the most furi-
ous and implacable of all human passions.Ž
Hume on Religion,
ed. Richard Wollheim (New
York: Meridian, 1964 [1757]), 65.
32. Jan Assmann,
Moses the Egyptian: 
e Memory of Egypt in Western Mono the ism
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997), 25. See also Erik Hornung,
and the Religion of Light
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1999 [1995]).
33. 
e Great Hymn to the Aten,Ž Miriam Lichtheim, in
Ancient Egyptian Literature,
vol. 2,
e New Kingdom
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), 96… 100.
34. James P. Allen, 
e Natural Philosophy of Akhenaten,Ž in
Religion and Philosophy
in Ancient Egypt,
ed. W. K. Simpson,
Yale Egyptological Studies
3 (1989): 89… 101. See also
Jan Assmann, Akhanyatis 
eology of Light and Time,Ž
Proceedings of the Israel Academy
of Sciences and Humanities
7, no. 4 (1992): 143… 175; and Assmann,
e Mind of Egypt: His-
tory and Meaning in the Time of the Pharaohs
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Press, 2003 [1996]), 214… 228.
35. Arnaldo Momigliano, Religion in Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem in the First Century
..,Ž in
On Pagans, Jews, and Christians
(Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press,
1987), 76… 77. How far back the handshake goes, we do not know, though Momigliano re-
ports it for the Persians and the Celts as well as the Greeks and Romans.
Notes to Pages 268…272
6. Arnaldo Momigliano,
Alien Wisdom: 
e Limits of Hellenization
(Cambridge: Cam-
bridge University Press, 1975), 8… 9.
7. Karl Jaspers,
e Origin and Goal of History
(London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1953
[1949]), 1.
8. Ibid., 4.
9. Ibid., 6.
10. Susan and Andrew Sherratt, in 
e Growth of the Mediterranean Economy in the
Early First Millennium ,Ž
World Archaeology
24 (1993): 361… 378, describe the remark-
able economic growth of the “ rst half of the “ rst millennium in the Near East and the Medi-
terranean: In 1000  most of the Mediterranean was e
ectively prehistoric; by 500  it
formed a series of well di
erentiated zones within a world- system.Ž  ere was not only a
cant growth of trade, but an increase in manufacturing, urbanization, and literacy
throughout the Mediterranean basin. 
e Sherratts attribute the driving force of this change
to Phoenicia, under Assyrian pressure, especially from the tenth through the eighth centu-
ries. Only from the seventh century do the Greeks begin to rival the Phoenicians in trade
and colonization. Similar developments, though perhaps a few centuries later, have been
observed in northern India and northern China.
11. Neo- AssyrianŽ to distinguish it from the Old Assyrian state (ca. 1900… ca. 1830 )
and the Middle Assyrian state (ca. 1400… ca. 1050).
12. See Momigliano,
Alien Wisdom,
chap. 6, Ira ni ans and Greeks,Ž 123… 150, on the
disappointing quality of the surviving Greek observations of the Persian Empire, as well as
the severe limitations of all other forms of documentation.
13. Max Weber,
Economy and Society,
ed. Guenther Roth and Claus Wittich (Berkeley:
University of California Press, 1978 [1921… 1922]), 441… 442, 447.
14. Eric Voegelin,
Order and History,
5 vols. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
Press, 1956… 1987).
15. Eric Voegelin,
e World of the Polis,
vol. 2 of
Order and History
(1957), 19… 23. In vol.
e Ecumenic Age
(1974), 2… 6, Voegelin abandons the idea that leaps in being can be lo-
cated at any speci“
c period in history, while admitting his earlier debt to Jaspers.
16. S. N. Eisenstadt, Introduction: 
e Axial Age Breakthroughs„ 
eir Characteris-
tics and Origins,Ž in
e Origins and Diversity of the Axial Age,
ed. S. N. Eisenstadt (Albany:
SUNY Press, 1986), 1. Eisenstadt recognizes the contributions of Jaspers and Voegelin, and
also of the Daedalus conference on the axial age or ga nized by Benjamin Schwartz and pub-
lished as
Wisdom, Revelation, and Doubt: Perspectives on the First Millennium
.., special is-
104, no. 2 (Spring 1975). In par tic u lar, Eisenstadt noted the emphasis on the
strain toward transcendenceŽ in the axial age in Schwartzs essay 
e Age of Transcen-
denceŽ in the
volume. See also S. N. Eisenstadt,
Comparative Civilizations and
Multiple Modernities,
2 vols. (Leiden: Brill, 2003), especially the essays in vol. 1, pt. 2, Axial
e most recent collection of work on the axial age in which Eisenstadt has
been engaged is
Axial Civilizations and World History,
ed. Johann P. Arnason, S. N. Eisen-
stadt, and Björn Wittrock (Leiden: Brill, 2005).
17. For doubts about China, see Mark Elvin, Was 
ere a Transcendental Breakthrough
in China?Ž in Eisenstadt,
Origins and Diversity,
325… 359. Similar arguments have been
made with respect to Greece.
Notes to Pages 261…267
Enlightenment, including its successors such as Marxism. 
us, clearly, Japan is not pre-
axial, as all other archaic cases have been; yet, I would argue, it is non- axial, because it has
used, with great brilliance and success, axial culture to defend its archaic presuppositions. I
have made this argument elsewhere at length, so it does not require repetition here. See In-
e Japa nese Di
erence,Ž in Robert N. Bellah,
Imagining Japan: 
e Japa nese
Tradition and Its Modern Interpretation
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 1…
62. S. N. Eisenstadt has made a similar argument in his
Japa nese Civilization
University of Chicago Press, 1997).
156. Kramer (
History Begins at Sumer,
123) sums it up with a laconic Sumerian proverb:
You go and carry o
the enemys land;
e enemy comes and carries o your land.
157. Lewis Mumford,
e Myth of the Machine: Technics and Human Development
York: Harcourt, Brace, 1967), 164.
158. Jacobsen, Mesopotamia,Ž 147.
159. We should not forget Paul Radins
Primitive Man as Phi los o pher
(New York: Dover,
1957 [1927]), though some of the speculation reported there seems to me to have been stimu-
lated by missionary interrogation and would not likely have been produced in precontact
160. Voegelin,
Israel and Revelation,
161. Jacobsen, Mesopotamia,Ž 217.
162. Mumford,
e Axial Age I
1. An earlier version of the introduction to this chapter appeared as the essay What Is
Axial about the Axial Age,Ž
Archives Européennes de Sociologie
46, no. 1 (2005): 69… 89,
Cambridge University Press. Copyright © 2005 Archives Européennes de Sociology. Re-
printed with permission of the publisher.
orkild Jacobsen, 
e Cosmos as a State,Ž in
Before Philosophy: 
e Intellectual Ad-
venture of Ancient Man,
ed. Henri Frankfort, Mrs. Henri Frankfort, John A. Wilson, and
orkild Jacobsen (Harmondsworth: Pelican, 1949 [1946]), 137… 199.
3. Marcel Gauchet, in
e Disenchantment of the World: A Po liti cal History of Religion
(Prince ton: Prince ton University Press, 1997 [1985]), makes the point that the emergence of
the state focusing on a divine or quasi- divine king destabilizes the equilibrium of what he
calls primeval religion,Ž which he describes as both egalitarian and immobile. 
ough his
notion of pre- state religion as the reign of the absolute pastŽ is hardly adequate, failing as it
does to catch the openness and diversity of such religions, his emphasis on the emergence of
the archaic state as the essential precondition for the axial age is surely correct. See esp.
chaps. 1 and 2, and pp. 23… 46.
4. Christianity and Islam fall outside the axial age chronologically, but they are histori-
cally intelligible only as developments of Israels axial breakthrough.
5. Eric Voegelin,
Israel and Revelation,
vol. 1 of
Order and History
(Baton Rouge: Louisi-
ana State University Press, 1956), 164.
Notes to Pages 255…260
138. As does Edward L. Shaughnessy for his own purposes in his
Before Confucius: Stud-
ies in the Creation of the Chinese Classics
(Albany: SUNY Press, 1997).
139. Shaughnessy, in
Before Confucius,
reviews the arguments for the dating of the earli-
est chapters of the
indicating that Herlee Creel believed that some of them date from
the time of the Duke of Zhou himself, whereas David Keightley held that they were proba-
bly composed toward the end of the Western Zhou period. Shaughnessy himself holds
that although the critical chapters cannot be exactly dated, there can be no doubt that
they long predate the hagiographical traditions that, by about the time of Confucius, de-
veloped around the Duke of Zhou; they thus almost certainly re”
ect historiographical
concerns of the Western Zhou periodŽ (130… 131). Shaughnessy also discusses the dating
of various chapters of the
in his
Shang shu,Ž
Early Chinese Texts: A Bibliographical
ed. Michael Loewe (Berkeley: Society for the Study of Early China, Institute of East
Asian Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 1993), 377… 380.
140. Shaughnessy,
Before Confucius,
115. See Bernhard Karlgrens translation of the
Shao gaoŽ
in his
e Book of Documents,
Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities, Bulletin 22
(Stockholm, 1950): 48… 51.
141. See especially Shaughnessy, Western Zhou History,Ž 317, but also more generally
313… 317 of that article; and
Before Confucius,
101… 164.
142. Cho- yun Hsu and Katheryn M. Lindu
Western Chou Civilization
(New Haven:
Yale University Press, 1988), 111. By Jaspersian breakthroughŽ the authors mean the axial
breakthrough, as the term axial ageŽ was “ rst put into general use by Karl Jaspers in
Origin and Goal of History
(London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1953 [1949]).
143. Translation from Creel,
Origins of Statecraft,
e words within the square brack-
ets are Creels. Cf. Karlgren,
e Book of Documents,
144. Translation from Creel,
Origins of Statecraft,
145. Karlgren,
e Book of Documents,
Book of Songs,
trans. Waley, nos. 172, 146.
147. Ibid., nos. 253, 256. Here middle kingdomŽ does not yet mean China but the cen-
tral Zhou domain.
148. Ibid., nos. 113, 88.
149. Ibid., nos. 288, 302.
150. Ibid., nos. 204, 188.
151. Ibid., nos. 209, 195.
152. Ibid., nos. 194, 172.
153. Ibid., nos. 193, 172.
3:14. See
e Analects of Confucius,
trans. Arthur Waley (London: Allen and
Unwin, 1938), 97. Chinese words have been rendered here in Pinyin. For discussion of this
system, see Chapter 8, note 1.
155. When I said that China was the one case of unbroken continuity from the Neolithic
to the present, I was only partly right. Japan also shows such continuity. I have, however,
argued that although Japan moved from the Neolithic to the archaic, it never, to this day,
has become an axial civilization. 
is may appear an odd assertion, as Japan has absorbed
several major axial traditions: Confucianism, Buddhism, Christianity, and the Western
Notes to Pages 249…255
120. David N. Keightley, 
e Making of the Ancestors: Late Shang Religion and Its
Legacy,Ž in
Chinese Religion and Society: 
e Transformation of a Field,
vol. 1, ed. John Lager-
wey (Hong Kong: University of Hong Kong Press, 2004), 13… 14.
121. Perhaps we are unwise to use the term capital.Ž Anyang was surely a signi“
cant rit-
ual center, but the king was not necessarily a permanent resident. Arthur Waley has the fol-
lowing to say of possible capitals in the early Zhou dynasty, considerations that would surely
apply to the Shang: We do not know at what date the later conception of a capital began.
When we discuss where the earliest kings had their capital, we are perhaps committing an
anachronism. Possibly in early times the center of government was where the king was at the
e Book of Songs,
trans. Arthur Waley, ed. Joseph R. Allen (New York: Grove
Press, 1996), 210. We have noted for other archaic territorial empires that rulers were
122. Paul Wheatley,
e Pivot of the Four Quarters: A Preliminary Enquiry into the Origins of
the Ancient Chinese City
(Chicago: Aldine, 1971), 52… 61. Wheatleys application of the idea of
patrimonialism to the Shang case is particularly nuanced.
123. Trigger,
Understanding Early Civilizations,
421… 426.
124. Technically speaking, divination did not involve questions, but charges„ that is,
assertions that could be a$
rmed or denied. 
us, [the Shang diviners] did not ask, Today,
will it rain? 
ey stated, Today, it /may//will not/rain. Divination was a way of telling the
Powers what man wanted, and of seeking reassurance from the fact that the Powers had been
informed.Ž David N. Keightley, Divination and Kingship in Late Shang ChinaŽ (unpub-
lished, 1991), 368.
125. Wheatley,
55… 56.
126. Keightley, Making of the Ancestors,Ž 34.
127. Ibid., 203… 204.
128. Ibid., 208.
129. Ibid., 209.
130. David N. Keightley, Spirituality in China: the Neolithic OriginsŽ (unpublished).
131. David N. Keightley, Shamanism, Death, and the Ancestors: Religious Mediation
in Neolithic and Shang China (ca. 5000… 1000 ),Ž
Asiatische Studien / Études Asiatiques
52, no. 3 (1998): 795.
132. Herrlee G. Creel,
e Origins of Statecraft in China,
vol. 1,
e Western Chou Empire
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), 495… 500. David Keightley (personal commu-
nication) indicates that subsequent research con“ rms Creels view that there is no Shang evi-
dence for the use of
in the Zhou sense.
Book of Songs,
trans. Waley, nos. 255, 261. 
e Allen edition of Waleys translation
uses the traditional Mao numbers and, by providing new translations of the few entries un-
translated by Waley, gives a complete translation of the traditional book.
134. Wheatley,
118… 122.
135. Creel,
Origins of Statecraft,
136. Ibid., 168… 170, 381… 382, 387… 416. I have not been able to “ nd any discussion by
either Creel or Wheatley of the others views. Creels book was published in 1970 and
Wheatleys in 1971, so it is quite possible that neither was aware of the others argument.
137. Ibid., 419.
Notes to Pages 244…249
composed in the eighth century, though written in an archaic style. In any case it undoubt-
edly draws on material from the New Kingdom and even possibly the Middle Kingdom.
Ptah is the god of Memphis, and Shabaka was trying to reassert the primacy of Memphis as
the capital of Egypt. It should be remembered that even gods for whom universal claims
were made had a local habitation. 
us Re is the god of Heliopolis, an ancient cult center
near Memphis, Amun the god of 
ebes, and Ptah the god of Memphis. It is the Memphite
eology that contains the famous doctrine of creation by the Word (of Ptah), though Ass-
mann argues that it is the written word, the hieroglyph, not the spoken word, that has cre-
ative power. For a complete translation, see Lichtheim,
Old and Middle Kingdoms,
51… 57.
For a commentary, see Assmann,
e Mind of Egypt,
345… 358.
107. Assmann,
 e Search for God,
108. Ibid., 225.
109. Ibid., 235
110. Jan Assmann,
Egyptian Solar Religion in the New Kingdom: Re, Amun and the Crisis
of Polytheism
(London: Kegan Paul International, 1995), 75.
111. Ibid., 87. Assmann notes that it was through Plotinus and ultimately Plato that
Goethe got this EgyptianŽ idea.
112. Erik Hornung,
Akhenaten and the Religion of Light
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
1999 [1995]).
113. On the indigenous development of the early state in China, see especially Li Liu,
Settlement Patterns, Chiefdom Variability, and the Development of Early States in North
Journal of Anthropological Archaeology
15 (1996): 237… 288. Also relevant are the
many publications of Kwang- chih Chang, most con ve niently his summary of the Chinese
Neolithic in China on the Eve of the Historical Period,Ž in
e Cambridge History of An-
cient China,
ed. Michael Loewe and Edward L. Shaughnessy (Cambridge: Cambridge Uni-
versity Press, 1999), 37… 73.
114. It is, of course, true that the Shang oracle bones were lost until unearthed by modern
excavations. Still, if Chinese scholars had discovered them in imperial times, they would
have perhaps had some di$
culty deciphering them, but they would have needed no Rosetta
stone, for they would have been able to discover many links to later graphs and words.
115. Chang, China on the Eve,Ž 59.
116. David N. Keightley, 
e Shang: Chinas First Historical Dynasty,Ž in Loewe and
Ancient China,
117. Edward L. Shaughnessy, Western Zhou History,Ž in Loewe and Shaughnessy,
Ancient China,
118. David N. Keightley, 
e Religious Commitment: Shang 
eology and the Genesis
of Chinese Po liti cal Culture,Ž
History of Religions
17, nos. 3… 4 (1978): 212. I am deeply in-
debted to David Keightley, one of the worlds leading experts on the Shang, not only for his
writings but for his advice in the writing of this section.
119. A con ve nient summary, with judicious comments about dating, can be found in
Derk Bodde, Myths of Ancient China,Ž in
Mythologies of the Ancient World,
ed. Samuel
Noah Kramer (New York: Doubleday Anchor, 1961), 367… 408. Also helpful is Sarah Al-
e Shape of the Turtle: Myth, Art, and Cosmos in Early China
(Albany: SUNY Press,
Notes to Pages 239…244
87. Assmann,
e Mind of Egypt,
127… 128.
88. Ibid., 184.
89. Ibid., 193.
90. Ibid., 131.
91. Assmann,
 e Search for God,
92. In
e Ecumenic Age,
vol. 4 of
Order and History
(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Uni-
versity Press, 1974), Voegelin speaks of mytho- speculation,Ž which becomes in vol. 5,
Search of Order
(Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1987), mythospeculation,Ž
without the hyphen. What he means by the term, in his own phraseology, is as follows: 
dimension of reason in the symbolism [of mythospeculation] does not re”
ect the light of a
fully di
erentiated noetic consciousness; as far as their relevance is concerned, the pragmatic
materials are illuminated rather by a speculation that remains subordinate to the cosmologi-
cal myth. Mythopoesis and noesis combine into a formative unit that holds an intermediate
position between cosmological compactness and noetic di
erentiation. It will suitably be
called mytho- speculation,
a speculation within the medium of the myth.Ž
e Ecumenic
93. Assmann,
 e Search for God,
94. Ibid., 149.
95. Assmann,
Moses the Egyptian,
96. On the centrality of kingship in Egyptian culture and belief, see David OConnor
and David P. Silverman, eds.,
Ancient Egyptian Kingship
(Leiden: Brill, 1995), especially the
two essays by John Baines: Kingship, De“ nition of Culture, and LegitimationŽ and Ori-
gins of Egyptian Kingship.Ž
97. Assmann,
 e Search for God,
98. Ibid., 159.
99. Plutarch,
Notes to Pages 230…238
into existence, as indicated by the towns and adjacent burial grounds of Hierakonpolis, Na-
kada, and 
is. He describes the use of the term Dynasty 0Ž as applying to several kings not
long before 3000 , one or more of whom may have ruled over a united Egypt. See 52… 58.
63. Michael A. Ho
Egypt before the Pharaohs: 
e Prehistoric Foundations of Egyp-
tian Civilization
(New York: Knopf, 1979), 336.
64. Kemp,
Ancient Egypt,
65. Henri Frankfort,
Kingship and the Gods: A Study of Ancient Near Eastern Religion as the
Integration of Society and Nature
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1948).
66. Georges Posener,
De la divinité du pharaon
(Paris: Cahiers de la Société Asiatique,
67. Jan Assmann,
e Search for God in Ancient Egypt
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
2001 [1984]), 49. Italics in original.
68. Ibid., 89.
69. Jan Assmann,
e Mind of Egypt: History and Meaning in the Time of the Pharaohs,
trans. Andrew Jenkins (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2003 [1996]), 300.
70. Eric Voegelin,
Order and History,
5 vols. (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
Press, 1956… 1987).
71. Hornung,
Conceptions of God,
172… 185.
72. Ibid., 180.
73. Ibid., 181.
74. Ibid., 182.
75. John Baines, Society, Morality, and Religious Practice,Ž in
Religion in Ancient Egypt:
Gods, Myths, and Personal Practice,
ed. Byron E. Shafer (Ithaca: Cornell University Press,
1991), 132.
76. Ho
man calls retainer burial
Egypt before the Pharaohs,
275… 279. Wilkinson,
Early Dynastic,
describes retainer sacri“
ce but also other forms of ritual human sacri“
ce in
late predynastic and early dynastic times (265… 267).
77. Assmann,
e Mind of Egypt,
62. Barry Kemp phrases the pro cess only slightly di
ently: 
e 4th Dynasty and later pyramids convey a new image of kingship. Gone is the
raw power of the supreme territorial ruler. 
e king is now sublimated into a manifestation
of the sun- god. Architecture conveyed this fundamental reappraisal to the greatest possible
Ancient Egypt,
78. Assmann,
e Mind of Egypt,
125, 127.
79. Ibid., 84.
80. Egypt was divided into some twenty odd nomesŽ or provinces, so that a ruler of a nome
was called a nomarch. Ankhti“
had united three nomes under his rule.
81. Miriam Lichtheim,
e Old and Middle Kingdoms,
vol. 1 of
Ancient Egyptian Litera-
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973), 86.
82. Assmann,
e Mind of Egypt,
83. Ibid., 103.
84. Ibid., 104.
85. Ibid., 127.
86. Eric Voegelin,
Israel and Revelation,
vol. 1 of
Order and History
(Baton Rouge: Loui-
siana State University Press, 1956), 79.
Notes to Pages 226…230
nature worship, stellar mythologies, vegetation cycles, pre- logical thought, and kindred
panaceas, to conjure them by means of the abracadabra of mana, taboo, and orenda. And
the results have been, at best, lifeless and bookish syntheses and smoothly written system-
atizations decked out in a mass of all- too- ingenious comparisons and parallels obtained by
zigzagging over the globe and through the known history of man.Ž
Ancient Mesopotamia,
172, 183. Leaving aside the fact that Oppenheim, even in the book from which this passage
comes, himself made major contributions to the understanding of Mesopotamian religion, it
is still a question whether the present e
ort has avoided his strictures.
49. Nissen,
Early History,
50. Oppenheim notes that the taking of interest on loans became common practice in
Mesopotamia, though usuryŽ was viewed with horror by most other Near Eastern societies.
Ancient Mesopotamia,
51. Mesopotamia . . . represents perhaps the most stubbornly bureaucratic use of writing
known from any ancient civilization. For 600 years after the introduction of true writing it
was used exclusively by administrators. And from one period of some 75 years at the very
end of the third millennium, the so- called Ur III period, we have hundreds of thousands of
such administrative procedures. Single documents could regulate transactions involving
tens of thousand of persons, and at the same time the loss of half a pound (0.25 kg) of wool
from a ware house would be discovered and accounted for with a frightening inevitability. So
it seems fair to say that the potential of this technology for its use as a controlling device was
realized to the full in Mesopotamia.Ž Mogens Trolle Larsen, Introduction: Literacy and
Social Complexity,Ž in
State and Society: 
e Emergence and Development of Social Hierarchy
and Po liti cal Centralization,
ed. John Gledhill et al. (London: Unwin Hyman, 1988),
173… 191.
52. Oppenheim, on the basis of some written sources, says there exists meager, but
unquestionable, evidence of a rich and productive oral literary tradition in Mesopotamia.Ž
Ancient Mesopotamia,
53. Jan Assmann,
Moses the Egyptian: 
e Memory of Egypt in Western Mono the ism
bridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1997).
54. Michael Walzer,
Exodus and Revolution
(New York: Basic Books, 1985).
55. Barry J. Kemp,
Ancient Egypt: Anatomy of a Civilization
(London: Routledge, 1989), 3.
56. Assmann,
Moses the Egyptian,
57. William H. McNeill,
Mythistory and Other Essays
(Chicago: Chicago University Press,
58. Assmann,
Moses the Egyptian,
14… 15.
59. Erik Hornung,
Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt: 
e One and the Many
Cornell University Press, 1982), 251. Italics in the original.
60. For northerners like Eu ro pe ans and North Americans, it seems odd that upperŽ
means southernŽ from the point of view of Egypt, because the Nile ”
ows from south to
north. Conversely, the Egyptians found Mesopotamia odd because from their point of view
the Tigris and the Euphrates ”
ow backward.Ž
61. Kemp,
Ancient Egypt,
34… 44.
62. Toby A. H. Wilkinson,
Early Dynastic Egypt
(London: Routledge, 1999). Wilkinson
argues that from as early as 3500  at least three Upper Egyptian kingdomsŽ had come
Notes to Pages 219…225
29. On the ser vice to the gods,Ž see Jean Bottéro,
Mesopotamia: Writing, Reasoning, and
the Gods
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992 [1987]), 1… 2; on the care and feeding
of the gods,Ž see Oppenheim,
Ancient Mesopotamia,
183… 298.
30. For a full account of the story, see Jacobsen,
Trea sures of Darkness,
116… 121.
31. Ibid., 117.
32. Except for the retainer burials in Early Dynasty Ur, this kind of mythical reference is
as close as we get to human sacri“
ce in ancient Mesopotamia, although war captives were
frequently slaughtered on the “
eld of battle.
33. Jacobsen,
Trea sures of Darkness,
e foreshadowing in the Story of Atrahas
both the creation story and the Noah story in Genesis has long been observed.
34. Ibid., 95, 98.
35. Jacobsen, Mesopotamia,Ž 157. Here the wild Enlil reminds us of the Hawaiian wild
e “
gure of the third- millennium Sumerian Enlil, with all his ambiguity, is in the early
second millennium transformed into the Babylonian Marduk, and in the late second millen-
nium and “ rst millennium into the Assyrian Assur.
36. Kuhrt,
Ancient Near East,
37. Nissen,
Early History,
38. Kuhrt,
Ancient Near East,
39. Bottéro,
168. It should be noted that the shepherdŽ motif was a com-
monplace for kings in both Mesopotamia and Egypt. Samuel Noah Kramer translated a
Sumerian hymn to the high god Enlil in which the god is addressed as shepherd.Ž Kramer,
History Begins at Sumer
(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1984 [1956]),
91… 92.
40. Bottéro,
183. Italics in original.
41. Ibid., 182.
42. Bottéro,
Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia,
43. Kuhrt,
Ancient Near East,
1:105. According to Oppenheim, prophets were found
mainly in the north (Assyria) and northwest. Ecstatic and shamanistic concepts were largely
missing in the Mesopotamian heartland.
Ancient Mesopotamia,
221… 222.
44. 
e Babylonian 
eodicy,Ž in
e Ancient Near East: A New Anthology of Texts and
ed. James B. Pritchard (Prince ton: Prince ton University Press, 1975), 162.
45. Jacobsen,
Trea sures of Darkness,
e Gilgamesh epic entered world literature quite early. It was by far the most widely
circulated piece of Mesopotamian literature, being known all over the ancient Near East„
fragments of translations into Hurrian and Hittite have been found. It arguably in”
both the
and the
See M. L. West,
e East Face of Helicon: West Asiatic Ele-
ments in Greek Poetry and Myth
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997), 65, 336… 347,
403… 417.
47. Jacobsen, Mesopotamia,Ž 137.
e strangeness of Mesopotamian religion led Oppenheim, famously, to argue why
a Mesopotamian Religion should not be written.Ž 
us: Western man seems to be both
unable and, ultimately, unwilling to understand such [higher polytheistic] religions except
from the distorting angle of antiquarian interest and apologetic pretenses. For nearly a cen-
tury he has tried to fathom these alien dimensions with the yardsticks of animistic theories,
Notes to Pages 213…219
8. Ibid., 88… 89.
9. Ibid., 92… 119.
10. Timothy Earle,
How Chiefs Come to Power: 
e Po liti cal Economy of Prehistory
ford: Stanford University Press, 1997), 177.
11. Trigger,
Understanding Early Civilizations,
639, 684.
12. Hans J. Nissen suggests that around the middle of the fourth millennium , cli-
matic changes occurred in Mesopotamia involving a decrease in rainfall. Heavy rainfall
earlier would have sent such intense ”
ooding into the alluvial plain that agriculture would
have been impossible, but more moderate rainfall allowed its fruitful cultivation. See Nissen,
e Early History of the Ancient Near East, 9000… 2000
(Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1988), 55.
13. Andrew Sherratt, Plough and Pastoralism: Aspects of the Secondary Products Revo-
lution,Ž in Ian Hodder, Glynn Isaac, and Norman Hammond,
Pattern of the Past: Studies in
Honour of David Clarke
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981), 261… 305.
14. Ibid., 287.
15. Ibid., 284.
16. Susan Pollack,
Ancient Mesopotamia
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999),
5… 6.
17. Nissen,
Early History,
18. Pollack,
Ancient Mesopotamia,
118; A. Leo Oppenheim,
Ancient Mesopotamia:
Portrait of a Dead Civilization
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977 [1964]),
95… 109.
orkild Jacobsen, Mesopotamia,Ž in
Before Philosophy: 
e Intellectual Adventure of
Ancient Man,
ed. Henri Frankfort, Mrs. Henri Frankfort, John A. Wilson, and 
Jacobsen (Harmondsworth: Pelican, 1949 [1946]), 141… 142. Oppenheim, in
Ancient Meso-
111… 114, discusses the evidence for the existence of a city assembly,Ž consisting of
local notables not directly connected to temple or palace.
20. On heterarchy, see Peter Bogucki,
e Origins of Human Society
(Malden, Mass.:
Blackwell, 1999), 256… 257.
orkild Jacobsen,
Trea sures of Darkness:  e History of Mesopotamian Religion
Haven: Yale University Press, 1976), 114.
22. Also spelled
23. Oppenheim,
Ancient Mesopotamia,
e awe- inspiring luminosityŽ of Assyrian
kings is reminiscent of the raging blazesŽ that were said to characterize the Hawaiian
24. Amélie Kuhrt,
e Ancient Near East, c. 3000… 330 BC
(London: Routledge, 1995).
25. For a description of the major gods, see Jacobsen,
Trea sures of Darkness,
93… 143 (if I
had to recommend one book on ancient Mesopotamian religion, this would be it); and Jean
Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2001 [1998]),
44… 58.
26. Bottéro,
Religion in Ancient Mesopotamia,
138… 139.
27. Jacobsen,
Trea sures of Darkness,
28. Can we hear an echo of the Work of the Gods in Tikopia, or of the Makahiki festival
in Hawaii?
Notes to Pages 207…213
100. Valeri,
Kingship and Sacri“ ce,
139. Malo,
Hawaiian Antiquities,
251… 254, recounts a
legend of a struggle to the death between a king and a woman prophet.
101. Valeri,
Kingship and Sacri“ ce,
102. Eli Sagans
At the Dawn of Tyranny: 
e Origins of Individualism, Po liti cal Oppres-
sion, and the State
(New York: Knopf, 1985) includes an extensive analysis of this phenome-
non. Sagan also discusses the extent to which the people identi“
ed with the extraordinary
power of the ruler.
103. Malo,
Hawaiian Antiquities,
e power of life and death over its subjects or citizens, through capital punishment
or mobilization for war, gives every state, however apparently secular, an element of the sa-
cred. See my discussion of the religio- political problem in the introduction to Robert N.
Bellah and Philip E. Hammond,
Varieties of Civil Religion
(New York: Harper and Row,
1980), vii… xv.
105. Sahlins,
Stone Age Economics,
106. Kirch,
Evolution of Polynesian Chiefdoms,
263. Italics in original.
107. Kirch,
On the Road,
300. Eli Sagan in
Dawn of Tyranny
also argues that the break
with kinship is the de“ ning feature of what he calls advanced complex societies; in his view,
Hawaii was one of those societies that had made that break. In 2010 a new book by Kirch
was published, unfortunately too late to be taken into account in this chapter. We may only
note here that not only does this book con“ rm Kirchs belief that what he calls an archaic
state and I have called an early state emerged in Hawaii before Western contact, but he dates
the transition as beginning already in the late seventeenth century. See Patrick Vinton Kirch,
How Chiefs Became Kings: Divine Kingship and the Rise of Archaic States in Ancient
(Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 2010).
108. Lawrence Krader,
Formation of the State
(Englewood Cli
s, N.J.: Prentice- Hall,
1968), 28. Italics in original.
5. Archaic Religion
1. Bruce G. Trigger,
Understanding Early Civilizations
(Cambridge: Cambridge Univer-
sity Press, 2003), 28.
e Indus Valley civilization ”
ourished from approximately 2500 to 2000 . It had
well- built cities with good water systems, as well as some irrigation agriculture, but not
much in the way of public buildings. With nothing that can be clearly described as temples
or palaces, neither the religious nor the po liti cal system is at all clear. For a recent treatment,
see Jane R. McIntosh,
A Peaceful Realm: 
e Rise and Fall of the Indus Civilization
Colo.: Westview Press, 2002).
3. Claessen and Skalník speak of inconspicuous pro cessesŽ that slowly produce institu-
tions that only in retrospect can be recognized as characteristic of the state. Henri J. M.
Claessen and Peter Skalník, eds.,
 e Early State
e Hague: Mouton, 1978), 620… 621.
4. Trigger,
Understanding Early Civilizations,
44… 45.
5. Ibid., 46.
6. Ibid., 48.
7. Ibid., 79… 87.
Notes to Pages 202…207
ants of a general Polynesian “ rst- fruits ceremonial, there is no equivalent in Tikopia to the
temple ritual.
78. See, for example, the dispute between the anthropologist Gananath Obeyesekere and
Marshall Sahlins over whether the Hawaiians thought Captain Cook and their own chiefs
were gods. 
e essential documents are Obeyesekere,
e Apotheosis of Captain Cook: Eu ro pe an
Mythmaking in the Paci“ c
(Prince ton: Prince ton University Press, 1992); and Sahlins,
ink: About Captain Cook, for Example
(Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1995).
79. Valeri,
Kingship and Sacri“ ce,
80. Ibid., 140. Valeri adds, He is, in sum, the point of connection between the social
whole and the concept that justi“
es itŽ (142). Valeris debt to Durkheim and Mauss is obvi-
ous throughout his excellent book.
81. Ibid., 140, citing S. M. Kamakau.
82. A claim made by po liti cal leaders from time immemorial. Even in egalitarianŽ
America, George Washington is the father of his country.Ž
83. Valeri,
Kingship and Sacri“ ce,
84. Ibid., 370 n. 36.
85. Ibid., 165.
86. Ibid., 277… 278.
87. Ibid., 157.
is reminds one of the words attributed to Han Gaodi, the “ rst emperor of the Han
dynasty after the collapse of the quintessential upstart Qin dynasty, that one can conquer
an empire on horse back but one cannot rule an empire on horse back.Ž
89. Valeri,
Kingship and Sacri“ ce,
90. Malo,
Hawaiian Antiquities,
60… 61.
e fact that Malo wavers between the terms chiefŽ and kingŽ suggests just the
ambiguity that I will deal with below. However, in this case Kamehameha I was a king by
any de“ nition.
92. Malo,
Hawaiian Antiquities,
93. Ibid., 195.
94. Ibid., 190.
95. Valeri,
Kingship and Sacri“ ce,
96. Periods of disorder after the death of a ruler are not unknown in other societies.
ose who lived through the three days after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in No-
vember 1963 will remember that, although social order did not collapse, there was a widely
shared sense of psychic collapse.
97. Kirch and Green,
98. Malo,
Hawaiian Antiquities,
99. Ibid., 115. 
e biblical overtones of this passage might cause doubts as to its authen-
ticity. One might remember that the early Hebrew prophets,
lived in a society not en-
tirely di
erent from late precontact Hawaii. It is worth noting that
was the term used
for prophetŽ in the Hawaiian translation of the bible. Compare Jeremiah 1:9… 10: 
en the
Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth; and the Lord said to me, Now I have put my
words in your mouth. See, today I appoint you over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up
and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant. Ž
Notes to Pages 197…201
277). Kirch himself adds that the Dutch explorer Roggeveen found on Easter
Day, 1722, a war- torn, debilitated societyŽ (278). Mangaia and Rapa Nui are by far not the
only societies that have malfunctioned or maladapted. For a general survey of such cases, see
Robert B. Edgerton,
Sick Societies: Challenging the Myth of Primitive Harmony
(New York:
Free Press, 1992). What makes Mangaia and Rapa Nui especially interesting is that their
breakdown was due entirely to endogenous causes, not to any external pressure. Such cases
do not negate the value of functionalŽ analysis. Indeed, if societies never malfunctioned,
functionalism would be tautologous.
59. Kirch,
On the Road,
290, 312, 351 n. 49.
60. Kirch,
Evolution of Polynesian Chiefdoms,
98; Kirch,
On the Road,
61. Earle,
How Chiefs,
62. Matthew Spriggs suggests that there may have been Tahitian in”
uence on Hawaiian
development in the period when voyages between the two were reported in traditional ac-
counts, by modern reckoning, between 1100 and 1400 : In traditional histories this is
the migration period when two- way voyaging took place between Tahiti and Hawaii
bringing new chiefs and new ideas, in par tic u lar a new religious system involving human
ce and ceremonies in walled temples from which the common people were excluded.
ere is a greater stress on distinctions of rank and attendant
separating chiefs and
commoners. Several of the major
luakini heiau
(temples of human sacri“
ce) were said to
have been constructed at this time.Ž See Spriggs, 
e Hawaiian Transformation of Ances-
tral Polynesian Society: Conceptualizing Chie”
y States,Ž in
State and Society: 
e Emer-
gence and Development of Social Hierarchy and Po liti cal Centralization,
ed. John Gledhill
et al. (London: Unwin Hyman, 1988), 60. Archaeological evidence for such a connection is
slight, and other scholars doubt the accuracy of the traditional account concerning Tahi-
tian in”
63. Earle,
How Chiefs,
36, 45.
64. David Malo,
Hawaiian Antiquities
(Honolulu: Bernice P. Bishop Museum, 1951
[1898]), 57… 58.
65. Valerio Valeri,
Kingship and Sacri“ ce: Ritual and Society in Ancient Hawaii
University of Chicago Press, 1985), 164.
66. Goldman,
Notes to Pages 190…197
40. Goldman,
Notes to Pages 183…190
23. Raymond Firth,
Rank and Religion in Tikopia: A Study in Polynesian Paganism and
Conversion to Christianity
(London: Allen and Unwin, 1970), 42. Firth goes on to add: In a
very real sense, then, his
was created by them as a symbol of their collective action; it
represented in a kind of practical Durkheimianism the values of their assembly and their
Notes to Pages 179…183
male provides some leadership in the hunt and in con” ict with other chimpanzee bands or
breaks up “
ghts between lower- ranking chimps, he can be seen as providing ser vices to the
9. Fred R. Myers,
Pintupi Country, Pintupi Self
(Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institu-
tion Press, 1986), 22… 23.
10. Ibid., 224.
11. Ibid., 240.
12. Ibid., 255.
13. Ibid., 246.
14. Ellen B. Basso,
A Musical View of the Universe: Kalapalo Myth and Ritual Per for mances
(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985), 255. For more on the
Notes to Pages 172…178
175. Wyman,
176. Gill,
Sacred Words,
56, citing Katherine Spencer,
Mythology and Values: An Analysis
of Navaho Chantway Myths
(Philadelphia: American Folklore Society, 1967). See also her
Re” ection of Social Life in the Navaho Origin Myth,
University of Arizona Publications in
Anthropology 3 (1947).
177. Schwarz,
Navajo Lifeways,
particularly chap. 3, 
e Holy Visit of 1996.Ž Schwarz
gives voice to some of the more somber warnings in her brief conclusion, chap. 7, Final
e most extensive work on Navajo Peyote has been done by David F. Aberle. He
estimates that 40 to 60 percent of Navajos were adherents of the Peyote religion in 1972. See
his Peyote Religion among the NavajoŽ in Ortiz,
e fullest treatment of
the subject is Aberles
e Peyote Religion among the Navajo,
Viking Fund Publications in
Anthropology 42 (New York, 1966).
179. It should be remembered that the Navajo, the Walbiri, and perhaps by now the Ka-
lapalo, live in a symbiotic relation with societies with an advanced theoretic culture. For ex-
ample, in the case of the Navajo and the Aborigines, a working relation has developed be-
tween medical doctors and native curers so that each refers to the other cases they feel they
cannot treat. Modern education, to which tribal peoples are increasingly exposed, is also a
conduit for theoretic culture. In the case of the Navajo the emphasis on bilingual education
helps keep the traditional culture alive, but the inevitable dominance of a theoretic ap-
proach, particularly at the community college level, even in the Navajo Studies Program,
suggests that there is no way to preserve mythic culture in a watertight compartment.
4. From Tribal to Archaic Religion
1. Frans B. M. de Waal, Apes from Venus: Bonobos and Human Evolution,Ž in
Tree of
Origin: What Primate Behavior Can Tell Us about Human Evolution,
ed. de Waal (Cam-
bridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002), 62.
2. Christopher Boehm,
Hierarchy in the Forest: 
e Evolution of Egalitarian Behavior
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999).
3. Ibid., 147, 163.
4. Ibid., 10… 11.
5. Ibid., 60.
6. Whether modernity represents still another turn (this time a downward turn in the
degree of despotism) is a matter we can postpone until a later chapter.
ere has long been an argument over whether
as Weber uses the term,
should be translated as legitimate authorityŽ or domination.Ž In terms of my argument,
depending on context, either translation could be appropriate. Further, though we usually
use the term dominationŽ for the rule of the stronger, it does derive from the Latin word
lord,Ž often used for the Lord God,Ž just as God in German is termed
Herr Gott.
Domination and legitimate authority are indeed hard to separate empirically.
8. It is possible that both are found even among the primates. 
ere is a debate over
whether the alpha male chimpanzee, for example, provides any ser vices useful to the group
as a whole, or is only enhancing his own procreative chances. To the extent that the alpha
Notes to Pages 166…171
comparisons between the Navajo and Zuni Pueblo in my contribution to the Harvard Val-
ues Study volume. See Robert N. Bellah, Religious Systems,Ž in
People of Rimrock: A Study of
Values in Five Cultures,
Evon Z. Vogt and Ethel M. Albert (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 1966), 227… 264.
157. Sam D. Gill,
Sacred Words: A Study of Navajo Religion and Prayer
(Westport, Conn.:
Greenwood Press, 1981), 84.
158. Gladys A. Reichard,
Navajo Religion: A Study of Symbolism
(New York: Pantheon
Books, 1950), 289.
159. Gary Witherspoon,
Language and Art in the Navajo Universe
(Ann Arbor: University
of Michigan Press, 1977), 152.
160. Reichard,
Navajo Religion,
289… 291.
161. John R. Farella,
e Main Stalk: A Synthesis of Navajo Philosophy
(Tucson: University
of Arizona Press, 1984), 20.
162. One might better say absent among the Navajo in the past.Ž With the establish-
ment of Navajo Community College in 1969 in Tsaile, Arizona, with a branch at Shiprock,
and its development of a Navajo Studies Program, with the extensive use of materials written
in Navajo, but also in En glish, the institutional basis for the development of Navajo philoso-
phy and theology in a theoretic direction has been established. It seems to me that although
Witherspoon and Farella both recognize the fundamental importance of narrative, their
work represents a degree of systematization that re”
ects the inevitable rationalizing pro cess
when Navajo culture becomes conceptually bilingual.Ž 
e work of James McNeley, cited
below, can also be cited in this connection. See Gloria J. Emerson, Navajo Education,Ž in
669… 670.
163. Schwarz,
Navajo Lifeways,
10, quoting Rik Pinxton and Claire Farrerr, On Learn-
ing a Comparative View,Ž
Cultural Dynamics
3 (1990): 249.
164. I will greatly condense the narrative for Blessingway, relying largely on material from
Leland C. Wyman,
(Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1970).
165. Ibid., 11… 112.
166. Schwarz,
Navajo Lifeways,
167. Levy,
In the Beginning,
e Navajo understanding of the positive social function
of delousing suggests a vestigial survival of primate grooming among
Homo sapiens.
168. Witchcraft beliefs are widespread among the Navajo, as they are among the Kala-
palo and the Aborigines. 
e basic work on this subject is Clyde Kluckhohn,
Navajo Witch-
(Cambridge, Mass.: Peabody Museum, Harvard University, 1944; repr., Boston: Bea-
con Press, 1967).
169. Schwarz,
Navajo Lifeways,
170. Witherspoon,
Language and Art,
17; Wyman,
171. Witherspoon gives a close linguistic analysis of the phrase
saah naaghaii bikeh hozho
Language and Art,
17… 27. Farella o
ers what might be called a metaphysical analysis of it
e Main Stalk,
153… 187.
172. Farella,
e Main Stalk,
66… 68.
173. On completeness, ibid., 181; on wind, James Kale McNeley,
Holy Wind in Navajo
(Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1981); on kin, Witherspoon,
Language and
88, where he speaks of the Navajo ideal of relating to everyone as a kinsman.Ž
174. Schwarz,
Molded in the Image,
Notes to Pages 159…166
145. Marshall Tome, 
e Navajo Nation Today,Ž in
Handbook of North American Indi-
vol. 9,
ed. Alfonso Ortiz (Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1983),
679… 683.
146. For the most traumatic events in Navajo history, as well as for the capacity of the
people to deal with these events, see Robert Roessel, Navajo History, 1850… 1923,Ž and
Mary Shepardson, Development of Navajo Tribal government,Ž both in Ortiz,
506… 523, 624… 635.
e term comes from the work of Anthony F. C. Wallace. See his
Religion: An An-
thropological View
(New York: Random House, 1966), 30… 39, 157… 166.
148. David M. Brugge,
Navajo Pottery and Ethnohistory,
Navajoland Publications ser. 2,
Navajo Tribal Museum, Window Rock, 1963; and Brugge, Navajo Prehistory and History to
1850,Ž in Ortiz,
489… 501. Brugge suggests that Blessingway was newŽ in its struc-
ture and function, not that all its elements were new.
149. What was then called the New Mexico Territory, which included the present states
of Arizona and New Mexico, was formally ceded to the United States by Mexico in 1848.
150. An added di$
culty is that there are several levels of ritual knowledge and the stu-
dent trying to understand Navajo religion may not know what level the in for mant feels it is
appropriate to reveal. Maureen Schwarz describes twelve levels of knowledge, each appropri-
ate to par tic u lar persons of di erent age and status. See Maureen Trudelle Schwarz,
in the Image of Changing Woman: Navajo Views on the Human Body and Personhood
University of Arizona Press, 1997), 24… 33.
151. Notable among these e
orts are Karl W. Luckert,
e Navajo Hunter Tradition
son: University of Arizona Press, 1975); Guy H. Cooper,
Development and Stress in Navajo
(Stockholm: Almqvist and Wiksell International, 1984); and, most recently, Jerrold
E. Levy,
In the Beginning: 
e Navajo Genesis
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998).
152. Luckert,
Navajo Hunter,
133… 142. As an example of Luckerts pre- human ”
among the Navajo, Maureen Schwarz reports that in the First (underground) World, the
male and female beings were not in their present formŽ but would later become First Man
and First Woman. 
e other beings dwelling in this world were thought of as Air- Spirit or
Mist Beings. 
ey had no de“ nite form or shape but were to change in subsequent worlds
into humans, animals, birds, reptiles, and other creatures.Ž Maureen Trudelle Schwarz,
vajo Lifeways: Contemporary Issues, Ancient Knowledge
(Norman: University of Oklahoma
Press, 2001), 12… 13.
153. Luckert,
Navajo Hunter,
142… 148.
154. Ruth Fulton Benedict,
e Concept of the Guardian Spirit in North America
sha, Wis.: American Anthropological Association, 1923).
155. Although the Navajo do not believe they are born from the land in quite the way the
Aborigines do, they have an intense attachment to place. 
e heroes in the curing ceremoni-
als visit many named places in Navajo country, and some features of the environment are
said to be the bodies of monsters slain by Monster Slayer. Keith Basso gives an excellent ac-
count of the importance of place among the Western Apache, the Apache group closest in
culture to the Navajo, most of which probably applies equally well to the Navajo. See Keith
H. Basso,
Wisdom Sits in Places
(Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1996).
156. For a helpful comparative analysis of Pueblo and Navajo ceremonialism, see Louise
Lamphere, Southwestern Ceremonialism,Ž in Ortiz,
743… 763. I made some
Notes to Pages 153…159
118. Stanner, 
e Dreaming,Ž 307.
119. Ibid., 313.
120. Ibid., 309.
121. Ibid., 306.
122. Ibid., 313.
123. Mircea Eliade,
Australian Religions: An Introduction
(Ithaca: Cornell University
Press, 1973), chap. 1; Wilhelm Schmidt,
Ursprung der Gottesidee,
vol. 1, 2nd ed. (Münster:
Aschendorf, 1926).
124. Jonathan Z. Smith,
To Take Place: Toward 
eory in Ritual
(Chicago: University of
Chicago Press, 1987), 10.
125. Swain,
A Place for Strangers,
chap. 3.
126. Ibid., 119.
127. Ibid., 127… 140.
128. Tocqueville comments on the instinctive love of countryŽ that held the American
Indians to their land:  We will not sell the spot which contains the bones of our fathers„
that is the “ rst answer they always make to anybody proposing to buy their land.Ž Alexis de
Democracy in America,
trans. George Lawrence (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday,
1969), 323. 
is passage occurs in volume 1, in the famous chapter 10, 
ree Races
at Inhabit the Territory of the United States.Ž
129. In this discussion I am relying on Swain,
A Place for Strangers,
chap. 4.
130. Ibid., 183… 184.
131. M. J. Meggitt,
Gadjari among the Walbiri Aborigines of Central Australia,
Monographs 14 (Sydney: University of Sydney, 1966).
132. Stanner,
On Aboriginal Religion,
40… 42, 80.
133. Ibid., 43.
134. Ibid., 170.
135. Ibid., 53.
136. David H. Turner, Australian Aboriginal Religion as World Religion, Ž
Studies in
20 (1991).
137. David H. Turner,
Life before Genesis;
Return to Eden: A Journey through the
Aboriginal Promised Landscape of Amagalyuagba
(Toronto: Peter Lang, 1996); and Turner,
Afterlife before Genesis: An Introduction„ Accessing the Eternal through Australian Aboriginal
(Toronto: Peter Lang, 1997).
138. Deborah Bird Rose,
Dingo Makes Us Human: Life and Land in an Aboriginal Austra-
lian Culture
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1992).
139. See A. P. Elkin,
Aboriginal Men of High Degree
(New York: St. Martins Press, 1978).
140. Stanner,
On Aboriginal Religion,
141. Munn,
Walbiri Iconography,
16, 147.
142. Swain in Tony Swain and Garry Trompf,
e Religions of Oceania
(New York: Rout-
ledge, 1995), 109.
143. Stanner, Religion, Totemism and Symbolism,Ž in Berndt and Berndt,
Man in Australia,
144. Robert N. Bellah,
Apache Kinship Systems
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Press, 1957).
Notes to Pages 147…153
95. Nancy D. Munn,
Walbiri Iconography: Graphic Repre sen ta tions and Cultural Symbol-
ism in a Central Australian Society
(Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1973), 23… 24.
96. Ibid., 24.
97. Swain,
A Place for Strangers,
22. Swains italics.
98. Ibid., 4, 49.
99. W. E. H. Stanner, 
e Dreaming,Ž in
Cultures of the Paci“ c,
omas G. Harding
and Ben J. Wallace (New York: Free Press, 1970 [1956]), 305. Christian Aborigines who
have not been fully acculturated to biblical ideas of time imagine that Adam, Moses, and
Jesus were all contemporary, all part of the Christian Dreaming. 
e idea of
salvation history, has not penetrated their accustomed way of thinking.
100. Nancy D. Munn, 
e Spatial Pre sen ta tion of Cosmic Order in Walbiri Iconogra-
phy,Ž in
Primitive Art and Society,
ed. Anthony Forge (New York: Oxford University Press,
1973), 214… 215.
101. Fred R. Myers,
Pintupi Country, Pintupi Self: Sentiment, Place, and Politics among
Western Desert Aborigines
(Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1986), 54.
102. Munn,
Walbiri Iconography,
77… 78.
103. Munn, Spatial Pre sen ta tion,Ž 197; Swain,
A Place for Strangers,
104. Swain,
A Place for Strangers,
105. Swain describes how, among one Aboriginal group, the newborn child is immedi-
ately placed in a small earthy depression from which it is then born„ an act surely stating
unambiguously that the child comes not from a mother but from a location.Ž Ibid., 44.
106. See Nancy Munns description in
Walbiri Iconography,
27… 31; also Swains discus-
sion of kinship and place in
A Place for Strangers,
36… 49.
107. Both DreamingŽ and LawŽ are En glish words now widely used by Aborigines. It is
interesting that they do not use the word religionŽ to refer to their deepest beliefs.
108. Quoted in Frank Brennan, Land Rights: 
e Religious Factor,Ž in
Religious Busi-
ness: Essays on Australian Aboriginal Spirituality,
ed. Max Charlesworth (Cambridge: Cam-
bridge University Press, 1998), 169.
109. We will “ nd the meta phor of the Way used in many cultures with similar
110. M. J. Meggitt,
Desert People: A Study of the Walbiri Aborigines of Central Australia
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962), 251… 252.
111. Munn,
Walbiri Iconography,
e best short treatment of Australian totemism is W. E. H. Stanner, Religion,
Totemism and Symbolism,Ž in Ronald M. Berndt and Catherine H. Berndt,
Aboriginal Man
in Australia
(Sydney: Angus and Robertson, 1965), 207… 237.
113. Meggitt,
Desert People,
114. T. G. H. Strehlow suggests the truth of totemismŽ in the very subtitle of his short
Central Australian Religion: Personal Monototemism in a Polytotemic Community
ford Park, S.A.: Australian Association for the Study of Religion, 1978).
115. Munn,
Walbiri Iconography,
116. Swain,
A Place for Strangers,
117. Paul Ricoeur,
Time and Narrative,
vol. 1 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press,
1984), 31… 51.
Notes to Pages 141…147
73. Ibid., 253. Italics in the original.
74. We will see something like this in other tribal and archaic societies.
75. Basso,
Musical View,
256… 257.
76. Jan Vansina notes that in oral cultures chronology is inevitably shallow: Beyond a
certain time depth chronology can no longer be kept. Accounts fuse and are thrown back
into the period of origin„ typically under a cultural hero„ or are forgotten. 
e shortest
such time depth I know of is that of the Aka of Lobaye (Central African Republic), where it
does not exceed one generation of adults. Historical consciousness works on only two regis-
ters: time of origin and recent times. Because the limit one reaches in time reckoning moves
with the passage of generations, I have called the gap a ”
oating gap.Ž Vansina,
Oral Tradition
as History
(University of Wisconsin Press, 1985), 24. Later he notes how a historical memory
could be swept into a creation myth after some length of time: a major personage in Lug-
bara [Congo/Uganda] creation is a British District O$
cer from the turn of the centuryŽ
77. Basso,
Musical View,
254, quoting Victor Zuckerkandl,
Man the Musician,
2nd ed.
(Prince ton: Prince ton University Press, 1976), 374.
78. Basso,
Musical View,
37… 39.
79. Ibid., 170.
80. Basso,
113… 119; Basso,
Musical View,
71, 106… 107.
81. On witchcraft see Basso,
124… 131.
82. Basso,
Musical View,
91… 140.
83. Ibid., 308… 309.
84. Ibid., 310… 311.
85. Ibid., 11
86. Rappaport,
Ritual and Religion,
87. Ibid., 37.
88. Victor Turner has usefully emphasized the relation between ritual and dramatic per-
for mance, and the boundary between them is indeed fuzzy. See particularly part 2 of his
the Edge of the Bush: Anthropology as Experience
(Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1985).
89. Arnold van Gennep,
e Rites of Passage,
trans. Monika B. Vizedom and Gabrielle L.
ee (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1960 [1908]).
90. Rappaport,
Ritual and Religion,
91. My main sources, M. J. Meggitt and Nancy D. Munn, call this group the Walbiri,
and so I will follow their usage, though more recent publications use a slightly di
erent or-
thography and call the same group the Warlpiri.
92. As all outsiders were from agricultural traditions and came by sea to coastal areas, it
follows that the desert interiors of Australia would be the last places to have their old order
disturbed. (
us studies from the Central and Western Deserts written in the second half of
this [twentieth] century can sometimes be legitimately said to describe Aborigines having
minimal contact with the non- Aboriginal world.)Ž Tony Swain,
A Place for Strangers: Towards
a History of Australian Aboriginal Being
(New York: Cambridge University Press, 1973), 7.
93. Ibid., 277.
94. W. E. H. Stanner,
On Aboriginal Religion,
Oceania Monograph 11 (Sydney: Univer-
sity of Sydney, 1966), chaps. 4 and 5.
Notes to Pages 137…140
is is the central thesis of Morris Bermans
Wandering God.
Berman believes that
religionŽ begins only with agriculture and is therefore quite recent in human evolution. Al-
len Johnson and Timothy Earle, in
e Evolution of Human Societies
(Stanford: Stanford
University Press, 1987), argue for very small early human groups that are naturallyŽ
61. Mary Douglas,
Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology
(New York: Pantheon
Books, 1982 [1970]), 99.
62. Ibid., xi… xii, quoting Fredrik Barth,
Nomads of South Persia: 
e Basseri Tribe of the
Khamseh Confederacy
(London: Allen and Unwin, 1964), 21.
63. In
War before Civilization,
Keeley argues that most of the few examples of societies
without war are, in fact, defeated refugees,Ž too traumatized and exhausted to think of
mounting o
ensive action.
64. Alan Barnard has made an interesting contrast between the Bushman and the Aus-
tralian models of hunter- gatherer societies, conc
luding that the former are more likely to be
closer to early
Homo sapiens
society for two reasons: (1) Australian models are unique to
Australia, and (2) Australian models are too elaborate to be the basis of early culture. See his
Modern Hunter- Gatherers and Early Symbolic Culture,Ž in
e Evolution of Culture,
Robin Dunbar et al. (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1999), 50… 68. I have al-
ready dealt with the issue of cultural elaboration. David H. Turner, in
Life before Genesis: A
(Toronto: Peter Lang, 1985), has argued for tendencies toward the Australian
type in North America, and for the Australian type as a logical possibility everywhere.
65. Ellen B. Basso,
e Kalapalo Indians of Central Brazil
(New York: Holt, Rinehart and
Winston, 1973); and Basso,
A Musical View of the Universe: Kalapalo Myth and Ritual Per for-
(Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1985).
66. Basso,
1… 3. During the period of Bassos second visit (1978… 1980) the Ka-
lapalo still held on to their traditional culture.  e protection provided by the park made
possible their continued survival in the face of increasingly disastrous demographic, social,
and economic pressures which on several occasions have threatened the integrity of the re-
serve,Ž making them, though with fearful tenuousness,Ž virtually unique among native
peoples of Latin America. Basso,
Musical View,
xi… xii.
67. Ibid., 5.
68. Basso,
Musical View,
65. It is worth noting that in her “ rst book Basso refers to
(powerful beings) only as monsters,Ž having been more impressed by the dangers associated
with them than anything else. Basso,
21… 23. 
e “
eldwork for
Musical View
centrated on mythology and ritual and led her to a much deeper understanding of powerful
69. Basso,
Musical View,
70. Ibid., 68.
71. Basso indicates that the powerful beings can be localized: Certain landmarks„ trees,
areas of a river, regions of a particularly deep forest, and so forth„ are supposed to be the
homes pf par tic u lar monsters [
]. While passing by these places, one is expected to be si-
lent in order not to attract the creaturesŽ (
116). In
Musical View,
as we will see,
Basso says the powerful beings live in a sky village.Ž
72. Basso,
Musical View,
Notes to Pages 130…136
39. See Lawrence H. Keeley,
War before Civilization: 
e Myth of the Peaceful Savage
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1996). Donald makes a telling point: It is surely no
coincidence that only one subspecies of the entire hominid line has survived; most other spe-
cies of mammals have at least several co- existing subspecies, each occupying a special niche.
But not humans. Apparently only one hominid can occupy the human niche for any sub-
stantial length of time.Ž Donald,
Origins of the Modern Mind,
40. Donald,
Origins of the Modern Mind,
197… 198.
41. Since the publication of Donalds
Origins of the Modern Mind
in 1991, which is sum-
marized here, the work of scholars like de Waal and Tomasello, as discussed in Chapter 2,
has shown a considerable degree of shared consciousness among the great apes.
42. Ibid., 198.
43. Ibid., 200.
44. Donald,
A Mind So Rare,
36… 39.
45. Donald,
Origins of the Modern Mind,
283, citing Jerome Bruner,
Possible Worlds,
Actual Minds
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1986).
46. Terrence Deacon,
e Symbolic Species: 
e Co- evolution of Language and the Brain
(New York: Norton, 1997).
47. Ibid., 402… 403.
48. Donald,
A Mind So Rare,
49. Ibid., 283, citing George Lako
and Mark Johnson,
Meta phors We Live By
University of Chicago Press, 1980). See also Lako
and Johnson,
Philosophy in the Flesh: 
Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western 
(New York: Basic Books, 1999).
50. Donald,
A Mind So Rare,
283… 284.
51. Donald,
Origins of the Modern Mind,
52. Ibid., 214.
53. Claude Lévi- Strauss,
Myth and Meaning
(New York: Schocken Books, 1979), 17. Ital-
ics in the original.
54. It is worth remembering that in his later writings Durkheim identi“
ed societyŽ not
with its existing reality but with the ideals that gave it coherence and purpose.
55. James McClenon, in
Wondrous Healing: Shamanism, Human Evolution, and the Ori-
gin of Religion
(Dekalb: Northern Illinois University Press, 2002), argues on neo- Darwinist
grounds that shamanistic healing is the originŽ of religion. 
ough interesting, his argu-
ment seems much too simple to me.
56. Jonathan Z. Smith,
Imagining Religion: From Babylon to Jamestown
(Chicago: Univer-
sity of Chicago Press, 1982), 63. Italics in the original.
57. Morris Berman,
Wandering God: A Study in Nomadic Spirituality
(Albany: SUNY
Press, 2000), 83.
58. Roy A. Rappaport,
Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity
(Cambridge: Cam-
bridge University Press, 1999), 24. Keith Hart in his preface to this posthumously published
book invokes Émile Durkheims
Elementary Forms of the Religious Life
and holds that Rap-
paports book is comparable in scope to his great pre de ces sors workŽ (xiv), a judgment with
which I agree.
59. Bruce Richman, How Music Fixed Nonsense into Signi“
cant Formulas: On Rhythm,
Repetition, and Meaning,Ž in Wallin, Merker, and Brown,
e Origins of Music,
Notes to Pages 124…129
15. It is beyond my competence to resolve this issue. 
e idea of a language module has
originated among followers of Noam Chomsky and is described at length in Stephen Pinker,
e Language Instinct
(New York: William Morrow, 1994). Merlin Donald argues, convinc-
ingly to me, that there is no such thing as a language module. See
A Mind So Rare,
36… 39.
16. Donald,
A Mind So Rare,
279… 285.
17. Tattersall,
Becoming Human,
18. See the diagram in Colin Renfrew, 
e Origins of World Linguistic Diversity: An
Archaeological Perspective,Ž in Jablonski and Aiello,
Origin and Diversi“ cation,
19. Donald,
A Mind So Rare,
263… 265.
20. My twin granddaughters were playing quietly when one of them said rather loudly,
mama.Ž My daughter responded and was told not you&Ž It was the other granddaughter
who, in their play, was at the moment the mama.
21. Donald,
A Mind So Rare,
22. Tattersall,
Becoming Human,
23. Donald,
Origins of the Modern Mind,
24. Tattersall,
Becoming Human,
25. Donald,
A Mind So Rare,
26. Ibid.
27. Ibid., 205.
28. Ibid., 266.
29. Linguists have discovered that in all cultures parents speak to infants in something
they call motherese,Ž a kind of simpli“
ed, highly repetitive, singsong, partly nonsense, kind
of language, one that communicates feeling rather than information. Each language has its
own version of motherese, to be sure, but the basic characteristics seem to be quite universal.
Because motherese is made up largely of singsong nonsense syllables, it is easy to imagine that
it had a prelinguistic mimetic precursor. On motherese, see Pinker,
e Language Instinct,
39… 40.
30. See William H. McNeill,
Keeping Together in Time: Dance and Drill in Human His-
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1995).
31. Donald,
Origins of the Modern Mind,
32. Leslie C. Aiello,  e Foundations of Human Language,Ž in Jablonski and Aiello,
Origin and Diversi“ cation,
33. Dunbar,
ough we tend to think of language in terms of abstract meanings, heavily in”
enced as we are by our constant exposure to written language, it is well to remember that
speech is gestural, bodily enacted, and involves subtle muscular training, just as other forms
of gesture do.
35. Dunbar,
36. Steven Brown, 
e Musilanguage Model of Music Evolution,Ž in Nils L. Wallin,
Björn Merker, and Steven Brown,
e Origins of Music
(Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press,
2000), 275.
37. Ibid., 277.
38. Dunbar,
Notes to Pages 118…123
3. Tribal Religion
1. Merlin Donald,
Origins of the Modern Mind: 
ree Stages in the Evolution of Culture
and Cognition
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991). Donald has developed
his argument further in
A Mind So Rare: 
e Evolution of Human Consciousness
(New York:
Norton, 2001).
2. Donald, Origins of the Modern Mind, 149.
3. John H. Crook, 
e Experiential Context of Intellect,Ž in
Machiavellian Intelligence:
Social Expertise and the Evolution of Intellect in Monkeys, Apes, and Humans,
ed. Richard W.
Byrne and Andrew Whiten (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988), 359… 360.
e last chapter of Robert N. Bellah, Richard Madsen, William M. Sullivan, Ann
Swidler, and Steven M. Tipton,
e Good Society
(New York: Knopf, 1991), is entitled De-
mocracy Means Paying Attention.Ž
5. Our knowledge of
Homo habilis,
the “ rst of our genus, who ”
ourished between 2.3
million years ago and the emergence of
H. erectus
1.8 million years ago, is too fragmentary
to hazard a guess about their capacities.
6. Johanna Nichols, 
e Origin and Dispersal of Languages: Linguistic Evidence,Ž in
e Origin and Diversi“ cation of Language,
ed. Nina G. Jablonski and Leslie C. Aiello (San
Francisco: California Academy of Sciences, 1998), 127… 170.
7. Jared M. Diamond,
ird Chimpanzee: 
e Evolution and Future of the Human
(New York: Harper Trade, 1992).
8. Derek E. Wildman, Lawrence I. Grossman, and Morris Goodman, Functional DNA
in Humans and Chimpanzees Shows 
ey Are More Similar to Each Other than Either Is to
Other Apes,Ž in
Probing Human Origins,
ed. Morris Goodman and Anne Simon Mo
(Cambridge, Mass.: American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2002), 2.
9. Ibid., 1.
10. Ian Tattersall,
Becoming Human: Evolution and Human Uniqueness
(New York: Har-
court Brace, 1998), 121. Tattersall does allow himself one line of speculation: In quadrupe-
dal monkeys, the newborn emerges from the birth canal facing the mother, who can assist in
the “ nal emergence. In humans, on the other hand, the baby has to twist to face away from
the mother, who therefore cannot provide such assistance for fear of breaking the babys
back. Neither can the mother attend by herself, as monkeys can, to clearing mucus from the
babys nose and mouth to allow it to breathe or to unwinding the umbilical cord from
around the babys neck. All these attentions are frequently necessary, which is why mid-
wifery is virtually universal in human societies. It has been suggested that the involvement
of females other than the mother in the birth pro cess goes right back to the origins of biped-
alism; and if so, this implies a level of cooperation and coordination among early hominid
females that goes far beyond that involved in the occasional infant care by aunts seen in
other primatesŽ (121… 122).
11. Robin Dunbar,
Grooming, Gossip, and the Evolution of Language
(Cambridge, Mass.:
Harvard University Press, 1996), 130.
12. Ibid., 62… 66.
13. Ibid., 77.
14. Ibid., 78.
Notes to Pages 105…115
perceptions to others. Conceptions are thus born as acts of the imagination. Are we justi“
in calling this innate habit of mind, the tenden
cy to create an imaginary world of living be-
ings, a playing of the mind, a mental game?Ž (136).
166. Buber,
I and 
167. Ibid., 59.
168. Ibid., 57, 144… 146.
169. Ibid., 172,
170. Ibid., 173. Buber is willing to include not just trees, but this huge sphere that
reaches from the stones to the stars.Ž
171. Ibid., 150.
172. Ibid., 124.
173. Blaise Pascal,
rev. ed., trans. A. J. Krailsheimer (London: Penguin, 1995
[1670]), 285.
174. Ibid., 127. Passage numberings in two editions are Blaise Pascal,
ed. Louis
Lafuma (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 1962), 423 (hereafter cited as Lafuma), and Blaise Pascal,
Pensées et Opuscules,
ed. Leon Brunschvicg (Paris: Hachette, 1920), 277 (hereafter cited as
175. Ibid., 56. Lafuma 185, Brunschvicg 265.
176. Ibid., 28… 29. Lafuma 110, Brunschvicg 282. 
is passage as a whole is particularly
helpful for Pascals view of the heart.
177. Ibid., 57. Lafuma 190, Brunschvicg 543.
178. Ibid., 60. Lafuma 199, Brunschvicg 72.
179. Ibid., 66. Lafuma 200, Brunschvicg 347.
180. Plato,
2.653, in
e Laws of Plato,
omas Pangle (New York: Basic
Books, 1980), 32… 33, with help from A. E. Taylors translation in
e Collected Dia-
ed. Edith Hamilton and Huntington Cairns (New York: Pantheon Books, 1961),
1250… 51. We will see in Chapter 3 that Plato was right about rhythm and harmony: only
humans can keep together in time.Ž
181. Plato,
7.796, in Huizinga,
Homo Ludens,
18… 19.
182. Huizinga,
Homo Ludens,
183. Plato,
268d. I have drawn on J. B. Skemps translation in Hamilton and
Complete Dialogues,
1033, and C. J. Rowes translation in
Notes to Pages 98…104
151. Ibid., 6.
152. Ibid., 285… 286.
153. Ibid., 288, 273.
154. I have found particularly unhelpful those who think of the mind as composed of
modules and of religion as explained by a module for supernatural beings. Representative
works in this genre are Pascal Boyer,
Religion Explained: 
e Evolutionary Origins of Religious
(New York: Basic Books, 2001)„ the reference to thought and not to practice in his
title is indicative of the weakness of this approach; and Scott Atran,
In Gods We Trust: 
Evolutionary Landscape of Religion
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2002). B. H. Smith,
Natural Re” ections,
though giving an appreciative reading of these books that would have
been hard for me, has described at length their tendency toward speculative theorizing and
their lack of insight into religion as actually lived. But the reader will note how much I de-
pend on other kinds of evolutionary psychology, as represented by such scholars as Merlin
Donald and Michael Tomasello, though their work deals only incidentally, if at all, with
155. Robert Wright,
e Evolution of God
(Boston: Little, Brown, 2009); Nicholas Wade,
e Faith Instinct: How Religion Evolves and Why It Endures
(New York: Penguin, 2009);
David Sloan Wilson,
Darwins Cathedral: Evolution, Religion, and the Nature of Society
cago: Chicago University Press, 2003).
156. Ursula Goodenough and Terrence W. Deacon, 
e Sacred Emergence of Nature,Ž
e Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science,
ed. Philip Clayton (New York: Oxford Uni-
versity Press, 2006), 865. When I got hold of this very large book with contributions from
many distinguished thinkers, I hoped that it would help me with my project. I was almost
completely disappointed. By viewing science and religion primarily as theories and not as
practices, they ended up comparing apples and oranges, interesting as examples of how edu-
cated people think today but not helpful in understanding the di
erent ways in which sci-
ence and religion work.
157. Goodenough and Deacon, Sacred Emergence,Ž 867.
158. Terrence Deacon and Tyrone Cashman,  e Role of Symbolic Capacity in the Ori-
gin of Religion,Ž
Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture
3 (2009): 490… 517.
Here Deacon and Cashman move toward the explanation of religion as a practice in a way
that the earlier article and most of the others in the
Oxford Handbook of Religion and Science
do not.
159. Gopnik,
e Philosophical Baby,
138… 140.
160. Deacon and Cashman, Role of Symbolic Capacity,Ž 9.
161. Gananath Obeyesekere,
Imagining Karma: Ethical Transformation in Amerindian,
Buddhist, and Greek Rebirth
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002), 19… 71.
162. Deacon and Cashman, Role of Symbolic Capacity,Ž 10.
163. Huizinga,
Homo Ludens,
28… 45.
164. Deacon and Cashman, Role of Symbolic Capacity,Ž 13.
165. Huizinga discusses personi“
cation in
Homo Ludens
in the chapter titled 
e Ele-
ments of Mythopoiesis,Ž where he writes of myth: As soon as the e
ect of a meta phor con-
sists in describing things or events in terms of
life and movement, we are on the road to per-
cation . . . Personi“
cation arises as soon as we feel the need to communicate our
Notes to Pages 95…98
intentional perceptionŽ (
Cultural Origins,
68), as what will be attended to is in part deter-
mined by ones intention. Merlin Donald discusses attention and intention; he focuses par-
ticularly on attention in
Origins of the Modern Mind,
but on both attention and intention in
A Mind So Rare
(New York: Norton, 2001).
137. Huizinga,
Homo Ludens,
17… 18.
138. Ibid., 5.
e idea that we have in our brains a module for supernatural beingsŽ seems to me
one of the most obvious absurdities of one form of evolutionary psychology.
140. Barbara Herrnstein Smith, in
Natural Re” ections: Human Cognition at the Nexus of
Science and Religion
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2009), writes, Anthropologist
Maurice Bloch notes that among many peoples who worship supposedly supernatural ances-
tors, attitudes toward such ancestors are not very di
erent from attitudes and behaviors to-
ward living elders: 
e motivations, emotions, and understanding of elders and ancestors
are assumed to be the same. Ancestors are simply more di$
cult to communicate with. 
when rural Malagasy, in perfectly ordinary contexts, want to be overheard by the dead, they
speak more loudly, something they often also do when they want elders to take notice, since
these are often deaf . . . 
e ancestors are not as close as living parents or grandparents, but
they are not all that distant Ž (91… 92).
141. One could add two more parallel examples: what Wittgenstein called language games,Ž
though these precede language as a cultural form, and what Pierre Bourdieu called “
142. Graham Greene, in the last chapter of his
Monsignor Quixote
(New York: Penguin,
2008), 192… 193, re”
ects on the distinction between fact and “
ction, a distinction the
Trappist monk, Father Leopoldo, “ nds hard to make but the American, Professor Pilbeam,
does not doubt. 
e issue comes to a head when Monsignor Quixote performs a Latin mass
in a dreamlike state just before his death. Quixote places an invisible wafer in the mouth
of his friend Sancho, which Father Leopoldo thinks is reallyŽ there, but which Professor
Pilbeam is equally sure really isnt. Actually the whole novel is about how problematic this
distinction is.
143. Pierre Hadot,
Philosophy as a Way of Life
(Oxford: Blackwell, 1995 [1987]).
e term scientistŽ dates to only the early nineteenth century. In the seventeenth
century, what we call scientists were referred to as natural phi los o phers,Ž and philosophers„
Descartes and Leibniz, for example„ were scientists and mathematicians as well.
145. Stephen Jay Gould,
Rocks of Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life
York: Ballantine Books, 2002).
146. Kirschner and Gerhart,
e Plausibility of Life,
271… 273.
147. Morowitz,
e Emergence of Everything,
148. Ibid., 200. Some Christians say, in blessing the bread that is shared with the home-
less: Christ has now on earth no body but ours; no hands but ours, no feet but ours. Ours
are the hands by which the whole earth is blessed.Ž 
ey would not, however, I think, claim
to be the mind of God, though in his own way Meister Eckhart came close to that.
149. Kau
At Home in the Universe: 
e Search for the Laws of Self- Organization and
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1995), 302… 304.
150. Stuart Kau
Reinventing the Sacred: A New View of Science, Reason, and Reli-
(New York: Basic Books), 2008.
Notes to Pages 88…94
is argument has been reviewed extensively in many chapters of Mellars,
Notes to Pages 84…88
109. Derek Bickerton develops the argument for protolanguage among
Homo erectus
Adams Tongue: How Humans Made Language, How Language Made Humans
(New York:
Hill and Wang, 2009). Richard Wrangham, in his
Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Hu-
(New York: Basic Books, 2009), argues that cooking originated with
Homo erectus,
with important consequences for human physiology and behavior.
110. Peter J. Richerson and Robert Boyd,
Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed
Human Evolution
(Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2005), 126.
111. Gordon Burghardt points out that there are other species more altricial than hu-
mans, born without hair or feathers, senses undeveloped, especially vision (mice, rats, cats,
dogs, bears, etc. cannot see at all).Ž Personal communication.
112. Sue Taylor Parker and Michael L. McKinney argue strongly against neoteny or juve-
nilization in their
Origins of Animal Intelligence
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press,
1999), 336… 355.
113. Melvin Konner,
e Evolution of Childhood: Relationships, Emotion, Mind
bridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2010), 139.
114. John E. Pfei
e Emergence of Man,
3rd ed. (New York: Harper and Row, 1978),
254… 255.
115. Hrdy,
Mothers and Others,
282. Michael Tomasello, in
e Cultural Origins of Hu-
man Cognition
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), argues that what Hrdy
calls emotional modernity, the capacity to understand and sympathize with the intentions of
others, probably appeared with
Homo sapiens
in the Pleistocene, 250,000 or so years ago,
whereas Hrdy thinks it appeared among earlier members of the genus
even as long as
2 million years ago. 
e whole question of dating is vexed.
116. Hrdy,
Mothers and Others,
204… 206.
117. Terrence Deacon,
e Symbolic Species: 
e Co- evolution of Language and the Brain
(New York: Norton, 1997), 23. Of course, Deacon was pointing to language, which in some
simpler form could have been in existence before
Homo sapiens.
118. Kathleen R. Gibson, Putting It All Together: A Constructionist Approach to the
Evolution of Human Mental Capacities,Ž in
Rethinking the Human Revolution,
ed. Paul Mel-
lars et al. (Cambridge: McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 2007), 70.
119. Terrence Deacon, Relaxed Selection and the Role of Epigenesis in the Evolution of
Language,Ž in
Handbook of Developmental Behavioral Neuroscience,
ed. M. Blumberg et al.
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 750.
120. Ibid., 731.
121. Deacon tells me that the relaxed “
eldŽ that Burghardt takes as one element of the
de“ nition of animal play is analogous to what he means by relaxed selectionŽ but not identi-
cal to it. Personal communication.
122. Such an argument goes back to the nineteenth century but was forcefully argued by
Arnold Gehlen in the mid- twentieth century. See his
Man: His Nature and Place in the World
(New York: Columbia University Press, 1988 [1950]). While I cannot accept Gehlens radi-
cal dichotomy between humans and all other animals, I have found much that is valuable in
his book. It was Lenny Moss who called my attention to Gehlens work. For Mosss develop-
ment of some of these ideas, see his Detachment, Genomics and the Nature of Being Hu-
man,Ž in
New Visions of Nature,
ed. M. Drenthen et al. (New York: Springer, 2009), 103… 115.
Notes to Pages 77…84
87. Burghardt,
Genesis of Animal Play,
73. Huizinga says, First and foremost, then, play
is a voluntary activity. Play to order is no longer playŽ (
Homo Ludens,
88. Burghardt,
Genesis of Animal Play,
89. Ibid., 75.
90. Ibid., 77… 78.
91. Ibid., 84.
92. Ibid., 87. See 83… 89 for his discussion of types of play.
93. All quotations in the last three paragraphs are from ibid., 119.
94. Ibid., 129.
95. Ibid., 172.
96. Ibid., 151… 156, discusses various theories of the relation of energy and play and warns
that the relation is complex and multidimensional. My discussion is necessarily simpli“
97. Marc Beko
and Jessica Pierce,
Wild Justice: 
e Moral Lives of Animals
Chicago University Press, 2009), 121.
98. Burghardt,
Genesis of Animal Play,
99. Ibid., 90.
100. Ibid.
101. De Waal,
Good Natured,
102. Ibid., 48.
103. Burghardt,
Genesis of Animal Play,
90… 98.
104. Gregory Bateson, in his essay A 
eory of Play and Fantasy,Ž in
Steps to an Ecol ogy of
(New York: Ballantine Books, 1972), writes, It appears that play is a phenomenon in
which the actions of play are related to, or denote, other actions of not play. We therefore
meet in play an instance of signals standing for other events, and it appears, therefore, that the
evolution of play may have been an important step in the evolution of communicationŽ (181).
On 179 he refers to the exchange of signals meaning this is playŽ as metacommunication.Ž
105. For a chart of chimpanzee gestures, several of which are used to initiate play, see
Michael Tomasello,
Origins of Human Communication
(Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press,
2008), 24.
106. Martin Buber,
I and 
(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996 [1923]). Walter
Kaufmann was the translator for this, the second translation of Bubers
Ich und Du;
Kaufmann kept the En glish title from the original 1937 translation, he consistently translates
the German phrase
Ich und Du
as I and You.Ž 
e “ rst translation, which gave the now-
indelible title to the book, uses 
ouŽ instead of YouŽ because
in German is second-
person singular, as is  ouŽ in En glish. But, as Kaufmann points out,
in German is
used to address lovers and intimate friends today, whereas, for centuries now, one would not
use 
ouŽ for such persons in En glish. 
ouŽ has an archaic and slightly pious connota-
tion entirely missing in the German usage of
for which YouŽ is a more accurate
107. Darwin himself, when speaking of insects, where the power of instinct seems almost
total, wrote, A little dose, as Pierre Huber expresses it, of judgment or reason, often comes
into play, even in animals very low in the scale of natureŽ (
108. Annotation by James T. Costa, on p. 488 of Darwin,
It is far from clear when the
earliest appearanceŽ of
Homo sapiens
really was, in a pro cess of speciation that was gradual.
Notes to Pages 73…77
groups. In this story altruism is only a bit player. 
e star is mutualism, in which we all ben-
t from our cooperation, but only if we work together, what we may call collaboration.Ž
Michael Tomasello,
Why We Cooperate
(Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2009).
71. De Waal,
e Age of Empathy,
72. Ibid., 74. Gordon Burghardt points out that, for example, reptiles, snakes, and igua-
nas are quite responsive to human behavior and that snake handlers who are con“
dent and
not antagonistic seldom get bitten. Personal communication.
73. Cold perspective- takingŽ may be limited, but it is essential for many human
activities„ science, for instance.
74. Ibid., 100,
75. Just a few of Frans de Waals books are
Chimpanzee Politics: Power and Sex among
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007 [1982]);
Good Natured: 
e Ori-
gins of Right and Wrong
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1996); and
mates and Phi los o phers: How Morality Evolved
(Prince ton: Prince ton University Press,
76. Gordon Burghardt, personal communication.
77. I learned of this early work of Maslow from Frans de Waals
Good Natured,
126… 127.
78. Ibid., 113.
79. Ibid., 123… 124.
80. Ibid., 103.
81. Ibid., 131. As a background for my discussion of dominance hierarchies, see ibid.,
chap. 3, Rank and Order,Ž 89… 132.
82. Ibid., 91… 92.
83. Johan Huizinga,
Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play Element in Culture
(Boston: Bea-
con Press, 1950 [1938]).
84. Gordon M. Burghardt,
e Genesis of Animal Play: Testing the Limits
Mass.: MIT Press, 2005), 81. I also found very helpful Robert Fagans book
Animal Play
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1981). Because Burghardt includes research
done since 1981, I have found it best to cite mainly him. I was also happy to learn from his
ac know ledg ments that work on his book went on over a more than 15- year periodŽ (xvi),
which is even longer than mine has taken, but not much longer.
85. Burghardt,
Genesis of Animal Play,
71. Huizinga says that play is di
erent from or-
dinary life.Ž
Homo Ludens,
86. Darwin took the phrase struggle for existenceŽ from 
omas Malthus and used it as
the title of chapter 3 of
On the Origin of Species
. Herbert Spencer coined the phrase survival
of the “
ttestŽ and “ rst used it in his
Principles of Biology
(N.p., 1864), 444. In the “ fth edi-
tion of
(1869), Darwin himself adopted the phrase. When discussing the struggle for
existence,Ž he wrote, 
e expression often used by Mr. Herbert Spencer of the Survival of the
Fittest is more accurate, and is sometimes equally con ve nient.Ž For Darwin both phrases
pointed to “
tness for reproduction, and the struggle could be with the environment as well as
other organisms. But Darwin uses such phrases as a species beatingŽ its competitors or
gaining victoryŽ over them often enough that the pop u lar meaning often seems implied.
Biologists today use neither phrase but speak only of natural selection.
Notes to Pages 66…73
51. Goulds most extensive discussion of Darwins ambiguous, ambivalent attitude to-
ward progress is in
Structure of Evolutionary 
475… 479.
52. Gould points out that the Cretaceous- Tertiary extinction event drove several groups
to extinction through no adaptive failure of their own, while imparting fortuitous exaptive
success to creatures that had lived throughout the long reign of dinosaurs, and never made
any headway toward replacement, or even toward shared dominion with one of the most
successful vertebrate groups in the history of life.Ž Ibid., 1332.
53. Sarah Bla
er Hrdy,
Mothers and Others:  e Evolutionary Origins of Mutual Under-
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2009).
54. Frans de Waal,
e Age of Empathy: Natures Lessons for a Kinder Society
(New York:
Harmony House, 2009), 123.
55. Ibid., 139.
56. Ibid., 67.
57. Hrdy,
Mothers and Others,
38… 39.
58. De Waal,
e Age of Empathy,
59. Gordon Burghardt suggests that this common view of reptiles is inaccurate and that
reptiles too may form bonds, have extensive parental care, have long- term mates, live in
extended kin groups, and so on.Ž Personal communication.
60. Irenäus Eibl- Eibesfeldt,
Love and Hate: 
e Natural History of Behavior Patterns
York: Aldine, 1996 [1971]), 128.
61. Ibid., 127.
62. Ibid., 111.
63. Freud, using a broad de“ nition of sexuality, would see parental care itself as sexual, as
the importance of the mammary glands so clearly indicates. But whereas sexual reproduc-
tion goes back to the eukaryotes, parental care is much more recent. 
ey overlap, but be-
cause their origins are so di
erent, con” ict between sexuality and love is a recurrent prob-
lem, obviously among humans.
64. Eibl- Eibesfeldt,
Love and Hate,
65. Ibid., 65… 66. It is worth remembering that premodern human warfare, though often
costly in lives, was also often moderated by ritualized rules of combat. To give an ancient
Chinese example: it would not be fair to attack an invading army while they are crossing a
river, as they would be too vulnerable. Total warŽ is a modern invention.
66. Hrdy,
Mothers and Others,
67. De Waal,
e Age of Empathy,
68. Ibid., 48.
69. Ibid., 77.
70. Ibid., 75. Although Michael Tomasello on the whole argues for the uniqueness of hu-
man capacities relative to our primate relatives, in contrast to de Waal, who sees strong simi-
larities (probably each is right from his own perspective), interestingly he shares de Waals
skepticism about the argument over altruism, talking about mutualism,Ž which seems simi-
lar to de Waals merging.Ž He writes: I will certainly not solve the evolution- of- altruism
problem here. But that is okay because I do not believe it is the central pro cess anyway; that
is, I do not believe altruism is the pro cess primarily responsible for human cooperation in the
larger sense of humans tendency and ability to live and operate together in institution- based
Notes to Pages 59…66
the remarkable characteristics of bacteria and why we still live in the age of bacteria,Ž see
Stephen Jay Gould,
Full House: 
e Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin
(New York:
Harmony House, 1996), esp. 167… 216.
30. Gould,
Full House.
31. Christian,
Maps of Time,
113, quoting Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan,
mos: Four Billion Years of Microbial Evolution
(New York: Summit Books, 1986), 114.
32. John Maynard Smith and Eörs Szathmáry,
e Major Transitions in Evolution
(Oxford: W. H. Freeman, 1995).
33. Marc W. Kirschner and John C. Gerhart,
e Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwins
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005).
34. Ibid., 256.
35. Ibid., 47.
36. Ibid., 253.
37. Ibid., 255.
38. Ibid., 51… 55, 255.
39. Ibid., 55… 57, 255… 256.
40. Ibid., 57… 58.
41. Gould,
Full House,
175… 176.
42. Kirschner and Gerhart,
e Plausibility of Life,
43. Ibid., 68… 69.
44. Richard Dawkins,
 e Sel“ sh Gene
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), v.
45. Kirschner and Gerhart,
e Plausibility of Life,
252… 253. Another evolutionary biolo-
gist whose work complements that of Kirschner and Gerhart is Mary Jane West- Eberhard.
Like them she emphasizes the role of the organism (phenotype) in its own evolution: I
consider genes followers, not leaders, in adaptive evolution. A very large body of evidence
shows that phenotype novelty is largely reor gan i za tion al rather than a product of innovative
genes. Even if reor ga ni za tion was initiated by a mutation, a gene of major e
ect on regula-
tion, selection would lead to ge ne tic accommodation, that is, ge ne tic change that follows,
and is directed by, the reor ga nized condition of the phenotype. Some authors have expressed
this pattern as phenotype precedes genotype. Ž West- Eberhard, Developmental Plasticity
and the Origin of Species Di
erences,Ž in
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
102, suppl. 1 (2005): 6547. See also her book
Developmental Plasticity and Evolution
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2003).
46. Kirschner and Gerhart,
e Plausibility of Life,
47. Merlin Donald,
Origins of the Modern Mind: 
ree Stages in the Evolution of Culture
and Cognition
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991).
48. Kirschner and Gerhart,
e Plausibility of Life,
1… 5.
49. Ibid., 271… 273.
50. Charles Darwin,
On the Origin of Species: A Facsimile of the First Edition,
by James T. Costa (Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2009
[1859]), 345. 
e relevant sentence is: 
e inhabitants of each successive period in the
worlds history have beaten their pre de ces sors in the race for life, and are, in so far, higher in
the scale of nature; and this may account for that vague yet ill- de“ ned sentiment, felt by
many palaeontologists, that or ga ni za tion on the whole has progressed.Ž
Notes to Pages 54…58
leading to what he believes to be the decline and probable extinction of religious belief. At the
time I wrote a letter to the
suggesting that Weinberg had as much standing to discuss
religion as I do to discuss theoretical physics. 
ey decided not to publish my letter. Upon
reading Weinbergs essay again in preparation for this chapter, I think they were right. 
essay is a personal memoir, not a scholarly discussion, and from a man of his distinction, ap-
propriate for the
As to the universe, his view in 2008 was much the same as in 1977.
He writes, 
e worldview of science is rather chillingŽ as we dont “ nd any point to life laid
out to us in nature.Ž 
us he lives his life on a knife- edge, between wishful thinking on the
one hand and, on the other, despair.Ž But he has his consolations: not only in the joy of his
work as a physicist, but in the New En gland countryside in the spring and in the poetry of
Shakespeare. Yet he concludes with a kind of hard stoicism: 
ere is a certain honor, or
perhaps just a grim satisfaction, in facing up to our condition without despair and without
wishful thinking„ with good humor, but without GodŽ (76).
21. Weinberg,
 e First 
ree Minutes,
154… 155.
22. Midgley quotes Marcus Aurelius as expressing a somewhat more grown- up relation to
the universe: Whether the world subsists by a fortuitous concourse of atoms, or an intelli-
gent Nature presides over it, let this be laid down as a maxim, that I am part of a whole,
governed by its own nature . . . I shall never be displeased by what is allotted to me by that
whole . . . Let us then properly employ this moment of time allotted to us by fate, and leave
the world contentedly, like a ripe olive dropping from its stalk, speaking well of the soil that
produced it, and of the tree that bore it.Ž
10.6 and 4.39. Quoted in Midgley,
106. We should remember that in Marcuss Stoicism there was the belief that the
world goes through cycles, ending in general con”
agrations before beginning again. I might
also note that Marcuss comments are a rebuke to my earlier comment on the cheerlessness
of the cosmic metanarrative.
23. Richard Dawkins,
e God Delusion
(Boston: Houghton Mi%
in, 2006), 406… 407.
24. Ibid., 408.
25. Ibid., 162.
26. Ibid., 169… 170.
27. Ibid., 162.
28. Although I am in no position to judge, the idea of emergence as opposed to sheer
chance is appealing to me. Among those who have pursued the idea of emergence are Stuart
At Home in the Universe: 
e Search for the Laws of Self- Organization and Complex-
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1995); Harold J. Morowitz,
e Emergence of Every-
thing: How the World Became Complex
(New York: Oxford University Press, 2002); and Ter-
rence Deacon, Emergence:  e Hole at the Wheels Hub,Ž in
e Re- Emergence of Emergence,
ed. Philip Clayton and Paul Davies (New York: Oxford University Press, 2006), 111… 150.
Deacons forthcoming book develops these ideas more fully. See Terrence W. Deacon,
from Matter: 
e Emergent Dynamics of Life.
At an earlier period when emergence “
rst became
an issue, George Herbert Mead, one of the found ers of sociology, strongly advocated it. See
Selected Writings
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964), esp. 277 and 345.
29. Stephen Jay Gould,
e Structure of Evolutionary 
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard
University Press, 2002), 898; see the chart of the three domains, with the three tiny twigs on
the far right, 899. Archaea are the third kind of monocellular organisms that were discovered
relatively recently and that for my purposes can safely be ignored. For a fuller treatment of
Notes to Pages 45…54
2. Religion and Evolution
1. David Christian,
Maps of Time: An Introduction to Big History
(Berkeley: University of
California Press, 2004), 6. Italics in original.
2. Eric J. Chaisson,
Cosmic Evolution: 
e Rise of Complexity in Nature
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2001), 211… 213.
3. Mary Midgley,
Evolution as a Religion
(New York: Routledge, 2006 [1985]), 8.
4. Ibid., 5.
5. Ibid., 2, quoting Jacques Monod,
Chance and Necessity
(London: Fontana, 1974
[1970]), 160.
6. Oliver Sacks: Darwin and the Meaning of Flowers,Ž
New York Review of Books
(2008): 67.
7. It is sometimes noted that Hindu and Buddhist mea sures of time are even larger than
those of modern cosmology; the kalpa, for example, comes in many lengths, but the largest
is the mahakalpa or great kalpa, which is 1.28 trillion years long, whereas the universe of
c cosmology is a mere 13.5 billion years. However, the great kalpa is made up of
smaller kalpas, and kalpas of still smaller units, in a continual repetition, with each smaller
unit having a par tic u lar characteristic, such as a decline in morality, though it is really a cy-
cle of the world as we know it, until the world ends and a new cycle begins. 
us, though the
units are im mense, they are intelligible in human terms in a way that scienti“
c cosmological
time isnt, or isnt readily.
8. Here I, like the scientists I have quoted, am getting into the act with a statement that
will have to be quali“
ed as we go along.
9. Steven Weinberg,
e First 
ree Minutes
(New York: Basic Books, 1993 [1977]), 140.
10. KŽ stands for Kelvin, a temperature scale that is based, not like Celsius on the melt-
ing point of ice, but on absolute zero„ that is, no heat at all.
11. Weinberg,
 e First 
ree Minutes,
12. Steven Weinberg, at the beginning of
e First 
ree Minutes,
quotes a Norse creation
myth to show how many questions it leaves unanswered, apparently unaware of the irony
that his own narrative raises many as yet unanswered questions, as science always does,
which is not to say that it isnt an improvement on the Norse narrative, insofar as we under-
stand that myth as quasi- scienti“
c explanation.
13. Christian,
Maps of Time,
502… 503.
14. For cosmic history I am relying mainly on Weinberg,
e First 
ree Minutes;
Maps of Time;
and Chaisson,
Cosmic Evolution.
I have also checked a few websites to see
whether what these books say has been superseded. Most of cosmic history is so staggering
in terms of time, size, speed, and heat as to tax my imagination, so I can only recount what
I barely understand.
15. Christian,
Maps of Time,
16. Ibid., 62.
17. Ibid., 63.
18. Weinberg,
 e First 
ree Minutes,
19. Midgley,
96, 157.
20. For Weinbergs atheism, see his essay Without God,Ž
New York Review of Books,
September 25, 2008, 73… 76. In this essay he discusses several features of religion that are
Notes to Pages 40…43
streets and buildings of old cities: it would be better to start afresh with reason alone. Yet
Descartes admits that it is not customary to pull down all the buildings of a town with the
single design of rebuilding them di
Discourse on Method,
11… 13.
94. Ernest Gellner,
Postmodernism, Reason and Religion
(London: Routledge, 1992), 51.
Gellner is a$
rming a term criticized by Cli
ord Geertz in Anti Anti- RelativismŽ (
can Anthropologist
86 [1984]: 276 n. 2), which Gellner “ rst used in
Spectacles and Predica-
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), 146. Herbert Fingarette in
e Self
in Transformation,
233… 234, describes some of the costs of being on our side of the Big
Ditch: It is unfortunate that our slavery to the physical- causal mode of thought is so
great that many attempts to assign ontological primacy to the human, the dramatic reali-
ties, are beset by charges of mysti“
cation, obscurantist irrationalism, even„ ironically„
antihumanism. It is ironic that the directly graspable world of human beings in dramatic
con” ict, the world that has been familiar to humankind since the beginnings of the race„
all this we now “ nd dark, obstreperous, esoteric, even silly or boring. 
world in
the West has become peripheral and surreptitious, an underground world.Ž
95. Stanley Tambiah,
Magic, Science, Religion, and the Scope of Rationality
(New York:
Cambridge University Press, 1990), 89, quoting from Lucien Febvre,
e Problem of Unbelief
in the Sixteenth Century: 
e Religion of Rabelais,
trans. Beatrice Gottlieb (Cambridge,
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1982), 356… 357.
96. Michael Polanyi,
Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post- Critical Philosophy
University of Chicago Press, 1958), chap. 6.
97. Jerome Bruner,
Possible Worlds, Actual Minds
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Press, 1986). Bruner writes: [Science] rides from time to time on wild meta phors . . . 
history of science is full of them. 
ey are crutches to help us get up the abstract mountain.
Once up, we throw them away (even hide them) in favor of a formal, logically consistent
theory that (with luck) can be stated in mathematical or near- mathematical terms. 
e for-
mal models that emerge are shared, carefully guarded against attack, and prescribe ways of
life for their users. 
e meta phors that aided in this achievement are usually forgotten or, if
the ascent turns out to be important, are made not part of science but part of the history of
scienceŽ (48). On falsi“
cation, see Karl Popper,
Objective Knowledge: An Evolutionary Ap-
(Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1972.)
98. Cited in Stanley Tambiah,
Magic, Science, Religion, and the Scope of Rationality
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 17.
99. Cited in Polanyi,
Personal Knowledge,
100. Burke,
A Grammar of Motives,
503… 504.
omas Kuhn,
e Structure of Scienti“ c Revolutions,
2nd ed. (Chicago: University
of Chicago Press, 1970 [1962]).
102. Ernest Gellner,
Postmodernism, Reason and Religion,
58… 60.
103. From ScienceŽ (1925), in Robinson Je
Selected Poems
(New York: Vintage,
1965), 39.
104. Cited in Polanyi,
Personal Knowledge,
199, quoting from Russells
Mysticism and
(New York: Norton 1929 [1910]), 62.
Notes to Pages 34…40
79. Ibid., 89. 
is study is reported in Katherine Nelson, ed.,
Narratives from the Crib
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1989).
80. Bruner,
Acts of Meaning,
111… 113. 
e Roy Schafer quotation occurs on p. 111.
Herbert Fingarette made essentially the same argument in
e Self in Transformation,
esp. chap. 1.
81. Bruner,
Acts of Meaning,
82. Erving Go
e Pre sen ta tion of Self in Everyday Life
(Garden City, N.Y.: Double-
day, 1959 [1956]).
83. Anderson,
Imagined Communities,
197… 206. Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger
have edited a valuable book about this pro cess:
e Invention of Tradition
(Cambridge: Cam-
bridge University Press, 1983).
84. Bruner,
Acts of Meaning,
50. Bruner is drawing from Kenneth Burke,
A Grammar of
(New York: Prentice- Hall, 1945), but with some changes of terminology: Goal in-
stead of Purpose, Instrument instead of Agency. Although Trouble is an appropriately
Burkean term, I could not “ nd it in
A Grammar of Motives.
85. W. E. H. Stanner,
On Aboriginal Religion,
Oceania Monograph 11 (Sydney: Univer-
sity of Sydney, 1966 [1959… 1963]), 40. Narrative continues to be central even in the most
sophisticated religious discourse. See Stanley Hauerwas and L. Gregory Jones, eds.,
Narrative? Readings in Narrative 
(Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1989).
86. Anderson,
Imagined Communities,
205… 206.
87. Bruner,
Acts of Meaning,
88. Kenneth Burke,
e Rhetoric of Religion
(Boston: Beacon Press, 1961), chap. 3, 
ree Chapters of Genesis,Ž 172… 272.
89. Piaget,
e Childs Conception of the World,
90. Piaget,
Play, Dreams and Imitation,
288. In
Cultural Origins
Tomasello argues, on the
basis of much new research, that children learn to understand the intentions of others at a
much earlier age than Piaget believed (140… 145). Nevertheless, it probably takes some time
for that understanding to be fully appreciated.
omas Hobbes,
De Corpore
(1655), in Hobbes,
Body, Man, and Citizen,
ed. Richard
S. Peters (New York: Collier, 1962), 3.7.48.
omas Hobbes,
ed. C. B. MacPherson (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968
[1651]), 102, 147, 160.
93. Eugen Rosenstock- Huessy,
Out of Revolution
(Windsor, Vt.: Argo, 1969), 754, 756.
e passage of Descartes on which Rosenstock- Huessy is elaborating is: And because we
have all to pass through a state of infancy to manhood, and have been of necessity, for a
length of time, governed by our desires and our preceptors (whose dictates were frequently
con” icting, while neither perhaps always counselled us for the best), I further concluded that
it is almost impossible that our judgments can be so correct or solid as they would have been,
had our Reason been mature from the moment of our birth, and had we always been guided
by it alone.Ž René Descartes,
Discourse on Method,
trans. John Veitch (LaSalle, Ill.: Open
Court, 1946 [1637]),13. Earlier in part 2 Descartes speaks (meta phor ical ly&) of ancient cities
in which over time the streets have become crooked and the buildings jumbled and of ill-
tting sizes and styles, comparing them unfavorably to cities newly, and rationally, laid out
with buildings of harmonious size and style. 
e books and ideas of the ages are like the
Notes to Pages 28…34
61. Piaget,
Childs Conception of the World,
69… 70.
62. From An Ordinary Eve ning in New Haven,Ž in
Collected Poems,
473. Or again, from
Man Carrying 
ingŽ (1947), in
Collected Poems,
350: 
e poem must resist the intelli-
gence / Almost successfully.Ž
63. Schutz, Making Music Together,Ž 173.
64. Langer,
Philosophy in a New Key,
65. John L. Austin,
How to Do 
ings with Words
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Press, 1962).
66. Helen Vendler, Shakespeares Sonnets: Reading for Di
Notes to Pages 22…27
44. Paul Ricoeur,
e Symbolism of Evil
(New York: Harper and Row, 1967), 12… 13. In
speaking of hierophanies Ricoeur is drawing on the work of Mircea Eliade,
Patterns in Com-
parative Religion
(New York: Sheed and Ward, 1958 [1949]).
45. Bruner,
Studies in Cognitive Growth,
xv. Just because images or symbols have mus-
cles,Ž we must add to Paul Ricoeurs dictum that the symbol gives rise to thoughtŽ the no-
tion that the symbol gives rise to acts. Ricoeur,
e Symbolism of Evil,
347… 355.
46. Rhoda Kellogg and Scott ODell,
e Psychology of Childrens Art
(New York: CRM…
Random House, 1967), 19… 25. 
e joy of this book is in the reproductions of childrens
paintings, so full of life, particularly before they become literal.
47. Ibid., 27… 34.
48. Ibid., 35… 41.
49. Ibid., 53… 63. See also Jose and Miriam Arguelles,
(Berkeley: Shambala,
1972); and Carl G. Jung et. al.,
Man and His Symbols
(Garden City: Doubleday, 1964). Jung
treats mandala forms primarily as expressions of individuation,Ž thus perhaps unduly psy-
chologizing them.
50. Susanne K. Langer,
Philosophy in a New Key
(New York: Penguin, 1948 [1942]), 198.
Chapter 8, On Signi“
cance in Music,Ž is an excellent review of the older modern literature on
symbolism in music.
51. Alfred Schutz, Making Music Together,Ž in
Collected Papers,
vol. 2 (
e Hague:
Martinus Nijho
, 1964 [1951]), 173.
52. Ibid., 175.
53. Patricia Cox Miller, In Praise of Nonsense,Ž in
Classical Mediterranean Spirituality,
ed. A. H. Armstrong (New York: Crossroad, 1989), 498.
54. Ibid., 499.
55. Allan Bloom,
e Closing of the American Mind
(New York: Simon and Schuster,
1987). Bloom writes: My concern here is not with the moral e
Notes to Pages 19…22
29. Ibid., 6… 8. Bruners distinction is similar to the distinction between models of and
models for in Cli
ord Geertzs Religion as a Cultural SystemŽ [1966], in
e Interpretation
of Cultures
(New York: Basic Books, 1973), 93… 94.
30. Bruner,
Studies in Cognitive Growth,
e reference is to A. R. Luria,
e Role of
Speech in the Regulation of Normal and Abnormal Behavior
(New York: Pergamon, 1961).
31. Bruner,
Studies in Cognitive Growth,
32. Ibid., 21.
33. George Herbert Mead,
Mind, Self and Society,
ed. Charles W. Morris (Chicago: Uni-
versity of Chicago Press, 1934), 42… 43. See also Social Consciousness and the Conscious-
ness of MeaningŽ (1910), in Mead,
Selected Writings,
ed. Andrew J. Reck (Chicago: Univer-
sity of Chicago Press, 1964), 123… 124.
34. Dogen (1200… 1253) in the BendowaŽ section of the
said: 
e view that
practice [
] and enlightenment are not one is heretical. In the Buddha-
dharma they are one. Inasmuch as practice is based on enlightenment, the practice of a be-
ginner is all of original enlightenment. 
erefore, in giving the instruction for practice, a
Zen master advises his disciples not to seek enlightenment beyond practice, for practice itself
is original enlightenment. Because it is already enlightenment of practice, there is no end to
enlightenment; because it is already practice of enlightenment, there is no beginning to
practice.Ž Hee- Jin Kim,
Dogen Kigen„ Mystical Realist
(Tucson: University of Arizona Press,
1975), 79. For another translation, see Masao Abe and Norman Waddell, trans., Dogens
Bendowa,Ž in
 e Eastern Buddhist
4 (1971): 144.
35. R. R. Marett,
reshold of Religion,
2nd ed. (London: Methuen, 1914), xxxi.
Maretts contrast is inaccurate to the degree that enactive repre sen ta tion is also a kind of
thinking„ thinking with the body. As Piaget says, language is not enough to explain thought,
because the structures that characterize thought have their roots in action and in sensorimotor
mechanisms that are deeper than linguistics.Ž Jean Piaget,
Six Psychological Studies
(New York:
Random House, 1967), 98. If, however, Marett is arguing that religion is not simply a matter
of conceptual belief, as many of his contemporaries thought, his oft- quoted remark still has a
36. Richard Ellmann,
e Man and the Masks
(New York: Macmillan, 1948), 285.
37. Piaget and Inhelder,
Psychology of the Child,
57… 63. In Piagets theoretical vocabulary,
assimilation involves the transformation of reality to suit the preexisting schemas of the
child, whereas accommodation involves the alteration of those schemas in order to adapt to
us there is something subjectiveŽ about assimilation.
38. Exercise play involves, for example, banging. When the child learns to bang, it will
bang any object within reach for the sheer plea sure of exercising this new capacity. Ibid., 59.
39. Jean Piaget,
e Childs Conception of the World
(Paterson: Little“
eld, Adams, 1960),
169… 251. 
e quali“
cations about Piagets notion of adualism also apply to his idea of
40. Piaget and Inhelder,
Psychology of the Child,
41. Jerome Bruner,
Childs Talk: Learning to Use Language
(New York: Norton, 1983), 46.
42. Jerome S. Bruner, Nature and Uses of Immaturity,Ž in
e Growth of Competence,
ed. Kevin Connolly and Jerome Bruner (London: Academic Press, 1974), 32.
43. Sigmund Freud, Mourning and Melancholia,Ž in
Collected Papers,
vol. 4 (London:
Hogarth, 1956 [1917]), 152… 170.
Notes to Pages 11…19
20. George Lindbeck,
e Nature of Doctrine
(Philadelphia: Westminster, 1984), 16,
31… 41.
21. Jean Piaget and Barbel Inhelder,
e Psychology of the Child
(New York: Basic Books,
plicitly owes much to Piaget. 
e clearest exposition of Piagets three categories that are
cognate with Bruners, and so with mine, can be found in Jean Piaget,
Play, Dreams and
Imitation in Childhood
(New York: Norton, 1962), a book whose original title,
La forma-
tion du symbole,
is more accurately descriptive. 
ere Piaget speaks of sensory- motor ac-
tivity,Ž egocentric representative activity,Ž and operational activity.Ž Piaget uses the term
symbolŽ to characterize what he calls egocentric repre sen ta tional activity, for reasons that
will be explained below. My use of the term symbolic repre sen ta tionŽ is thus closer to
Piagets original usage. Because there is no agreement about terminology in this area, one
can only try to be clear about what one means by par tic u lar terms.
Somnium Scipionis
is found in book 6 of Ciceros
De Re Publica,
in Cicero,
De Re
Publica, De Legibus,
Loeb Classical Library (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press,
1923), 260… 283.
24. Robert N. Bellah,
Tokugawa Religion
(New York: Free Press, 1957), 201… 202.
25. Émile Durkheim,
Elementary Forms,
26. Bruner,
Studies in Cognitive Growth,
16. Bruner notes the priority of looking behav-
iorŽ to sensorimotor manipulation in early childhood learning, which is a modi“
cation of
Piagets view, but Bruner still a$
rms Piagets insight. On how much the very young child
can knowŽ just by looking, see Michael Tomasello,
e Cultural Origins of Human Cogni-
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1999), 57… 58.
27. Bruner,
Studies in Cognitive Growth,
17, quoting from Jean Piaget,
e Construction of
Reality in the Child
(New York: Basic Books, 1954).
28. Bruner,
Studies in Cognitive Growth,
11. Bruner notes that in a personal communica-
tion Piaget doubts whether what we have been calling enactive repre sen ta tion ought to be
called repre sen ta tion at all, for it is questionable whether action stands for or represents
anything beyond itselfŽ (10).
Notes to Pages 4…10
ties that are also cultural. In general, however, Jamess insistence on pluralismŽ was as much
ontological as it was psychological.
Chuang Tzu,
47… 48.
9. Abraham Maslow,
Toward a Psychology of Being
(Prince ton: Van Nostrand, 1962).
Maslow is particularly interested in what he calls peak experiences, which may or may not be
explicitly religious.
10. Michael Murphy, in
e Future of the Body
(Los Angeles: Tarcher/Perigree, 1993), 444,
writes that in sports, concentration can produce a state of mind graced by extraordinary clarity
and focus. British golfer Tony Jacklin said, for example: When Im in this state, this cocoon of
concentration, Im fully in the present, not moving out of it. Im aware of every half inch of my
swing . . . Im absolutely engaged, involved in what Im doing at that par tic u lar moment. 
the important thing. 
ats the di$
cult state to arrive at. It comes and it goes, and the pure fact
that you go out on the “
rst tee of a tournament and say, I must concentrate today,Ž is no good. It
wont work. It has to already be there. Many sportspeople have described the zone, a condition
beyond their normal functioning. Describing such a condition to me, quarterback John Brodie
said: Often in the heat and excitement of a game, a players perception and coordination will
improve dramatically. At times, and with increasing frequency now, I experience a kind of clarity
that Ive never seen adequately described in a football story. As they try to describe such experi-
ence, athletes sometimes begin to use meta phors similar to those used in religious writing. Listen-
ing to such accounts, I have come to believe that athletic feats can mirror contemplative graces.Ž
11. Herbert Richardson,
Toward an American 
(New York: Harper and Row,
1967), 57.
12. Ibid., 60, quoting Edwards, Memoirs,Ž in
e Works of Jonathan Edwards,
vol. 1
(New York, 1881), 16.
13. Václav Havel,
Letters to Olga
(New York: Knopf, 1988 [1984]), 331… 332.
14. Wallace Stevens, from Notes toward a Supreme Fiction,Ž in
e Collected Poems of
Wallace Stevens
(New York: Knopf, 1955), 386.
15. Alfred Schutz, Symbol, Reality, SocietyŽ (1955), in
Collected Papers,
1:287… 356.
16. Kenneth Burke,
Language as Symbolic Action
(Berkeley: University of California
Press, 1966), 298… 299. Burke proposes a new En glish verb, to beyond,Ž which would mean
to see something in terms of something beyond it. Burke argues that Aristotles theory of
tragedy involves a kind of beyonding when catharsis transcends pity and fear. He gives as an
example Sophocless
Oedipus at Colonus:
We feel pity and fear at his [Oedipuss] death pre-
cisely when he is transcending the miseries of this world„ that is,
going beyond
them, and
becoming a
tutelary deity
Ž (299, Burkes italics).
17. Alasdair MacIntyre,
After Virtue
(South Bend, Ind.: Notre Dame University Press,
1981), 174… 183.
18. Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi,
e Psychology of Optimal Experience
(New York:
Harper and Row, 1990), chap. 7.
19. Victor Turner, Liminal to Liminoid in Play, Flow, and Ritual: An Essay in Compara-
tive Symbology,Ž
Rice University Studies
60, no. 3 (1974): 53… 92. Ritual in the pejorative
sense, as, for example, in Robert Mertons notion of ritualism, means meaningless or obses-
sive repetition. See Robert K. Merton,
Social Structure and Social 
(Glencoe, Ill.: Free
Press, 1957), 150, 184.
Notes to Pages xxii…4
32. Derek Bickerton,
Adams Tongue: How Humans Made Language, How Language Made
(New York: Hill and Wang, 2009), 194.
33. Gordon M. Burghardt,
e Genesis of Animal Play: Testing the Limits
Mass.: MIT Press, 2005), 118… 121.
34. When I “ rst gave an oral pre sen ta tion at the University of Chicago of what became
my 1964 article Religious Evolution,Ž Geertz was in the audience. After I “ nished, he came
up to me and said, I loved your talk even though I disagree with it entirely.Ž 
e talk was
published as Robert N. Bellah, Religious Evolution,Ž
American So cio log i cal Review
(1964): 358… 374; reprinted most recently in
e Robert Bellah Reader,
ed. Robert N. Bellah
and Steven M. Tipton (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2006), 23… 50.
35. Stephen Jay Gould,
Full House: 
e Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin
York: Harmony Books, 1996).
36. Leszek Kolakowski,
Modernity on Endless Trial
(Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1997).
1. Religion and Reality
1. Émile Durkheim,
e Elementary Forms of Religious Life,
trans. Karen E. Fields (New
York: Free Press, 1995 [1912]), 44. Durkheims full de“ nition reads as follows: A religion is
a uni“
ed system of beliefs and practices relative to sacred things, that is to say, things set
apart and forbidden
(séparées, interdites)
„ beliefs and practices which unite into one single
moral community called a Church, all those who adhere to them.Ž In the original the entire
de“ nition is in italics. See Émile Durkheim,
Les formes élémentaires de la vie religieuse
Presse Universitaires de France, 1968), 65.
2. Alfred Schutz, Multiple RealitiesŽ (1945), in
Collected Papers,
vol. 1,
e Problem of
Social Reality
e Hague: Martinus Nijho
, 1967), 207… 259.
3. Weber contrasted the extraordinary to the everyday, and argued for a special relation
between the extraordinary and charisma,Ž a key term in his sociology, especially his sociol-
ogy of religion. Webers is one in”
uential version of a contrast we will observe repeatedly in
this chapter. See Weber, Charisma and Its Transformations,Ž in
Economy and Society,
ed. G.
Roth and C. Wittich (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978 [1921]), 2:1111… 12.
4. Alfred Schutz, Multiple Realities,Ž 229.
e Complete Works of Chuang Tzu,
trans. Burton Watson (New York: Columbia Uni-
versity Press, 1968) [hereafter cited as
Chuang Tzu
], 49.
6. Freud pointed out this di
erence when he saw dreams as operating with what he called
primary pro cess, quite di
erent from the secondary pro cess that governs our world of daily life.
See Freud,
e Interpretation of Dreams
(London: Allen and Unwin, 1954 [1900]), chap. 7, sec.
E, 
e Primary and Secondary Processes„ Regression,Ž 588… 609.
7. William James,
e Principles of Psychology
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University
Press, 1983 [1890]), 929. 
is reference is to chapter 21, 
e Perception of Reality,Ž where
James speaks of multiple realitiesŽ and worldsŽ interchangeably. Schutz, at the beginning
of his famous essay Multiple Realities,Ž acknowledges James as the source of his terminol-
ogy. For James, however, realities are subjective, whereas in Schutzs phenomenological ap-
proach they are intersubjective. James is concerned with mental realities, Schutz with reali-
Notes to Pages xv…xxii
Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam
(Baltimore: Johns Hop-
kins University Press, 1993), 27… 54. But early readers of this Preface pointed out to me that
Asads essay has shaped a whole generations thinking about Geertz. Although I have read
the essay carefully and more than once, I cannot here take the time to refute Asads asser-
tions one by one. I can only recommend to serious readers that they read Geertz himself to
see whether Asads charges apply. Also they might have a look at the references to Geertz in
Edward Saids
(New York: Pantheon Books, 1978) for the di
erence between
Saids view and Asads.
20. Geertz, Religion,Ž 119, citing Alfred Schutz, On Multiple Realities,Ž in Schutzs
Papers, vol. 1,
e Problem of Social Reality
e Hague: Martinus Nijho
, 1967),
226… 228.
21. Geertz, Religion,Ž 111, citing Schutz, On Multiple Realities,Ž 208… 209.
22. Schutz, On Multiple Realities,Ž 229.
23. Stephen Jay Gould was probably getting at something similar to Geertzs notion of
cultural spheres when he spoke of science and religion as non- overlapping magisteria,Ž non-
overlapping because they are doing di erent things, one dealing with fact and the explana-
tion of facts, and the other with ultimate meaning and moral value. See Gould,
Rocks of
Ages: Science and Religion in the Fullness of Life
(New York: Ballantine Books, 2002). Whether
cultural spheres can ever fail entirely to overlap as they impinge on the world of daily life is
open to question.
24. Geertz, Religion,Ž 111.
25. Ibid., 112… 114.
26. Ibid., 118. Mary Midgley, without mentioning Geertz, succinctly summarizes his
point when she says that a religion has the power to make sense of a threatening and chaotic
world by dramatizing it.Ž Mary Midgely,
Evolution as a Religion
(New York: Routledge,
2006 [1985]), 18.
27. Geertz, Religion,Ž 119.
28. Merlin Donald,
Origins of the Modern Mind: 
ree Stages in the Evolution of Culture
and Cognition
(Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991). He has developed his
argument further in
A Mind So Rare: 
e Evolution of Human Consciousness
(New York:
Norton, 1999).
e term comes from Karl Jaspers,
e Origin and Goal of History
(London: Rout-
ledge and Kegan Paul, 1953 [1949]), and will be discussed further at the start of Chapter 6.
30. Mark Strand, On Becoming a Poet,Ž in
e Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of
Notes to Pages xii…xiv
also Eva Jablonka and Marion J. Lamb,
Evolution in Four Dimensions: Ge ne tic, Epige ne tic,
Behavioral, and Symbolic Variation in the History of Life
(Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press,
10. Marc Kirschner and John Gerhart,
e Plausibility of Life: Resolving Darwins Di-
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 2005), 252… 253.
11. One line of thought within evolutionary psychology has argued that several features
of religion are ge ne tic, involving modulesŽ for such things as supernatural beings.Ž But
many students of psychological and cultural evolution remain unconvinced. 
at there is a
religion geneŽ or a God geneŽ is most unlikely.
12. Derek Bickerton,
Roots of Language
(Ann Arbor: Karoma, 1981), 216. For a fuller devel-
opment of this idea, see Bickertons
Language and Species
(Chicago: Chicago University Press,
1990), esp. chap. 4, 
e Origins of Repre sen ta tional Systems.Ž
13. F. John Odling- Smee, Keven N. Laland, and Marcus W. Feldman,
Niche Construc-
e Neglected Pro cess in Evolution
(Prince ton: Prince ton University Press, 2003), 186;
also see table 4.1 on p. 176, which compares natural selection and niche construction. Ter-
rence W. Deacon, in his work in progress,
Mind from Matter: 
e Emergent Dynamics of Life,
stresses the inevitability of teleological thinking where organisms are concerned.
14. Odling- Smee, Laland, and Feldman,
Niche Construction,
365… 366; see also 21, 243.
15. For an accessible discussion of these capacities, see Marc Beko
and Jessica Pierce,
Wild Justice: 
e Moral Lives of Animals
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009). See
also Frans de Waal,
e Age of Empathy: Natures Lessons for a Kinder Society
(New York: Har-
mony House, 2009).
16. Richard Dawkins,
River out of Eden
(New York: Basic Books, 1995), 133. I found this
and one of the previous quotes from
Sel“ sh Gene
in Roughgarden,
e Genial Gene,
without page citations. I got the books (and several others by Dawkins that she refers to) in
order to “ nd the page numbers and ended up reading them. I came to have considerable re-
spect for Dawkins but also to believe that too often he allows his rhetoric to get away from
him. I have also learned that biology is a contentious “
eld, more like social science than I had
imagined, and that Dawkinss views cannot be taken as representative of the present state of
the “
17. Cli
ord Geertz, especially in his essay on religion as a cultural system, hovers over
most of the rest of this Preface in ways that I did not expect he would until I reread that essay
in preparation for writing this Preface. I cannot quite forgive Cli
for dying at the age of 80
and thus not being able to read and respond to what I have written.
18. Geertzs full de“ nition is this: Religion is (1) a system of symbols which acts to (2)
establish powerful, pervasive, and long- lasting moods and motivations in men by (3) formu-
lating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing these conceptions with
such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic.Ž
Geertz, Religion as a Cultural System,Ž in
e Interpretation of Cultures
(New York: Basic
Books, 1973 [1966]), 90.
19. I had originally thought I would remain silent about Talal Asads essay on Geertz and
his conception of religion, with my silence speaking for itself. Asads essay was “ rst published
as Anthropological Conceptions of Religion: Re”
ections on Geertz,Ž
n.s., 18 (1983):
237… 259, and reprinted in revised and somewhat more moderate form in his
Genealogies of
omas Mann,
Joseph and His Brothers
(New York: Knopf, 1958), 32… 33.
2. Although I thought I knew the
well, it was only when Yang Xiao called this
passage to my attention that I saw that it belonged with the “ rst two epigraphs I long had in
mind. See Yang Xiao, How Confucius Does 
ings with Words: Two Hermeneutic Para-
digms in the
and Its Exegeses,Ž
Journal of Asian Studies
66 (2007): 513.
3. Eric Hobsbawm,
e Age of Extremes: 
e Short Twentieth Century, 1914… 1991
don: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1994), 15, as cited in David Christian,
Maps of Time: An In-
troduction to Big History
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2004).
4. Christian,
Maps of Time;
Daniel Lord Smail,
On Deep History and the Brain
University of California Press, 2008).
5. An early trenchant argument for this coevolution is Cli
ord Geertzs 
e Growth of
Culture and the Evolution of Mind,Ž in
e Interpretation of Cultures
(New York: Basic
Books, 1973 [1962]), 55… 83. I am sorry to say that biologists, writing about biological/cultural
coevolution based on much more recent work, uniformly fail to cite this important paper.
6. Richard Dawkins,
 e Sel“ sh Gene
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), v, 2.
7. See, for example, Stephen Jay Gould,
e Structure of Evolutionary 
Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2002), 618… 619, 638… 641. Mary Midgley, in
as a Religion
(New York: Routledge, 2006 [1985]), argues that the use of an ethical term
like sel“ shŽ to describe biological entities such as genes is a category mistake of the “ rst
order. See also Joan Roughgarden,
e Genial Gene: Deconstructing Darwinian Sel“ shness
(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2009).
8. Actually, in
e Extended Phenotype
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), the
book he wrote following
e Sel“ sh Gene,
Dawkins himself noted that whether you take
genes or organisms as the basic unit of evolution is a matter of interpretation, not fact, each
being valid in its own right.
9. Mary Jane West- Eberhard, Developmental Plasticity and the Origin of Species Di
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA
102, suppl. 1 (2005): 6547. See
particularities that give them di
erent emphases. 
omas McCarthy puts it
well: 
e conceptual point is this:
by their very nature,
the universal cannot
be actual without the par tic u lar, nor the formal without the substantive, the
abstract without the concrete, structure without content.Ž
And thus it fol-
lows that from our present perspective, it is clear that the irreducible variety
of hermeneutic standpoints and practical orientations informing interpretive
endeavors, however well informed, will typically issue in a con”
ict of inter-
pretations and thus call for dialogue across di
So the “
nal lesson of this chapter and this book for our present situation
in a world of multiple traditions is that theory that has come loose from its
cultural context can assume a superiority that can lead to crushing mistakes.
e theoretical breakthrough in each axial case led to the possibility of uni-
versal ethics, the reassertion of fundamental human equality, and the neces-
sity of respect for all humans, indeed for all sentient beings. And yet in each
case these assertions came out of living communities whose religious prac-
tices de“
ned who they were and whose stories were essential to their identi-
ties. To assume that we,Ž particularly if we mean by that the modern West,
have universal truths based on revelation, philosophy, or science that we can
enforce on others, is the ideological aspect of racism, imperialism, and colo-
nialism. If we could see that we are all in this, with our theories, yes, but
with our practices and stories, together, even though we must contend
through mutual discussion with abiding di
erences, we might make just a
bit more likely the actualization of Kants dream of a world civil society that
could at last restrain the violence of state- organized societies toward each
other and the environment.
sensitive and seasoned traveler, at ease in many places, but one must
have a home. Still, we can be intimate with those we visit, and while we
may be only travelers and guests in some domains, there are our hosts
who are truly at home. Home is always home for someone; but there is
no Absolute Home in general.
Perhaps this last claim, that there is no Absolute Home in general, would be
the most unsettling to many believers and will rouse the cry of relativism
about Fingarette, but also about the others I have mentioned. But the relativ-
ism charge is really inapt in every case. One can make judgments of better
and worse with respect to any religion, but they are more likely to be on
point if one has seriously tried to understand them in their own terms.
I am far from believing that such an attitude toward the religions of man-
kind is very widespread. Gross prejudice is not in good repute, to be sure,
and many people are able to combine the belief that their own religion is best
with the belief that the followers of other religions can also be saved. Nor is
the view I am proposing necessarily widespread among religious intellectuals,
where there is still a widespread belief that one can give convincing reasons
why one religious or philosophical position is better than all the others.
ere are two related reasons why the very idea of a best position must, in
my opinion, fail. One is that the variety of di
erences in the argumentŽ that
must be won or lost are at the level of theory as I have been using it in this
chapter. But dealing with other peoples theories means that one has to dis-
embed them from the mix that historical theories are always part of, in par-
tic u lar their relation to embodied practices and stories, Donalds mimetic
and mythic forms of culture, which are reor ga nized by theoretical innova-
tions but not abandoned.
Having made this mistake it is almost inevitable that one will make the
next one: one will treat the theories of others as if they were answers to ques-
tions in our own theoretical tradition. Wilfred Smith taught me, among
other important things, that religions dont di
er so much in giving di
answers to the same questions as in asking di
erent questions. But if we
think the other traditions are answering our questions, then it is only a mat-
ter of circular logic that those traditions will turn out to answer those ques-
tions less well than our own, which was, after all, designed to answer those
It is not, then, an argument for relativism to note that universal catego-
ries, important though they are in each tradition, come bound up with
century a great step forward in this respect came in Karl Jasperss
e Mean-
ing and Goal of History,
where he used the phrase axial ageŽ to apply to
several great traditions that emerged in the “
rst millennium , taking the
Christian idea of Jesus Christ as the axisŽ of history and generalizing it to
include the other great traditions of that early period.
e person who taught me most about the ac cep tance of other religions is
Wilfred Cantwell Smith, both in his scholarship and in his person, expressed
in his lifelong work with Muslims. Smith, in his own idiosyncratic way, be-
lieved that all religions are historically related but that essentializingŽ them
as a series of ismsŽ fails to appreciate their enormous variety, within as well as
between the traditions we distinguish. So it is our task, right down to the in-
dividual believers who are never exactly the same as any other believer even in
their own faith, to try to understand such believers in what they share and do
not share but above all in their terms, not ours. In the book where he spells
out his own position most fully,
Toward a World 
he uses the term
GodŽ as the basic reference of all religions, though recognizing the di$
ties in so doing. But his use of the word GodŽ in this context is not Christian
in any exclusive sense and does not require a belief in Christ or the Trinity,
though Smith identi“
ed himself as a Christian. Smith wants to include the
whole of human religiosity in his perspective without privileging any one tra-
dition or any kind of tradition.
I have also been in”
uenced by Charles Taylor in his work on multicultur-
alism, but particularly by his treatment of other religions, sometimes only
incidentally, in
A Secular Age,
where he uniformly takes them seriously in
their own terms.
Herbert Fingarette has spelled out as well as anyone the
position I am trying to describe:
It is the special fate of modern man that he has a choiceŽ of spiritual
e paradox is that although each requires complete commit-
ment for complete validity, we can today generate a context in which we
see that no one of them is the sole vision. 
us we must learn to be na-
ive but undogmatic. 
at is, we must take the vision as it comes and
trust ourselves to it, naively, as reality. Yet we must retain an openness
to experience such that the dark shadows deep within one vision are the
mute, stubborn messengers waiting to lead us to a new light and a new
vision . . .
We must not ignore the fact that in this last analysis, commitment to
a speci“
c orientation outweighs catholicity of imagery. One may be a
But it is painfully relevant for a book dealing with religious evolution to
remember that even the best of early modern thinkers normally assumed the
superiority of Christianity to all other religions. For Kant and Hegel, perhaps
the most in”
uential of all modern phi los o phers, it wasnt just Christianity that
was superior, it was Protestant Christianity in par tic u lar, a view widespread
until just yesterday.
It is poignant to remember that for Max Weber it was not just Protestant
Christianity, but what he called ascetic Protestantism,Ž by which he meant
mainly Calvinism, that set the standard for stimulating rationalization, par-
ticularly but by no means exclusively, in the economic sphere, and against
which all other religions were to be mea sured and found more or less want-
ing, beginning with Catholicism, but then going on to the religions of China
and India. It is true that Weber didnt really like ascetic Protestantism, which
he called a religion of universal unbrotherliness,Ž and which was not com-
patible with the “
gures he took as representing religion at its best: Jesus,
Francis, and the Buddha. Still it was ascetic Protestantism that did most to
further the spread of rationalization throughout human life, a pro cess about
which he had many doubts (the iron cageŽ) but that he thought was inevi-
table and, on the whole, for the best.
Yet the twentieth century began to see the emergence of a new point of
view, one that could understand and appreciate all religions on their own
terms and that was not driven to set up one as the apex, either because it was
the best, or because it was the most historically progressive. I am not thinking
here primarily of new ageŽ consciousness, which proclaimed that all reli-
gions are di
erent paths to the same God,Ž though the appearance of such
opinions was indicative of a new cultural situation. Weber satirized the cul-
tural elite of his day for decorating their souls with antiques drawn from all
the worlds religions,Ž and much of what was happening was indeed foolish,
especially the inevitable tendency to read what one wanted to “
nd into other
religions rather than to try to understand them in their own terms. Nor am
I thinking primarily of inter- religious dialogue, important though that is, in
which we recognize each others right to existence, and to defense if under
persecution, although we may still continue to believe that our own religion
is the best one„ though surely such dialogue is a great advance against ear-
lier tendencies.
What I am thinking of now is the increasing number of serious students
of religion who can accept religious pluralism as our destiny without making
a claim to the superiority of one tradition. In the middle of the twentieth
increase in population, which has now reached 6 billion and continues to
increase logarithmically, has reached the point where in many places soil ero-
sion is massive, water is in short supply, the oceans are polluted and “
depleted, and the atmospheric changes have led to rapid global warming.
Eldredge concludes his article by saying: Only 10\ of the worlds species
survived the third mass extinction. Will any survive this one?Ž
Of course we may well blow each other up with atomic weapons before we
wipe out all species of life, including our own, by more gradual means. Mas-
sive inequalities between rich and poor nations and the diminishing supplies
of energy and water could bring on such a fatal con”
ict. In my Preface I
pointed out that our rate of adaptation has increased so greatly that we are
having di$
culty adapting to our adaptations. All of this should make it clear
that, though I do believe in evolution in the sense of increasing capacities,
and in stages of evolution going far back in biological time resulting from
those new capacities, I have never argued that more is better, that we are the
apex of life, or that there is any certainty that we will not sooner rather than
later end our own existence and that of most other species, leaving the earth
to the bacteria, who, as in Chapter 2 I quoted Stephen Jay Gould as saying, are
the organisms that were in the beginning, are now, and probably ever shall be
(until the sun runs out of fuel) the dominant creatures on earth by any stan-
dard evolutionary criterion.Ž
If there is one primary practical intent in a
work like this that deals with the broadest sweep of biological and cultural
evolution, it is that the hour is late: it is imperative that humans wake up to
what is happening and take the necessarily dramatic steps that are so clearly
needed but also at present so clearly ignored by the powers of this earth.
But I would like to close by discussing another practical intent of my
work, one less apocalyptic than our ecological crisis, yet one of great impor-
at is the possibility we have of understanding our deepest cultural
erences, including our religious di
erences, in a dramatically di
So let me turn to a startling example of what deep history can show us
about the moral situation humans are in today and about the changes we
need to make. 
ere have been at least “
ve major extinction events„ de“
as events that involve the extinction of at least 50 percent of all animal
species„ as evidenced in the fossil record of the last 540 million years. 
most recent, the Cretaceous- Tertiary extinction event of 65 million years
ago, is the best known, as it was then that all the dinosaurs except the birds
died out. 
e greatest extinction event was the Permian- Triassic event of 245
million years ago, when about 96 percent of all marine species and an esti-
mated 70 percent or more of land species, including vertebrates, insects, and
plants, died out. It is called the Great DyingŽ because of its enormous evo-
lutionary consequences.
As some of us know, and all of us should know, we are in the midst of the
sixth great extinction event at this very moment„ indeed, we have been in it
for a considerable time. 
e paleontologist Niles Eldredge describes this event
as one that threatens to rival the “
ve great mass extinctions of the geological
He points out that all previous extinction events have had physical
causes, including collisions with extraterrestrial objects, great volcanic explo-
sions, or dramatic changes in plate tectonics, but this one has a di
cause: It is the “
rst recorded global extinction event that has a biotic, rather
than a physical, cause.Ž
at cause is us.
Eldredge argues that this extinction event began at least 100,000 years
ago when humans developed hunting techniques that allowed them to over-
hunt game species, including, but not exclusively, the megafauna like mam-
moths and mastodons. Such extinctions occurred whenever humans occu-
pied new territories„ as in Australia about 40,000 years ago and in the
Americas about 12,500 years ago. Much more recently, when humans ar-
rived in Polynesia they wiped out all the large land bird species.
But the impact of human agriculture on the environment beginning about
10,000 years ago was much worse. According to Eldredge, Agriculture rep-
resents the single most profound ecological change in the entire 3.5 billion-
year history of life.Ž 
is was because humans no longer depended on other
species in their natural state, but could manipulate them for their own needs,
thus allowing humans to overpopulate beyond any natural ecological carry-
ing capacity. 
e development of agriculture was essentially to declare war
on ecosystems„ converting land to produce one or two food crops, with
other native plant species now classi“
ed as unwanted weeds„ and all but a
few domesticated species of animals now considered pests.Ž
e enormous
less space than China and India, I have tried to treat all four axial cases with
equal respect and value them for their remarkable achievements. And if for
Mill the whole EastŽ has no history, I have tried to show just what a vivid
and dramatic history China and India, and their pre de ces sors throughout
the world, natural and cultural, have had.
As for homogenizing the Other,Ž again I have everywhere tried to avoid
doing that. I have shown great inner diversity even in two of my tribal societ-
ies, the Australian Aborigines and the Navajo, and certainly in the archaic
and axial societies, where deep inner tensions are what fuel the emergence of
new insights and creative novelty. Nor have I treated the past, again biologi-
cally or culturally, triumphally. 
roughout Chapter 2, I tried to show that
the distinction between higherŽ and lowerŽ is always relative, that the
bacteria, for example, could be seen as the most successful of all forms of life,
and that we have no grounds for sneering at the dinosaurs. And though I
gave most space to the axial age, whose leading “
gures are still present in the
lives of any educated person, I did not disparage pre- axial cultures, but tried
to show the inner value and meaning of each of them.
Finally I did attempt a universal history (though only 4 billion less 2,000
years long) that shared 
omas McCarthys criteria of the kind of history we
need. I did not shy away from the fact that natural selection is the primary
mechanism of evolution, biological and cultural, but I was concerned with the
emergence of relaxed “
eldsŽ in animal play and human culture, where the
struggle for existence or the survival of the “
ttest did not have full sway, where
ethical standards and free creativity could arise, forms that in many cases did
turn out to be selected, as they had survival value, though they arose in con-
texts where the good was internal to the practice, not for any external end.
Nor did I claim that all was for the good or deny that history is full of horrors.
I showed that the good guys often lose and the bad guys often triumph.
e Practical Intent
As for the practical intentŽ of this book, which McCarthy takes as the only
cation for universal history, I have tried to show that the evolution of
life and culture gives no ground for any kind of triumphalism. I do believe
we need to speak of evolution, which is the only shared metanarrative among
educated people of all cultures that we have, but in a way that shows the
dangers as well as the successes in evolution and that is not afraid to make
the existence, of another human being is ever morally justi“
ed. Yet each
of them, and countless others less schooled in moral philosophy, found
ways of justifying the unjusti“
is part of our (Western) heritage,
in McCarthys view, calls not only for apology, but for reparation for
those who are still su
ering from the results of what we have done.
Yet in spite of this crushing indictment of most existing metanarratives,
McCarthy still believes that the very idea of developmental change is inevi-
table and irrepressible in the light of the fact that human capacities really
have grown dramatically over historical time and that, like it or not, we are
all moderns now, though in practice cultural di
erences will always remain.
Furthermore, it has proven dangerous to leave this “
eld to those who mis-
use it.Ž
And McCarthy gives us a recipe for the kind of metanarrative that
we still very much need:
Kants understanding of grand metanarrative„ universal history from a
cosmopolitan point of view„ as the object neither of theoretical knowl-
edge nor of practical reason, but of re”
ective judgment,Ž was closer to
the mark. On his view, while such metanarratives must take account of,
and be compatible with, known empirical data and causal connections
they always go beyond what is known in aspiring to a unity of history.
And that can best be done from a point of view oriented to practice:
grand metanarratives give us an idea of the kinds of more humane fu-
ture for which we may hope, but only if we are prepared to engage
ourselves in bringing them about.
In mea sur ing this book against McCarthys standards, let me try to show
how in several ways I have tried to meet them. 
ere is no dichotomy in my
book. Although the book is inevitably written from the point of view of a
par tic u lar present, its narrative stops 2,000 years ago. It does not deal with
culture wars (except, incidentally in Chapter 2, the culture war between some
kinds of religion and some kinds of science) or the clash of civilizationsŽ„ for
one thing, Christianity and Islam are not even discussed, as they are outside
the temporal pa ram e ters of this book. Nor, indeed, do I treat modernity,
though perhaps much about it is implied. It is not that I have nothing to say
on these matters„ I hope to say more about them„ just that in this book
modernizationŽ is not an issue. If weŽ means Westerners, and Israel and
Greece are ourŽ pre de ces sors, I have certainly not favored them. 
ey get
ere is a strong tendency, even in Kant, the most universalistic of early
modern phi los o phers, to deal with humanity in terms of a radical di-
chotomy: us (Eu rope, later Eu rope plus America) versus them, and di-
vided not only culturally, but alas, even by Kant, racially.
e white
race is taken to be superior, even biologically superior, to all the others,
though the other races can sometimes be seen as capable of learning to
be more like Westerners. Even when the distinction between human
groups is seen culturally rather than racially, dichotomy is still the pri-
mary way of categorizing: civilization versus barbarism. When distinc-
tions between the less civilized were made, the distinctions between
them were still minimal: OrientalsŽ may be superior to primitives, but
they are still categorized as sharing a single, static, and, in par tic u lar,
despotic culture: thus Oriental despotism. One needs look no further
than Edward Saids
to see how recently such a dichotomy
has dominated Western thought.
is basic dichotomy can be put into time, sometimes evolutionary
time, as a distinction between earlier and later, with the later, namely
us, distinguishing ourselves from the others by a higher degree of prog-
ress. All existing societies can be arranged in terms of stages of progress,
with Eu rope or Euro- America at the apex. Imperialism was justi“
ed as
educational, bringing the possibility of liberty, after a suitable (long)
period of tutelage, to those without it. Again we are disappointed to
nd John Stuart Mill, who most of his adult life worked for the East
India Company, as did his father, James, giving eloquent expression to
such views, and in his great essay
On Liberty,
no less. Freedom, we “
is meant to apply to human beings in the maturity of their faculties,Ž
whereas despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with
barbarians, provided the end be their improvement and the means jus-
ed by actually e
ecting that end.Ž British rule in India is, in Mills
words, good despotism.Ž After all, the greater part of the world has,
properly speaking, no history, because the despotism of custom is com-
is is the case over the whole East.Ž
3. Past or present horrors can be justi“
ed as necessary preconditions for a
better (demo cratic? socialist?) future. McCarthy notes that Walter Ben-
jamin was particularly eloquent in “
nding unbearable the thought of
historys countless victims being nothing more than stepping stones
along the path of development.Ž
McCarthy notes that both Kant and
Mill said repeatedly that no act that infringes on the dignity, much less
Christian and Muslim societies they often had signi“
cant ties to power hold-
ers. Under the best circumstances, however, Jews were able to establish their
own self- governing communities under the protection of the ruling powers;
these communities lacked state power, particularly military power, but had
their own judiciary bodies to maintain order within the communities. 
strongest sanction tended to be expulsion from the community, because vio-
lence was in the hands of the surrounding po liti cal order, though expulsion
was a grave sanction indeed.
When I liken these communities to axial uto-
pias, because within them life was guided by the Torah, however problematic
external relations might be, I mean to say they had some similarities to Bud-
dhist and Christian monastic communities, in that in these communities
too the religious life and ordinary life were more closely identi“
ed than in
China, and Indian mathematics on the West.  e axial transitions them-
selves were probably not simply parallel, though the connections between
them are hard to determine, but in subsequent history they all deeply in”
enced each other.
My point is that the axial age gave us theoryŽ in two senses, and neither
of them has been unproblematic ever since. 
e great utopian visions have
motivated some of the noblest achievements of mankind; they have also mo-
tivated some of the worst actions of human beings. 
eory in the sense of
disengaged knowing, inquiry for the sake of understanding, with or without
moral evaluation, has brought its own kind of astounding achievements but
also has given humans the power to destroy their environment and them-
selves. Both kinds of theory have criticized but also justi“
ed the class society
that “
rst came into conscious view in the axial age. 
ey have provided the
intellectual tools for e
orts to reform and e
orts to repress. But the legitima-
tion crisis of the axial age remains unresolved to this day. One must wonder
what kind of transformation state societies would have to undergo, what
kind of cosmopolitan institutions would have to limit and partly replace
them, for that resolution to become imaginable.
As I already suggested in mentioning Aristotles Lyceum, which was mod-
eled in part on Platos Academy, the second great consequence of the axial-
age breakthroughs was the creation of institutions that would keep the tradi-
tions alive and shelter their adherents from the surrounding world, relaxed
elds within the gentle violenceŽ of established social orders and sometimes
the not so gentle violence in times of po liti cal turmoil. In India the hereditary
caste of the Brahmins carried the tradition, or important parts of it, though
later adherents of Vishnu or Shiva founded their own associations. 
e Bud-
dhists created a new kind of institution, the monastic order, which may well
have in”
uenced the emergence of Christian monasticism in the West some
centuries later. Educational institutions were important in all the cases, and
we refer to schoolsŽ that carried distinct traditions particularly in the classi-
cal Greek and Roman world, the Stoics and the Epicureans, for example,
and in China, the Confucians, Mohists, and Daoists, though, perhaps under
the in”
uence of Buddhism, the Daoists later established religious institutions
somewhat di
erent from schools.
Israel is a particularly interesting case because of its later history as a dias-
pora rather than an empire. In a sense, Judaism came closest to being a realized
utopia, though under the most di$
cult of conditions. As an often- persecuted
minority, Jews were deprived of in de pen dent po liti cal power, though in both
But perhaps we miss Aristotles point if we ask what the theoretical life is
good for. Being the best kind of life, and good in itself, then the question is
what kind of person and what kind of society could make this life possible.
knowledge and ethics that will, when it is fully recognized, have enormous
consequences in later history, a split that was already foreshadowed in Platos
noble lie,Ž as we have seen. Pierre Hadot argues that Platos school, for all its
concern for mathematics and dialectic, had an essentially po liti cal aim: phi-
los o phers in principle should be rulers. Aristotles school, however, is speci“
cally for phi los o phers, those who do not participate actively in the life of the
city, in a way a school for renouncers.
But in distinguishing the philosophi-
cal life from the po liti cal life so clearly, Aristotle threatens the link between
and moral judgment
in which he still clearly be-
lieved. Most of his surviving texts were notes for lectures within the school
and express aspects of the philosophical life, though the
devotees. Both kinds of response to the experience of
would continue
to work themselves out over the subsequent millennia right up to the present,
though a consideration of those later developments is not our present con-
cern. Both projects are utopian, but the “
rst is a big, almost fantastic, utopia,
whereas the second is a more modest, even practical, one.
Two Kinds of 
eory in Two Kinds of Utopia
Platos big utopia took its model, as noted above, from the polis, though a
very new kind of polis. After the vision of the Good in the Parable of the
Cave, which is
in the classic sense, Plato turns to theory in the active
sense, a way of thinking about the world to determine how it could be di
ent. Active theory or active reason requires Plato to think about the practical
realities of the world of daily life, the world of the struggle for existence. In
order to show citizens who had not shared his transcendent experience that
the city he is proposing is good, he invented the noble lieŽ to convince the
various orders in the city to accept their stations as natural.Ž And in the
Plato justi“
es punishments, even including the death penalty, for those whose
souls have not been improved by the enlightened musicalŽ education laid
out for them, though in time such punishments would no longer be neces-
sary. Confucians would come to a similar position when they admitted that
the city of virtue under a moral king could not abandon harsh punishments
at once, even though that was the goal. 
e renouncer, then, sees the world
with new eyes: as Plato says of the ones who have returned to the cave, they
see the shadows for what they are, not naively as do those who have never
left. One could say that the ideological illusion is gone. One gazes at a dis-
tance, objectively, so to speak.
Once disengaged vision, what I am calling active theory, becomes possi-
ble, then theory can take another turn: it can abandon any moral stance at
all and look simply at what will be useful, what can make the powerful and
exploitative even more so. One thinks of the Legalists in China, and of Kauti-
lyas Arthashastra in India. Although the Hebrew prophets saw and con-
demned the self- serving manipulations of the rich and powerful, we can “
in the Bible no example of someone arguing for such behavior in principle.
Except possibly for some of the Sophists, whose surviving writings are frag-
mentary, we have nothing quite like Han Fei or Kautilya in Greece. Or do we?
Aristotle was not an amoralist; he was one of the greatest moral theorists
who ever lived. Yet in Aristotle we can see the possibility of a split between
something new in the axial age.
It is, however, something that doesnt
come readily to adults, who may have to workŽ to attain it. And in the cul-
tural context of the axial age it can, for intellectually and spiritually attuned
adults, take on a signi“
cance not given to such experiences earlier. What I
want to argue is that
as contemplation may open up the possibility of
theory in the active sense, related to Gopniks spotlight consciousness, but
not quite identical.
Gopnik emphasizes the relation of spotlight consciousness and ”
ow: the
task takes over and pulls us along, sometimes without our even being con-
scious that it is happening, but in talking about active reason I want to em-
phasize the conscious side of spotlight consciousness. 
ose engaged in de-
manding intellectual work, scientists and scholars, often have the experience
of ”
ow when all is going well in their work. But there are occasions when all
does not go well, when facts turn up that dont “
t ones expectations, contra-
dictions appear in arguments that had seemed coherent. 
en one must stop
the ”
ow and think about what is going on. It is then, I would argue, that we
engage in second- order thinking,Ž thinking about thinking, to try to clarify
our problems and “
nd a way to deal with them. It is here that theory,Ž
which is related in origin to both lantern consciousness and ”
ow, comes into
its own as active reason, as involving a higher level of abstraction and meth-
ods of investigation that may be required to solve problems. Here we “
nd the
beginnings of science, cognitive speculation, and the universalization of eth-
ics, all of which were beginning to appear in the axial age, though still in
relation to embodied practice and story, mimetic and mythic culture.
When the experience of radical truth„ which is given, not achieved,
which is the original meaning of philosophical
„ is re”
ected on after
the experience itself has passed, the door may be opened to this new kind of
thinking about the world and particularly society, which is now demysti-
ed,Ž in that the shadows in the cave are revealed as fake, as not reality but a
manipulated simulacrum of reality. 
is new kind of theory in axial religion
led to two major consequences that worked themselves out in various ways in
the four axial cases. One is that the person who experienced theoria as see-
ing truthŽ was driven to imagine the kind of society in which that truth
could transform the world of daily life. 
e second consequence of thinking
through the vision of the Good coming from a true experience of
was„ because changing the whole society proved impossibly utopian„ to
consider limited kinds of utopia within the world, forms of group or ga ni za-
tion that would protect the vision and provide a relaxed “
eld, at least for its
ciency, Maslows D-cognition. Yet there is a signi“
cant di
erence: ”
ow is
active, lantern consciousness is receptive. With these modern psychological
categories in mind, let us return to the question of
and theory in the
axial age.
is accurately translated as contemplation,Ž a state that is not ac-
tive but is not passive either, for it is open to the whole of reality and recep-
tive of what is given in that experience of openness. 
is seems to be similar
to what Gopnik is describing with her idea of lantern consciousness, where
everything is illuminated, and her notion that in that state we become part
of the world.Ž Lantern consciousness is similar to the unitive event that was
the “
rst of our stages of religious experience as described in Chapter 1. Both
the vision of the idea of the Good in Platos
and the Buddhas experi-
ence of release under the Bodhi tree seem to have this quality. Parallels in
ancient China are easy to “
nd in Daoism, but less obvious in Confucianism,
though the idea of the original state of Bull Mountain in Menciuss parable of
that name contains such a vision. 
ere are more than a few visions in the
Hebrew scriptures. 
e great vision of Isaiah, chapter 6, in which the temple
in Jerusalem is seen as identical with the whole cosmos, is a good example,
but so is the vision of the end time in Isaiah 65 quoted above.
Experiences of
if we can use Platos word for them„ they are usu-
ally visual, and
is a kind of seeing, though they can involve hearing,
as was often the case in ancient Israel„ provide an insight into reality so
deep that the whole empirical world is called into question. Such experiences
can remain private, but when they are taken as the focus for subsequent re-
ection they can lead to a radical questioning of the way things are, that is,
the world is relativized in the light of an all- encompassing truth.
Josef Pieper in his
Leisure, the Basis of Culture
provides Latin contrast
terms from medieval scholasticism that seem to be getting at a relevant con-
is receptive contemplation;
is active reason.
e Greek
terms that lie behind this much later distinction are not easy to specify:
in some uses could be behind
could be behind
have many meanings. In any case, when Donald and I,
following him, use theoryŽ as a way of characterizing a new cultural capac-
ity in the axial age, it is theory or reason in the active sense, not
contemplation that we are primarily thinking of. However, I want to argue
that there is a relation between these two senses of the term. If Gopnik is
right that what she calls lantern consciousness is characteristic of all young
children (and probably many animals as well), we can hardly argue that it is
work, and o
ering the possibility that all work could be unalienated, perhaps
another utopian idea that puts pressure on the world of daily life.
It is worth noting that the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, in his
study of what he calls ”
ow„ which he de“
nes as a kind of optimal experi-
ence of full engagement with the world and full realization of ones own po-
tentialities, as we noted in Chapter 1„ has found that, contrary to expecta-
tions, and to a degree contrary sometimes to the subjects beliefs, many
American do experience ”
ow at work.
e sociologist Arlie Hochschild has
even worried that some of the people she studied get more satisfaction at
work than they do at home, though she focuses more on time pressure than
on the intrinsic satisfaction of work.
Perhaps this possible increase in the
intrinsic satisfaction of work has to do with the changes in a modern econ-
omy where fewer jobs involve heavy manual labor, although desk jobs are
widely viewed as often meaningless. We can be reasonably sure that we have
a way to go before everyones job has the same quality as play, art, or ”
and Types of Consciousness
Flow goes all the way back, because it is found in animal play, in ritual, in
art, and in work that is intrinsically meaningful, but there is another related
but di
erent kind of experience that is at least equally ancient. 
e psycholo-
gist Alison Gopnik has interestingly contrasted ”
ow, which she equates with
what she calls spotlight consciousness,Ž which we have when our attention
is completely focused on a single object or activity, and we lose ourselves in
that activity,Ž with what she calls lantern consciousness.Ž Flow involves con-
centration in a single direction, thus the spotlight meta phor: In ”
ow we
enjoy a peculiarly pleas ur able kind of unconsciousness. When were com-
pletely absorbed in a task we lose sight of the outside world and even lose
consciousness of each par tic u lar action we must take. 
e plan just seems to
execute itself.Ž
Lantern consciousness, which Gopnik sees as common in infants and at-
tainable by adults usually only with certain forms of meditation, is not ori-
ented to one par tic u lar direction but is open to the whole undi
Lantern consciousness leads to a very di
erent kind of happiness
[than does ”
ere is a similar feeling that we have lost our sense of self,
but we lose ourselves by becoming part of the world.Ž
Both spotlight con-
sciousness and lantern consciousness would seem to be part of what Maslow
called B-cognition, as described in Chapter 1, because neither is oriented to
its many forms, reminds us of some of the ways in which play has the sec-
ondary function of pulling children out of their early fusion of subjectivity
and objectivity into an increasingly di
erentiated view of the world. He cites
the interesting work of the psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott on transitional
objects in infancy, things like security blankets, that combine features of
selfhood and otherness but allow exploration of the world without loss of the
security of the mother.
George Herbert Mead, one of the great writers on
play, particularly the role of play in the ethical development of the child,
analyzed the capacity of children, when playing team sports, to imagine
themselves in every role in the game, not only their own, and thus to take the
role of the other,Ž a crucial capacity in human understanding.
Joas quotes
John Dewey, another major American pragmatist along with Mead, as say-
ing that work and play are equally free and intrinsically motivated, apart
from false economic conditions which tend to make play into idle excitement
for the well to do, and work into uncongenial labor for the poor.Ž
But here
Dewey was engaging in social criticism, because he knew well that what he
called false economic conditionsŽ were the norm for his own society and
historic societies in general. As in the axial age, the overlapping of “
elds has
ethical implications.
Dewey in
Art as Experience
develops further his understanding of the rela-
tion of play and work. He emphasizes that the play of children at “
rst has no
more purpose than the play of a kitten, but that as play becomes more com-
plex, it takes on an intention and a goal. He gives the example of a child
playing with blocks, building a house or a tower. Here play involves the ful-
llment of a preconceived idea. Play as an event is still immediate. But its
content consists of the mediation of present materials by ideas drawn from
past experiences . . . 
is transition e
ects a transformation of play into
work, provided work is not identical with toil or labor. For any activity be-
comes work when it is directed by accomplishment of a de“
nite material re-
sult, and it is labor only as the activities are onerous, undergone as
means by which to secure a result. 
e product of artistic activity is signi“
cantly called the
of art.Ž
He then goes on to say, Play remains as an
attitude of freedom from subordination to an end imposed by external ne-
cessity, as opposed, that is, to labor; but it is transformed into work in that
activity is subordinated to
of an objective result.Ž
Perhaps Dewey
in a good American way pushes too quickly beyond play or work as an end
in itself into the realm of production, but surely he is raising the question of
what in other theoretical traditions is called alienated labor or alienated
impenetrable boundaries and no “
elds that arent overlapping. Indeed, play
can be sucked into the world of daily life, can become part of the struggle for
existence. I mentioned above the relation between play and practice for bat-
tle in aristocratic societies. In the modern military we have things called war
games,Ž and the term is not without meaning. We have leaders of nation-
states enmeshed in their own fantasy games of what will happen if, say, they
invade Iraq„ play fantasies that prove impervious to all the advice they re-
ceive about what will really happen.
And where does play end and work
begin in the world of professional sports, so pervasive in much of the modern
e players are indeed hired, sometimes at exorbitant salaries, though
we should not forget those who are paid less, work only a few years, and some-
times su
er debilitating injuries while at work.Ž On the other hand, as I
pointed out in Chapter 1, even in professional sports, participation in the
game can become an end in itself, a player can be in the zone,Ž fully at one
with what he or she is doing.
But if play can get sucked into the world of daily life, work, in the sense of
overcoming de“
ciency, can sometimes be transformed into forms of play.
Art, which is linked to play, also involves a kind of work. Kant, in his de-
scription of art as play that stimulated Schillers complex re”
ections, noted
that art involves work as well. He says that though the spirit of art must be
free, there is something compulsory that is always required, without which
the art would have no body at all and would entirely evaporate,Ž and he
gives the example of correctness and richness of diction as well as prosody
and meterŽ in the art of poetry.
We surely know that practice, which we
noticed was going on in preparation for the great rituals among the Kala-
palo, is often very hard work, as every dancer and musician knows, and this
work makes the freedom of art, the play element, possible.
But I think we need to take these examples one step further and ask when
ordinary work (that is, not work that is a professionalized form of play or
work that is an inevitable part of art) can become play or have an aspect of
play. Let us back up a minute to remember Burghardts
Genesis of Animal
Burghardt notes that although the primary function of play is the sheer
joyous expression of play itself, the play will be ruined if the players dont fol-
low the rules governing the game. 
ose rules are at least incipiently ethical
because they involve the protection of equality between the players, what we
now refer to as fair playŽ or a level playing “
eld.Ž But play, according to
Burghardt, can also take on secondary and tertiary functions. Hans Joas, in
his book
e Creativity of Action,
which has a great deal to say about play in
e wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
the lion shall eat straw like the ox;
and dust shall be the serpents food.
ey shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,
says the Lord. (Isaiah 65:17… 19, 21… 22, 25, RSV)
What we see here is a world of absolute nonviolence, but also of social jus-
tice: the rich and powerful will not take away the houses or the harvests of
the poor, but ordinary people shall long enjoy the work of their hands. 
utopia even seems to be vegetarian, given the diet of the lion; and the ser-
pent, though still accursed with bad food, is not to be killed. Above all it is a
world of rejoicing where the sound of weeping and the cry of distress will no
longer be heard. 
e legitimation crisis of the axial age is solved, even if only
at the end of times.
(and even more the city described in the
) is more
realisticŽ than the Buddhist utopia„ life in the real polis had too strong a
hold on Plato for it to be otherwise. 
e basic idea is a society created by edu-
cational play and moral example, but hierarchy and coercion enter because
some prove immune to such teaching. So even violence is necessary, at least
rst before the ethical life has been fully internalized by the population.
e hallmark of Confucian utopianism was the rule of virtue by ritual and
example, which would ultimately replace the rule of war and punishment,
though, as in the case of Plato, the Confucians recognized that punishment
might have to be phased out gradually.
Ritual is central in each of these examples. In the Buddhist utopia it would
take the form of meditation.
e Confucian utopia would be above all the
expression of ritual,
though a form of ritual expanded beyond the ancient
form to include the whole of humanity. In Plato one could see the vision of the
good itself as a kind of ritual, and there are ritual aspects to Platos thought in
many dialogues. And even in the end time we can imagine that the ritual pre-
scriptions of the Torah would still be binding. But if we think of any of these
utopias realistically, as their authors usually did, we can see that they would
never work. We live in a world where the struggle for existence still dominates
and is not about to transform itself completely into a relaxed “
Overlapping Fields
Yet the presence of relaxed “
elds is not without its in”
uence on the world of
the struggle for existence. In life and clearly in human culture there are no
the world of play, if he ever had„ so he is even half inclined to return to the
cave. But what he actually does is ascend to the vision of the form of the
good, a joyous, overwhelming experience of being and meaning. Is that so
far from play at its best? Can we not see a play element at the climax of Pla-
tos central narrative? And though, at least in the texts I have read, the Bud-
dha doesnt talk about play, is there not a wonderful atmosphere of play at
the climax of the story of Temiya? When Temiyas parents, the king and
queen of Benares, are so overwhelmed with joy that they too become re-
nouncers and then the citizens of Benares and of the neighboring kingdoms
too are all swept away in this joyous transformation, is there not something
like play going on? Have we not seen that play is possible only in a relaxed
eld where the pressures of the struggle for existence are in abeyance, and is
this not what we “
nd in these two great narratives?
It would even be possible to press the analogy one step further. Arent all
utopias a kind of pretend play where one can imagine a world that is itself a
relaxed “
eld where the ordinary pressures of life are suspended? If we can
imagine a world of Buddhist renouncers, it would be a world of sheer joy,
where the su
erings and desires of this world have been left behind, where
there is no coercion of any kind, interior or exterior. 
ere is a marvelous
description of something surprisingly similar in Second Isaiah. After a fairly
bloody description of what will happen to sinners, there is a picture of the
end of times that is a relaxed “
eld indeed:
For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
and the former things shall not be remembered
or come into mind.
But be glad and rejoice for ever in that which I create;
for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing,
and her people a joy.
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and be glad in my people;
no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
and the cry of distress.
ey shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
ey shall not build and another inhabit;
they shall not plant and another eat;
for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
became a renouncer. 
ey left gold and jewels in the streets of the city as of
no more use. Soon a neighboring king, hearing what had happened, de-
cided to annex Benares and scoop up the gold and jewels, but once in the
city he felt an overwhelming impulse to “
nd the ascetic prince and his par-
ents. Upon “
nding them, he, too, and his subjects following him, became
renouncers. Another king followed his example. Soon it was clear that
Temiya was, after all, a
a universal ruler, though his rule was
Collins sums up by saying, It is di$
cult to imagine a more explicit con-
demnation of kingship: despite the narrative voices assertion in the “
rst sen-
tence that Temiyas father ruled justly, or in accordance with what is right
Collins points out that
is used in two senses, worldly
and that it is the former that the kingdom
embodied and the latter that it drastically violated. Temiyas fathers kingdom
represented what Peter Brown, the great historian of late classical antiquity,
described as the more predictable, but no less overbearing gentle violence
of a stable social order.Ž
In a class society, even if those who serve and are
never served are not beaten or hungry, as in fact they often are, they are al-
ways at the whim of those they serve; they have no control over their own
lives. If it is unlikely that Plato ever imagined that his ideal city could be re-
alized, it is very clear that in this Buddhist story Temiyas universal empire of
renunciation could never be realized on this earth: it would involve not only
the absence of violence; it would involve the absence of sex. Nonetheless, as
with all the great axial utopias, it stands as a mea sure of just how short life in
this world falls compared to what it ought to be.
Axial Utopias and Play
It may not be easy to bring the thought of the great axial thinkers into the
realm of play, but it is worth considering. Plato, as noted near the end of
Chapter 2, took play very seriously as a way in which men and gods interact.
For him the freedom of play was linked to another realm where necessity
does not reign.  e Parable of the Cave has an element of play in that it in-
volves a release from its starting point, life in the cave, which is a realm of
coercion: its inhabitants are chained. When the protagonist is released from
his chains and turns around, leaves the cave, and “
nds himself in the open
air with the sun above, he is at “
rst anxious. He is free and he doesnt know
what to do with his freedom„ it has been a long time since he experienced
genres of the Buddhist canon), a story that is long and fascinating, which I
will all too brie”
y summarize.
Once upon a time there was a king of
Benares who ruled justly
He had sixteen thousand women, but
did not obtain a son or daughter from any of them.Ž
Indra, the king of the
gods, took pity on him and sent the future Buddha to be born as a son to his
chief queen.  e child was named Temiya, and his father was delighted with
him. When he was a month old he was dressed up and brought to his father,
who was so pleased with him that he held him in his lap as he held court.
Just then four criminals were brought in, and the king sentenced one of
them to be imprisoned, two to be lashed or struck with swords, and one to
be impaled on a stake. Temiya was extremely upset and worried that his fa-
ther would go to hell for his terrible deeds. 
e next day Temiya remembered
his previous births, including that in the past he had been king of this very
city and that, as a result of his actions, he subsequently spent 80,000 years in
an especially terrible hell, where he had been cooked on hot metal in excru-
ciating pain the whole time. He determined that this would not happen
again, so he pretended to be lame, deaf, and dumb, so that he could not suc-
ceed to the kingship.
Because he was beautiful and had a perfectly formed body, people found
it hard to believe in his defects, but because he was a future Buddha, he was
able to resist all temptations to give himself away, whether with loud noises,
terrifying snakes, or beautiful girls. When he was 16 the soothsayers told the
king that he would bring bad luck to the royal house and should be killed.
His mother begged him to save himself by showing that he was without de-
fect, but knowing what his fate would be if he succeeded to the kingship, he
refused. Temiya was sent in his chariot to the charnel ground, where he was
to be killed, but the gods saw to it that the charioteer took him to the forest
instead. At that point Temiya revealed his true self, showing himself strong
and “
t. His charioteer o
ered to take him back to the city so he could claim
his succession to the throne, but Temiya explained to him the dreadful fate
in hell that awaited him if he did so and declared his intention to become an
ascetic instead. At that point, the chariot- driver, seeing that Temiya had
cast kingship aside as if it were a dead body, wanted to become an ascetic
Temiya ordered him instead to return to the city and tell his parents
what had happened.
When Temiyas parents received the news, they rushed to the forest where
he was, and overwhelmed with his new self, proceeded to renounce the world
themselves. Soon the whole city had come out to the forest and everyone
mously in”
uential tradition, even though it did not survive in India. Both
men could be seen as in some ways visionaries; both also as great rationalists,
adept in argument, superb in dialogue; and both were before all else teach-
ers, and„ though we often fail to see this side of Plato, because of the quite
cial distinction we make between philosophy and religion, or that we
project back into premodern times„ both were teachers of salvation.
e Buddhist version of the Myth of the Cave is in an important sense the
whole elaborate story of the Buddhas life as the tradition handed it down.
Just as the phi los o pher had to leave his
and his
so the Buddha had
to leave his
and his
or rather his kingdom, the rule of which
should have come to him. But seeing sickness, old age, and death, the Bud-
dha wanted to leave that cave, and spent years of su
ering and deprivation
trying to do so. In the end, however, he found a middle way between the
sensual indulgence of the world and the harsh austerities of the renouncers
who preceded him, a way in which serene meditation could lead him to the
truth and to the release he sought.
It was during his meditation under the Bodhi tree that he famously at-
tained his vision of the truth and his release from the wheel of samsara, the
endless cycle of birth and rebirth. Sometime later when he was considering
what to do next, he almost concluded that there was no use in trying to teach
what he had learned to a world “
lled with lust and hate. But just then he was
approached by the deity Sahampati, who implored him to return to the
world after all, as we saw in Chapter 9:
Let the Sorrowless One survey this human breed,
Engulfed in sorrow, overcome by birth and old age.
Arise, victorious hero, caravan leader,
Debtless one, and wander in the world.
Let the blessed One teach the Dhamma,
ere will be those who will understand.
And so the Buddha undertook, out of compassion for all sentient beings,
forty- “
ve years of itinerant preaching to make sure that the truth he had seen
would not be lost to the world.
Followers of the Buddha, like those of Plato, knew a lot about the legitima-
tion crisis of axial- age society, as is evident in many texts. Following Steven
Collins, we can take a particularly vivid example from one of the Jataka
stories (stories of the Buddhas previous lives, one of the most widely known
Outside the rigid logic of decline, it would seem that Plato has more sympa-
thy with democracy than he admits. In any case, in the greatest of the few
dialogues where someone else takes the part of Socrates, the
the central
character is an Athenian phi los o pher, not a Spartan, that is, someone from
what in the scheme of decline should have been a better city than Athens.
But then, there were no phi los o phers in Sparta, and besides, no Spartan
could ever have talked as much as the Athenian in the
Compared to the cities of his day, Plato was holding up an ideal. It has
often been called an aristocratic ideal, but aristocrats on the whole favored
oligarchy, which Plato despised, and Nightingale argues that Plato used
aristocratic ideals against the aristocrats, who were not realŽ aristocrats in
his eyes, just as the Buddha criticized the Brahmins for not being realŽ
Which takes us to the Buddhist case, where religious reform and po liti cal
criticism also went hand in hand. I have been presenting a more Buddhist
Plato than usual before turning to the Buddha himself. 
ere are some inter-
esting parallels between them: recent revisions of the dates of the Buddha
bring him into the fourth century , and make the Buddha and Plato pos-
sible contemporaries. One striking parallel is the degree to which each one
threw out his respective inherited tradition and attempted to replace it with
an entirely new one. I noted in Chapter 7 that Plato composed a huge corpus
intended to replace the entire poetic, dramatic, and wisdom traditions that
preceded him. Fortunately he did not succeed in eliminating his forbears,
but start a new tradition he did, as the famous quip of Alfred North White-
head indicates (the Eu ro pe an philosophical tradition is a series of footnotes
to Plato). 
e Buddha similarly threw out the entire Vedic tradition, from
the Rig Veda to the Upanishads, and in its place left us with a collection of
sermons and dialogues, the Buddhist canon, which is several times bigger
than Platos complete works. We can be relatively sure that all that is attrib-
uted to the Buddha is not his, that successive generations added to the tradi-
tion in his name. It is not improbable that the Platonic corpus is similarly
layered. But here we are interested in the degree to which both men suc-
ceeded in starting something quite new.
Of course, the Buddha, like Plato, owed a great deal to his pre de ces sors
and is inconceivable without them. But as Richard Gombrich has pointed
out, those who see Buddhism simply as a later school of Brahmanism and
those who see it as a totally new conception are equally mistaken: Buddhism
is a reformulation of Brahmanism so radical that it began a new and enor-
(347c… d, 521a… b). A person who does want to rule is, by de“
nition, not
a true phi los o pher and thus disquali“
ed from ruling. 
e phi los o pher in
the ideal city, however, will agree to rule, in spite of his disinclination, to
do so. Since he is a justŽ person responding to a just command,Ž the
phi los o pher is willingŽ to return and rule the city (520d… e).
is is all the more odd because, as Nightingale notes, the phi los o pher re-
mains a foreigner in his own city, a non- mercenary mercenary,Ž who is sup-
ported but not paid, can own nothing, and can never touch gold or silver.
Many scholars have been puzzled by this situation, but Nightingale, drawing
on the work of Christopher Gill, points out that simply because they are
 just men obeying just commands, they are eager to pay back their city for
the education and rearing that has been granted them.Ž
And remember
that it had been the obligation of the ritual
to return and give an ac-
count of what he had seen to his fellow citizens.
e rulers, or, as they are often called, the guardians,Ž are an ascetic lot,
and have been compared to a monastic order. Not only are they committed
to a life of poverty (they live on what the city gives them, not on anything of
their own, and can be considered in a way to be beggars), but their sexual life
is so regulated that, though they have children, they have no family life, no
personal house hold: the children are raised in common. 
ey embody the
virtue of wisdom, but they preside over a city that is characterized by the vir-
tues of justice and moderation, and, not insigni“
cantly, where there are no
slaves. A democracy the ideal city is not, and Im sure we wouldnt want to live
in it, and perhaps even Plato would have had his doubts. In any case there are
no examples of the ideal city ever existing.
In books 8 and 9 of the
Plato describes a steady decline from a
mythical “
rst regime that is a version of his ideal city, a decline that begins
because some of the guardians go astray, desiring personal enrichment, even
though that involves, for the “
rst time, the enslavement of fellow citizens.
is produces timocracy, the rule of honor, with Sparta as an actual exam-
ple. But unchecked desires lead to a further downward spiral, “
rst to oligar-
chy and then democracy. Although Platos argument compels him to say that
democracy is the worst regime short of tyranny, he also says it is the freest of
regimes, and the freedom of democracy is what makes it the only regime
where philosophy is possible. Within the multicolored variety of demo cratic
ways of life, the philosophical life can be pursued, at least until the demo-
cratic lack of self- control leads to tyranny, the worst of all possible regimes.
see? Here we need to discount the caricature of classical theory, which as-
sumes that the phi los o pher is a disengaged spectator, viewing at a distance
what is an object di
erent from himself as a subject, a kind of premature
Descartes. Plato does not help us understand what the phi los o pher sees„
that is, the forms,Ž
and in par tic u lar the form of the good,Ž
which seems to be truth and reality itself„ because he stays in the myth to
talk about them. In the myth Plato compares the form of the good to the
source of all light, something like the sun to the eye of the soul. But if we
gazed at the sun very long with our physical eye, we would go blind, whereas
the soul who gazes at the form of the good sees all things as they really are.
Nightingale shows us that the forms are not abstractions, but are, to the eye
of the soul, ontological presences, beingsŽ or substances.Ž Further, the vision
of the forms is not disengaged, but involves participation, for part of our-
selves, our
inadequately translated as rational soul,Ž is akin to the
e vision is genuinely interactive: as Nightingale puts it, the vision is
granted to us as a gift.Ž
Furthermore, it is anything but cool and detached:
it is a
ective and emotional, it brings intense plea sure and happiness, it is
erotic, even sexual. 
e soul, says Plato, draws near to and has intercourse
with (makes love to) realityŽ (490b) Furthermore, the experience of the vi-
sion is utterly transformative; one becomes a di
erent person as a result.
One could speak of the soul as enlightened,Ž but if, as in translating
one wanted to avoid eighteenth- century terminology, one could
speak of the soul as awakened,Ž or even released,Ž for hasnt the trans-
formed soul been released from the prison of the cave in order to participate
in the really real?
Plato then goes on to describe the good city to which the fortunate philo-
returns. To discuss that in detail would take us too far a“
but I want to allude to a couple of aspects of the good city. 
e good city, as
we noted, is ruled by the philosophically liberated, even though they would
rather be doing something else. Why then do they take on po liti cal responsi-
bility? Nightingale provides an interesting discussion of this issue:
there is an ideal city„ and it is by no means clear that Plato believed
in its possibility„ then it can and must be ruled by phi los o phers. In
this case alone, the phi los o pher must live a double life (as it were): he
will practice philosophy and serve as a ruler. To qualify for this posi-
tion, an individual must possess theoretical wisdom and practical vir-
tue; in addition, he or she must not want to rule or lead a po liti cal life
e Parable begins with a person who is at home,Ž though home in the
is more apt to be the
the city, than the
the house hold. Home,
however, turns out to be a dark cave that is in fact a prison where one is in
bonds, so that one is forced to look at shadows on the wall cast by people
(ideologists?) behind ones back projecting images by holding various objects
in front of “
res. Still, those shadowy images are what one is used to, so that
in a situation where one is freed from ones bonds and, in Platos words,
compelled to suddenly stand up and to turn [ones] head and to walk and
turn upward toward the lightŽ (515c), one will be confused, in a state of
profound uncertainty, the opposite of
certainty. One will have
entered, in Nightingales words, a sort of existential and epistemic no-
mans-land,Ž being no longer able to recognize the old familiar shadows nor
yet to see anything in the blinding light above, so that one would be tempted
to ”
ee from the whole journey and return to the old familiar prison.
Yet the would- be phi los o pher does not ”
ee back, even becomes accus-
tomed in some degree to the condition of uncertainty,
which Night-
ingale describes as (among other things) a state of homelessness.Ž She goes
on to describe the new condition as basically similar to the renouncer posi-
tion in other cultures:
In addition to the state of
the phi los o phers departure from home
leads to a permanent state of
[no place, nowhere]. For the person
who has detached himself from society and gone on the journey of
will never be fully at homeŽ in the world.
uproots the soul, sending it to a metaphysical region where it can never
truly dwell and from which it will inevitably have to return. As a
the Platonic phi los o pher must journey to seeŽ truth (in various
degrees of fullness) and bring his vision back to the human world.
In a good city he will be given civic o$
ce and expected to serve, even though
he would rather spend his time in contemplation, yet even in o$
ce he is still
a kind of foreigner in his own city. But if he returns to a bad city, his report
of what he has seen will be mocked as foolish and nonsensical: he will be
abused, he may even be killed. Nightingale sums up: When he returns to
the human world, then, he is
not fully at home: he has become a
stranger to his own kind.Ž
We still need to understand, as best we can, what philosophical
itself is; the ritual
sees the festival; what does the philosophic
Nightingale notes that in the
books 5… 7, Plato for the “
rst time
has Socrates give an account of what he meant by philosophy,Ž a term that
confused his interlocutors, who knew it only in its previous sense of broad
intellectual cultivation, but which is now to be understood in the context of
a new meaning of 
as the quintessential activity of the true phi los o-
e traditional
was a lover of spectacles, particularly of reli-
gious rituals and festivals, whereas the philosophical
loves the spec-
tacle of truth.Ž
Plato puts great emphasis on vision, on seeing the truth
more than hearing it; it is also a special kind of seeing, seeing with the eye
of the soul.Ž 
is kind of seeing is possible only after a protracted philosophi-
cal education that prepares one for it, but it ends with the 
[the see-
ingŽ] of all time and beingŽ (
inking of this kind of vision from an Indian or Chinese perspective, one
might imagine that the way to attain it would be through some form of medi-
tation, probably involving breath control. Although Socrates is portrayed twice
in the
as being in some kind of trance, it is not meditation that
Plato “
nds to be the way to philosophical vision. 
e education that ends
with seeing reality,Ž or seeing Being,Ž begins with number and calculation,
which enables the mind to view the great and the small in themselves, ab-
stracted from their concrete manifestations.Ž
Geometry and astronomy
follow, each of which involves seeingŽ higher truths. What Plato meant by
astronomy is not so much stargazing as the mathematical principles that
govern the motions of the heavenly bodies,Ž which one seesŽ when gazing
with the mind and not the eyes.Ž Finally comes dialectic,Ž which Socrates
never plainly de“
nes but uses meta phors to describe, speaking of the journey
of dialecticŽ toward the contemplation of true being.Ž
What is involved is
not implanting vision in the soul,Ž but turning the vision in a new direction,
away from the world of becoming and toward true beingŽ
At the critical moment, then, Plato turns to narrative, what Nightingale
calls the Analogy of the Cave„ which is not simply an allegory that can be
translated into propositional language, but a kind of myth that reveals truth
on its own terms, and that I would rather call the Parable of the Cave. 
Buddha too uses stories, often referred to as similesŽ in the secondary litera-
ture, to make a point, as in the famous Parable of the Blind Men and the
Elephant. It seems that at the very point when thought was emerging from
myth to theory, narrative still had to function as the midwife.
I cannot here give an account of the beauty and complexity of the Parable
of the Cave, but only allude to those aspects of it that relate to my argument.
e Hindu epic, the
can be seen as a critique of existing soci-
of such groups arising in the axial age has to do with their complex and am-
bivalent relation to po liti cal power.
If Habermas is right about the legitimation crisis of the axial- age state,
brought on by the dissonance between the developmental- logical advance
and the moral- practical regression, as I think he is, I would like to illustrate
the response to this legitimation crisis by referring to the utopian projections
where,Ž then he, and sometimes she, can look at established society from the
outside, so to speak. It is not hard to see the Hebrew prophets as, in a sense,
renouncers, though I have also called them denouncers. 
ey too stood out-
side the centers of power, attempting to follow the commandments of God,
what ever the consequences. Even in opposition, they were more oriented to
power than were Buddhist monastics, to be sure, but, as we will see, the Bud-
dhist monks also had a radical critique of worldly power. It is easy to see the
Daoists who appear in Warring States China as renouncers, and they too have
a critique of power, though perhaps more satirical than ethical. But there is a
sense in which the Confucians, especially the greatest ones, who never held
ce or held only lowly ones brie”
y and were in principle opposed to serving
an unethical lord, were renouncers, criticizing power from the outside. And
nally I will argue that Socrates and Plato were, in di erent ways, also re-
nouncers, who were in but not of the city and also criticized it from the
For all the di
erences in what can in most cases only loosely be called re-
nouncers in the several axial cultures, the one thing such renouncers shared
was that they were teachers, and found ers of schools or orders, thus more or
less, and often less, securely institutionalizing a tradition of criticism. Ulti-
mately their power was exercised through the extent to which they in”
enced or even controlled elite education, as, to some degree paradoxically,
many of them ultimately did.
And inevitably their survival depended on
what they charged for their ser vices or were freely given.
By pointing out the signi“
cance of renouncers, we in a sense return to our
original question. How did renouncers garner the support that allowed them
to survive in their outsider position? It seems apparent that some degree of
unease about the state of the world must have been relatively widespread, even
among the elite, to provide the support without which renouncers would sim-
ply have faded away into the wilderness. But the so cio log i cal basis for the
culture of renunciation was the establishment of some kind of relaxed “
within which the followers of the new spiritual virtuosi, as Weber called
them, formed groups for religious practice. In one sense what the renouncers
renounced was work,Ž and what they pursued instead was play,Ž often a very
serious kind of play but having its joyous moments. Shared ritual was almost
everywhere central to their practice, but almost all of them also took respon-
sibility for the education of outside sympathizers. Traditions survived and
were elaborated only when they gained the toleration, even the respect,
though sometimes the hostility, of elite po liti cal groups. Much of the history
from tribal societies or ga nized by kinship to the emergence of the early state,
he writes:
Social integration accomplished via kinship relations . . . belongs, from
a developmental- logical point of view, to a lower stage than social inte-
gration accomplished via relations of domination . . . Despite this prog-
ress, the exploitation and oppression
practiced in po liti cal
class societies has to be considered retrogressive in comparison with the
less signi“
cant social inequalities
by the kinship system. Be-
cause of this, class societies are structurally unable to satisfy the need
for legitimation that they themselves generate.
It is true that the early state and its accompanying class system emerged in
what I have called archaic societies well before the axial age and generated a
degree of pop u lar unhappiness that can be discerned in the texts we have
from such societies, but the legitimation crisis of which Habermas speaks
arises with par tic u lar acuteness in the axial age, when mechanisms of social
domination increased signi“
cantly relative to archaic societies and when co-
herent protest for the “
rst time became possible. It would surely be far too
simple to interpret the axial transitions as forms of class struggle, but it can-
not be denied that they all involved social criticism and harsh judgments on
existing social and po liti cal conditions.
In answer to the question of where this criticism was coming from, there
has been a tendency to speak of intellectuals,Ž though what that term means
in reference to the “
rst millennium  is not obvious. Scribal and priestly
classes come to mind, but we can assume that most of them were too tied in
to the existing power systems to be very critical. Even though the kind of state
that existed then tried to override, and in some important ways succeeded in
overriding, kinship relations, various kinds of particularistic and ascriptive
associations were widespread. It is not easy to imagine the social space for
criticism in such societies. It is in this context that we have to consider the
role of the renouncer,Ž to take a term most often used for ancient India.
ere were renouncers already in late Vedic India; perhaps the “
rst of
whom we have an account is Yajnyavalkya, who appears in the Brhadaran-
What the renouncer renounces is the role of the house holder
and all of the social and po liti cal entanglements that go with it. Buddhism
provided a radical form of the renouncer, whose initial act is to leave homeŽ
and who thereafter remains permanently homeless. If the renouncer is no-
vious example, because it lives on in rather di
erent form among us, is the
Olympic Games, only one of several Panhellenic athletic events. What is
striking here, and so di
erent from our own Olympic Games, is that they
took place in the context of a great festival, dedicated to Zeus, of which the
games were only a part.
What I want to point out about the emergence of agonistic, competitive
play is that, though still taking place in a relaxed “
eld„ during the games a
truce was called between all warring Greek cities so that athletes could
gather without fear, and, signi“
cantly, losers were defeated but not killed„
the competitions do bring an element of the struggle for existence into the
play situation itself. 
e standard maxim has always been Its not who wins
or loses but how you play the game,Ž and clearly that has had more than a
negligible in”
uence, but the Greeks were very concerned to win. 
ough it
was noble to compete, it was godlike to win. Perhaps no society until modern
America ever emphasized winning more. But when winning becomes obses-
sive, play can become negative, something like an addiction, and, as Rousseau
supposed, may bring in e qual ity to the fore in a basically egalitarian arena.
Renouncers and the Legitimation Crisis of the Early State
But here play takes on still another meaning: while some work, others play.
It is not that those who work have no play, but that for them play is con-
stricted in time and quality because of the heavy burdens they carry just to
make a living. Here play may be egalitarian among the players, but it is not
equally shared in the whole society. Ideologists have often promised that
modernity would demo cratize leisure,Ž a word closely related to play, but
today even the leisured classesŽ dont have much leisure and for the rest a
couple of hours of tele vi sion a day is mainly what is on o
We saw, however, even in an early state like Hawaii, the emergence of
what can be called moral upstarts„prophet- like “
gures who, at great peril
to themselves, held the existing power structures to a moral standard that
they clearly did not meet. 
e axial age„ the middle of the “
rst millennium
„ was the time when such challenges to the dominant cultural order be-
come widely apparent. It is part of the de“
nition of the axial age that it was
then that a universally egalitarian ethic “
rst appeared. How can we think
about that momentous time today?
Here I would turn to Jürgen Habermass essay Toward a Reconstruction of
Historical MaterialismŽ as a point of departure. In speaking of the transition
father or shepherd of the people, though more benign than the symbolism of
ruthless power, does emphasize that the rulers are adults and the ruled are
children. In archaic societies and in varying degrees even in axial societies,
the ruler is related to the divine in a way di
erent from that of ordinary
people, so that religious or ideological sanction of the existing regime rein-
forces the existing power structure.
But there is another feature of class- divided state societies that involves
play: in most monarchical early states, and for many such states throughout
historic time, it is hard work to become a king„ there are brothers, cousins,
powerful provincial governors who also have their eyes on the throne. And
once attained, kingship often requires hard work to maintain. Yet the elite
classes in such societies, what we might call the aristocrats, the extended
families of relatives or close allies of monarchs, enjoy a uniquely exalted
state. In Hawaii, as we saw, they were considered quasi- divine. Needless to
say, they had little work to do in the ordinary sense of the word, as they were
waited on hand and foot by social inferiors. What characterizes them is that
they play.  ey hunt and engage in military exercises that can have serious
consequences when put to use in war but are often playful competitions in
the meantime. 
ey learn to dance and sing with sophisticated elegance.
ey sometimes write poetry or engage bards to do so, so that they listen to
epic lays or exchange lyric poems with their lovers. We “
nd such aristocracies
not only in ancient Greece, where many of us are most familiar with them in
the Homeric poems, but also in ancient China, Japan, India, Africa, and
One more feature of play that has developed, particularly among aristo-
crats, is the appearance of competition, of
to use the Greek word,
which may be present in tribal play and ritual but is not prominent there.
Rousseau thought that even in simple societies, like those I have called tribal,
some element of competition was already present but was not emphasized.
But in aristocratic societies, competitive sporting events, perhaps deriving
from military training, became common, and involved racing, wrestling, and
many other sportsŽ„ sports that survive to this day. It may be that competi-
tive games involving team play have the same origin. We “
nd such develop-
ments among aristocratic classes in many societies, clearly in Polynesia, for
example, but again the case that comes “
rst to mind for those familiar with
Western history is Greece. Here agonistic sports and games were highly de-
veloped, and often in connection with ritual„ one thinks of the games or ga-
nized by Achilles for the funeral of Patroclus in the
„ but the most ob-
Even in Hawaii, which was an early state or very close to becoming one at
the time of Western discovery, there was an annual alternation of rituals.
During the period of the year belonging to K
, the war god, rituals took
place in walled temples where the general populace could not enter. 
the priests undertook sacri“
ces, most signi“
cantly human sacri“
ces, to mag-
nify the power and prestige of the paramount chiefs on the verge of becom-
ing kings. But for the rest of the year, the Makahiki season, especially begin-
ning with the New Year rituals, a very di
erent kind of ritual prevailed.
cantly, in this period the gates of the temples of K
were closed. As we
saw in Chapter 4, no one worked during the four days and nights that follow
rite. People of all classes devote themselves to feasting, mockery,
obscene and satirical singing, and, above all, to dancing., Laughter over-
[tabu], and sexual advances during the dancing cannot be re-
fused. Valeri writes that these marvelously coordinated dancesŽ realize a
perfect fellowshipŽ that reconstitutes society itself. All of this takes place in
an atmosphere of hierarchical undi
For a while at least, the
old egalitarianism reappeared.
Even in strongly hierarchical societies, rituals of reversal„ which involve
the violation of ordinary rules, such as rules involving gender identity, for
example, but also rules of deference to superiors„ can be found all over the
world. Generally these have been interpreted as letting o
steamŽ and so
ultimately reinforcing the status quo, yet to some degree they may allow the
expression of real feelings even if under carefully controlled conditions. In
these rituals the play element is particularly obvious.
In modern totalitarian societies, where the most sacred rituals occur in the
Central Committee or the Party Congress, great public rituals, sometimes
involving hundreds of thousands of people and broadcast to all parts of the
realm, rea$
rm the solidarity of all with the now quite remote leadership.
And demo cratic societies, where leadership is supposed to be transparent,Ž
though it is seldom entirely so, regularly hold great public rituals, such as the
inauguration of a newly elected president. But however much public partici-
pation in ritual survives in class- divided state societies, the central myths
and ideologies reinforce the legitimacy of the dominant ruling group,
though, from the axial age on, not without challenge.
We have noted that although the o$
cial ideology usually emphasizes the
crushing dominance of the ruler, as in the case of the Behistun inscriptions
of the great Persian Achaemenid king, Darius I, it also usually contains some
expression of nurturance. Yet even here the frequent reference to the ruler as
We can also turn to Ellen Bassos description of the sense of moral equality
that the ritual generates, which we already saw as foreshadowed in the egali-
tarian rules of animal play: Eco nom ical ly, it means that everyone is obli-
gated to participate, but everyone receives regardless of contribution.
the most basic value of Kalapalo life (subsuming the notions of generosity,
modesty, ”
exibility, and equanimity in facing social di$
culties, and respect
for others) is extended beyond the domain of family to all people in the
But although animal play takes place in a society or ga nized in a more or
less harsh dominance hierarchy, hunter- gatherer and some horticultural soci-
eties, such as those described in Chapter 3, are relatively egalitarian. One
must wonder if the egalitarianism that is endemic in play and ritual has some-
how been generalized outside the ritual context in such societies. Perhaps
hunter- gatherer egalitarianism can be explained entirely on economic grounds
as some have tried to do, but a cultural push from the domain of play and
ritual might also be involved. I have argued in Chapter 4 that the continual
reassertion of equality in the ritual context probably helped such societies
cope with the ever- present threat of the domineering upstart.
Play, Ritual, and the Early State
What happens when, with the spread of agriculture, village settlements, and
increase of population, dominance hierarchies reappear, at “
rst modestly and
then„ in the early state„ with a vengeance? We noted a ritual bifurcation:
some rituals are reserved for the dominant elite and take place out of sight or
at a distance from the rest of the population, although communal rituals of
various sorts continue among the non- elite population. In the Tikopia„ an
example of a traditionalŽ Polynesian chiefdom where the chief had little
coercive power and was still seen as the head of an extended lineage that
included the whole group, but was treated with a reverence unknown to
hunter- gatherers„the beginnings of something we can call worship appeared.
It is the chief and only the chief who o
ers sacri“
ces, in this case of food and
drink, to powerful beings who can now be called gods, as requests for their
protection and assistance are central elements in the ritual that only chiefs
can perform. However, after observing these sacred rituals from a distance,
the words of which are secret and spoken so softly that the commoners can-
not hear them, there is a general festival involving singing, dancing, and
feasting that reminds us of the communal rituals of tribal societies.
in timeŽ would seem to be what happens in a relaxed “
eld, in a form of life
not subject to the struggle for existence, and play, as the “
rst such form,
reaches far back in biological time.
I think Schiller helps us move from the description of animal play in
Chapter 2 to the description of tribal ritual in Chapter 3. In all three tribal
examples we see how ritual takes place in a relaxed “ eld, and that it takes
considerable e
ort to create such a “
eld. Among the Kalapalo, a major ritual
requires weeks, if not months, of preparation. Some of this involves rehearsal
and the construction of the ritual paraphernalia that will be used during the
per for mance, but there is also an intensi“
cation of economic e
ort to pro-
vide the surplus food that will be given out to the participants and attendees
at a major ritual. Having to forage in the midst of a ritual would surely break
the spell. Indeed, it would seem that the capacity for a signi“
cant degree of
food storage would be a prerequisite for rituals involving more than ones im-
mediate group, if they are to be held at all. We can see similar preparations
among the Australian Aborigines and the Navajo. One can imagine that in
pre- state times one would want to hold a ritual at a time and place relatively
safe from outside aggressors as well. So human ritual requires work to pre-
pare a relaxed “
eld; animal play requires that the players be fed and safe, but
no special or extended preparation is necessary. 
at human play and work
are not only opposites but in various ways interdependent is an insight we
will need to consider further below.
e descriptions of tribal rituals themselves usually exhibit features that
we could characterize as play: such ritual is very much embodied as in sing-
ing, dancing, feasting, and general hilarity, but there is also a powerful ele-
ment of pretend play that can have serious meanings. We can cite a relevant
description of Kalapalo ritual:
Musical per for mance is associated with powerful beings and is a means
of communicating with them although it is not directly addressed to
them . . . Communication may be said to occur not by singing
a pow-
erful being but by singing it
into being.
Highly focused mental images
of the powerful being are created in the minds of the performers by
means of the per for mance . . . 
ere is a consequent merging of the self
with what is sung about; just as in myth powerful beings participate in
human speech, so in ritual humans participate in
[powerful be-
ing] musicality and thereby temporarily achieve some of their transfor-
mative power. In public ritual, this is power of community.
Certainly nature has given even to the creatures without reason more
than the bare necessities of life, and cast a gleam of freedom over the
darkness of animal existence. When the lion is not gnawed by hunger
and no beast is challenging him to battle, his idle energy creates for it-
self an object; he “
lls the echoing desert with his high- spirited roaring,
and his exuberant power enjoys itself in purposeless display . . . 
when deprivation is the mainspring of its activity, and it
when the fullness of its strength is the mainspring, when super-
abundant life is its own stimulus to activity.
Schiller contrasts the sanction of need, or
physical seriousness
Ž with the
sanction of super”
uity, or
physical play,
Ž but suggests that human play,
though also beginning in physical play, can move to the level of aesthetic
play in which the full spiritual and cultural capacities of humans can be
given free reign.
Schiller was a poet of major stature and a philosophical
amateur, so some of his reasoning is not easy to follow. What he seems to be
arguing is that human life is riven by a series of dichotomies that play over-
comes: matter and form, sense and intellect, actuality and necessity, and so
forth. He opposes the reduction of play to a mere gameŽ when he writes,
But why call it a
game, when we consider that in every condition of
humanity it is precisely play, and play alone, that makes man complete and
displays at once his twofold nature.Ž He culminates this line of re”
with a remarkable assertion: For, to declare it once and for all, Man plays
only when he is in the full sense of the word a man, and
he is only wholly Man
when he is playing.
One other point, among the many interesting things that Schiller says,
has to do with play and time:
e sense impulse requires variation, requires time to have a content;
the form impulse requires the extinction of time, and no variation.
erefore the impulse in which both are combined (allow me to call it
provisionally the
play impulse
), this play impulse would aim at the ex-
tinction of time
in time
and the reconciliation of becoming with abso-
lute being, of variation with identity.
Schiller here seems to be saying that taking place in time out of time,Ž which
Lévi- Strauss, as we noted in Chapter 1, saw as characteristic of music and
myth, is perhaps primordially characteristic of play.
e extinction of time
Pascal in one of his fragments says something that applies to this book: 
last thing one discovers when writing a work is what one should put “
After having written Chapters 1 through 9, and in the course of completely
rewriting Chapter 2, Religion and Evolution,Ž I discovered the importance
of play among mammals and the extraordinary way in which play in animals
provided the background for the development of play, ritual, and culture
among humans.
So play, though discovered last, did get in quite early in
this book, but then is largely ignored through the whole trek from tribal to
axial religions. Play was there all the time, just below the surface, though I
didnt point it out. Because, having been at work for thirteen years, I cant
imagine rewriting the whole book to give adequate attention to play, I will
here in the Conclusion try brie”
y to make up for that de“
ciency by dis-
cussing the importance of play and those things that endanger play in hu-
man life.
I will begin by alluding to an important classical discussion of play that I
overlooked in Chapter 2, namely Friedrich Schillers
On the Aesthetic Educa-
tion of Man.
Schiller picks up on a brief analogy in Kant, who remarked
that art is to handicraft as play is to work,
but he develops his conception of
play far beyond anything in Kant. Schiller already guessed at the nature of
animal play, which Gordon Burghardt has so brilliantly analyzed in his re-
markable book
e Genesis of Animal Play
„ namely, that play is a realm of
freedom relative to the pressures of the struggle for existence: it can occur
only in what Burghardt calls a relaxed “
As Schiller puts it:
\t \f+\f \f \r
heaven, before his last and “
nal birth as Siddhattha Gotama.Ž

It is to the
Buddha and to his nirvana that the story points.
It is worth thinking about the fact that the three epics we have been dis-
cussing raise the question of violence and its evils, of the good king and the
Ancient India
tion, which implies perfect generosity, is the cause of extreme pain on the
level of normal human relationships. What does not happen in the
is any war against the o
ending Brahmin, so the parallel with the
fails at that point. Vessantara is incapable of violence against any-
one, even a demon, which surely the Brahmin in his unmitigated evil truly
is. Nonetheless the behavior of the Brahmin comes to light, and Vessantara
is not only re united with his family but thereafter becomes the perfect king
and rules happily ever after. (
e evil Brahmin, by the way, is actually given
a ransom for the children and set up in a palace, but he promptly eats him-
self to death, thus bringing about his own punishment.) Collinss overall in-
terpretation of the story is as follows:
It is,
inter alia,
a painfully honest confrontation of the di$
culties of re-
nunciation, showing that real human goods must, ultimately, be aban-
doned in the ascetic search for ultimate felicity; and it is the most subtle
\t \f+\f \f \r
unknown dates, though clearly on the whole later than the Suttas, and many
of them probably do come from the same period before and after the turn of
the Common Era from which the Hindu epics come.

e importance of
Vessantara Jtaka
is underlined by Richard Gombrich in the introduc-
tion to Margaret Cones En glish translation:
e sel”
ess generosity of Vessantara, who gave away everything, even
his children and his wife, is the most famous story in the Buddhist
world. It has been retold in every Buddhist language, in elegant litera-
ture and in pop u lar piety; it has been represented in the art of every
Buddhist country; it has formed the theme of countless sermons, dra-
mas, dances, and ceremonies. In the 
eravada Buddhist countries,
Ceylon and South- East Asia, it is still learnt by every child; even the
biography of the Buddha is not better known.
Although not nearly as long as the Hindu epics, the
Vessantara Jtaka
is an
epic in that it recounts the deeds and su
erings of a great hero. It is also the
case that in its longest and most literate version it is tightly or ga nized and
well written. It rivals the Hindu epics in its capacity to express central con-
cerns of the religious tradition in a compelling and in”
uential way to broad
audiences, both educated and pop u lar, for centuries.
Collins shows that the
Vessantara Jtaka
is far closer in spirit to the
than to the
in that Vessantara, like R*ma, is a
prince of perfect virtue, chosen by his father to rule as regent, but then is
banished to the forest where he lives as a renouncer, only to return in the end
Ancient India
dharmaŽ in the
e highest dharma seems to be knowing
the highest dharma for what ever par tic u lar situation one is in, and recogniz-
ing that situation within an ontology that admits virtually endless variation
and deferral in matters of formulating and approaching the highest. Ž
All that may be true and has surely served the tradition well, yet the
itself leaves us in some doubt as to how well it satis“
ed Yud-
hira. As for the great Horse Sacri“
ce, it was apparently successfully con-
cluded, though not without an incident where Arjunas son killedŽ his fa-
ther, who was nonetheless successfully revived.
But,Ž comments Doniger,
the success of the sacri“
ce is undermined by a story told right after it ends
and the guests depart. A mongoose came out of his hole there and declared
in a human voice, 
is whole sacri“
ce is not equal to one of the grains of
barley that were given by a Brahmin who lived by observing the vow of glean-
ing. Ž

e mongoose is expressing the typical renouncer view that sacri“
is as nothing compared to a simple act of charity. Certainly the great R*jas
ce early in the
symbolizing Yudhi
hiras rule as a
wheel- turning emperor,Ž had disastrous consequences in that it led
to the fatal gambling episode from which arose the trouble with the Kaura-
vas and all the catastrophes that followed.

Here, too, we have the featuring
of one of the great Vedic rituals with a very ambiguous outcome.
As Pollock puts it, by the end of the story, although the P*
avas po liti-
cal power has been con“
rmed, both the war and the new meaner Kali Age
it has inaugurated have sapped their strength and will,Ž so that Yudhi
can exclaim, Cursed be the law of power that has left us dead in lifeŽ

Pollock sums up one reading of the epic as chie”
addressing the collapse of social valueŽ by quoting a ninth- century thinker
who believes that [the
s] purpose as a whole is the production
of despair with social life.Ž Pollock goes on to say that this is an interpreta-
tion of epic not as social fullness but as social abyss, of power not as per-
fected but as unperfectable since, as Vy*sa [the reputed author] says, it is
slave to no man. Ž

In the end, the
leaves us in the dark as
to what exactly its central term,
means. It would seem that only
God knows and that, as Hiltebeitel puts it, the
is an argument
with God.Ž

Just to complete our discussion of epic as a mode of dealing with central
ethical and religious issues in the Indic tradition, I would like to refer
y to the
Vessantara Jtaka,
which has been called A Buddhist Epic.Ž

e J*takas are tales of the Buddhas previous births and are of various and
\t \f+\f \f \r
Books 6 to 9 describe the great war and end with the “
nal triumph of the
avas after the near- total annihilation of their rivals, the Kauravas. Book
10, the
or 
e Massacre at Night,Ž however, describes how
three surviving Kaurava leaders steal into the P*
ava camp at night and
murder all the children and grandchildren of the P*
avas, the “
ve brothers
themselves having been drawn away from the scene by K
na and thus sur-
After the near- universal slaughter on both sides, Yudhi
hira ex-
presses the wish to refuse the kingship that is now his right and retire into
the forest, because he cannot imagine perpetrating any more violence than
has already taken place. It falls to Arjuna to argue the case as to why this
would be wrong and why he must accede to the throne, the country needing
a just ruler at last. At this critical moment Arjuna moves beyond the argu-
ment from svadharma, ones ownŽ dharma, which in practice means the
inherited dharma of ones caste, and which is, in the case of k
atriyas, to kill.
ey are not alone. Arjuna argues that we are all killers and comes up with
quite a list:
I see no being that lives in the world without violence. Creatures exist at
one anothers expense; the stronger consume the weaker. 
e mongoose
eats mice, just as the cat eats the mongoose; the dog devours the cat,
your majesty, and wild beasts eat the dog . . . People honor most the
gods who are killers. Rudra is a killer, and so are Skanda, Agni, Varuna,
Yama. I dont see anyone living in the world with nonviolence
Even ascetics
cannot stay alive without killing. (
ough Yudhi
hira had said, I am determined not to be cruel,Ž thus af-
rming the value of noncruelty
he allows himself to be con-
vinced that it is his duty to become king and orders a horse sacri“
one of the great sacri“
cial rituals of kingship, to be held. Alf
Hiltebeitel describes nonviolence
and noncruelty
as two
values central to the
which, more than once, calls each of
them the highest dharma.Ž However, Hiltebeitel has discovered 54 refer-
ences in the epic to something as the highest dharma,Ž of which there are 8
for noncruelty and 4 for nonviolence, among the most frequently mentioned
(although truth at 5 slightly surpasses nonviolence). Actually a very wide as-
sortment of virtues and spiritual practices are described as the highest
dharma, leading Hiltebeitel to the following de“
nition of the highest
Ancient India
nature of R*ma as the ideal kingŽ by asserting that ideal characters are
imaginary solutions to problems that do not admit of real solutions.Ž

lest R*ma appear too ideal, or too close to a Buddhist renunciate, his k
aggression is allowed full sway against some animals (problematic, given the
ethic of nonviolence toward animals), and especially against the R*k
demons or ogres, who may stand for human evils but who are not human.
Indeed, the great war with the R*k
asas is the dramatic climax of the
but one that does not, at least on the surface, undercut R*mas renunciation
of war, even though on occasion in later history certain human groups could
all too easily be identi“
ed as R*k

In the
however, there are no ideal characters like R*ma. On
the contrary, each of the central “
gures, the P*
avas, the “
ve sons of the
king P*
u, is ”
awed in his own way, none more so than the eldest brother,
hira, the son of the god Dharma (because his human father, P*
could not conceive him),

and thus is in an important sense the embodi-
ment of dharma itself, such that he is referred to as King Dharma. Yet the
whole epic is an account of Yudhi
hiras education in dharma, an educa-
tion that never seems complete. 
e next- younger brother, Arjuna, who
embodies the k
atriya ideal, wavers at a critical moment, as any reader of the
knows, as to what his duty really is.
e general problem of how dharma relates to power comes to a focus in
the obligation of the warrior to “
ght and if necessary kill for a just cause as
against the ethical injunction of nonviolence and especially nonviolence to-
ward relatives and teachers. Arjunas charioteer, K
na, Arjunas friend but
also the avatar of the great God Vi
u, argues with Arjuna, just before the
great battle with the Kauravas

begins, in order to dispel Arjunas sudden
unwillingness to “
ght at all. K
nas argument is the core of the
and there is no necessity for me to rehearse it here, except to say that it is only
with K
nas revelation of his true self in all his blinding glory that Arjuna
nally realizes that his highest obligation is to do his caste duty, his svad-
harma, while renouncing any concern for the results and realizing that all is
nally in the hands of God and that no one is ever de“
nitively killed any-
way as the victors will enjoy the triumph in this life and their slain oppo-
nents will be reborn in heaven. 
is was not R*mas view, and as Romila
apar put it, Had the Buddha been the charioteer the message would
have been di

In any case the argument is not settled by the
in book 6 of the
but continues to disturb Yud-
hira in later books.
\t \f+\f \f \r
e [
] famously celebrates its own encyclopedism, declar-
ing near the start that what ever exists in the world is to be found in the
and what ever is not there does not exist.Ž Nonetheless,
the text, over the course of tens of thousands of verses, never loses sight
of the narrative core„ the struggle between two sets of cousin- brothers
for succession to rulership in the Kuru capital, Hastin*pura„ or of the
central problematic upon which it is so adamantly insistent, the antin-
omy of po liti cal power:
Man is slave to power but power is slave to no one (Mbh. 6.41.36).
e dilemma of power„ in the starkest terms, the need to destroy in
order to preserve, to kill in order to live„ becomes most poignant when
those whom one must kill are ones own kin. 
at is why the
is the most harrowing of all premodern po liti cal narratives in the world:
like the
is about a war far from home, the
about a post- war journey home, and the
about a journey for a
is about a war fought at home, and in any such
war, both sides must lose.
Although Pollock is certainly right that the
is about the an-
tinomy of power, that antinomy arises above all in the context of dharma:
when and in what way is power consistent or not with dharma? Both epics
are centrally concerned with power and dharma, though in quite di
ways. R*ma, the hero of the
is the unambivalent embodiment of
dharma, virtually one- dimensional, as he never wavers.
On the eve of his
accession to the throne, in accordance with the wish of his father, the king,
he is banished as a result of palace intrigue and must retire to the forest. He
accepts his fathers unjust decision and uses the opportunity to behave as a
renouncer, though at her urgent request, taking his wife with him. When
his brother charges him with not acting like a true k
atriya, R*ma replies:
So give up this ignoble notion that is based on the code of the kshatriyas
]; be of like mind with me and base your actions on righ-
teousness [
], not violenceŽ (
2.18.36). Later when someone
else suggests something similar, R*ma again rejects the kshatriyas code
], where unrigh teousness and righ teousness go hand in
hand [
], a code that only debased, vicious, cov-
etous, and evil men observeŽ (2.101.20).
R*ma, as we have seen, takes
dharma to mean general dharma, righ teousness itself, and consistently re-
jects violence toward human beings throughout the epic. Pollock a$
rms the
Ancient India

But in 2006 in
e Language of the Gods in the World of Men,
writes, No convincing evidence has been o
ered for a pre- Ashokan date of
in its monumental form (the common denominator of all our
manuscripts), let alone a date before the Buddha (c. 400 ).Ž

us, if
we can speak of in”
uence, what ever that might mean in this case, it would
have to be from Buddhism and Aoka to the
not the other way
Pollock sees the
as, in the end, creatively ambivalent. R*ma
explicitly a$
rms hierarchical subordinationŽ„ many have seen this in the
over the centuries„ yet his spiritual commitment that allows for
his utopian rule seems implicitly to oppose it.Ž

e Golden AgeŽ of peace
and prosperity that his rule was said to inaugurate seems to be much more
like Aokas than like Manus. 
e ethical universalism that had emerged in
Buddhism and the edicts of Aoka, therefore, did not die, but lived on in
tension with Brahmanic particularism in subsequent Indian history. Indeed,
together with Buddhism, which so clearly in”
uenced it,
acted as a continuing axial challenge of ethical universalism to the archaic
heritage of Brahmanic particularism, such that later Indic civilization, per-
haps more than most post- axial civilizations, was an uneasy compromise
between axial and archaic cultural strands.
in the sense that it has a happy ending, is a comedy, whereas
in spite of the tacked- on happy ending, is a tragedy that
ends in utter catastrophe, so clearly that copies of the
were often
kept at home whereas copies of the
were considered too inaus-
picious for home use.

But what this shows us is that the
s happy
ending comes perhaps too easily, whereas the
opens up for us
the abyss between ethical practice and inevitable violence, between religious
ideals and po liti cal realities, revealing tensions not only in Indian but in hu-
man society. Again Pollock is a helpful commentator: What ever else the
may be, it is also and preeminently a work of po liti cal theory„
the single most important literary re”
ection on the problem of the po liti cal
in southern Asian history and in some ways the deepest meditation in all
antiquity on the desperate realities of po liti cal life.Ž
If, as Pollock remarks, the
is rightly said to have become a
veritable language for talking about the world,Ž the
can be
seen as a kind of encyclopedia, with its vast collections of stories and teach-
ings, that contains the whole world, yet it, like the
has a narrative
\t \f+\f \f \r
comes to a head in the question of the ethical responsibility of the king, or of
the k
atriya caste, for the inevitable violence of rule in a moral world where
violence is inadmissible. 
is, as we have seen, is the issue that most con-
cerned Aoka; and Sheldon Pollock, one of the most acute commentators on
the epics, makes the comparison explicit. Pollock, whose comments on the
epics I have found most helpful, describes R*ma, the central “
gure of the
who eventually became king not only of his own city of Ayodhy*
but of the whole world, as uniting the po liti cal and the religious, the k
and the Brahmin ideals, by not only rea$
rming dharma but by rede“
ning it:
R*ma resolves the contradiction [between the Brahmin and k
atriya ide-
als] through a new de“
nition of
incumbent on him as a katriya.
By the increment of a hieratic component, not derived from but only
enriched by his temporary ascetic vocation, his code is enlarged to be-
come simply righ teousness.Ž It is made to intersect with and so absorb
and its legitimizing ethics, nonviolence, and spiri-
tuality. In this way the katriya becomes self- legitimizing, and the full
potentialŽ of kingship as an integrating power can at last be activated.
e po liti cal and spiritual spheres may now converge in a single locus:
the king.

Pollock then goes on to note the striking parallels between the teachings of
R*ma and those of Aoka:
One is again struck by the similarity between the inscriptions [of Aoka]
and the
[book 2 of the
]. For Aoka, too, the
only true conquest is conquest through
Ž: through compassion,
generosity, truthfulness, and honesty,Ž through reverence for Brah-
mans and ascetics.Ž Glory, too, is desirable only on account of his aim
that men may [be induced] by him to practice obedience to
[in Aokas Prakrit,
], that they may conform to the duties of
e drum of battleŽ is similarly transformed into the drum
and the abiding welfare of all the worldŽ becomes the fun-
damental concern.

Writing his introduction to the
in 1986, Pollock speculates
that the in”
uence was from the
to Aoka, and even that the
may well have served as a prototypeŽ for the biography of the
Ancient India
It is clear from the passage immediately following this one and discussions
like those at the end of chapter 6 that knowing the Veda involves much more
than just hearing it, that it entails ascetic and yogic practices that, according
to Manu, the Veda entails. 
is kind of knowledge and practice character-
izes the renouncer ideal of the fourth stage of life and involves a universal
experience that transcends ritual and other particularistic obligations. It is
for this reason that, in spite of his sense that this stage is the highest good, in
chapter 6 Manu still held the house holder stage to be best. But in the passage
above, the renouncer ideal is wedded to the notion of rule, even world rule;
this has parallels in some Buddhist teachings and is much more fully worked
out in the epics. It is remarkable to “
nd it in Manu. But what are we to make
of the fact that one who truly knows the Veda in what ever order of life he
livesŽ can become one with Brahman in this very world? Becoming one with
Brahman is equivalent to the Buddhist notion of attaining nirvana in this
is apparently universal claim must be quali“
ed because
those beneath them can have no knowledge of the Veda, but for a moment in
this most particularistic book, the very standard for Hindu particularism for
all succeeding time, we seem to have a glimpse of the universal.
Olivelle holds that
was probably written in the period of confusion
and uncertainty after the fall of the Mauryas as an e
ort to defend Brah-
manical privilege, but, more generally, as an e
ort to rea$
rm the Brahmani-
cal understanding of society, while responding to the substantive challenges
posed by the ascetic sects, especially Buddhism, and the teaching of Aoka in
par tic u lar.
He believes that the
(and I would think the
as well) arose at roughly the same time and place as
with the same concern with the rea$
rmation of traditional dharma. However,
though both epics are centrally concerned with dharma, both the
and the
move far beyond the simple pieties of Manu in dealing with
the deep tension between dharma as righ teousness and the mass of par tic u lar
obligations related to status that dharma means in the Brahmanic tradition.
In grappling with this tension, they do not solve it, but they widen the hori-
zon of all subsequent Indic culture, of which they can probably be said to be
the formative texts. Each of these epics is immense„ the
said to be seven or eight times as long as the
and the
and enormously complex in both narrative and ethical re”
ection. Here I can
only suggest why they are such formative texts, not only for the Indic imagi-
nation but for the human imagination in general.
is both shorter and narratively clearer than its epic com-
In both epics the tension between general and par tic u lar dharma
\t \f+\f \f \r
Doniger quotes A. K. Ramanujan commenting on Manus extraordinary
lack of universalityŽ in making
so context- sensitiveŽ that adding
all the stations, classes, and stages of life to any par tic u lar ethical injunction
means that each addition is really a subtraction from any universal law.
ere is not much left of an absolute or common
a) dharma
the texts speak of, if at all, as a last and not as a “
rst resort.Ž

is only a collection of par tic u lar injunctions, how can we consider
it to be a
that is, a work of systematic thoughtŽ or scienceŽ? Unlike
Manu does not just collect par tic u lar injunctions; he
writes in full awareness of the issue of universality and attempts to defend
particularism theoretically, so to speak„ to use universal arguments to de-
fend particularism.

Only rarely do some tensions in his intellectual struc-
ture show through. Toward the end of chapter 6, which deals with the third
and fourth stages of (the Brahmins) life, the Forest Hermit and the Wander-
Ancient India
powers, non- violence and serving the guru bring about the supreme good.Ž
However, Manu goes on to qualify what looks to be a rather heterogeneous
list, in which only nonviolence seems to count as an ethical universal, by
One should understand that acts prescribed by the Veda are always a
more e
ective means of securing the highest good both here and in the
hereafter than the above six activities. All these activities without ex-
ception are included within the scheme of the acts prescribed by the
Veda, each in proper order within the rules of a corresponding act.
(12.86… 87)

Doniger draws the implication of such a passage when she writes, 
e par-
tic u lar rule generally overrides the general rule;
sva- dharma
trumps general

Another strategy for a$
rming a kind of universalism while defending
particularism was Manus portrayal of the Brahmin as being the most per-
fect and complete manifestation of human ”
ourishing, the universal man.
e other
s are then de“
ned in a kind of subtraction theory as being
like the Brahmins but lacking certain of their qualities, such as the compe-
tence to perform sacri“
ces, ending with the =
dras (and of course the out-
castes), who cannot hear or understand the Veda. If the Brahmin ideal were
a model for everyone, so that anyone who acted like a Brahmin could be
considered one (an idea suggested in Buddhist scripture), it would indeed
imply ethical universalism. Yet Manu relentlessly rea$
rms the impossibility
of this idea. In his cosmological introduction he sets down what has been
and always will be:
In the beginning through the words of the Veda alone, [the Lord] fash-
ioned for all of them speci“
c names and activities, also speci“
c sta-
tions . . . As they are brought forth again and again, each creature follows
on its own the very activity assigned to it in the beginning by the Lord.
Violence or non- violence, gentleness or cruelty, righ teousness
unrigh teousness
truthfulness or untruthfulness„ whichever
he assigned to each at the time of creation, it stuck automatically to that
creature. As at the change of seasons each season automatically adopts
its own distinctive marks, so do embodied beings adopt their own dis-
tinctive acts. (1.21, 28… 30)

\t \f+\f \f \r
to the continuity of the tradition but di$ cult to synthesize: (1) codify and
absolutize the Vedic tradition as it was understood in the authors day; (2)
rm the new strand of Brahmanic spirituality as represented by the Upa-
ads; and (3) respond to the challenge of the ethical universalism of Bud-
dhism and of Aokas
With respect to the last point Olivelle
writes, 
e very creation of a Brahmanical genre of literature dedicated to
[of which Manu was the culmination] was possibly due to the
elevation of this word to the level of imperial ideology by Aoka.Ž

By giving the book the name of the “ rst man and/or the “ rst king in
Indic mythology, Manu, the claim to virtual canonical status is clear. But
this claim in turn is based on the status of the Vedas as uncreated scrip-
ture, on which the book of Manu claims to be based. 
us the Vedic in-
junctions with all their ritual and other forms of particularity are placed be-
yond question. Yet the renouncer tradition of the Upani
ads, with its radical
rejection of the “
re sacri“
ce at the heart of the Vedas, is also a$
rmed. In fact
there is much more emphasis on nonviolence and nonkilling of animals
than there is on Vedic sacri“
ce, yet the latter is never rejected. Manu re-
sorts to language that other religions have at times found con ve nient:
Killing in a sacri“
ce is not killing . . . 
e violence to those that move and
those that do not move which is sanctioned by the Veda„ that is known as
non- violenceŽ (
5.39, 44).
Doniger points out that at a time in his-
tory when Vedic sacri“
ce had become largely irrelevant and to some ex-
tent embarrassing,Ž Manu must still defend it, even using the terms of its
critics to do so.

With respect to ethical universalism, Manu uses two tactics, each with its
own problems. First, there are several places where Manu describes what
Doniger calls general dharma as opposed to par tic u lar dharma. Doniger
contrasts the par tic u lar dharma arising from caste,
to universal
Ancient India
apar to provide some sense of what Mauryan rule was like in the
absence of more direct data,

gives a nod to the preeminence of dharma in
rulership, but is mainly devoted to the practical exigencies of rule without
much sensitivity to moral or religious issues. Wendy Doniger writes, 
Artha- shastra
is a compendium of advice for a king, and though it is often
said to be Machiavellian, Kautilya makes Machiavelli look like Mother Te-
like most
consists largely of a list of rules,
rules that can be read as descriptive but that are primarily prescriptive, so we
cannot use them to tell us exactly how things were. Although at times seem-
ing to describe a big state, the
at other times seems to be describ-
ing a group of small states maneuvering for hegemony between enemies and
allies. Undoubtedly the text, parts of which were written at di
erent times
by di
erent authors, was concerned with both, though it is often not clear
e great emphasis on a complex system of spies suggests precarious
rule lacking in deep legitimacy. Because the
was concerned with
and not primarily with
it is not particularly helpful with re-
spect to the relation of religion and politics.
on the other hand, though it overlaps in part with
gives much more attention to the relation of religion and
politics. Written by and for Brahmins, Manus
is “
rst of all a
kind of handbook for proper Brahmin behavior but secondly it is concerned
with how kingship relates to dharma and more speci“
cally to the Brahmins.
It was preceded by and draws from the
which are classi“
among the
that is, works auxiliary to and explanatory of the ritual
and linguistic complexities of the Vedas. As we saw in the case of P*
Grammar, these were systematizing works moving in the direction of the
e four major
are tentatively said by their trans-
lator, Patrick Olivelle, to date from the early third to the late second centu-
ries ; if these dates are accurate, they may have been written texts.

any case they consist largely of lists of ritual rules and rules of conduct for
Brahmins through the course of the life cycle (many of these rules also apply
to the other two twice- born castes), with only 6 to 12 percent of the texts de-
voted to statecraft.

ough Manu develops the same subject matter, adding
a much longer treatment of rulership, his book is an or ga nized treatise, be-
ginning and ending with cosmological and religious re”
ections: it is thus a
is a work of great importance, with continuing in”
ence to the present day, because it attempted to do three things, each central
\t \f+\f \f \r
language he was studying was true language in itself, uniquely di
erent from
any other, which suggests the tension between the universal and the parti-
c u lar that exists in the Indian intellectual tradition from early on, and the
special nature of Sanskrit as the preeminent language of literature and sys-
tematic thoughtŽ long after its exclusively ritual use had been overcome.

is also worth noting that Buddhists did not use Sanskrit, at least not for
many centuries. 
e Buddha is supposed to have told his disciples to preach
in what ever language the people understood, at a time when no one spoke
classical Sanskrit, so the decision not to use Sanskrit was deliberate. Pali de-
veloped out of one or more spoken languages but soon became a special
language itself, and almost surely a written one fairly early, surviving in the
eravada canon and southern Buddhism generally until the present, itself
becoming an elite language known almost exclusively to educated monks.
e split in language was an expression of the profound split in culture that
was developing between Buddhism and what would be known as Hinduism.
ere are
somewhat later than P*
that deal with
the relation of religion and politics more immediately related to our present
discussion, but before considering them we may just say a little about what
the term
refers to. Pollock sometimes translates it as scienceŽ or sys-
tematic thought.Ž
He even calls it theory,Ž which, unlike the other terms
he uses for it, he puts in quotes. In speaking of the proliferation of
later centuries, he goes so far as to say that nothing in old India was untheo-
rized.Ž However he makes it clear that by theoryŽ he mainly means de-
tailed inventory and taxonomy.Ž
Consequently he emphasizes the empiri-
cism of Sanskrit systematic thought, the belief that nothing is beyond the
reach of Sanskrit
everything, everywhere, however intimate [he is
talking here about the
], is knowable and has become known.Ž
Clearly inventory and taxonomy, expressed often in
by endless lists,
are the beginning and foundation of scienti“
c theory; but systematic thought
becomes theory without quotation marks only when it reaches the level of
generalizations that can be put to the test. It is interesting that the earliest
was the most scienti“ c in this sense.
We noted above the early Indian idea of the three (or four) ends of life„
(success), and
(plea sure), also
liberation)„ and there were
devoted to each of them, notably Manus
and the Yoga Sutras
though each of them is a composite text di$
cult to date
a treatise on economics and politics, used by
Ancient India
a hybrid of several Prakrits in which the early Buddhist scriptures were writ-
ten, survived for a long time in southern India and then up to the present in
Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia as the primary literary language of 
Buddhism, one self- consciously
Sanskrit. It was, however, Sanskrit that
would come to be the cosmopolitan language,Ž to use Pollocks term, in the
following centuries (by the middle of the “ rst millennium , even Bud-
dhists in northern India began to write in Sanskrit), and some of the most
uential Sanskrit texts were already written in Mauryan, or, more likely,
immediately post- Mauryan times.
In trying to understand why Sanskrit was so central in the surviving texts
of our period, we can start with the fact that Sanskrit was the language of the
Vedas and so had long been the language of the Brahmanical tradition, and
the Sanskrit texts of our period were largely written by Brahmins. But there
is one fundamental di
erence between the language of the Vedas and the
new literary Sanskrit of post- Mauryan times: the former was oral, the latter
was written. Writing provided the possibility that had remained only incipi-
ent in the oral tradition: second- order, critical thinking, beginning with
language about language itself, in the new science of grammar.
was a pivotal text. It was a treatise on the grammar of
the Vedas that was part of a series of texts auxiliary to the Vedas called the
that were developing to help students cope with a language increas-
ingly remote from contemporary speech. As such it was part of the natural
continuation of the Vedic tradition. But it was also the “
rst of what would
later be called
that is, systematic treatises concerning a par tic u lar
subject, in this case grammar. P*
inis capacity to think rationally about
language made his book a masterpiece in its genre„ in advance of linguistic
ection anywhere in the world when it was written and still capable of
stimulating the development of modern linguistics when it was translated
into Western languages in the nineteenth century.
ini is usually dated in the fourth century „ on the cusp of Indian
literacy„ and there is an ongoing argument as to whether the
originally oral or written. 
is is an argument about which I have no expert
knowledge, but it seems to me likely that, though the book is a re”
ection on
memorized speech, it was itself written and that writing was essential for the
exive character of the book, that it was a critical re”
ection on language. Yet
we also must remember that P*
inis book was not about language in general
but about Vedic Sanskrit in par tic u lar, and that he undoubtedly believed the
\t \f+\f \f \r

ga dynasty, of allegedly Brahmin lineage, who ruled over Magadha and
a considerably smaller realm than the Mauryas at their height. 
ere are
some accounts that Buddhism was persecuted under the =u

gas, but it seems
more likely that Buddhism was tolerated under an increasingly orthodox
Brahmin regime.
In trying to understand the relation between religion and politics in India
toward the end of the “
rst millennium , we have to take account of the
Mauryas and particularly of Aoka, because there we have evidence that is
mostly missing from other polities of the day. What we know, aside from
some archaeological evidence, is mainly literary, especially Aokas inscrip-
tions. Our only certain knowledge of Aokas polity is derived from the in-
scriptions themselves, which are not, of course, objective descriptions, but
there are some texts that are thought to be from the Mauryan period or not
long after that may also shed some light. Sheldon Pollock has written that few
questions in premodern South Asian history are more unyielding to coherent
and convincing answers than the nature of po liti cal power and the character of
polity,Ž noting that not a single document from any royal archive has been

So what we have in the inscriptions and texts that have sur-
vived are repre sen ta tions of po liti cal imagination, of how those who wrote
these texts wanted things to be seen to be or thought they ought to be, as
opposed to how they actually were. Yet Pollock argues, rightly in my view,
that such repre sen ta tions, as long as we do not take them as literal descrip-
tions, still tell us a great deal of how educated Indians thought about their
society, its problems and its aspirations.

Even if, in trying to answer our questions, we are largely con“
ned to lan-
guage„ to surviving texts from the period„ we are immediately confronted
by the question of what language. Aokas inscriptions and those of other
rulers for several centuries after him were composed not in Sanskrit but in
various Middle- Indic dialects, sometimes referred to as Prakrits. While
closely related to Sanskrit, these dialects were considered entirely distinct
from it by premodern Indian thinkers.Ž

But a number of highly important
Sanskrit texts have survived that we have strong internal reasons for believ-
ing date from the centuries just before and after the turn of the Common
e Prakrits presumably represented the spoken languages of their day,
whereas Sanskrit was an elite literary language. 
e Prakrit inscriptions
spoke to everyone, whereas Sanskrit was the language of a special group.
Some Prakrits did develop at least for a time into literary languages, and Pali,
Ancient India
blesome forest tribes, for instance, is still a possibility. It should also be re-
membered that nonviolence was an increasingly general value, to be found in
extreme form among the Jains, but widely a$
rmed in nascent Hinduism.
One central element in Aokas
that links it to Buddhism,
though not in a sectarian way, is that it was universal. 
ere is nothing in it
about obligations arising from ones status at birth. One must
respect Brahmins as one must respect ascetics of various sorts, but that did
not enjoin speci“
c caste obligations. Non- Buddhist texts that treated dharma
also had general admonitions that would apply to everyone, but they were
complemented by a heavy emphasis on obligations par tic u lar to various
castes. It is these latter teachings that are completely missing in Aokas
Although Aokas
cannot be called secular„ it is as con-
cerned with future lives as with this one„ it is primarily po liti cal, the basis
\t \f+\f \f \r
And what ever may be my great deeds, I have done them in order to
discharge my debt to all beings. I work for their happiness in this life,
that in the next they may gain heaven. For this purpose has this inscrip-
tion of
been engraved.
Aoka expresses a concern for the health and well- being of his subjects and
describes some of his good works, such as improving the roads by planting
banyan trees for shade and providing wells and rest houses every nine miles
so that humans and animals could be refreshed.

But he insists that the
greatest gift he has to give is
ere is no gift comparable to the gift of
the praise of
the sharing of
fellowship in
And this is„ good be-
haviour towards slaves and servants, obedience to mother and father,
generosity towards friends, acquaintances, and relatives and toward
and brahmans, and abstention from killing living beings . . .
By doing so, there is gain in this world, and in the next there is in“
merit, through the gift of

Although Aokas
is clearly indebted to Buddhism, it is intended
as a general teaching, not a sectarian one. One of Aokas primary concerns
is religious tolerance:
But the Beloved of the Gods does not consider gifts of honour to be as
important as the essential advancement of all sects. Its basis is the con-
trol of ones speech, so as not to extol ones own sect or disparage that of
another on unsuitable occasions. On each occasion one should honour
the sect of another, for by doing so one increases the in”
uence of ones
own sect and bene“
ts that of the other, while, by doing otherwise, one
diminishes the in”
uence of ones own sect and harms the other . . .
therefore concord is to be commended so that men may hear one an-
others principles.

For example, nonviolence,
an absolute principle in Buddhism, is
frequently praised by Aoka, but it is a moderate nonviolence, admitting of
exceptions. On the whole, animals are not to be killed for food, but in a few
cases it is all right. 
e death penalty is still enforced for certain crimes. Even
with respect to warfare, though conquest is ruled out, punishment of trou-
Ancient India
monly used in north India at the time, derived from classical Sanskrit, as was
Pali, the language of the early Buddhist canon, to which it was closely re-
lated. In both Prakrit and Pali, Sanskrit dharmaŽ had become dhamma.Ž
It would be a mistake, however, to read Aokas
as the same as the
Buddha Dhamma, as some early students of the edicts did. Although Aoka
did direct some edicts to his fellow Buddhist believers, it is clear from their
contents that his own
his own teaching, which the edicts were
intended to communicate, was nondenominational, so to speak, addressed
equally to all believers and intended to communicate values common to all
the religions of the time. In par tic u lar Aoka taught equal respect for
(Buddhist monks, but also monks of other sects) and
even varying which term came “
rst in di
erent edicts.
could be seen as a form of po liti cal propaganda, though
with a religious quality in its content. Aoka was surely not the inventor of
po liti cal propaganda, and the rock inscriptions of Achaemenid rulers may
have been the model from which those of Aoka derived. But the di
in content is signi“
cant: for example, the Behistun Inscription of the great
Achaemenid king Darius 1 (549… 486 ), which echoes the pronounce-
ments of many rulers before him, begins I am Darius, the great king, king
of kings, the king of Persia, the king of countries.Ž
Aoka, on the other
hand, is relatively modest about himself, referring to himself most often
merely as the king Piyadassi (his personal name), the Beloved of the Gods.Ž
Dariuss long inscription proceeds to recount the di$
cult circumstances sur-
rounding his accession to the throne, and then at length the many conquests
and particularly the violent suppression of numerous revolts and the terrible
fate of the rebels, with the clear intention of warning any possible future
rebels not to make the attempt. One could say that the whole inscription is
drenched in blood and violence.
Virtually the only reference to warfare in Aokas inscriptions is his ex-
pression of remorse for his conquest of Kali

ga, which appears in many loca-
tions, but not, signi“
cantly, in Kali

ga itself, where the memory of the war
may have left the inhabitants too scarred to hear about remorse. Aokas in-
scriptions are as devoted to peace as Dariuss were to war. For example, the
Sixth Major Rock Edict says:
I consider that I must promote the welfare of the whole world, and hard
work and the dispatch of business are the means of doing so. Indeed
there is no better work than promoting the welfare of the whole world.
\t \f+\f \f \r
except for the important territory to the south of Magadha, Kali

Bindus*ras son, Aoka, succeeded his father in 278  (all these dates are
approximate) after an interim in which he perhaps killed one or more of his
brothers in order to obtain the throne, and it was Aoka who brought the
empire to its geo graph i cal completion with the conquest of Kali

ga a few
years later.
We know far more about Aoka than about any ruler before him and for a
long time after him due to the many rock and pillar inscriptions scattered
throughout his empire in which he speaks in his own voice. 
e inscriptions
of Aoka are the earliest surviving examples of writing in India, and some
scholars believe that the earliest Indian script was invented in Aokas chan-
cery. We should remember that on the northwest frontier the Indians had
long been in contact with script- using peoples„ the Persians, who controlled
some northwestern Indian regions under the Achaemenids, and most re-
cently the Greeks in the fourth century . Alexander the Great invaded
the Indus Valley in 326  and was succeeded by a number of small Greek
states that Candragupta Maurya conquered, but Alexanders successor in
Syria and Mesopotamia, Seleucus Nicator, invaded India in 305, challenging
Candragupta for control of regions that had once been under Persian control
and more recently ruled by Greeks. Seleucus failed in his e
orts but con-
cluded a treaty with Candragupta in 305  in which he ceded territory in
return for 500 war elephants. 
at the Mauryan empire, the largest India
had ever seen, succeeded so closely the creation of Alexanders empire, the
largest Mediterranean and Middle Eastern empire up to his time, is surely
cant, as were the continuing diplomatic relations of the Mauryas with
the Hellenistic successor states of Alexander. 
e invention of writing in In-
dia could be an example of what anthropologists call stimulus di
usion: the
Mauryas did not take over a foreign alphabet but invented one of their own.
Another explanation, that the Indian script was developed from the Aramaic
script used as a kind of lingua franca in Persia and northwest India at the
time, is perhaps more persuasive.
Sticking only to the most reliable sources, his own words in his inscrip-
tions, we can say several things: that Aoka at some point became an adher-
ent of Buddhism, that his conquest of Kali

ga was bloody, involving much
loss of life among both combatants and noncombatants and great su
of the civilian population, that he repented of the violence of his conquest,
and that he subsequently renounced war and vowed to rule by
e edicts were written in Prakrit, the spoken language com-
Ancient India
doms, to an uneasy early state during the “ rst half of the “
rst millennium
. We saw that the early state depended heavily on a complex ritual sys-
tem, focusing on the ruling house but allowing the participation of other
aristocratic lineages, and very dependent on the alliance of K
atriyas and
Sometime in the middle years of the “
rst millennium  and especially
clearly in Magadha, the king was able to concentrate more power in his own
hands, to depend less on local notables and more on o$
cials chosen from the
royal lineage or closely dependent lineages, and to extract what have to be called
taxes rather than tribute as in earlier times. 
e great royal rituals were still
performed, but less frequently and more exclusively in the royal lineage
alone. Brahmins were important and respected, but could not claim exclu-
sive access to the sacred, with the emergence of the Buddhists, Jains, and
other groups. Both kings Bimbis*ra and Aj*taatru were claimed as patrons
of their religions in Buddhist and Jain texts, though in those same texts they
are portrayed as having Brahmin advisors and as in no sense having estab-
lishedŽ any one religion. Newly expansive Magadha was clearly less bound
by older expectations and more inclined to experimentation in both po liti cal
and religious realms than were earlier regimes. It was the seedbed of much
that was to follow.
Bimbis*ra and Aj*taatru, perhaps in the “
fth century  (all dates are
provisional), had greatly extended the domain of Magadha so that it in-
cluded the entire lower Ganges valley and adjoining territory to the north
and east. 
e Nanda dynasty, which followed and ruled through much of
the fourth century , extended the rule of Magadha signi“
cantly so that it
reached the west coast, thus spanning the subcontinent from the Bay of Ben-
gal to the Arabian Sea. But it was the next dynasty, the Mauryas, that cre-
ated an empire that included most of the subcontinent, including parts of
what are now Pakistan and Af ghan i stan, and excluding only the southern-
most regions, and even they may have accepted a kind of tributary status
relative to the Mauryas. 
e found er of the dynasty, Candragupta Maurya,
overthrew the last of the Nandas in 321 . According to tradition, Can-
draguptas takeover was masterminded by his advisor Kau
who later
became his chief minister. 
e authorship of the important text on rulership,
is attributed to Kau
e text as we have it undoubtedly
has later material, although some of it may derive from Mauryan times and
even possibly from Candraguptas chief minister. Candragupta extended the
territory of Magadha, as did his son Bindus*ra, who completed the conquest
\t \f+\f \f \r
an epic form„ but also such texts as the
of Manu and the
of Kau
ese texts are not precisely datable and probably
contain material from more than one time, but in their present form they
date from the last centuries  and the “
rst centuries .
We must also consider not only the growth of centralized monarchies but
the creation of what can only be called an empire: the Mauryan dynasty
(321… 185 ) founded in Magadha by Candragupta Maurya, but reaching
its greatest extent under its most famous ruler, Aoka (304… 232 ; r. 273…
232 ). Candragupta founded the Mauryan dynasty almost exactly a
hundred years before Qin Shihuangdi founded the “
rst imperial dynasty in
China, but their futures would be very di
e Qin dynasty was suc-
ceeded, with signi“
cant breaks to be sure, by one imperial dynasty after an-
other for more than 2,000 years, until 1911, most of them ruling over most of
what we now call China. After the collapse of the Mauryan dynasty, however,
India remained divided through most of its subsequent history, with no re-
gime again reaching the size of the Mauryan empire, yet with a cultural
unity that surely rivals that of China, and for which po liti cal uni“
cation was
clearly not a prerequisite.
Aoka, as we will see, was probably the most innovative ruler in Indian
history, but, for reasons we will consider below, he was almost forgotten ex-
cept in Buddhist texts. His inscriptions, the “
rst examples of writing in In-
dia, extensive and full of interesting material, were written in a script and
languages that made them soon after their creation unreadable until modern
times. Aoka was not as totally forgotten as Akhenaten, but given his histori-
cal importance his absence from subsequent historical memory is remark-
able. Nonetheless his presence can be sensed in all the texts that give this
period such a creative role in Indian religious and po liti cal thought.
We must begin our e
ort to understand changes in the centuries before
and after the turn of the Common Era by taking a closer look at the king-
dom of Magadha. In the earliest references it is described as being beyond
the pale of Vedic culture, inhabited by barbarians, but the pro cess of ex-
pansive Sanskritization had reached it by the time of the Buddha, probably
the “ fth century , as we have noted above. Under the rule of Bimbis*ra
and his son Aj*taatru, Magadha became the dominant principality in the
Ganges valley and developed a polity that di
ered signi“
cantly from earlier
times. What we can thinly discern, mainly from Buddhist and Jain sources,
is a new degree of centralization and the emergence of a king with enhanced
powers. We have seen a long transition from chiefdoms to paramount chief-
Ancient India
communities for about four months, and then go their separate ways. Grad-
ually these communities became permanent and Buddhist monasteries com-
mon, often in the vicinity of cities.
When compared to Christian monasticism, Buddhist monasticism was
markedly less hierarchical. 
e Buddha refused to appoint a successor, say-
ing that the Dhamma was all that the monks needed, and even within mon-
asteries hierarchy was minimal, though the development of an elaborate set
of monastic rules, the
was an attempt to maintain order. Each monk
was to pursue the Path on his own, but the relation between teacher and
student was important and gave rise to teaching lineages; the fractures be-
tween these lineages could become the structural basis for sectarianŽ splits.
e Sangha was in no sense a model for society as a whole and stood deliber-
ately at a distance from it, but the somewhat amorphous nature of Buddhist
monasticism, as we have seen, necessitated a close relation between monks
and lay patrons, often kings, high o$
cials, or wealthy merchants. If there
was an e
ort to create something like a parallel community relative to the
existing social order, it consisted not of monks alone but of monks and laity
Buddhism, in spite of becoming one of the greatest of all missionary reli-
gions, spreading to virtually all of Southeast and East Asia, was in India,
without remainder, and to some degree incomprehensibly, absorbed by Hin-
To what extent what was absorbed changed the absorbers is a mat-
ter of scholarly inquiry and argument. What is undeniable is that a degree of
ethical universalism, barely foreshadowed in the Brahmanic tradition, is evi-
dent in the great theistic movements of later Hinduism.
Religion and Politics after Buddhism
e teachings of the Buddha are clearly post- Vedic, and they are but one ex-
pression of a society, and particularly a polity, that is post- Vedic as well, re-
membering that there is a sense in which India is never post- Vedic.Ž Magadha,
one of the centers of early Buddhism, represents a new kind of polity„
larger, more centralized, with a somewhat di
erent conception of kingship
and rule than had prevailed earlier. 
e Buddhist texts themselves give much
evidence of signi“
cant cultural, social, and po liti cal changes, but there are
other important texts that we must consider, however brie”
y. Perhaps most
important are the great epics, the
and the
„ which,
though they are very di
erent from the
and the
do indeed have
\t \f+\f \f \r
provides the sense of an ending rather than a mere breaking- o
. Nir-
vana is a moment within a discursive or practical dynamic, a formal ele-
ment of closure in the structure of Buddhist imagination, texts and
is is the sense in which I want to say that nirvana has a syn-
tactic as well as a semantic value: it is the moment of ending which
gives structure to the whole.
Collins then goes on to apply his argument about the paradigmatic story
of Buddhist liberation to the story of Gotama the Buddha. For any indi-
vidual, the denouement of the story of spiritual liberation„
on a cosmic scale„ is both the discovery of Truth and a change in being . . .
When the Saint realizes the truth, it is not that he or she has simply acquired
some new knowledge, but rather that such knowledge instantiates a new ex-
istential state or condition.Ž
At the central point of silence, the idea of
nirvana, when all the things one can say dont seem to help, Buddhists
have always turned to the Buddha in something we should hesitate to call
worship because of the associations of that term in Abrahamic religions,
but as an instantiation of what the whole teaching is about. As the Buddha
himself said, He who sees the Dhamma sees me, he who sees me sees the
us the central Buddhist teaching, contained already in the Four Noble
Truths, is the Path from su
ering to nirvana, expressed in systematic and
narrative thought and even in such symbols as the quenched “
re. Insofar as
this teaching disregards all distinctions of birth and proclaims the equality
of all human beings in their capacity to follow the Path, the teaching is revo-
lutionary relative to early Indian society with its heavy reliance on birth and
lineage. But as Romila 
apar noted, the Buddha called for no revolutionary
overthrow of existing institutions; rather he attempted to establish a parallel
Ancient India
panied by narrative and symbolic thought. In summarizing the linkages be-
tween these three kinds of thought (which can be found in all the axial
religions), Collins argues that imagery is the bridge, the mediationŽ between
the systematic and the narrative:
e two most common images of nirvana in the developed tradition
are the quenching of “ re and the city. Buddhist systematic thought
presents a static arrangement of ideas, which are connected by logical
not temporal relation; its narratives, whether the overall master- text or
the stories told in actual texts, are by necessity temporally structured.
e imagery of “
re is built into the vocabulary of the systematic thought
in which the concept of nirvana exists; but it also has a temporal di-
mension, embodied in the verbs or verbal notions within the image: it
is of “
is temporal dimension is, in micro-
cosm, the same as that of the larger- scale stories and histories in which
narrative thought textualizes both time and timeless nirvana. So not
only is the image intrinsic to the vocabulary of Buddhism (attachment-
fuel, nirvana- quenching); it also contains„ in a nutshell, or, to use a
south Asian meta phor, in seed form„ the narrative movement from
ering to resolution and closure in which nirvanas syntactic value is
to be found. 
e city of nirvana can be a static object of textual vision;
but in the notion of the city as the destination point of a journey, the
terminus of the Path, which is again intrinsic to Buddhist systematic
thought, there is also a microcosmic version of the entire Buddhist master-
e Path to salvation is thus, in the image as in the master-
narrative, a journey through time from the city of the transient body to
the city of timeless and deathless nirvana: the city without fear, as one
of the earliest texts to use the image calls it. 
e images set the logic of
the concept in motion: once there is motion, there is temporal exten-
sion, and once there is temporal extension there is narrative.
Just to round out Collinss eloquent e
ort to capture the central concern
of Buddhist devotion, we can go to him again to explain how the word syn-
tacticŽ got into the above quotation:
Both the concept and the imagery of nirvana eventuate, by design, in
\t \f+\f \f \r
Gombrich goes on to describe certain additional rules that the laity were
encouraged to follow on certain days, the quarter days of the lunar month:
For a night and a day they undertook complete chastity, not to eat solid
food after midday, not to adorn themselves or witness entertainments, not to
use luxurious beds.Ž
ese, together with the Five Precepts, are the same as
the obligations of novice monks except that in addition the monks must ab-
stain from the use of money. Although not common, a layperson could under-
take to keep these injunctions permanently. In general, then, the line be-
tween monks and laity was not as impermeable as one might think: even
though the monks were expected to be concerned more with the attainment
of nirvana and the laity with a better rebirth, still the latter looked forward
to an eventual attainment of nirvana.
Buddhism in the West has long been viewed as a rationalŽ religion (often
in implicit or explicit contrast to Christianity), and Buddhist religious and
ethical teaching is often expressed in systematic propositional form, with
premises leading to conclusions. For this reason it is easy to see Buddhism as
an axial religion, if one takes the presence of theoryŽ as a marker of axiality.
But as in the other axial cases, the logicalŽ aspect of Buddhist teaching is
intertwined with a variety of other kinds of discourse„ symbols and narra-
tives„ in ways sometimes overlooked by its Western admirers. Further, Bud-
dhist truths are to be understood logically in terms of what the words mean
(that is, semantically), but to be reallyŽ understood they must change the
hearers in their practical stance toward themselves and the world (in the lin-
guistic sense, pragmatically).
us even in the rather terse “ rst sermon of the Buddha after his Awaken-
ing, the famous Deer Park Sermon, which is devoted to the exposition of the
Four Noble Truths, the Buddha repeatedly stresses, after stating the truths,
that he has “
nally fully understoodŽ and realizedŽ them so that the knowl-
edge and vision arose in him: Unshakeable is the liberation of my mind.
is is my last birth. Now there is no more renewed existence.Ž And it is also
recounted that while he was giving the sermon, one of his followers, the Ven-
erable Kondañña, became fully awakened to their truth: What ever is sub-
ject to origination is all subject to cessation.Ž
us, understanding the
words and their logical connection is only the “
rst step; it is only when the
teachings have penetrated deep into ones consciousness that they can be
Steven Collins has pointed out that, although systematic thought has al-
ways been important in Buddhist teachings, it has also always been accom-
Ancient India
on the monks.
Ilana Silber has described the core of their profound
Barred by
discipline from providing for their own food and
shelter, monks were thrown into a state of de pen den cy on the laity and
hence prevented from cutting themselves o
from society. 
is de pen-
den cy is mutual, since on the laitys side the Sangha is said to form a
eld of merit,Ž in the sense that providing monks with material sup-
port through gifts
represents the most e
ective (if not the only)
way for the laymen to reap merit.
Silber notes that this exchange should not be viewed as a magical buying of
rewards, because the generous intention of the giver is essential to the e$
of the gift. 
e laity are also dependent on the monks as the guardians of the
canonical texts for their preaching of the Buddhas Dharma, but the monks,
pledged to nonviolence as they are, are dependent on the laity to maintain or-
der among the monks and even to discern who is a legitimate monk and who
is a self- serving parasite. In short, though the Buddha and Buddhist monks
have left homeŽ and are no longer involved in the familial, economic, and po-
liti cal obligations of house holders, they are still very much engaged with soci-
ety in the ongoing life of the Sangha.
Although a decision to leave homeŽ marked a sharp di
erence between
Buddhist monk and layman, the obligations undertaken by the Buddhist
laity overlap to some degree with those undertaken by novice monks. Gom-
brich puts the Five Precepts for the laity in a larger perspective:
e positive values of kindness and unsel“
shness characterize Bud-
dhism better than do the moral precepts for the laity which are ex-
pressed negatively. 
ough usually called precepts,Ž they are really
undertakings, expressed in the “
rst person. 
ey are “
ve: not to take
life, steal, be unchaste (which is de“
ned according to ones situation),
lie, or take intoxicants, inasmuch as they lead to carelessness and hence
to breaking the “
rst four undertakings . . . Positively, the Buddhists
rst duty is to be generous, and the primary„ though by no means the
only„ object of his generosity is to the Sangha. Generosity, keeping
the moral undertakings, cultivating ones mind: these three summa-
rize the Buddhist path to a good rebirth and ultimately to release from
all rebirth.
\t \f+\f \f \r
Arise, victorious hero, caravan leader,
Debtless one, and wander in the world.
Let the blessed One teach the Dhamma,
ere will be those who will understand.
e Buddha listened to Brahm*s pleading, and out of compassion for be-
ingsŽ decides to undertake the task of making his teaching available to all.
Obeyesekere points out that years later, at the point of death, the Buddha
reiterates his intention when M*ra, the personi“
cation of the worlds evils,Ž
tells him it is time to die: I shall not come to my “
nal passing away, Malig-
nant One, until my bhikkus and bhikkunis [monks and nuns], laymen and
laywomen, have come to be true disciples„ wise, well- disciplined, apt and
learned, preservers of the Dhamma, living according to the Dhamma, abid-
ing by the appropriate conduct, and having gleaned the Masters word, are
able to expound it . . . and preach this liberating Dhamma.Ž
reached the point where he sees that he has accomplished all this and that
the Dhamma is now available to all, monastics and laypeople of every status
alike, he is ready to die.
In the Suttas the Buddha is often depicted as surrounded by large num-
bers of monks, and individual monks are often his conversation partners.
But just as often it is laypeople, not infrequently even kings, who come to the
Buddha with questions or in search of advice, with whom the Buddha
speaks. Solitary renouncers are referred to, often with admiration, but the
Buddha is most often shown as engaged in an active social life both with his
monks and with the larger society. He is shown teaching his monastic fol-
lowers the right way to conduct themselves in their quest for nirvana, but he
is just as often shown teaching laypeople the right way to live„ a way that
will avoid the pitfalls that bad actions can produce in this and future lives,
Ancient India
ter between a Brahmin and the Buddha gives a sense of the tenor of argu-
ment in the Suttas and the skeptical but not unsympathetic way in which the
Buddha was believed to have treated his interlocutors. More important for us
is that, by reducing the qualities necessary to be recognized as a Brahmin
from the traditional “
ve to the Buddhist two, this story gives an example of
the radical ethicization involved in the Buddhas teaching.
From the point of view of axial ethicization, perhaps the most fundamen-
tal innovation of Buddhism (though shared by other non- Brahmanical re-
nouncer sects) was the ethical necessity of making the teaching of liberation,
Dharma in the Buddhist sense, available to all people, regardless of status or
ethnicity. Obeyesekere points to a climactic moment in one of the Suttas
where the Buddha comes to realize his role as universal teacher.
After his long arduous search for enlightenment, the Buddha has “
attained Nibb*na. He thinks, 
is Dhamma that I have attained is pro-
found, hard to see and hard to understand, peaceful and sublime, unattain-
able by mere reasoning, subtle, to be experienced by the wise.Ž He considers
that he lives in a generation that delights in worldliness and is unlikely to
respond to what he has to teach. Some verses come to him that sum up his
Enough with teaching the Dhamma
at even I found hard to reach;
For it will never be perceived
By those who live in lust and hate.
ose dyed in lust, wrapped in darkness
Will never discern this abstruse Dhamma
Which goes against the worldly stream,
Subtle, deep, and di$
cult to see.
But suddenly at this point the Brahm* Sahampati appears and addresses
Just as one who stands on a mountain peak
Can see below the people all around,
So, O wise One, All- seeing Sage,
Ascend the palace of the Dhamma.
Let the Sorrowless One survey this human breed.
Engulfed in sorrow, overcome by birth and old age.
\t \f+\f \f \r
is not a “
tting question, or if the Buddha asks him a question he may not
know the answer, or if he sits in silence he will look bad, and his friends will
despise him. He thinks to himself, If anyone were despised by this com-
pany, his reputation would su
er, and then his income would su
er, for our
income depends on the gaining of a reputation.Ž
a hopes the Buddha will ask him a question from his own “
of the three Vedas, and the Buddha, sensing his discomfort, does so: By
how many qualities do Brahmins recognize a Brahmin?Ž So
a is de-
lighted and answers that there are “
ve such qualities: a Brahmin is well- born
for seven generations, is a scholar versed in the mantras, is handsome, virtu-
ous, and wise.
e Buddha responds: But if one of these “
ve qualities were omitted,
could not one be recognized as a true Brahmin, being possessed of four
of these qualities?Ž So
a replies, We could leave out appearance, for
what does that matter?Ž 
e Buddha counters by asking if we could leave out
one more quality so that only three would be enough. So
a replies,
We could leave out the mantras.Ž Once again the Buddha asks if there were
one more that could be left out, so only two qualities would be necessary,
and So
a replies, We could leave out birth.Ž At this So
Brahmin friends are really upset and tell him he is giving away too much and
taking the Buddhas position, not that of a Brahmin. So
a tells them
to shut up and responds further to the Buddha saying that the essential
qualities of a Brahmin are virtue and wisdom. 
e Buddha asks if one of
these could be omitted, and So
a replies: No, Gotama. For wisdom is
ed by morality, and morality is puri“
ed by wisdom: where one is, the
other is, the moral man has wisdom and the wise man has morality.Ž
It is
clear to all that So
a has given up basic elements of Brahmin belief
and has in e
ect converted to the teachings of the Buddha, that is, Dharma
in the new sense of ethics and wisdom and not
in the old sense of
caste obligations.
Yet So
a asks the Buddha to forgive him if he fails to recognize him
adequately in public, because if he did so, his reputation would su
er, and if
a mans reputation su
ers, his income su
According to the commen-
tary, So
a is represented as a convert only to a limited extent.Ž
the rich young man in the New Testament, So
a is unwilling to give up
his life of privilege, even though he has agreed with the teachings of the Bud-
dha. Many other Brahmins described in the Suttas do become real followers
of the Buddha and obtain enlightenment. But the story of this little encoun-
Ancient India
emphasis), still the overall formal structure„ here being a BrahminŽ
as the highest value„ remains the same.
What one might call the gentle rejectionŽ of Brahmanism by the Bud-
dhists was nonetheless seen by many Brahmin writers as a mortal threat: the
Buddhists rejected the entire Vedic tradition, all the received texts, as having
any authority, the very eternal texts on which Brahmanism and the dharma
that it took as essential were based. Further, the Buddhists rejected sacri“
indeed the killing of any living being, with their doctrine of
e beginnings of the idea of
can be found in Vedic texts, but
applied selectively, and not intended to abolish sacri“
ces that are prescribed
in the texts.
We have noted the Brahmin renouncers
also re-
jected sacri“
ce, internalized it so that it was expressed in thought and word,
not act, but for house holders, the very foundation of the Brahmanic order,
ce was still required. 
e total rejection of sacri“
ce could not but seem
a major threat to hegemonic Brahmanism.
Gombrich has made a similar point with respect to the ritual “
res, three
or “
ve depending on the circumstances, that are central to Brahmanic ritual.
Again, the
abandoned “
re upon leaving the world. 
at is one
reason why he must beg: he cant even keep a kitchen “
re to cook his own
food. But “
re, and the “
re god Agni, though marginal in the later tradition,
never lost their sanctity in normative Brahmanism. Again the Buddha radi-
calizes the Brahmin renouncer position by using “
re as such as a symbol of
the “
res of passion, hatred, and delusion,Ž which must burn out before sal-
vation can be attained.
To give an idea of the satirical but not unsympathetic way the Buddhist
Suttas treated Brahmins, I will brie”
y recount a story concerning a certain
wealthy and in”
uential Brahmin, So
e Buddha and some of
his followers had arrived at Camp*, where So
a lived in considerable
comfort. So
a, a man no longer young but of irreproachable birth for
seven generations on both his fathers and his mothers side, learned, hand-
some, and the teacher of many, decides to visit the Buddha because of his
great reputation. His Brahmin friends reproach him, saying that the Bud-
dha, being younger, should visit him rather than that he should visit the
Buddha, and that his reputation would su er if he initiates the visit. How-
ever, So
a, arguing that the Buddha is fully enlightened, convinces his
friends that it is right for him to make the visit. On the way, however, he
begins to worry that if he asks the Buddha a question, the Buddha may say it
\t \f+\f \f \r
which we “
nd ful“
lling, and also which constitutes an obvious contri-
bution to human welfare.
I would suggest that it is those people who at least at times experience the
sense of emptiness, of life as dark, cold, and meaningless, who would be
most likely to embark on the di$
cult religious path toward nirvana, the ul-
timate fullness that the Buddha o
ered. But to those in the middle position,
what Louis Dumont called the man- in- the- world,Ž the Buddha also had
much to o
er, a way of life based not on the Brahmanic dharma, with its
radical particularism, but on a new sense of Dharma, the teaching of the
Buddha, in which an ethical way of life in the world is a signi“
cant part. All
of this is simply to explain that all life is
Ž means, not that Buddhists
think that daily life is completely miserable, but that those who re”
ect seri-
ously on life may “
nd that it is, in spite of many rewards, ultimately unsatis-
factory, and that for those not looking beyond daily life at the moment, there
is still much the Buddha has to teach.
Let us go back to the words of Gombrich, a leading scholar of early Bud-
dhism, where he says that the Buddha turned the Brahmin ideology up-
side down,Ž and try to understand in more detail what he means. Perhaps
most fundamental is that Buddha rejected the hereditary status of the
Brahmins and of the four
Ancient India
endlessly reborn and go through all this
again and again and again,
can lead the sensitive to a wish for an alternative. What the Buddha o
ers as
the ultimate alternative, nirvana (Pali,
), is elusive, indescribable, but
nitely deeply preferable to the round of
endlessly repeated un-
satisfactory lives.

Yet the Buddha was preaching to lay men and women, not only to poten-
tial religious virtuosi. He o
ered a way of release from
but he was
also concerned with those who were not ready for the demanding task of
obtaining that release. For them he described a way of life that would lead to
positive future lives, and, after many rebirths, ultimately nirvana. 
ere has
been a tendency to think of this possibility as a compromise with trueŽ
Buddhism, or a decline from its early pure form, but there are many reasons
to believe it is nothing of the kind. 
ere may be One Path, but along the
way there are various routes and various lives, and following the Buddhas
teaching can help in all of them. Perhaps I can borrow from a recent work of
Charles Taylor,
A Secular Age,
to suggest the variety of possibilities here.
Taylor suggests the term fullnessŽ for those who have reached a religious
realization that goes beyond the world of daily life, that gives them some-
thing moreŽ than the ordinary satisfactions of life. It is paired with the no-
tion of emptinessŽ or exile,Ž the sense that life is dark, cold, and meaning-
less. Often it is religious adepts who feel such emptiness most acutely, in the
Christian West sometimes called the dark night of the soul,Ž which may be
a precursor to a religious quest that ends in something like fullness, or at
least a glimpse of it. But Taylor is most useful for us at this point in remind-
ing us that there is a middle positionŽ in between fullness and emptiness,
which some people seem happy to see as all there is.Ž Of the middle position
(we must be careful not to confuse this with the common characterization of
Buddhism as the middle way between the pursuit of sensual plea sure and
self- morti“
cation) he writes:
is is where we have found a way to escape the forms of negation, ex-
ile, emptiness, without having reached fullness. We come to terms with
the middle position, often through some stable, even routine order in
life, in which we are doing things which have some meaning for us; for
instance, which contribute to our ordinary happiness, or which are ful-
lling in various ways, or which contribute to what we conceive of as
the good. Or often, in the best scenario, all three: for instance, we strive
to live happily with spouse and children, while practising a vocation
\t \f+\f \f \r
from the earlier tradition: (1)
„the round of rebirth,Ž what is often
called reincarnation, the idea that humans and other beings live through a
series of lives that can take various forms in this and other worlds; (2)
action,Ž moral retribution,Ž the belief that actions have consequences for
happiness or su
ering in this and future lives and that happiness or su
in this life may have been caused by actions in previous lives; and (3)
„release, liberationŽ (in Buddhism usually called
), the state of release from the round of
the highest religious
goal, though usually seen as possible only for renouncers.

In each case Buddhists developed their own interpretations of these terms,
often critically di
erent from those of Brahmanism or Jainism, as will be
discussed below. But in describing the Buddhist position it is surely not
wrong to begin with the Four Noble Truths, believed to have been ex-
pounded in the Buddhas “
rst sermon and serving as the basis of Buddhist
teaching subsequently. 
ese Four Noble Truths are familiar, but perhaps
they deserve a bit of commentary. 
e First Noble Truth is that all life is suf-
e Second Noble Truth is that the cause of su
ering or
unsatisfactoriness is craving
desire, or attachment. 
ird Noble
Truth is that the way to end unsatisfactoriness is to end desire, craving, or
attachment, and the Fourth Noble Truth is the way this ending can be ac-
complished: the noble Eightfold Path.Ž 
e path can be very demanding,
but anyone can take the “
rst steps, which are the precepts for lay followers.
ese basic teachings of Buddhism underlie the discussion that follows.
Although su
eringŽ can serve, as it has traditionally, as a translation of
in the First Noble Truth, scholars of Buddhism have pointed out that
that translation can be misunderstood: if we conclude from the First Noble
Truth that Buddhism is a pessimistic, gloomy, or cold teaching, we will be
making a mistake. An alternative translation that is often suggested is un-
e idea that life is
does not mean that people are un-
happy all the time. Ordinary su
ering is everyday physical or mental pain
contrasted with ordinary happiness or indi
erence. A deeper meaning does
not claim to explain how people feel all the time, but rather how, upon re-
ection, serious people may come to feel: su
ering through change.Ž 
is the sense that all things are subject to impermanence and change; every
happy moment will come to an end. More fundamentally it is the recogni-
tion of the vulnerability and fragility of life itself, as illustrated to the young
Siddhartha when he saw what he was not supposed to see: illness, old age,
and death. 
at knowledge, combined with the knowledge that one will be
Ancient India
Buddhism is no more secure than that of any other aspect of early Indian
religion, so I will be constructing an ideal type based on texts that may be of
various ages and represent what later tradition thought were the Buddhas
teachings more than what we can know for sure that he actually taught.
Certain things are reasonably clear: (1) the Buddha took for granted cen-
tral views that had developed within the Brahmanic tradition, and (2) the
Buddha transformed the tradition he received in a way that completed the
axial transition in India. In Richard Gombrichs words, the Buddha turned
the Brahmin ideology upside down and ethicized the universe. I do not see
how one could exaggerate the importance of the Buddhas ethicization of the
world, which I regard as a turning point in the history of civilization.Ž

will be our task to try to understand both the continuities and the radical
One radical change that in a sense precedes all the others, but that we can-
not pursue adequately within the con“
nes of this chapter, is a double reversal
of the fundamental Upanishadic soteriological equation:
(self) equals
(ultimate reality). 
e Buddha denied that either
have an essential reality, thus reducing the Upanishadic equation 1
1 to
the Buddhist equation 0

e doctrine of
not- self, is expressed in
the injunction not to regard anything as self: this is not mine, this is not I,
this is not myself.Ž

It is the premise on which even the Four Noble Truths
On the other hand the Buddha avoided getting into arguments about the
ultimate reality of the self and the world, and when he was approached by
monks asking such questions as Is there (or is there not) a selfŽ or Is the
world eternal or not,Ž he responded with a parable, in Steven Collinss sum-
mary, of a man pierced by an arrow, who does not want to “
nd out the name,
family, skin colour, and so on, of the man who shot it, before taking it out. In
the same way, a man pierced by the arrow of su
ering should aim to get rid of
it before asking questions about the nature of the universe which caused such
a state.Ž
Both Gombrich and Collins stress that the Buddha is in this sense
a physician more than a metaphysician, that his teaching is ultimately practi-
cal and therapeutic rather than didactic, though didacticism is far from ab-
sent in the Buddhist Suttas.
In spelling out what Buddhism shares with Brahmanism and almost all
other Indian religious traditions, there is still a question of how much early
Buddhism received and how much it contributed to the crystallization of
these ideas. Nonetheless, three central Buddhist ideas existed in some form
\t \f+\f \f \r
is, the renouncer may transcend dharma, but he does not reject it. In one
sense, neither do the rama
ic renouncers, including the Buddhists, but they
do not accept it either. 
ey dont attack the existing order, but in important
respects they ignore it and attempt to build a society on other foundations.
apar argues that the or ga nized groups of renouncers of the post-
Vedic period were neither negating the society to which they belonged nor
trying to radically alter it: but rather they were trying to establish a parallel
Ancient India
e earliest description of the
system in the Dharmas
tras, dating
from the third and second centuries , envision a free choice among the
which were viewed as permanent and lifelong vocationsŽ: following
ones studentship one could opt to become a house holder, to remain with
ones teacher until death, to become a hermit, or to become a renouncer.

However, before the idea of the
system had even developed, the
tradition assumed the necessity of the house holder status. As Olivelle puts it:
e ideal and typical religious life within vedic ideology is that of married
house holder. 
e normative character of that life is related to the two theo-
logically central religious activities: o
ering sacri“
ces and procreating chil-
dren. Only a married house holder, according to that theology, was entitled
and quali“
ed to perform either of them.Ž

e tension between the house-
holder and renouncer ideals was never completely resolved. 
e later devel-
opment of the classicalŽ
system attempted to resolve it by making
the renouncer role appropriate only late in life after the obligations of the
house holder had been ful“
e argument was that the house holder is
essential for all the
Without sacri“
ces the ancestors would not be
nourished, nor would the cosmos be upheld. Without children there would
be no future members of any
And without house holders there would
be no one to feed the renouncers.

Medieval theologians continued to wrestle with this tension. 
e greatest
Hindu phi los o pher, @a

kara, defended the legitimacy of the renouncer role,
arguing that the texts prescribing lifelong ritual activity were directed not
at people who are detached from the world but at those who are full of de-
sires and wish to attain a heavenly world.Ž

kara did however, unlike
most later thinkers in his tradition, believe that only Brahmins could be
e importance of the renouncer role, as envisioned by such scholars as
Dumont and 
apar, is that it allowed the possibility of viewing the entire
tradition and the society that embodied it from the outside, so to speak. Re-
nouncers viewed traditional society as imperfect, as not the only way life can
be lived, as the quotation from =a

kara above suggests. Dumont sees the re-
nouncer as a genuine individual, capable of choice, in a society dominated by
ascribed roles and particularistic relationships. In these ways the renouncer
role is a signal of an axial transformation, as we already noted with respect to
the early Upani
ads. In the Brahmanic tradition, however, though there is
tension between the central worldlyŽ role of the house holder and the re-
nouncer, the fundamental worldly order itself is not called in question„ that
\t \f+\f \f \r
answer to the question of why renouncers ”
ourished in this later period.
Clearly in the second half of the “ rst millennium , north Indian society,
especially in the Ganges valley, was in rapid transition involving signi“
population increase, growing trade, urbanization, and stronger states. One
further factor whose signi“
cance is hard to judge: India in that period expe-
rienced signi“
cant pressure in the northwest, not from the kind of barbar-
iansŽ the Chinese intermittently had to deal with, but from strong archaic
and axial states, notably Achaemenid Persia and Hellenistic Greek empires.
At the very least these pressures probably stimulated Indian state building.
RenouncerŽ has a variety of possible meanings, but its simplest de“
tion in the Indian context was the renunciation of the life of the house-
holderŽ for a life of asceticism, usually involving itinerant mendicancy. In
the Buddhist case the choice of the life of the renouncer was called leaving
home,Ž but that seems a good way of de“
ning the role more generally. Cer-
tainly Y*jñavalkya, the archetypal Brahmin renouncer as depicted in the
yaka Upani
is shown rather dramatically as leaving home, giv-
ing instruction to one of his two wives. 
ere is, however, a signi“
cant termi-
nological di
erence between Brahmanical renouncers and non- Brahmanical
e former are called
whereas the latter are called
Although Brahmin renouncers were occasionally called
Buddhists and Jains were never called

In any case, gradually
there developed a sharp distinction between
(referred to as Brah-
mins in this chapter) and
„non- Brahmanical renouncers. 
e com-
pound word
is used in the Aokan inscriptions to repre-
sent two religious groups worthy of respect, but a century or so later the
grammarian Patañjali used the same term as an example of a compound word
composed of complete opposites. 
ese terminological issues probably re”
controversy within the Brahmin community as well as con”
ict between Brah-
mins and non- Brahmanical groups.
e issue for Brahmins had to do with the status of house holder versus
renouncer, resolved ultimately in the
system of four stages of the
life course: studentship
house holder
the hermit
or forest- dweller
and the renouncer
It is this under-
standing of
as four successive stages of the life cycle that is referred
to in the fundamental term for expressing Hindu civilization,
that is, the order of the four var
as and the four stages
of life. Olivelle, however, has shown that this understanding of the
system is relatively late, perhaps only crystallizing in the “
rst centuries .
Ancient India
pretation of the
But the Indian typology was complicated by the addition
of a fourth category,
(salvation, liberation), and although that too had
a Brahmin primacy in the beginning, there was more than a little tension
between the demands of
and the demands of
insofar as the
serious pursuit of
required the life of a renouncer, incompatible with
the life of a house holder and his primary obligation (as in China) to continue
the patrilineage.

In the late Vedic period there was controversy over which
had priority for Brahmins, house holder or renouncer, as will be discussed
further below, but the compromise solution that was included in the idea of
was that the house holder and renouncer would be suc-
cessive stages of lifeŽ
with the renouncer stage beginning in old
age after all the obligations of the house holder had been ful“
If there is a term parallel to
in classical China, it would be one sense
namely the Daoist sense of that with which one merges to attain sal-
vation.Ž However, the Confucian meaning of
was very close to the mean-
ing of
that is, the Way of the ancestors.Ž But although Daoists can
be considered renouncers, in that they showed little interest in the pursuit of
ordinary life, they were renouncers of a rather di
erent type than the Indian
\t \f+\f \f \r
against rationalizing tendencies that would have seriously impinged on their
form of life or even their existence. 
apar mentioned the importance of
customary law in India, and we should remember that
included cus-
tomary law in principle as long as it did not violate Vedic injunctions, and in
practice often when it did. If Inden perhaps stretches his terminology too far
in speaking of citizenshipŽ and rights,Ž he is not wrong in seeing in these
particularistic defenses of customary life a sort of functional equivalent to
these ideas in a quite di
erent cultural idiom. In short, as we know to our
sorrow in the twentieth and twenty- “
rst centuries, strong states are by no
means an unvarnished good, even if failed statesŽ can be worse. In the case
of traditional India we are talking about limited states, not failed states.
Before moving to a discussion of Buddhism, a brief comparative look at
India and China, particularly with respect to the ethos of their dominant
classes, might be instructive. In some ways Brahmins could well be com-
pared to Confucians: both were the keepers of the normative order,
in the case of India,
in the case of China, and it is worth remembering that
both terms originally meant sacri“
cial ritual, though they were broadened to
include the normative order as a whole. Yet there is a striking di
erence in
relation to the state: the Confucian saw the state as the potential embodi-
ment of the ideal social order and so saw public o$
ce as his primary calling;
the Brahmin saw a social order to a considerable extent in de pen dent of the
state, though defended by it, as the ideal order, and his primary calling was
as religious teacher and priest. It is this di
erence that has made Westerners
think of China as secularŽ and India as religious,Ž though the Chinese
ideal state was supposed to embody religious values as much as the ideal In-
dian social order was.
But there is another matter that seems to justify what I consider a skewed
Western perception: the way in which the two elites related to the highest
religious order. 
e traditional Hindu formulation of the three ends of
(success), and
(pleasure)„ held for all
upper- caste house holders. As Charles Malamoud has pointed out, these
three ends of life do not map easily onto the var
e Brahmins were re-
sponsible for 
pronounced,Ž as he puts it, the K
atriyas for 
protected,Ž the K
atriyas also for po liti cal
Ž and the Vaias for eco-
in the sense of (desire for) sensual plea sureŽ is common
to all var
as, but has an especially strong a$
nity to K
atriyas, though it is
also a dangerous temptation for them.

Although China did not have such
a typology, the Confucians were responsible for the transmission and inter-
Ancient India
suzerainty of the ruler but they also claimed certain rightsŽ (Indens word)
to be heard and taken seriously. Local assemblies operated in a way that dis-
enfranchisedŽ none but the lowest castes, and such assemblies were able to be
represented at court.
All of this makes a great deal of sense to me. It gives
ective po liti cal form to the many kinds of particularism characteristic of
Indian society, of which caste is only one, though the most important one.
Inden wants to argue that reason and will were involved in the construc-
tion of Indian polities, and uses the Rashtrakuta empire of the eighth to the
tenth centuries  as an example.
Nonetheless, what he describes is, as far
as I can see, a collection of particularistic loyalties, in the end fragile and “
sile, and not a strong state by Chinese standards, for example. His descrip-
tion does not seriously undermine Romila 
apars conclusion:
Even when the lineage system [as exempli“
ed by
ties] was absorbed into the state, its identity was not entirely eliminated.
Administration, except at the higher levels, remained a local concern
and the absence of impersonal recruitment to o$
ce meant that kinship
ties were still e
ective. Legal codes drew substantially on customary law
and incorporated local practices. Legitimacy was frequently expressed
through rituals pertaining to the lineage system such as the Vedic sacri-
“ ces . . . 
us it was not so much that the state was a segmentary sys-
tem with a concentration of power at the centre shading o
into ritual
hegemony at the periphery as that the state system in itself was not a
unitary, monolithic system restructuring the entire territory under its
control but rather that it had a margin for ”
exibility in relation to pe-
ripheral areas.
For me the fact that unitary, monolithicŽ states (such as those con-
structed on the basis of Chinese legalist doctrine) were rare in India is not a
bad thing.Ž Several features of the Indian pattern combined to limit the
despotic tendencies so evident in historic societies (and not only in the Ori-
e fact that at the top of society in the alliance between Brahmins
and K
authority and power were divided, and that
was the ruling power standing above the ruling power,Ž meant that
there were major restraints on arbitrary po liti cal power„ despotism. 
e re-
sult may have been a relatively weak state„ we will have to consider later the
meaning of the ideal of universal rulership in the Indic tradition„ but it
meant that the people on the ground,Ž so to speak, had a variety of defenses
\t \f+\f \f \r
I view all OrientalŽ societies as inegalitarian, that is obviously not the case:
Chapter 8 describes the profound egalitarianism of classical Chinese civiliza-
tion. I am convinced that Islamic societies are also profoundly egalitarian.
Of course, here I speak of ideology, as I do in the case of India„ in practice
no society since the hunter- gatherers has been very egalitarian. And even in
ideology neither Chinese nor Islamic societies were egalitarian when it came
to gender.
Ronald Inden, however, in his book
Imagining India
has probably made
the best case against essentializing caste, giving some substance to what he
means by essentializing. He argues that those who see caste as the essenceŽ
of Indian society deny to Indians agencyŽ and the capacity to change.
Instead of viewing human beings as actors determining their own fate, the
essentializers, in his view, have given agency to institutions and/or internal
ideas (culture?) and not to human beings. But like others in the so cio log i cal
argument about agency and institutions, he doesnt tell us what role institu-
tions and culture have once we recognize human agency. In this entire chap-
ter I have been dealing with ideology, including the ideology about basic so-
cial premises, but I have never viewed ideology as exercising agency. If, as I
am inclined to believe, the basic caste premises of Indian society have sur-
vived for a very long time and through many major changes, it is surely be-
cause of the vigorous agency of the Brahmin intellectuals who defended
caste and of the rulers who on the whole upheld their views, in spite of many
protests and other forms of re sis tance. Neither institutions nor ideas have
any agency of their own„ they must constantly be sustained,Ž upheldŽ
by human actors, yet no society can operate without them. As is so
often the case, we cannot see ideas/institutions and agency in a zero- sum
way„ it is both/and, not either/or.
India has no monopoly on the history of oppression: every human society
so far„ except for hunter- gatherers, and even there it was better to be an
adult male than a child or a woman„ has been oppressive toward signi“
portions of its population. Democracy and slavery went together in democ-
racys two greatest exemplars, ancient Athens and modern America, for a
long time at least, and who can say that the United States has not been one
of the most oppressive societies in history in its treatment of people both
within and without it. Caste is simply the form oppression takes in India.
But Inden makes a further move that I am inclined to take quite seriously.
He argues that castes and other forms of association, both in the villages and
in the cities, had a kind of subject- citizenship,Ž that is, they recognized the
Ancient India
social structure by projecting that form into the domains of the super-
natural, the metaphysical, the natural, and the canonical.

As with dharma, caste in India was never totally taken for granted, even
aside from the principled criticism of the Buddhists and Jains. In the ortho-
dox view, salvation was open only to those with knowledge of the Veda, and
dras were denied that knowledge. Not only was
(salvation) denied
them, but their rebirth chances were impaired: knowledge of Vedic injunctions
was imperative if one was to be reborn in a pleasant womb,Ž that is, a twice-
born womb.

So for those at the bottom in terms of religious quali“
there was a kind of vicious circle. If they behaved well, they could be reborn
in a higher group, but without the knowledge of how to behave well, that
possibility was seriously diminished. 
ere were those, particularly in the
movements, who went out of their way to spread the teachings to
everyone, =
dras and outcastes included. And what they taught was not the
im mense corpus of Vedic injunctions but reliance on the grace of god, =iva,
a, or the goddess.
In spite of re sis tance and variation by time and place, the caste system has
remained basic to Indian social or ga ni za tion until recent times. 
e conserva-
tive M
s* position has remained hegemonic. 
us, I would argue, though
Upanishadic religion was axial, and many forms of rational discourse (lin-
guistics, logic, mathematics, and so on) developed, the foundation of ethics
and society remained archaic. 
is is a position somewhat similar to one that
S. N. Eisenstadt and I developed in connection with Japan, where we have
argued that the basic premises of society remained non- axial even though ele-
ments of axial culture have had a rich history of development.
e case of
India is even more striking, in that one of the great religious breakthroughs of
the axial age occurred there, yet the premises of society did not follow suit,
except, of course, in the extremely important case of Buddhism that will be
discussed below. It is also true that every axial society has had what Eric
Voegelin called an archaic mortgage.Ž

Every historical post- axial society
has been a combination of axial and non- axial elements, and perhaps could not
otherwise have functioned. So India must be seen as an extreme case on a con-
tinuum, not as unique. And we must remember that Buddhism, so much more
axial ethically than the Vedic, Brahmanic, Hindu tradition, is also totally a
product of Indian history, even if, in the end, it did not survive in India.

I am aware that the position I am taking will make me liable to the accu-
sation of Orientalism, of essentializingŽ caste. If such a charge implies that
\t \f+\f \f \r
e central point for my argument is that caste in India has no basis in
rational argument. One can talk about division of labor, and there was al-
ways a degree of relation between caste and occupation, but not a tight one.
Impoverished Brahmins and K
atriyas as well as prosperous =
dras (who
were by no means servantsŽ) are found throughout Indian history. 
e clas-
cation of var
as is based on religious quali“
cations and is simply given in
the Veda, beginning with
V 10.90, no more based on rational argument
then the dharma that de“
nes them. In simple terms, the Brahmins can study
and teach the Veda and perform sacri“
ces; the K
atriyas can study and teach
the Veda; the Vaiyas can study the Veda; the =
dras can neither perform
ces, nor teach the Veda, nor even study it; needless to say, what applies
to =
dras applies equally to those who are beyond the caste system. Even in
the late Vedic period, ideas about rebirth, about
were far
from fully developed, but once they had become so ingrained as to be taken
for granted, then the caste system could be seen as perfectly just, even
though not rationally explicable, because everyones position in the present
life is determined by actions in previous lives, even though we can have no
idea what those actions were.
It is also clear that caste is not a marginal concern in the Vedas. 
e re-
vealed texts are saturated with the idea of caste, not just as a social classi“
tion, but as a way of thinking about everything in the universe. Brian K.
Smith has devoted a book to a description of the many ways
was used
to make sense of the world: it was used to classify the gods, space, time, ”
fauna, and scripture, as well as society. He sums up:
system was, in sum, a totalistic ideology, by which I mean a
system of ideas or categories that account for the cosmos and its parts in
such a way that the interests and concerns of those who do the account-
ing are established, protected, and furthered . . . 
e exclusive concen-
tration on the social application of
can prevent us from grasping
its real ideological persuasiveness as a universalistic classi“
catory sys-
tem. We [have] surveyed the ways in which
can be applied to
classify the universe in many of its realms. 
e fact that the reach of
is much more extensive than the social theory embedded within
it should not, however, divert our attention from the powerful case that
is being made for social di
erentiation and privilege. 
a multifaceted and generalized classi“
catory scheme, had as its “
rst and
foremost goal to rationalize and represent an ideal form of hierarchical
Ancient India
dhist) Emperor Aoka (third century ). But these tendencies never until
modern times gained ascendency. One must remember that the most sa-
cred section of the
teaches not
„ the
appropriate to ones caste. When Arjuna quails be-
fore the task of “
ghting and probably killing his relatives, his charioteer and
teacher, K
a, tells him to do his duty as a K
atriya„ that is, as a warrior,
for whom killing is part of his
„ but without attachment to the re-
sults, and so without bearing the karmic consequences of his action.
It is not that there was no philosophy of
e M
s* school of
philosophy devoted a great deal of e
ort to defending
as absolute
commandment, as a set of injunctions, while arguing that the content of the
injunctions is simply given in the Veda and cannot be derived from rational
ection. Indeed, rational re”
ection may lead to unfortunate consequences:
the idea that avoiding evil and doing good is the essence of
lead a student to have sexual relations with his teachers wife (one of the most
severe violations of Vedic injunctions) in order to give her plea sure. Better by
far to obey the injunctions as they stand without giving them rational justi-
One could call the M
s* school an axial school of philoso-
phy (because of its sophisticated use of argument) in defense of an archaic
ethical system against axial rationalization. M
s* is by far not the only
school of thought in Indian history, but it is a central and in”
uential one,
and it would be hard to argue that any other position gained a similar degree
of hegemony.
is discussion of
leads inevitably to the vexed problem of caste.
On the whole I have avoided the use of the term casteŽ because of its pejora-
tive implications and also because there is a tradition of using classŽ to
translate the word
and casteŽ only to refer to the word
a term I
have not used before.

e four var
as have been discussed in a variety of
has in recent times been used for the thousands of hereditary
endogamous groups, usually di
erentiated by occupation, and also usually
ed in terms of
assignments have been often
uncertain, contested, and, possibly, changing. Halbfass, however, argues that
though the two terms are not quite identical, they overlap in the early texts
to a degree that they were almost the same„ that is,
was used for what
we normally think of as
and vice versa. Further, because both are en-
dogamous hereditary groups and have grown out of the same way of classify-
ing, the var
a system is the prototype for important aspects of the real
castes [j*ti],Ž and so casteŽ can also be used for var

\t \f+\f \f \r
support,Ž to uphold,Ž to maintainŽ (note that
is active,
not static), and in its early uses refers almost exclusively to religious rituals.

e connection with the root is the belief that ritual upholdsŽ or main-
tainsŽ the cosmos, but
are the many rituals that in a variety of ways
do this, and not a notion of natural law, either physical or ethical. According
to Vedic cosmogony, separation, holding apart, as with heaven and earth, is
extraordinarily important, so the ritual action of
involves holding
apart as well as upholding. It would be well to go back to the text of
10.90, which concludes that the primeval sacri“
ce that created the cosmos
gave rise to the “
rst ritual laws,Ž that is, the “
and to remember
that in this hymn what is being held apart is not only features of the natural
world, but the four var

Even in the
however, ritual is not the only meaning of
already has the wider sense of ethical and social norms,Ž statutes,Ž or laws.Ž

And in the later development of the Vedic tradition, while never losing an
enormous variety of references, it comes to have a par tic u lar focus:
In traditional Hinduism,
is primarily and essentially the
the order of the castes and the stages of lifeŽ which
breaks down into countless speci“
c rules and cannot at all be derived
from a general principle of behavior. 
each of the various castes and stages of life dutiesŽ
it links
them to certain roles and ways of life and excludes them from the ways of
life of others; it controls their access to ritual per for mance, to the sources
of sacred knowledge, and to the means of salvation.

is not a universal lawfulness which applies to Hindu soci-
ety as well as to other societies,Ž because it does not apply at all to
foreigners, non-
One reason for this, among others, is that it can only
be communicated in Sanskrit, the correctŽ language for correctŽ forms of

us it seems clear that
remains archaic even in histori-
cal times.
is understanding of
was not without universalistic challenges
even within the Hindu tradition. 
ere are passages in the
non- injuryŽ or the sparingŽ of living beings, is taken to be
the core and essence of
(devotional) movements
would move in the same direction. One of the most memorable examples of
an ethical and universalistic concept of
is the edicts of the (Bud-
Ancient India
It [
] still did not become fully developed. So it created the Law
a form superior to and surpassing itself. And the Law here is
the ruling power standing above the ruling power. Hence there is noth-
ing higher than the Law . . . Now the Law is nothing but the truth.
yaka Upani
is a central term in the Vedic tradition, as central in its own
sphere as
are in theirs, but its meanings are complex.
Contrary to what might appear from the immediately preceding quote, the
one thing Dharma is not is universal law.
In considering the etymology and development of the term, I will be heav-
ily dependent on Wilhelm Halbfasss magisterial discussion of
is worth reminding the reader of one of Halbfasss major points: the textual
material we have from early India is ideological, not descriptive, and it comes
from a par tic u lar social group, the Brahmins, and undoubtedly expresses its
interests. Other groups must often have thought di
erently, but, until the
emergence of Buddhism and Jainism, we dont know what those di
were. If the K
atriyas thought di
erently, as many of them probably did,
they found it politic to cooperate with the Brahmins rather than to challenge
is a term similar to but not identical with
which was dis-
cussed above. Michael Witzel, in developing the idea that
means some-
thing like the force of active truth,Ž points out that it has no equivalent in
Western languages and is perhaps similar to the equally untranslatable an-
cient Egyptian term
(see Chapter 5).
In the typology that underlies
the argument of this book, that means that
is an archaic, not
an axial, term, even though we are tempted to give it axial implications.
which is found alongside
in the
and largely replaces it in
later texts, is subject to the same misunderstanding: though di
erent from
it is still an archaic term that looks axial. It becomes axial in Buddhism
and at moments, incipiently, in the Vedic tradition, yet, I will argue, remains
archaic in subsequent Indian understanding.
One key to the di
erence between the two terms is that whereas
is al-
ways in the singular in the
is in the plural not only in the
V but
in the Br*hma
as as well, and sometimes even later as in the
Its “
rst use in the singular is in the
Chndogya Upani
2.23.1, traditionally
translated, 
ere are three branches of the Law,Ž

so even in the singular
its reference is plural. 
e term derives from the root
which means to
\t \f+\f \f \r
without any kind of duality, a self that is complete without anything to per-
ceive: When, however, the Whole has become ones very self
who is there for one to see and by what means?Ž He concludes:
About this self
one can only say not„, not„. He is ungrasp-
able, for he cannot be grasped. He is undecaying, for he is not subject to
decay. He has nothing sticking to him, for he does not stick to anything.
He is not bound, yet he neither trembles in fear nor su
ers injury.
Look„by what means can one perceive the perceiver? 
ere, I have
given you the instruction, Maitrey
ats all there is to immortality.Ž
After saying this, Y*jñavalkya went away. (
yaka Upani
In this powerful expression of a view that might be analogous to negative
theology in the West, Y*jñavalkya gives evidence for the cognitively axial
breakthrough in Vedic religion. We must now consider those aspects of the
Vedic tradition that seem to have prevented an axial ethicization.
After giving the teaching that in the beginning this world was only
yaka Upani
1.4.10, see above), the text goes on to say,
using the word
with a double meaning of absolute reality and what
we have been calling for con ve nience Brahmin,Ž though in Sanskrit both
had not fully developed and so created the rul-
ing power, a form superior to and surpassing itself.Ž 
e text continues:
Hence there is nothing higher than the ruling power. Accordingly, at a
royal anointing, a Brahmin pays homage to a K
atriya by prostrating
himself. He extends this honour only to the ruling power. Now, the
priestly power
is the womb of the ruling power. 
even if a king should rise to the summit of power, it is to the priestly
power that he returns in the end as to his own womb. (

One could hardly “ nd a better expression of the alliance of Brahmins and
e text then goes on to say that in order to
further its development,
went on to create the Vaiya and =
classes. Again we have the idea of the Brahmin var
a encompassingŽ the
others„ it is from its wombŽ that they emerge. But then the passage
Ancient India
min sage, secretly communicates an abbreviated version of the same teaching
to one who questioned him about what happens after death, saying,
My friend, we cannot talk about this in public. Take my hand; lets go
and discuss this in private.Ž
So they left and talked about it. And what did they talk about?„ they
talked about nothing but action [
]. And what did they praise?„
they praised nothing but action. Y*jñavalkya told him: A man turns
into something good by good action and into something bad by bad
action.Ž (
yaka Upani

Y*jñavalkya, it turns out, is the “
rst example of the renouncer
who turns his back on the world to pursue the goal of religious liberation
and rebirth alike.

When asked to explain
the self
that is within all, Y*jñavalkya replies:
He is the one who is beyond hunger and thirst, sorrow and delusion,
old age and death. It is when they come to know this self that Brah-
mins give up the desire for sons, the desire for wealth, and the desire for
worlds, and undertake the mendicant life. 
e desire for sons, after all,
is the same as the desire for wealth, and the desire for wealth is the same
as the desire for worlds„ both are simply desires. 
erefore, a Brahmin
should stop being a pundit and try to live like a child. When he has
stopped living like a child or a pundit, he becomes a sage, And when he
has stopped living like a sage or the way he was before he became a sage,
he becomes a Brahmin. He remains just such a Brahmin, no matter
how he may live. All besides this is grief. (
yaka Upani

e renouncer role is one way to step entirely out of the Vedic var
a system,
as the great renouncer, the Buddha will do, but Y*jñavalkya seems to link it
indelibly to the Brahmin role. We will need to consider how var
a relates to
the relative lack of ethicization in the Vedic tradition.
When Y*jñavalkya decided to leave his house hold to take up the life of a
mendicant renouncer, he spoke to his two wives about making a settlement
between them. One of them, Maitrey
, had taken part in philosophical dis-
cussions and asked for instruction before Y*jñavalkya departed. He tries to
explain, in a way that she “
nds confusing, the fundamental nature of a self
\t \f+\f \f \r
life, as exempli“
ed in its emphasis on the (Brahmin) house holder, particu-
larly in the framework of caste obligations; and Buddhism had an equally
transcendent idea of religious truth, but developed a signi“
cant concern for
the ethical quality of everyday life.
e Upani
ads, we should always remember, continue many of the con-
cerns of the Br*hma
as, including food, prosperity, power, fame, and a
happy afterlife,Ž as Olivelle puts it.
Older ideas of the afterlife, including
the idea that one might simply join the gods in an everlasting happy domain
not too di
erent from life at its best on this earth, are to be found in these
e notion of
radical salvation (Obeyesekeres term), freedom
(Olivelles term) or liberation (Halbfasss term), which will be matched by
the Buddhist idea of
is new and requires a radical re orientation of
life. It is linked to ideas of karma, no longer simply ritual actions, but all
forms of human action that can a
ect ones rebirth chances, ideas that are just
emerging in the early Upani
ads, where they are infrequent and still secret.
In one quite complex discussion of what happens after death, a king pri-
vately answers =vetaketus question on the subject, something he did not
learn from his father, saying, As to what you have asked me, let me tell you
that before you this knowledge had never reached the Brahmins. As a result
in all the worlds government has belonged exclusively to royalty [K
Chndogya Upani
is secret knowledge turns out not to be so
erent from the teachings of the Br*hma
as with respect to those who are
able to escape this world and take the path leading to the gods. But for those
who rely on o
erings and sacri“
ces, those whose behavior is pleasant can
expect to enter a pleasant womb, like that of a woman of the Brahmin,
atriya, or the Vaiya class. But people of foul behavior can expect to enter
a foul womb, like that of a dog, a pig, or an outcaste woman.Ž However,
there is one more possibility: 
en there are those proceeding on neither of
these two paths„ they become the tiny creatures revolving here ceaselessly.
Be born& Die&„ that is the third stateŽ (
Chndogya Upani
5.10.7… 8).

Ancient India
he recites the Vedas, he becomes thereby a world for the seers. When he
ers libations to his ancestors and seeks to father o
spring, he be-
comes thereby a world for his ancestors. When he provides food and
shelter for human beings, he becomes thereby a world for human be-
ings. When he provides fodder and water for livestock, he becomes
thereby a world for livestock. When creatures, from wild animals and
birds down to the very ants, “
nd shelter in his houses, he becomes
thereby a world for them. Just as a man desires the well- being of his
own world, so all beings desire the well- being of anyone who knows
this. (
yaka Upani

One could arg*e that
is a central ethical term in the Upani
ads, and
in a sense it is, though whether it meets Obeyesekeres criterion of ethiciza-
tion is a matter we will need to consider more fully below.
If, however, it can be granted for the moment that ethics is not a central
Upanishadic concern, we can ask why. One reason has to do with the pri-
vate, even secret, nature of the Upanishadic teaching (the word
perhaps has the basic meaning of connection,Ž but also carries the meaning
of secret teachingŽ). Transmission of the teaching is not, therefore, public,
and is in some instances extremely limited. 
Chndogya Upani
at one
point restricts the teaching to the eldest son but to no one else (3.11.5) and
yaka Upani
at one point restricts it to the son or the pupil
(6.3.12). In other instances it is said that the teaching might be communi-
cated to members of the twice- born„that is, the initiated,
the Brah-
mins, K
atriyas, and Vaiyas„ but on no account to the =
e teaching about the identity of
would seem to be
absolutely universal in content, and, as Brereton notes, social, not individual:
e true self is not the individual self, but rather the identity that one shares
with everything else. 
ere is no true distinction among living beings, for
they all emerge from being and retreat to it. All things, both animate and in-
animate, are united in being, because they are all the transformations of be-

Modern Hindu thinkers have drawn profound ethical consequences
from these teachings, but in the early period any social and ethical conse-
quences of these teachings remained latent: in the early texts the concern
was, above all, with the possible salvation of the individual.
Salvation or
liberation was a heroic ideal that only exceptional people could attain. Fur-
ther, religious truth was of such transcendent importance that concern for
the world of daily life could be seen as secondary. 
is assertion needs to be
ed in two directions: Vedic religion never lost its concern for everyday
\t \f+\f \f \r
Ive cut it up, sir.Ž
What do you see there?Ž
ese quite tiny seeds, sir.Ž
Now, take one of them and cut it up.Ž
Ive cut one up, sir.Ž
What do you see there?Ž
Nothing, sir.Ž
en he told him: 
is “
nest essence here, son, that you cant even
see„ look how on account of that “
nest essence this huge banyan tree
stands here.
Believe me, my child, that which is this “
nest essence„ this whole
world has that as its self. 
at is the real. 
at is the self
are you, =vetaketu. (
Chndogya Upani

e myriad equationsŽ of the Br*hma
as have now come to a culmination:
e widest external reality
and the deepest internal reality
are identical.
If the Upani
ads mark the beginning of theoretical re”
ection at the level of
metaphysics, where meta phors are still central but used to clarify concepts,
and the argument is at the level of universal truth, then they can rightly be
seen as a cognitively axial moment in the development of early Indic thought.
Ancient India
Even in this rather crude form, we see at least the beginning of a move
beyond mythospeculation. We are still in the world of the gods, even an-
noyed gods, and
seems more god than abstraction, and yet there is
incipiently a level of abstraction that moves beyond narrative into conceptual
thinking. In many other places even in the early
this transition
has become clearer.
Although I want to argue that theory begins to emerge in the Upani
I also want to a$ rm that it does not do so by way of systematic reasoning, by
logical deduction or empirical induction. It is revealed in meta phors, in
teachings that are intentionally cryptic (the gods love the crypticŽ is a fre-
quent Upanishadic saying, but is also found in much older texts), and its
contents are in a way secretŽ: to be explained to those ready to understand
but de“
nitely not to be shouted from the house tops. I would argue that dis-
ciplined rational thinking begins with the Upani
ads but only gradually
reaches a mature form, such as in the grammar of P*
ini, dated around 400

For an understanding of how reason works in the Upani
ads, let us
turn to a famous dialogue in chapter 6 of the
Chndogya Upani
in which
=vetaketu, who has been sent away at the age of 12 to learn the Vedas, re-
turns at the age of 24, swell- headed, thinking himself to be learned, and
arrogant,Ž to be tested by his father, Udd*laka� ru

Udd*laka asks his son if he has been taught that rule of substitution by
which what has been unheard becomes heard, what has been unthought be-
comes thought, what has been unknown becomes known.Ž =vetaketu doesnt
know, so his father explains, It is like this, son. By means of just one lump
of clay one would perceive everything made of clay„ the transformation is a
verbal handle, a name„ while the reality is just this: Its clay Ž (
6.1.3… 4).

ere has been much argument about what Udd*laka is saying, but at one
level he is arguing for the existence of universals. Given the power the Upa-
ads give to names, we should not hear the transformation is
a name,Ž
assuming a nominalist argument. Rather Udd*laka is saying that from this
lump of clay we can understand all forms of clay, just as eventually he will
show his son that once one understands the basic nature of reality, the nature
of all things will be known. 
e example of the lump of clay is simply the
rst step toward what is coming:
Bring a banyan fruit.Ž
Here it is, sir.Ž
Cut it up.Ž
\t \f+\f \f \r
from whose mouth comes speech and then “
re; from its nostrils,
breath and wind; from its eyes, sight and sun,Ž and so forth. But these newly
created realities fall into the sea in a state of disor ga ni za tion. 
ey need an
order, and to “
nd it, they enter into the human form once again. Fire becomes
speech and enters the mouth; wind becomes breath and enters the nostrils;
the sun becomes sight and enters the eyes, and so on.Ž Finally, the self itself
enters into the newly created human form. In this way, the self, which is the
origin of all, becomes the self of each human being . . . Both physically and
spiritually, therefore, the human being is a perfect microcosm.Ž
this microcosmic/macrocosmic correlation is expressed in a number of ways
in the Upani
ads, the way that would have the greatest consequences would
be phrased as the identity of
which we noted above was rooted in
the idea of powerful speech in the
but had become the term for the
highest god or for ultimate reality itself, and
the self of every person,
but also the Self of the world and so identi“
ed with
But correlations that had worked at the level of sacri“
cial rites in the
as, where the identity of the sacri“
cer with Agni could lead to the
immortality of the sacri“
cer, were now posed as a matter of knowledge, but
c knowledge, closely guarded and di$
cult to understand. Sacri“
cial ac-
in the Br*hma
as becomes knowledge
( jñna),
although these
were both part of the Vedic tradition, the
and the
that is, the works portionŽ and the knowledge portion.Ž
will have
other meanings, some of which emerge for the “
rst time in the Upani
but the older meaning is never quite lost. But our “
rst task is to try to under-
stand the new emphasis on knowledge.
One of the earliest Upani
ads puts it bluntly. In response to a question about
knowing the Whole, the answer is given:
In the beginning this world was only
and it knew only itself
thinking: I am
 As a result, it became the Whole.
Among the gods, likewise, whosoever realized this, only they became
the Whole. It was the same also among the seers and among hu-
mans . . . If a man knows I am
 in this way, he becomes this
whole world. Not even the gods are able to prevent it, for he becomes
their very self
e text goes on to say that the gods then lose the sacri“
ces that the human
who knows this would have o
ered, and so: 
e gods, therefore, are not
pleased at the prospect of men coming to understand this.Ž
Ancient India
eir cord was extended across. Was there below? Was there above?
ere were seed- placers; there were powers. 
ere was impulse beneath;
there was giving- forth above.
6. Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it? Whence was it pro-
duced? Whence is this creation? 
e gods came afterwards, with the
creation of this universe. Who then knows whence it has arisen?
7. Whence this creation has arisen„ perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it
did not„ the one who looks down on it, in the highest heaven, only he
knows„ or perhaps he does not know.

To continue the questioning, do we have here only the challenge of a primi-
tive poet to his competitors to see who can be silenced, having no answer, or
do we have the beginning of high Vedic metaphysics? Tradition gave the lat-
ter answer, but probably both have some truth. It is worth noting that this
creation hymn has echoes in other cultures: the reference to water at the be-
ginning in Genesis 1:2, and to desire
being there at the beginning in
As is not unusual at times of rapid social change, the Upani
ads depict
lively discussions, not limited by caste or gender barriers that would later be
harder to cross. 
ere are so many K
atriyas involved in discussions that
there was a theory at one time that the Upani
ads represented a kind of
alternative position to that of the Brahmins. 
at view has been
pretty well shot down, but the fact that K
atriyas and Brahmins participated
together in active discussion is not doubted. In some cases
were even accepted as teachers by Brahmins. Further, there is more than
one instance of women taking an active part in discussions. None of this
means that everything was turned upside down„ I have already stressed
continuities with the earlier tradition. But even though the continuities are
obvious, there were also new insights, often not entirely clear because so in-
tertwined with older ideas, that would have the greatest importance in fu-
ture developments.
Joel Brereton usefully describes some of the main themes in the Upa-

He draws on the
Aitareya Upani
to illustrate the theme of cor-
relation, already evident in what we learned about the Agnicayana ritual,
where the god Agni is equated with the “
re on the altar, the bird that gives
the altar its shape, soma, one of the major o
erings, and “
nally with the
cer himself. In the
Aitareya Upani
the cosmic man at the begin-
ning of creation (
V 10.90) has become identi“
ed with the original self, the
\t \f+\f \f \r
new to this literature, as I am, is struck with how much in the Upani
ads is
familiar from older texts: concern for equations,Ž for the proper per for-
mance of rituals, even spells for the attainment of quite worldly ends. 
great speculative insights for which the Upani
ads are famous seem to be
nuggets in the midst of quite di
erent material. Still, Jamison and Witzel
point out something else new in the form as well as the content of the Upa-
ads: 
e early Upani
ads, with their dialogue form, the personal imprint
of the teacher, the questioning and admissions of innocence„ or claims of
knowledge„ from the students, seem to reintroduce some of the uncertain-
ties of the late
V, give the sense that ideas are indeed speculation, di
attempts to frame solutions to real puzzles.Ž
When Jamison and Witzel use the word reintroduce,Ž they refer to a long
tradition of questioning and debate that goes back to the poetic contests re-
corded in the
V, where each poet tried to present a problem that his rival
could not solve. Jan Gonda notes that riddles and contests over their solution
are frequently found among tribal peoples, and have a variety of uses, often
in connection with ritual.

So when we “
nd such riddles in the
V, we can-
not be sure whether they are a remnant of tribal practice or the beginnings of
speculation that will have such remarkable development later on. 
e early
poetic contests become developed in the Br*hma
ic period as the
which Wayne Whillier describes as a ritualized, purely priestly ex-
tension of the poetic debates,Ž

so there was some continuity between the
V and the Upani
ads. When Jamison and Witzel speak of the uncertain-
ties of the late
V,Ž they are undoubtedly referring to hymns such as the fa-
(Creation hymn),
V 10.129:
ere was neither non- existence nor existence then; there was neither
the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond. What stirred? Where?
In whose protection? Was there water, bottomless deep?
ere was neither death nor immortality then. 
ere was no distin-
guishing sign of night nor of day. 
at one breathed, windless, by its
own impulse. Other than that there was nothing beyond.
3. Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning; with no distin-
guishing sign, all this was water. 
e life force that was covered with
emptiness, that one arose through the power of heat.
4. Desire came upon that one in the beginning; that was the “
rst seed of
mind. Poets seeking in their heart with wisdom found the bond of ex-
istence in non- existence.
Ancient India
 e Late Vedic Breakthrough
It would be very helpful to know just what kind of society produced the
ads, but we are left with guesses and inferences. Late Vedic society of
about the sixth century , when we assume the early Upani
ads were com-
posed, was on the verge of urbanization or just beginning that pro cess. Ar-
chaeologists date the “
rst cities in the Ganga (Ganges) plain to the late sixth
century or early “
fth century.
Patrick Olivelle, the most recent translator
of the Upani
ads, tells us in his introductory remarks about the social back-
ground of the Upani
ads that it is uncertain if the urbanization of the Gan-
ges valley occurred before or after the composition of the early prose Upa-
ere is no de“
nite evidence of cities, but there are very few
agricultural meta phors and images in the Upani
ads, while examples derived
from crafts such as weaving, pottery, and metallurgy are numerous.Ž Olivelle
sums up by saying, It appears to me that, by and large, their social back-
ground consists of court and crafts, rather than village and agriculture.Ž
ere had been a signi“
cant advance in technology over the
and the
world known to the Upani
ads was much broader than even that of the
as. Figures from the Kuruk
etra region appear in these early Upa-
ads, but the scenes are often placed in the more easterly regions of the
Ganga valley, such as Videha or Kosala, where kingdoms and cities were ap-
pearing or about to appear. Witzel does not consider the date of 500  as
impossible for the early Upani
We can hypothesize, therefore, that the Upani
ads represent a point where
the Middle Vedic arrested development of the stateŽ (Romila 
apar) was
giving way to new state formations. Population was growing, agricultural
surpluses were increasing, extensive trade networks were developing, and
the older settled village society was coming under pressure. Without being
able to date either the Upani
ads or state formation with any exactitude, we
are left with speculation: namely, that the Upani
ads suggest a response to a
rapidly changing and unsettling environment. Olivelle suspects that the
emergence of new ideas and institutions, especially asceticism and celibacy,Ž
imply an urban or urbanizing environment.
Much more than that we can-
not say.
If, as we will argue, the Upani
ads represent the emergence of an axial
breakthrough, or something very like it, we should still not overemphasize
its di erence from what preceded it. Jamison and Witzel speak of a height-
ened continuationŽ of the intellectual tradition of the Br*hma

\t \f+\f \f \r
we take them as referring to a static condition, for the very idea of the Sa-
cred Speech, which is so essential to the sacred sacri“
ce, is that it is active,
creative, constructive. We are still here dealing with practice more than
e same can be said of two more terms that have been taken as meta-
physical absolutes when their original use seems to have been linguistic and
active. One of these is
which has been commonly translated as cosmic
orderŽ or cosmic harmony,Ž but Jamison and Witzel argue it is best trans-
lated as active, creative truth, realization of truth,
ey point out that its opposite is deceiving, cheating action,Ž and so it is
best thought of as the power of active truth, rather than cosmic order.Ž
Even more clearly linguistic is a term that appears early but will have an
enormously signi“
cant history: the neuter term
which in its earli-
est uses, and often even in the Upanishads, means formulation,Ž particu-
larly the capturing in words of a signi“
cant and non- self- evident truth.Ž
In its masculine form, Brahm* was a god, often the highest god, even higher
than Praj*pati, but in the neuter form, the fundamental reality of the world.
Actually, things were even more complicated, as the neuter form
could also be considered a god. Jan Gonda indicates that the question of
whether ultimate reality is personal or impersonal was not a concern of the
authors of the ancient Vedic texts, however much it is of interest to us.
Still, it is worth remembering that in its earliest use
is as a form of
speech„ creative, powerful speech.
We can now consider how to characterize Vedic thought at the stage of
the Br*hma
as. Although they foreshadow the insights of the Upani
ads, as
both Sylvain Lévi and Paul Mus have emphasized, they remained at the level
of practice, of the mimetic and narrative, of mythopoeia and mythospecula-
tion, but not of theory.
ey thus do not represent the axial breakthrough.
e sacri“
cer is still embedded in the social world„ status is almost every-
thing and the purpose of the rituals was most frequently the improvement of
status within a “ xed hierarchy. It is only with the renouncer, who leaves the
world of sacri“
ce and status, that we “
nd the axial individual. 
us, Vedic
thought at the level of the Br*hma
as remained archaic in terms of the
typology of this book. 
ere were, as in other archaic societies, forms of
mythospeculation that verged on axial insights but still remained archaic.
What it means that so much of later HinduŽ culture is basically continuous
with the Vedic culture we have described in this section is something we will
need to take into account later on.
Ancient India
clear, but that perhaps have to do with the growth of a more e
ective state,
not an early state,Ž but a full- scale urban (archaic?) state, the need for the
complex ritual system and the competition it fostered to maintain social sta-
bility may have been lessened by more e
ective administrative structures and
stronger capacities for royal enforcement of desired ends. But Brian Smith
helps us see that this change meant, not the demise of the ritual system or its
central place in religious life, but a transformation that on the surface seems
to be a reversal of the hierarchical order. In this new understanding, those
who could no longer celebrate the solemn
rites could nonetheless, in
their house hold worship (the domestic or
ces), still keep alive the
entire Vedic ritual system, now reduced to its quintessential kernel„ “
great sacri“
ces that may be performed with a piece of wood, a glass of water,
some ”
owers and fruits, and by saying
By maintaining the exalted sta-
tus of the Brahmins and the importance of sacri“
ce as a validation of that
status, this reduced domestic system kept the traditional understanding of the
religio- social system alive and left the door open for further innovations that
would open new possibilities without questioning the fundamental assump-
tions of Indic society.
e syllable mentioned in the previous quotation would seem to be an-
other case of less is more.
is the syllable that was believed to sum up the
entire teaching of the voluminous Vedic texts in one word.Ž I put wordŽ in
quotes because
has no meaning other than its sound: it is a mantra of the
simplest kind. Nonetheless we could call it, following Frits Staal, prelinguis-
tic language.
Again we are reminded of the fact that we are in an oral cul-
makes sense as spoken; it is a powerful form of speech. Words,
whether meaningful or not, were central to Vedic thought: words were things
and had extraordinary consequences.
Not just words, but poetic meters
could be personalized, viewed as divine, and were active in the world. In an
entirely oral culture, the spoken word had consequences: one could indeed
do things with words.Ž
Speech itself was personalized as the goddess Vac, who in
V 10.125
speaks of her own greatness: I bring forth the Father at the head of this
worldŽ (v. 7), and Only I blow like the wind, reaching all creatures beyond
the heaven, beyond the earth here„ so much have I become by my greatnessŽ
(v. 8). Maurer, in his comment on this hymn, points out that it is a glori“
tion of this Sacred Speech of the sacri“
cial rite, as a creative principle and
the substrate of all existing things, including the gods.Ž
PrincipleŽ and
substrateŽ may accurately describe what is being said in these verses unless
\t \f+\f \f \r
of the person as well as the cosmos, which Smith describes as anthropogony,Ž
which is also e
ected by a series of rituals, life- cycle rituals that mark the
development of personhood. Ritual also had to do with the individuals ulti-
mate fate. One function of the Agnicayana was to make the sacri“
cer im-
mortal, the bird form of the altar being interpreted, among other things, as
the bird that will take the sacri“
cer to heaven, of course not at the end of the
ceremony, but at the end of his life.
One aspect of the Middle Vedic ritual system that would have lasting con-
sequences for the future was how fundamentally hierarchical it was. Smith
points out that both the rituals themselves and those who participate in
them are ranked hierarchically and in the same way. He cites Staal as point-
ing to the fundamentally hierarchical structure of Vedic ritual: 
e se-
quence [of the ritual order] is hierarchical. 
ere is increasing complexity. A
person is in general only eligible to perform a later ritual in the sequence, if
he has already performed the earlier ones. Each later ritual presupposes the
former and incorporates one or more occurrences of one or more of the for-
mer rituals.Ž
Smith points out that the more complex rituals are higher because they
incorporate and recapitulate simpler ones. I have noted that the Agnicayana
is, among other things, a soma ritual, but have not mentioned that Soma is
involved in the ritual as well as Agni, and that the day after Agni is conveyed
to the brick altar, Soma together with Agni (they are sometimes combined
into one god, Agnisoma), is conveyed to the altar.
e Agnicayana thus
encompasses simpler soma rituals. But, as Smith points out, this hierarchical
principle of encompassment was also central to the caste system. He cites
Louis Dumonts classic work,
Homo Hierarchicus,
as showing that the higher
castes encompassŽ the lower ones, going on to say, Although Dumont does
not fully work this out, what seems to be implied here is an ontology of rela-
tive completeness, the Brahmin being the more complete instance of hu-
man being while others, relative to the Brahmin, are less complete. Ž
completeness at issue is, of course, ritual completeness. 
e Brahmin can
participate in ritual in ways that the K
atriya cannot, and so on down the
line. As we will see, the great rituals, such as the Agnicyana, became mar-
ginal even in the late centuries of the “
rst millennium , but the hierarchi-
cal principle remained in place.
We must now comment brie”
y on that marginalization and what it did to
the ritual system, even though that development occurred in the period that
will be considered in more detail later on. For reasons that are not entirely
Ancient India
system of equations,Ž but asks what kind of equations and for what purpose
are they constructed.
His answer is that Vedic thought is an e
ort to cor-
relate corresponding elements lying on three discrete planes of reality: the
macrocosmos (whose contents and forces are collectively called
relating to the godly), the ritual sphere (
relating to the sacri-
ce), and the microcosmos (
relating to the self).Ž
e corre-
lations or equations
however, are not made just for the sake of
speculation. Vedic thought is in the ser vice of Vedic action and operates un-
der the assumption that reality is not given but made.Ž
e fundamental premise is that creation (or procreation, or emission„
Praj*pati is not exactly a creator godŽ on the model of Yahweh) is funda-
mentally chaotic, disor ga nized and unformed.Ž 
us it is not creation that
constitutes order, but sacri“
ce. Smith writes:
It is characteristic„ and perhaps close to de“
nitive„ of Vedism that
between mere procreation on the one hand and true cosmogony and
anthropogony on the other is inserted a set of constructive rituals. Be-
tween Praj*patis creation and the origin of the cosmos are sacri“
acts of the gods, giving form to formless nature. And between the pro-
creation of every person and the origin of true being are also rituals,
making a human out of the human in potens only. Cosmogony and
anthropogony in Vedic ritualism are
only within the sacri“
only by ritual labor or
For the Vedic priests and metaphysicians, ritual activity does not
symbolizeŽ or dramatizeŽ reality; it constructs, integrates, and consti-
tutes the real. Ritual forms the naturally formless, it connects the in-
herently disconnected, and it heals the ontological disease of unrecon-
structed nature, the state toward which all created things and beings
perpetually tend.
As Staal has explained the Br*hma
ic teaching, the construction of the
re altar in the Agnicayana ritual is the reconstitution of the cosmos, be-
cause it is putting Praj*patis body back together. And in early Vedic thought
it was the entire round of sacri“
ces that kept the cosmos going. One of the
simplest rituals, the Agnihotra, performed in the early morning and the eve-
ning, guards the “
re (as identical with the sun) overnight and its rekin-
dling the next morning, e
ecting the rising of the sun.Ž
We have not dis-
cussed so far, but will have to consider it further later, the analogous forming
\t \f+\f \f \r
early India, and we may question why this common marker of early states is
missing. Could it be that the ruler, the king,Ž never quite achieved the ulti-
macy that he did in the other archaic cases because he has to share the high-
est rank to a signi“
cant degree with the Brahmins? Human sacri“
ce is the
ultimate symbolization of the supremacy of the sacri“
cer. Perhaps the Indic
king never attained that kind of supremacy.
If the “
re altar is Agni, a bird, the sacri“
cer, and a tomb, perhaps we will
not be surprised to learn that it is everything: the cosmos and its contents.
e altar is composed of “
ve levels of 200 bricks each, with the top level
containing a few more. 
e arrangement of the bricks in each level is slightly
erent, but not enough to impair the basic form of a bird. But one of the
meanings of the altar is that the “
rst, third, and “
fth levels represent the
three worlds„ earth, air, and sky„ of which the universe is composed (there
will be more levels of worlds added later, but three is the basic number).
And so the “
re altar is Praj*pati, who in Middle Vedic thought has become
ed with Puru
a, the cosmic man who appeared in
V 10.90 above,
the one from whom the whole cosmos and all that is within it are derived.
And again, Praj*pati and Agni can be interchanged. Staal sums up the teach-
ing of the Br*hma
as as follows:
According to =*
ilyas teaching in the =atapatha Br*hma
a, the con-
struction of the Agnicayana altar is essentially the restoration of
Praj*pati, the creator god, who created the world through self- sacri“
viz., through his own dismemberment. Since Praj*pati became the uni-
verse, his restoration is at the same time the restoration of the universe.
us, piling up the altar means putting the world together again. Just as
Praj*pati was the original sacri“
cer, Agni is the divine sacri“
cer, and the
yajam*na is the human sacri“
e designation of the “ re altar as
Agni indicates the identity of Agni and Praj*pati. Agni, Praj*pati, and
the yajam*na are all identi“
ed with each other, with the o
ering altar,
and with the “
re installed on it.
It is this kind of thinking that drove the nineteenth- century Sanskritists
to the point of despair: they could make no sense of it and found it childish
and even silly.
But more recent Indologists have succeeded in retrieving a
good deal of sense in it and conveying it rather e
ectively. Brian K. Smith
makes a good case for the Br*hma
as in his
Re” ections on Resemblance, Rit-
ual, and Religion.
He quotes Louis Renou as speaking of Vedic thought as a
Ancient India
you are lord of wealth a thousand times,
thus we worship you for strength„ sv*h*&
You are the bird with wings, sit on earth,
sit on the ridge of the earth;
with your glaze “
ll the sky,
with your light support heaven,
with your brilliance strengthen the quarters&
It is said that Agni is the bird because a bird “
rst brought “
re from heaven,
but there are other explanations. Multiple explanations go with multiple
meanings, as is the case generally with ritual thought.
Of central signi“
cance in the play of correlations is that the sacri“
), the patron and bene“
ciary of the whole ritual
is also Agni. So if the “ re altar is Agni, it is also in very complex ways the
cer. It is the yajam*nas size that determines the size of the bricks for
the altar: mea sure ments are taken from the tips of his “ ngers, with his
arms raised, to the ground, from the top of his head to the ground, and
from his knees to the ground.
ese mea sures are divided and manipu-
lated in ways too complex to describe here, but they provide the mea sure-
ments for the several sizes and shapes of the more than 1,000 bricks that
will make up the altar. 
is is another reason the altar can never be used
again: another sacri“
cer will have di
erent dimensions; the bricks will not
be the same size.
Staal writes, 
e main altar of the Agnicayana functions in several re-
spects as a tomb: the golden man and “
ve heads of sacri“
cial victims are bur-
ied under it.Ž
He speculates that early Vedic burial mounds may lie behind
this aspect of the altar. 
e golden man is a small gold “
gure of a male hu-
is is appropriate because the altar, among other things, is a human
e heads are those of a horse, man, bull, ram, and he- goat, the classic
species for animal sacri“
ce, though in practice the he- goat was usually sub-
stituted for the other species.
For the 1975 ceremony and probably for a
long time previously, these heads were made of clay. However, there is some
discussion in the early literature about how the heads, the human one in par-
tic u lar, were to be obtained. Some held that an actual human head, perhaps
of someone who had died in battle, had to be used, but the possibility of hu-
man sacri“
ce cannot be ruled out. 
is whi
of the idea of human sacri“
however, really indicates how very slight is the possibility that any large- scale
human sacri“
ce, such as those in Hawaii or Shang China, was present in
\t \f+\f \f \r
father and son, but the relationship is reversible. In short, they are one,
a unity that guarantees immortality. Against this background we can
understand that the ritualistic concern with the “
re borders on the ob-
sessive, as appears from the elaborate casuistry regarding possible mis-
haps that may befall the sacri“
cial “
However, this obsessive concern seems to point to something else,
too. Fire symbolizes life and immortality, but its possession is far from
secure. Not only can “
re be dangerous and destructive when it gets out
of hand and acts in its aggressive Rudra form, it is also notoriously
ckle and ephemeral.
e Agnicayana (“
re altar)
ritual illustrates many of the points Heester-
man makes, not least in that its very elaboration was an e
ort to control the
ckle and ephemeral and bring “
re to its ful“
llment for human destiny. I
have said that in early India there were no monuments. 
e “
re altar is the
exception that proves the rule. 
e altar that gives the rite its name is its most
outstanding„ and expensive„ feature: it requires more than 1,000 bricks,
handmade in several sizes and shapes, to form the bird- shaped “
re altar that
is the focus of the ritual. But, and this is equally signi“
cant, the “
re altar does
not become a monument, for it is abandoned after its “
rst use, even though
it took so much time and e
ort to construct. Again, Heesterman explains:
Even the prestigious brick altar does not provide permanence. After its use
in the Soma ritual it is considered a cadaver, Agnis dead body, as I was told
by certain Nambudiris [the Brahmins who performed the 1975 ritual].Ž
We can see in the Agnicayana many examples of the kind of thinking that
characterizes Vedic thought: the correlations, homologies, similarities, and
identities (the Sanskrit word is
) that seem to provide the answers to
most important questions. 
e ritual focuses on Agni, obviously, but Agni
can, under certain circumstances, be identi“
ed with or substituted for other
gods, as they can for him, and that happens in this ritual as we will see. But
the “
re altar itself, built of “ ve layers of 200 bricks each, is in the shape of a
bird: from above it resembles a falcon or ea gle, in any case a bird of prey,
with head, wings, and tail. And the bird, or the bird- shaped altar, is Agni.
e adhvaryu priest, while carry ing the “
re from its prior location to the
center of the “
re altar, recites:
Agni of a thousand eyes, a hundred heads,
your exhalations hundred, inhalations a thousand,
Ancient India
a “ lm and in two enormous volumes thanks to Frits Staal and his associates,
but also because it is one of the most comprehensive and important, and, as
we have seen, one of the earliest of the great
It has also been
proclaimed as the oldest surviving ritual in the world,
and as the pinnacle
of Vedic ritual, [which] occupies a special position among the
ces owing not only to its elaborateness but also to the fact that it contains
many remarkable rites and ritual elements.Ž
at this ritual has survived for
2,500 to 3,000 years in oral transmission and is still being accurately per-
formed (Frits Staal found that the ritual he recorded di
ered only in minor
details from textual descriptions that are very ancient), most recently in
2006, is something of a marvel. It is again a tribute to the fact that in India
nothing is ever lost. What is remarkable about this survival, and is indeed
without parallel in the world as far as I know, is that this ritual was created
in a society that was just emerging from a paramount chiefdom into an early
state, that is, barely archaic in terms of my typology.
In one sense this ritual and the other great
rituals are typical of ar-
chaic societies in that they glorify the ruler and act to ensure his immortal-
ough early Indic society knows no monumental architecture, no tem-
ples even of the sort that were built in Hawaii, we can see these gigantic
rituals as the functional equivalent of the pyramids of Egypt, which were
also built for rulers with the intent of ensuring their immortality. 
ere is,
however, one great di
erence: the rituals belonged to the Brahmins, not to
the rulers, and could be performed, if su$
cient resources could be found, by
the Brahmins themselves if they had no royal patron. 
at tells us something
about India that really is di
erent from all the other cases.
Jan Heesterman helps us see why this greatest of rituals focuses on “
Agni, “
re, is the central feature of the Vedic world. We hardly need to
insist on this point: all of Vedic ritual, centered as it is on the “
re cult,
is there to prove it. Not surprisingly, then, “
re is the focus of a deeply
layered, many faceted imagery. To mention only some prominent
points, “
re, which prepares mans food and carries o
erings to the other
world of gods and fathers, is both the center of the human world and
the means for communicating with the ultramundane sphere. It is the
pivot in the cosmic circulation of the goods of life.
Fire, then, stands for life, wealth, procreation, and the continuation
of family, clan, and lineage. Hence the importance that is attached to
the installation of the domestic “
re and, even more to that of the sepa-
rate “
re for the solemn sacri“
ce . . . Not only are man and “
re said to be
\t \f+\f \f \r
functional di
erentiation, but even more by rigid hierarchy. 
e creator of
this new kind of society and its chief bene“
ciary was the alliance between
atriyas and Brahmins
who quite consciously ateŽ (the
term for dominateŽ or exploitŽ) those beneath them. Our texts, composed
by Brahmins, claim that they also ateŽ the K
atriyas, but at times admitted
that the opposite was true.
On the whole, this alliance, so advantageous to both its members, would
persist through most of subsequent history. It is thus the whole social- ritual
system with its dominant
class alliance that Witzel points to
with the term Sanskritization,Ž borrowed from the work of the anthropolo-
Ancient India
However, a lower rank K
atriya might have attempted to go on to the
next step on the socio- religious ladder and become a
that is
an initiated sacri“
( yajamna),
and having learnt more of the
Veda than a Vaiya . . . After he had established the three sacred “
he could then perform the Agnihotra, the New and Full Moon sacri-
ces, etc. If he wished for more, he could add the seasonal rituals and
the yearly Soma ritual. If he was still not content with this and
wished to impress his rivals further (who would often come to inter-
fere with or destroy his rituals), he could go on with seven more
types of soma rituals . . . What is important here is that these„ only
natural„ rivalries were cleverly channeled in the new, =rauta way of
cation . . .
Beyond the K
atriyas, the next level is that of the nobility of royal
blood . . . A low rank ruler could receive the consecration as chieftain
through the simple royal
. . . and “
nally, there was the solemn
=rauta option of the
[royal consecration]. Later on a revised,
complicated version of the
gvedic, originally even Indo- European,
horse sacri“
was added for especially powerful supreme
kings who claimed world domination,Ž which nevertheless only encom-
passed parts of (northern) India. 
e new =rauta ritual thus put every-
one in his proper station and at his proper place . . . 
ere was opportu-
nity for each and everyone to gain higher status by having the Brahmins
perform more and more elaborate rituals„ instead of simply raiding
ones neighbors.
e inner meaning of the rituals is something we must consider below, but
the social function would seem to be manifest. 
e great
rituals were
displays of what 
orstein Veblen called conspicuous consumption,Ž that is,
displays through elaborate and very expensive ritual of the status of the sac-
cer. Some have even compared this ritual system to the potlatch of the
Northwest Coast Indians. Although the Brahmin class or order comes into
its own in this new system, we should not forget that the rites were created
for royalty and nobility. It would be a very rich Brahmin indeed who could
act as sacri“
cer rather than priest in the most elaborate rituals.
e new society that was taking shape in the Kuru realm was headed by a
king who was supposed to defend the good of all his subjects as well as the
proper way of life
of each of them, but was in fact a sharp break
with any remaining tribal egalitarianism. 
e four var
as were de“
ned by
\t \f+\f \f \r
rituals required priests specializing in each of these four
Vedas and the complex commentarial literature that developed around them.
One of the earliest of these new
rituals has been, on linguistic
grounds, dated from soon after the closing of the
V, and is associated with
the Kuru court, possibly with the reign of the great Kuru king, Pariksi
, the
Agnicayana or “
re ritual.
Given the number of o$
ciants required and the
fact that it took nearly a year to complete the ritual, it must have been enor-
mously expensive, such that only someone of very high status could have had
it performed. 
eodore Proferes writes, 
e unction ceremony for the sacri-
that is performed in the Agnicayana connects this rite, too,
with the most powerful of leaders.Ž
Proferes notes on linguistic grounds
that the Avamedha rite, so closely linked as we will see to the institution of
kingship, and the Sautr*ma
i rite, which, judging by its focus on the “
of Indra, may well also have been originally a royal rite,Ž also date from this
gap period and are the Ur- liturgiesŽ coming between the
and the
earliest of the other
Proferes sums up what he thinks was hap-
pening at that critical moment in Indic history: As part of their programme
to consolidate power, the Kuru kings sought to overcome the divisive ten-
dencies inherent in the clan- based or ga ni za tion of their priestly elite by en-
couraging the development of what we might call an ecumenical ritual
system, one which did not rely upon or perpetuate the clan divisions charac-
teristic of the RV- period.Ž
e extraordinary and rather sudden elaboration of a complex ritual sys-
tem focusing on the Kuru
but now with a priesthood or ga nized to
provide elaborate support to the rulers, gives evidence of a situation where
po liti cal administration was rudimentary and ritual carried the brunt of pro-
viding social integration. As Erdosy points out, We may recall that a reliance
on religious sanction in preference to brute force is one of the distinguishing
criteria of chiefdoms.Ž
No paramount chiefdom can, however, do without
force, and the Kuru king could exert his will by a ready band of terrible [war-
or henchmen. He also relied on a network of spies.Ž
But much of
the burden of tamingŽ the ambitions of chiefs and subchiefs was taken over
by the new ritual system.  e constant raiding and “
ghting among the Aryan
groups, even if it amounted to little more than cattle rustling, could now be
channeled into competition for ritual status. As Witzel puts it:
A not very wealthy Vaiya might have been content with the domestic
rituals of passage that are executed for him and his family.
Ancient India
which originally meant a trekŽ of migrating Aryans, which later came
to be used for villages, settled treks.Ž And whereas the early
were led
by the
the trek leaders who always belonged to the
population of
Ž the settled village witnessed the emergence of the
village own er, who appears to have always come from the
Kulke suggests that the
population of the
did not always take
kindly to their would- be overlords, who could be thrown out, or, if worst
came to worst, abandoned as the village population simply moved away. In
other words, settlement and hierarchy leading to ever more centralization
did not necessarily come smoothly. Strongly or ga nized subordinate groups
could resist those who sought to dominate them. Chiefdoms and paramount
chiefdoms everywhere are notoriously fragile: as chiefs attempt to dominate
villages, and paramount chiefs to dominate subchiefs, there is always the
possibility that subordinate groups will break away. An early state develops
structures and practices that make this increasingly di$
cult, but the state in
India never quite transcended the fragility of the paramount chiefdom.
system was only one e
ort to create larger solidarities in a soci-
ety still divided by many subgroup loyalties. Lacking a powerful administra-
tive apparatus, the Kuru rulers, with the help of a much more clearly de“
Brahmin class, developed a ritual system far more complex than what had
preceded it and closely related to the developing
system. Under the
direction of the Kuru king the hymns that had been created continuously for
generations by many lineages in many tribes/chiefdoms were now gathered
into one collection, what we know as the
to be shared by all of the
newly formed Br*hma
a class,Ž even though each hymn was still marked
by the name and lineage of the original poet. Under Kuru pressure the
copyright,Ž jealously guarded by earlier lineages, was now no longer e
tive as the hymns became the common resource of the newly established
Brahmin priests.
Most remarkably, the canon of the
was now closed. While cher-
ishing and imitating the archaic features of the inherited material, the new
priestly class was devoted to the development of a new and much more com-
plex ritual system, one that focused on the Kuru king and his court but had
other signi“
cant functions as well. In connection with this new ritual sys-
tem, additional collections of texts were developed over time: the
and the
providing the ritual chants and the mantras, respectively,
mostly drawn from the
and the
which does not supply
material for the new solemn
rituals but for smaller and more private
\t \f+\f \f \r
emergence of an early state in Greece and India.
V 10.124.8 says of the
gods in relation to Indra: Choosing him as all the people choose a king.Ž
OFlaherty here translates
(plural of
and thus, literally peoplesŽ or
tribesŽ) as all the peopleŽ in this passage, but Nagy prefers to translate this
V passage, in e
ect, as Choosing him as the tribes choose an over-
king [paramount chief?].Ž
Even if such a choice were largely symbolic, there
was, if we can take the verse as re”
ecting reality, still an expression of pop u-
lar consent to rulership.
What we can perhaps see in
V 10.90.11… 12, the earliest clear formula-
tion of the hierarchy of the four
is a movement away from a loose
conception of a people with chiefs and priests above and followers below, and
all linked by kinship, to a society of orders, di
erentiated roles, that, though
often inherited, in principle transcend kinship and cross tribal boundaries.
Even in the Middle Vedic period, however, there was apparently more ”
ity and movement between
than there would be later. Erdosy notes a
Ancient India
Gregory Nagy, in an interesting e
ort to get at the Indo- European back-
ground of both Greek and Indic societies, has turned to the work of Georges
Dumézil, particularly in connection with Dumézils theory of the three
functions that are supposed to characterize all Indo- European societies: the
rst function is sovereignty/priesthood, the second is the warrior class, and
the third is agriculture/herding.
Emile Benveniste, Dumézils follower, ac-
cording to Nagy, shows clearly that the basis of Indo- European social or ga-
ni za tion was the tribe.Ž
However, most of our evidence for Indo- European
societies comes from early states, where what were originally functionsŽ
could have become more “
rmly di
erentiated and institutionalized, with the
system being a case in point (and with the addition of the =
as the fourth
servants,Ž who are included but excluded in that they
could not fully participate in the sacri“
ces and festivals that de“
ned Aryan
culture, thus indicating that they were not part of the original tripartite
Nagy is aware of the di$
culty involved in the use of the term tribeŽ but
he provisionally de“
nes it, borrowing from Montgomery Watt, as a body of
people linked together by kinship, whether in the male or in the female
We have seen the term
translated as peopleŽ in contrast to rulerŽ
and noblesŽ in early Vedic society. Nagy, drawing on Benveniste, translates
as tribe, people,Ž and speaks of it as referring to a social whole,Ž again
drawing on Benveniste in relating
tribe,Ž to
He “
nds inter-
esting parallels between Greek
tribe,Ž and Indic
in that both
terms relate both to the social allŽ and to a division within the all, indeed
the lowest of the three Indo- European divisions:
e semantic relationship between the name of the lowest in the order
of three
[plural of
], the
and the word
self, corresponds to the semantic relationship between the name of the
lowest in the order of the three leading social classes or varna- s in Indic
traditions, the
and the word from which it is derived,
just as the word
implies the whole community while desig-
nating the lowest of three parts, so also the word
by virtue of its
derivation, implies the whole community, the
while speci“
designating again the lowest of three parts.
What I make of all this is that there was a degree of tribal egalitarian-
ism underlying the di
erentiations that were developing with the gradual
\t \f+\f \f \r
12. His mouth was the Br*hma
a, his arms were made the R*janya, what
was his thighs was made the Vaiya, from his feet the =
dra was born.
e moon from his mind was born; from his eye the sun was born;
from his mouth both Indra and Agni; from his breath the wind was
e gods sacri“
ced with the sacri“
ce to the sacri“
ese were the
rst rites.
To give a full explication of even the verses quoted above would take the
rest of this chapter, but certain things can be noted. 
is famous hymn has
clearly moved beyond myth to mythospeculation.
a, the ordinary
word for (usually male) human being,Ž is here in trans“
gured form elevated
above the usual gods of the
and seen as their creator, or their source,
as with Indra and Agni in verse 13. Speculation has raised the question of a
higher order of ultimate reality than the gods. Further, the “
nal verse, 16,
ers a new speculative idea of sacri“
ce. Wendy Doniger OFlaherty ex-
plains: 
e meaning is that Puru
a was both the victim that the gods sacri-
ced and the divinity to whom the sacri“
ce was dedicated; that is, he was
both the subject and the object of the sacri“
rough a typical Vedic para-
dox, the sacri“
ce itself creates the sacri“
Typical, however, of Middle
Vedic speculation, not of the older
V thinking as evidenced in the hymn to
Indra, 3.45, quoted above. OFlaherty also comments on “
rst ritesŽ in verse
e word Maurer here translates as rites,Ž she tells us, is
she translates as ritual laws.Ž OFlaherty recognizes that
is a pro-
tean word,Ž but here designates the archetypal patterns of behavior estab-
lished during this “
rst sacri“
ce to serve as models for all future sacri“
e whole hymn is archetypal in OFlahertys sense, and most particularly
in verses 11 and 12, which Paul Mus called the “
rst constitution of India,Ž
because for the “
rst time it described the
system, the basic structure of
Indic society up to recent times. In verse 12, OFlaherty translates
as the Brahmin,Ž
as the WarriorŽ (also called K
the PeopleŽ (which earlier translated
), and
as the Servants.Ž
Although this is the “
rst time a system of four orders is ranked in a cosmo-
logical context, we still need to ask if this is only the systematization of a
long- standing practice and whether what we know later as the four
really what is being described here. In other words, what is described in
10.90 is only one moment in an evolving social system, important though
that moment may be, and we must try to understand it as such.
Ancient India
where the gods sacri“
ce], where even the heavenly river, the Milky Way,
touched down on earth and continued to ”
ow through Kuruk
\t \f+\f \f \r
chief,Ž and points to a paramount chiefdom, that is, a regime in which a
great chief has many lesser chiefs owing allegiance to him. Witzel notes as an
indicator of his new strength the capacity of the Kuru great chief not only to
recycle the booty of military raids but to exact tribute
from his subor-
dinates, something that lesser chiefs were never able to do.
All of this is
strongly reminiscent of the paramount chiefdoms in Hawaii just at the time
of Western contact when one of them seemed on the verge of creating an
early state. My suspicion was con“
rmed when I found Witzel himself con-
trasting the later true Indic kingdoms with the Kuru regime: Absolute
power was realized only in the “ rst great states with aspirations of empire,
such as Magadha about 500 .. 
e Vedic Kuru realm still resembles that
of a large Polynesian chieftainship such as that of Hawaii„ and with a simi-
lar ideology.Ž
But, as with Hawaii, the Kuru realm was probably in transi-
tion to an early state, so ambiguity in terminology may re”
ect the social
ambiguities of the time.
ere is both archaeological and literary evidence that Kuruk
etra was at
some point in the “
rst half of the “
rst millennium  attaining a status that
no Aryan society had achieved before. Erdosy, in his survey of settlements in
the Indo- Gangetic divide and the Ganga valley through most of that period,
found that in many places there were only two levels of settlement in terms
of size, and large areas where there was only one (small) settlement level,
implying that chiefdoms were the main social structure (chiefdoms would
normally involve two settlement levels) beyond the still common tribal level
(one settlement level would imply a tribal society). However, there was one
area with a three- tiered settlement level, namely Kuruk
etra, and three levels
implies paramount chieftainship at least.
On the basis of literary evidence
Erdosy believes that perhaps by the sixth century, the term
quires its classical meaning of realm, Ž and that Kuruk
etra, home of the
most famous of all Late Vedic tribes, may have been the “
rst region to be
clearly delineated [as a
Witzel notes that an important, if not the chief one among the religious
developments is that the new royal center in Kuruk
Ancient India
from the a%
uent sponsors of the ritual. 
ey were referred to as
is„ seers
who heardŽ
the texts, though they were also said to have seenŽ them,
rather than composing them, and who were considered semidivine. 
however, was after the canon of the
was closed and the ancient poets
had been replaced by Brahmins who were the preservers and interpreters of
the old texts.
e Middle Vedic Transformation
Michael Witzel has argued that there is a gap in time between the society we
have tried to reconstruct from the older parts of the
V and the quite di
ent society that emerges from the Br*hma
as. Exact dates are impossible to
assign, but if we view the older parts of the
V as dating from the late centu-
ries of the second millennium , then perhaps the earliest Br*hma
might date from a century or two into the “
rst millennium . Witzel “
some texts that represent a stage in the development of early Sanskrit that
makes it likely that they come from this gap period between the two major
text collections. 
ese include mantra texts and other fragments from later
collections, as well as late parts of the
V itself, book 10 in par tic u lar. 
texts give us clues to what seem to have been major po liti cal changes that
would lead to the remarkably di
erent society and culture of the Middle
Vedic period, in which the Br*hma
as became central.
Geo graph i cally there was a shift from the Panjab to a region further to the
east, on and just beyond the divide between the Panjab and the upper Gan-
getic plain, a region known as Kuruk
etra. Whether this indicates a move-
ment of population, or, just as likely, a shift in the area of cultural focus, we
cannot know, but po liti cal changes were at the heart of this shift, even if we
can discern them only vaguely. We have noted above that in the late
the Purus and then the Bharatas came to prominence among the thirty or
more tribesŽ (on the di$
culties involved in the use of this term, see Chapter
3) of the Aryans, but were unable to establish any lasting rule in a constantly
unstable situation. In Witzels gap period, however, the Kurus, holding them-
selves to be the legitimate descendants of the Bharatas, established a stable re-
gime that would set the pattern for all subsequent Indic po liti cal history.
e Kuru leaders continued to call themselves
which, as we have
seen, should in the
gvedic period be translated as chiefŽ rather than
king.Ž Witzel uses both chiefŽ and kingŽ for the Kuru leaders, but at one
point, in trying to pin down the Kuru polity, he refers to the leader as great
\t \f+\f \f \r
ing been a “
re- cult, as was its sister religion, Zoroastrianism, though
the two were developed along very di
erent lines. No sacri“
ce in either
was possible without “
re . . . One of Agnis principal roles is to serve as
messenger between men and gods, in which capacity he either conveys
the essence of the sacri“
cial meal to the gods or brings the gods them-
selves to the sacri“
cial feast, where they sit down together on the sacred
grass that has been spread out for them . . . Indra, on the one hand, is
the mighty warrior god, the unrelenting vanquisher not only of de-
mons, but also of all the enemies of the Indo- Aryans and hence their
staunchest protector; Agni, on the other hand, is the arch- priest, inter-
mediary between men and gods, the great and omniscient sage, and, as
the focal point of all sacri“
ces and provider of warmth and light in the
home, closest companion to man among the gods.
Soma, the third most frequently mentioned god in the
V, is the dei“
tion of the soma plant, the source of soma as a drink that played an impor-
tant part in the rituals. 
e pressing of the stalks of the soma plant so as to
release the juice, the mixing of the juice with milk, the o
ering of some of
the soma to the gods and the drinking of the rest by the human participants,
were all important aspects of the soma ritual. Maurer points out, 
hymns addressed to Soma are couched in meta phors and similes of highly
imaginative character, and probably no ”
ights of fancy have ever soared
higher than those of the poets of the ninth book of the
gveda [the ninth
book consists solely of hymns devoted to Soma].Ž
e language of certain
of the hymns to Soma has led some students of early India to believe that
they describe drug- induced mystical experiences (
V 10.136, for example),
perhaps the forerunner of later Indic mysticism.
In any case, soma was be-
lieved to have strong medicinal qualities and to be the drink of immortality
for both gods and men. Indra was believed to be exceptionally fond of it.
Although the poetry of the hymns that were recited in the rituals was
complex and sophisticated, the rituals themselves were, at least in the
gvedic period, relatively simple. 
ere were no “ xed ritual sites, no temples,
but each ritual was conducted anew at a chosen spot, perhaps re”
ecting the
frequent movement of a pastoral people. 
is feature, once established, con-
tinued to characterize Vedic ritual in all later times, long after pastoralism
had been abandoned. 
e hymns are attributed by scholars to poets or bards
who were not necessarily priests, and who competed for the excellence of
their poems against other poets, often mentioning the reward they expected
Ancient India
still no settlement centers large enough to be called cities, no palaces or
temples, only wattle and daub houses, and there was a general absence of
luxury goods and a striking poverty of artistic expression.Ž
Yet it is just in this
period that, as we will see, paramount chiefdoms, even incipiently an early
state, emerged together with radical social and cultural transformations.
What is striking, however, is that most of the
V was composed before
1000 , and so comes out of tribal societies only beginning to develop
chiefdoms, at least if Erdosy is right. But the
is the most sacred text
of Vedic religion and, in principle, in historic Hinduism up to the present. It
has been a premise of this book that nothing is ever lost,Ž but India exhibits
that premise to a startling degree. It is true that the Homeric epics come out
of, or at least depict, a society not much more complex than late second-
millennium India and played a signi“
cant role in education throughout the
history of classical civilization. Homer might even be called to some degree a
sacred text,Ž but the Homeric epics never had the authority attributed to the
ere are parts of Genesis that are probably in their original form
handed down from tribal or chie”
y times, but they are not the core of the
Torah. As we will see, the ideas present in the
V will become enormously
elaborated in the “
rst half of the “
rst millennium  and will draw copious
commentary right to the present, but an intact collection of tribal verse as
the core of a religious tradition is uniquely Indic. It raises questions about
the whole idea of religious evolution, with which we will have to grapple
We dont know enough about the ritual system in
gvedic times to de-
scribe it in any detail, but there is evidence in the hymns to give us some idea
of it. We have already described Indra, one of the most frequently mentioned
gods in the
ough Indra and most of the gods are invisible, two of the
most important, and both are important in early Ira ni an religion as well, are
visible: Agni (“
re, as anyone familiar with Latin
will note) and Soma
(the Avestan cognate is Haoma, in both cases referring to a mind- altering
drink about the identity of which there is ongoing debate). Ordinary “
re and
the soma drink participate in the major gods who bear their names and are
present, and in the case of “
re, indispensable, at the sacri“
cial ground. Mau-
rer points out that the three most frequently mentioned gods in the
V are
Indra, Agni, and Soma, but Agni is the most important:
Every sacri“
ce [
], from the simplest domestic rite to the most
elaborate and complex, centered around the “
re, the Vedic religion hav-
\t \f+\f \f \r
here that
V 3.51.11 places the centre of the world, with subdued enemies in
all directions.Ž
Witzel attributes the earliest collection of the
V hymns to
the centralizing tendencies of the P
ru and the Bharata, no mean feat,
given that the hymns were the sole property of a few clans of poets and
priests who were not willing to part with their ancestral and (more or less)
Ancient India
e hymn just quoted might seem to be simple, but unraveling all the allu-
sions and all the meanings of Indras various attributes would require a great
deal of exegesis. Poetically the poems are highly condensed and allusive, as-
suming knowledge of the myths without spelling them out. 
ey are works
of great poetic art, and the bards who composed them competed to produce
the “
nest hymns. But as Witzel has said, trying to discern the myths, let
alone the history, of the early Indo- Aryans from these hymns alone would be
like trying to discern the history and religion of early Israel if we had only
the Psalms as our source.
Nonetheless, by mining the text of the
V carefully, Witzel has recon-
structed at least a rough picture of what was happening when these texts
were composed. 
e text tells us of some thirty tribes or peoples (we will
have to consider later what we can make of their social or ga ni za tion) under a
number of rulers (
later translated as kingsŽ but here better as chief-
tainsŽ), whose lineages, as far as we can reconstruct them, cover “
ve or six
generations. As a result of the incessant “
ghting of the Aryan peoples not
only with the
(the indigenous, or better, culturally non- Aryan peoples)
but if anything even more with each other, a group of Five Peoples centered
on the P
ru gained hegemony, only to lose it to one of its late- arriving sub-
groups, the Bharata.
Even in
V times, the AryansŽ were no longer simply the immigrants
from afar or their descendants. Chiefs with
names were to be found
among the Aryans, and many loanwords from Dravidian, Munda, and per-
haps even Tibeto- Burman appear in the
V, so that AryanŽ had become a
cultural, not a racial, term, referring to those who took part in the sacri“
and festivals, that is, who participated in the common culture. Further, these
self- styled Aryans no longer remembered or celebrated any foreign area from
which they might have come. 
ey placed the center of the world as some-
where in northern India, and it is there that, in their own eyes, they origi-
nated. We are in a heterogeneous world ge ne tically and culturally even
though AryanŽ never lost its elite connotation.
What we “
nd amid the welter of tribes, subtribes, and lineages is a cen-
tralizing tendency that will only grow stronger at the end of the
period. As Witzel puts it, 
gveda thus represents, above all, the history
of two royal lineages (P
ru and Bharata) toward the middle of the
 e result of protracted con”
ict was the ultimate victory of the
Bharatas over the other tribes and their settlement on the Sarasvati [River],
which became the heartland of South Asia well into the Vedic period. It is
\t \f+\f \f \r
give me, I give you,Ž
dehi me dadhmi te
„ that is: reciprocity. 
e rit-
ual oblations and the hymns that accompany them are not o
ered to
the gods out of sheer celebratory exuberance. Rather, these verbal and
alimentary gifts are one token in an endless cycle of exchanges„ thanks
for previous divine gifts, but also a trigger for such gifts and favors in
the future. Most
gvedic hymns contain explicit prayers for the goods
of this world and for aid in par tic u lar situations, along with generalized
praise of the gods generosity.
is relatively simple and straightforward pattern might remind us of
Homer, and, as in Homer, sacri“
ces were devoted to a number of gods. 
Vedic gods, however, have few cognates with Greek gods and are lacking any
sense of overarching or ga ni za tion.
Although Indra is a powerful and cen-
tral god, at times declared king of the gods, his capacity to control the other
gods seems even less than Zeuss, and further, a number of other gods are
described with his same attributes and powers. Here is a short hymn to In-
V 3.45, to give a sense of what the simpler hymns are like:
1. Come hither, Indra, with your bay horses that give us joy, with hair like
the peacocks& May none hold you back, as trappers a bird& Go past
them, as past a desert- land&
2. Devourer of V
tra, splitter of Vala, burster of strongholds, driver of
the waters, mounter of the chariot at the neighing of his two bay
horses„ Indra is the shatterer of even the steadfast.
3. As the deep oceans, you increase your strength, as do cows. As cows
with a good cowherd to their fodder, as irrigation ditches to a pool, they
have gone.
4. Bring unto us o
spring, wealth, as the share to one who makes a prom-
ise& As a man with a crook a tree bearing ripe fruit, shake down su$
cient wealth, Indra&
5. You are self- su$
cient, Indra, your own ruler, commanding, the more
glorious by your own achievements: as such, growing in strength, O
much- lauded one, do be our best listener&
From this hymn it is clear that Indra is a powerful warrior god. Verse 2 al-
ludes to mythical events that need not detain us but illustrate his conquering
strength. He is also, however, associated with pastoral and agricultural ac-
tivities and is thus an appropriate recipient of prayers for material well- being.
Ancient India
surely a student of Mauss, a fact con“ rmed by a quick look at Dumonts
Homo Hierarchicus.
So, though my way was no less di$
cult, I felt, as a pro-
foundly Durkheimian sociologist myself, at least in good company.
Early Vedic India
However di$
cult the dating of early Indic texts may be, there is general
agreement that the earliest of the Vedas, the sacred texts of Indic religion, is
Michael Witzel puts it succinctly: 
gvedic language stands
apart from the following stages in many respects, and is perhaps better char-
acterized as the last stage of a long period of Indo- Aryan poetry than as the
of Vedic literature. Many words that occur in
V have cognates in
Avesta [archaic East Ira ni an, which is closely related to Old Persian], while
these no longer appear in post-
gvedic texts.Ž
Although the
V (to use the
standard abbreviation) contains elements that could go back to the earliest
days of the Aryans in India, or perhaps even to the period when they were
still in Af ghan i stan, and thus could draw on materials from early or middle
second- millennium  times, the hymns that make it up were, according to
Witzel, probably composed in “
ve or six generations toward the end of the
period, which would probably be somewhere between 1200 and 1000 .
Even within the
V we must make a further di
erentiation: the last book,
book 10, and much of book 1 are considered to be later than the rest of the
text and may represent a signi“
cant move beyond the world of most of the
V. In any case our “
rst task is to understand the social and religious reality
revealed in the older strata of the
Because the texts as we have them are hymns used in rituals, we will start
with a description of the ritual system and only gradually, using hints in the
texts, some archaeology, and a great deal of inference, try to describe the
kind of society in which these rituals were performed. Actually inference is
there even with respect to the rituals, because the hymns used in a ritual
dont describe the ritual as a whole or the varieties of rituals in which they
were used. 
V hymns for the most part appear to have been used in
cial rituals directed toward a number of gods and asking for a variety
of gifts, largely this- worldly, such as wealth in cattle, the birth of children,
particularly sons, long life, and victory in battle. Stephanie Jamison and
Michael Witzel have succinctly expressed the meaning of these rituals:
Perhaps the most obvious motivating idea of Vedic religion is the Roman
principle of
do ut des,Ž
I give so that you will give,Ž or in Vedic terms
\t \f+\f \f \r
wanted to discuss this Bronze Age civilization together with comparable
cases in Chapter 5, which included ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Shang
China, but evidence of the sort that would allow me to reconstruct the reli-
gion was missing. 
e Harappan civilization was in many respects remark-
able, covering a large territory, having a large population (perhaps a million or
more) and some signi“
cant technological achievements. Much had seemed to
hinge on the Harappan script, the decipherment of which was long awaited.
Recently serious scholars have suggested that the Harappan signs were not
writing at all and would never be deciphered.
Asko Parpola, a longtime
researcher on the Harappan script, “
nds such a dismissal unconvincing, al-
though he admits that no attempt to decipher the script so far has been
More discouraging for my purposes, however, is his admission
that, given the scantiness of the surviving texts and the likelihood that, like
Mycenaean B, even if deciphered, they would contain only references to
merchandise, their usefulness to understanding Harappan culture would be
minimal. But even though there is not and probably will never be enough
data to describe the Harappan religious system„ though some inferences
can be made from “
gurines and incised tablets„ the continuity of site oc-
cupation, even at a reduced level of complexity, was su$
cient to make it very
likely that cultural features descended from Harappan culture were ulti-
mately integrated into the emerging Vedic culture, even if we cannot know
exactly what those elements were.
In getting my footing in this new “
eld, it was good to discover or re discover
that, as in the case of Greece with Louis Gernet and Jean- Pierre Vernant,
there were good Durkheimian pre de ces sors. (In China too there was the
distinguished work of Marcel Granet, Durkheims student, but I felt he had
most to say about developments in the Han, and so later than the period
with which my chapter dealt.) Of course I was long familiar with Henri Hu-
bert and Marcel Mausss
Sacri“ ce: Its Nature and Function,
and remembered
the importance of Indic material in it, but it was only in rereading it that I
discovered that Mauss had been a student not only of Durkheim, but of the
great French Sanskritist, Sylvain Lévi, whose book,
La Doctrine du Sacri“ ce
dans les Brahmanas,
was a fundamental source for his entire argument.
Also, in reading Paul Mus, who had been only a name to me before, I
learned from the translators preface to Muss great book
that, not
only was Mus a student of Mauss, but in lecturing at the Collège de France,
Mus always carried two books, one of which was Lévis
Doctrine du Sacri-
“ ce.
And then it occurred to me that my old friend, Louis Dumont, from
whom I had learned about India but also about many other things, was
Ancient India
peoples who entered northwest India in the second millennium  did in-
deed call themselves
(which originally meant hospitable,Ž but came to
mean nobleŽ or honorable,Ž the source of our word AryanŽ); the term
gained its more general and unsavory implications only in recent times. Our
earliest texts are, to be sure, in an archaic form of Sanskrit, which is an Indo-
Iranian language, closely related to Avestan Persian, and part of the Indo-
European language family. Colonialist scholars tended to see in early India
an Aryan invasion across the passes of the northwest, with hordes of chariot-
riding Aryan warriors descending on and defeating the aboriginal inhabitants,
whom they subordinated as a class of serfs while imposing their language and
culture on them. Indian nationalism in the twentieth century created a coun-
ternarrative in which the whole Indo- European language family arose in
India and then spilled out into Iran, Central Asia, and eventually Eu rope.
Although this theory has little to recommend it, running counter to the entire
known history of India, which has for millennia seen the incursion of one
people after another from Af ghan i stan or Central Asia over the northwest
passes, it has contributed to a rethinking of the Aryan conquestŽ hypothesis.
Rather than a single mass descending in one body, the linguistic and other
evidence from the earliest texts suggests that there were numerous, perhaps
relatively small, groups that “ ltered into India, “ ghting with each other as
much as with the preexisting inhabitants, and gradually acculturating to
what they found. In this scenario classical Indic culture can be seen as an
amalgam of the culture of the Aryan migrants and that of the indigenous
inhabitants. Although this story is convincing, we cannot really know in any
par tic u lar case what is Aryan and what is indigenous, because we have only
\t \f+\f \f \r
of cards,Ž because if there is a mistake in the dating of one text, the whole
system is in danger of collapsing.
It is even problematic whether we can speak of textsŽ for speech that was
orally transmitted. Behind the written texts of the other three axial cases
there was, to be sure, an oral tradition, and a great deal of work has been
done trying to “
gure out exactly how it worked. Homer is the obvious ex-
ample, but in Israel and China too there is evidence of oral transmission be-
hind the texts that have come down to us. In every case, detailed arguments
about the oral traditions have been contested, because, by the nature of the
case, inference is all we have. Milman Parry carried out “
eld work in Yugo-
slavia in the 1930s studying traditional Serbo- Croat oral poetry.
He argued
that various techniques still in use at that time by Serbo- Croat bards, involv-
ing mnemonic devices and type phrases to “
ll out metrical lines, were also to
be found in Homer, thus helping us understand its underlying oral basis. But
one of the things Parry discovered, and in this what he found is similar to
oral traditions all over the world, is that when a bard says he is exactly re-
peatingŽ a poem„ even one of his that was previously recorded„ he is in
fact creating a new one, with structural resemblances to previous versions,
but not exact verbal repetition.
What makes the Indian case unique is the claim, generally believed by
Indologists, that the oral transmission of these early texts is exact, word for
word, even to the accents involved. What makes this believable is that the
oral transmission continues to this day and seems to be accurate to the small-
est detail, more accurate than the printed texts or the relatively late manu-
scripts that lie behind them. 
us the Indic development of what has been
called hyperorality, a complex system of cross- checking for verbal accuracy,
turns out to be a unique kind of oral technology that is the functional equiv-
alent of writing. Given that in all the great traditions even written texts
were often memorized and transmitted orally, with the written texts used
only as prompts to memory, we must consider that we are everywhere deal-
ing with speech as much as writing. 
e Indian case, however, is unique in
its emphasis on orality.
 e most sacred texts, especially the Vedas, were
actually prohibited from being written„ only oral transmission was consid-
ered authentic„ and were probably not written until at least the middle of
the “
rst millennium .
In addition to these textualŽ problems there is a great deal of argument,
one could say intense controversy, over early Indic history, particularly the
role of the AryansŽ in it. We should note that the Indo- Aryan- speaking
e Axial Age IV: Ancient India
It is with more than a little trepidation that I begin this chapter on India in
the axial age. Of the four axial chapters, this is the one for which I was least
prepared and had furthest to go with my research. In the case of ancient
Israel, Greece, and China I had read the major primary texts in translation
for most of my adult life and was aware of the major secondary literature. In
preparing for those chapters I had to review much that I thought I knew
and, in par tic u lar, do a lot of reading in recent secondary literature to be, so
far as possible in this kind of comprehensive book, up to date with current
thinking. I started each of those chapters with what one might call graduate
student competence. But with respect to India I have started at the freshman
level, without a knowledge of the major texts in translation or the major sec-
ondary works either.
In addition to the amount of elementary work I had to do to prepare for
this chapter, there were di$
culties I found with respect to the Indian case
relative to the three others.  ere are a great number of texts from “
millennium  India, as large as or larger than those from any of the other
three cases.
Furthermore, the most important of them were transmitted
orally and continued to be transmitted orally long after written Sanskrit ap-
peared. In any case, evidence for writing does not date from before the third
century , and the “
rst reliable dates begin with the inscriptions of Aoka,
who reigned from 273 to 232. 
e earliest text, the
is variously
dated from many thousands of years  to the late centuries of the second
millennium , the latter being more reasonable. But most Sanskrit texts,
oral or written only in relatively recent times, can be dated only on grounds
of linguistic age (and occasional internal evidence) to tell which is older than
Richard Lariviere calls this system of dating a chronological house
\t \f+\f \f 
ethical universalism as a mea sure of the successful axial transition in War-
ring States China, and I think he is right in so doing.

Far from adapting
to the world, these great early Confucians stood against the currents of their
time, giving examples that would long survive them. At the end of the text of
in Knoblocks translation, there is a Eulogy,Ž whose provenance
Knoblock does not give. Nonetheless, some excerpts from this eulogy, with
its description of what it meant to be a true
can stand as a “
tting con-
clusion to this chapter:
ose who o
er persuasions say: Xun Qing was not the equal of Con-
is is not so. Xun Qing was oppressed by a chaotic age and
lived under the intimidating threat of stern punishments. On the one
hand there were no worthy rulers, and on the other hand he faced the
aggression of Qin. Ritual and moral principles were not observed. 
transforming e
ects of teaching were not brought to completion. 
humane were degraded and under constraint. 
e whole world was lost
in darkness. Conduct that strove after completeness was ridiculed and
e feudal lords engaged in the greatest of subversions . . .
Nonetheless, Xun Qing cherished in his heart the mind of a great
sage, which had to be concealed under the pretense of madness and
presented to the world as stupidity . . . 
is is why his fame and reputa-
tion are not plainly evident, why his followers are not legion, and why
his glory and brilliance are not widely known.
Students of today can obtain the transmitted doctrines and remain-
ing teachings of Xun Qing in su$
cient detail to serve as a model and
pattern, the paradigm and gnomon, that establish the standard of the
whole world. His presence had the e
ect like that of a spirit, and wher-
ever he passed by he produced transformation. If one closely inspects his
good works, one could see that even Confucius did not surpass him.

Moving though this tribute is, we need not decide the question of who
surpassed whom. In the end it was the teaching of Confucius, developed and
elaborated by Mencius and Xunzi, and by many more Confucians in later
years, that proved to be the most enduring and in”
uential strand in the Chi-
nese tradition from early times virtually to the present.
tude, which necessitates a very stringent and re”
exive self- discipline, as
well as in the development of a critical attitude to the existing mundane
world in general and po liti cal order in par tic u lar.
Eisenstadt is, in this passage, correcting Webers sense of Confucianism as
only adaptingŽ to the world. Webers notion of Confucianism was not with-
out some basis in the ideology that was established in imperial times. Mark
Csikszentmihalyi quotes the Warring States text
Guoyu (Discourses of the
as saying, Serve ones lord with reverence, serve ones father with pi-
ety,Ž a sentiment endlessly repeated down through Chinese, indeed through
all East Asian, history for millennia.
But Xunzis “
rm injunction„Follow
the Dao and not the ruler, follow justice and not the fatherŽ„ was never en-
tirely forgotten. 
eodore de Bary has given examples of Confucians who
followed Xunzis injunction„ particularly about questioning the ruler; it was
much harder for Confucians to imagine disobeying a parent„ throughout
Chinese history.
Simon Leys comments on Confuciuss original move to reinterpret the no-
tion of the
literally, the lords son, usually translated gentleman,Ž
from the designation of a hereditary elite to the designation of a moral elite:
is view was to have revolutionary consequences: it was the single
most devastating ideological blow that furthered the destruction of the
feudal system and sapped the power of the hereditary aristocracy, and it
led eventually to the establishment of the bureaucratic empire„the
government of the scholars. For more than two thousand years, the
empire was to be ruled by the intellectual elite; to gain access to po liti-
cal power, one had to compete successfully in the civil ser vice examina-
tions, which were open to all. Until modern times, this was certainly
the most open, ”
exible, fair, and sophisticated system of government
known in history (it is the very system which was to impress and inspire
the Eu ro pe an
of the eigh teenth century).
Leys is already projecting well beyond the period with which this chapter is
concerned, but given Webers enormously in”
uential analysis of China as a
stagnant, traditional society, it is perhaps well to point out that such was not
the heritage of the axial age to later Chinese history.
Heiner Roetz, whose work, in spite of my problems with some of it, has
been enormously suggestive for me in writing this chapter, has insisted on
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
obtain their power . . . to become a Di [god] and to exercise direct power
over the world of forms. In short, ideologically the empires under the First
Emperor and Emperor Wu functioned as a celestial imperium, with the rul-
ers as the or ga niz ing thearchs.Ž
Even the Shang monarchs had not claimed
to be divine, though, as ancestors, they would be worshipped after their
e emergence of divine kingship at this point in Chinese history
shows it as a structural possibility at any point in time, even though it is iden-
ed primarily with archaic civilizations. In the cases at hand, the function is
clear. It involved an end runŽ around the Confucians: if the emperors were
divine, how could Confucians hold them up to the judgment of Heaven? By
the end of Western Han (late “
rst century ) the Confucians had reas-
serted themselves and reinstated what they understood to be the traditional
cial system. As Puett describes it: In this new system, it is humans
who create the center by establishing a capital and then properly aligning
Heaven and Earth. 
is involves neither the theomorphic will to align the
cosmos nor an attempt to become a spirit in accord with the patterns of the
universe. Rather, it supports a hierarchy of Heaven and man; humans create
the center of the cosmos, and Heaven judges mans success.Ž

Never again
would the systems of self- divination of Qin Shihuangdi and Han Wudi be
e traditionalŽ system would continue through all subsequent
dynasties. Needless to say, it would be the Confucians who would decide the
degree to which the rulers were conforming to Heavens mandate. 
e axial
separation between earthly rule and divine sanction was secured.
S. N. Eisenstadt has emphasized the deeper meaning of Chinese this-
worldly transcendentalism and the sense in which it is always sociopo liti cal
and personal:
 e Chinese] mode of overcoming the tension between the tran-
scendental and the mundane order, especially as it developed in neo-
Confucianism but the roots of which exist also in the earlier, classical
Confucianism, emphasized very strongly the non- traditionalistic, re-
exive de“
nition of the nature of the cosmic order and of human exis-
is de“
nition contains within itself a continuous principled
awareness of the tension between the cosmic ideal and any given real-
ity; the imperfectability of the mundane order in general and the po liti-
cal one in par tic u lar; its only partial legitimation in terms of the basic
cosmic harmony, and the great personal tensions involved both in the
attempts to maintain such harmony through proper conduct and atti-
A quasi- religious faith such as Communism depended entirely on the real-
ization of a new, ideal, po liti cal order, and it withered away when its this-
worldly utopia failed to appear. If Confucianism had depended entirely on a
po liti cal form of salvation, it might have met the same fate; surely its power-
ful personal faith in transcendent morality at what ever cost is what allowed
it to survive po liti cal failure time and time again.
Nowhere was the failure more evident than at the time of the uni“
of the empire by the victorious armies of Qin in 221 . Not the Sage King
that Mencius had expected, but the exact opposite, the kind of tyrant most
feared by Confucians, brought the uni“
cation about. 
e uni“
er of China,
Qin Shihuangdi, was under the in”
uence of Legalist teaching, and he or-
dered that Confucian books be burned and Confucian scholars buried

As his prime minister, Li Si, who was responsible for this policy and
for much else that brought the Qin to universal power, put it, Anyone refer-
ring to the past to criticize the present should, with all the members of his
family, be put to death.Ž

Li Si, as noted above, had been a student of Xunzis, but when he chided
his former teacher for relying on humaneness and righ teousness when what
counted was a strong army and expedient policies, Xunzi replied that such a
view was shortsighted and such a regime could not last long.

As it turned
out, Li Si was executed in 208  as a result of factional con”
icts after the
death of the First Emperor; his execution was carried out by having him lit-
erally cut in half. Xunzis prediction had been right: the ruthlessness of the
Qin dynasty guaranteed that it would last only a few years. All succeeding
Chinese dynasties, however, until the end of the Qing dynasty in 1911, were
caught in the tension between an essential element of Confucian legitima-
tion and Legalist domination, and we can hardly say that that tension is
over. We might remember that Mao Zedong was a great admirer of Qin
Confucianisms lasting in”
uence in the po liti cal realm was its ability to
uphold a normative standard with which to judge existing reality, and never
to compromise that standard completely. What Qin Shihuangdi (r. 221…
210) tried to do, and a powerful Han emperor, Han Wudi (r. 140… 87 ),
imitated him in the attempt, was to make himself divine and immortal, with
the help of
(specialists in invoking the spirits and aiding the attain-
ment of immortality). Michael Puett has described the pro cess: 
e Qin-
Han sacri“
cial system involved a radically new approach.  e goal was for
the ruler to contact personally as many divine powers as possible in order to
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
religious meaning and had become just another word for nature.Ž He in-
sisted, as we have noted earlier, that the contrast between a naturalistic and a
theistic interpretation of Heaven in early Chinese thought is an antithesis
which we impose on the text.Ž
I have not been impressed by those like
Mark Elvin who have argued the contrary view.

I think the treatment of
the major Warring States Confucian texts in this chapter su$
ciently illus-
trates why I think transcendence in axial- age China, in both its formal (as in
Schwartzs de“
nition above) and substantive„ that is, religious„ senses, can
be found in Confucianism. I also have tried to show why the major non-
Confucian tendencies, although in many ways meeting the de“
nition of ax-
ial thought, failed to develop coherent axial cultural systems capable of ex-
erting critical pressure on all subsequent Chinese society and culture to the
same degree that Confucianism did.
Nonetheless one must still come to terms with Max Webers extraordi-
narily brilliant and in”
uential study of the religious ethic of China, in which
he emphasized this- worldly immanence and the absence of a tension be-
tween the transcendental and mundane worlds that he thought character-
ized Chinese culture in general and Confucianism in par tic u lar.

Schwartzs case for transcendence in ancient China has been widely, but not
universally, accepted, there has been a tendency to see ancient China, and
again Confucianism in par tic u lar, as this- worldly,Ž in a sense bringing it
closer to Greece than to the otherworldlyŽ cases of Israel and India.
Although I think the case for China as illustrating this- worldly transcen-
dentalismŽ is a strong one, it is one I would want to qualify somewhat, even
with respect to Confucianism. 
e case for this- worldliness in Confucian-
ism rests on the idea that if there is a notion of salvationŽ in Confucianism,
it is a po liti cal one: salvation will be realized in the po liti cal realm just as it
once was realized in the po liti cal realm of the ancient Sage Kings. Certainly
my discussion of the apocalyptic element in Menciuss thought, the idea that
the realization of the
in the reign of a new sage king might be immi-
nent, suggests the validity of this idea. Yet in Confucius, Mencius, and
Xunzi there is an ideal of human self- cultivation leading to an identi“
with an ultimate moral order, with the
and the will of Heaven, that is
available to individuals, however grim the social situation and however much
tempting it is to “
nd in them what we want to “
nd. I have kept up with the
more widely read studies in the “
elds of ancient Israel and ancient Greece
since undergraduate days. I have the simplest knowledge of Greek, enough
to allow me to see in a bilingual text what Greek term lies behind the trans-
lation, and that makes me only slightly less dependent on the translator. I
have no such knowledge of Hebrew. But it is probably an illusion to think we
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
With both ritual and music, learning is required to avoid the extremes of
overindulgence or (particularly in the case of funerals) self- ”
agellation result-
ing in bodily injury. It is the mean that is required, and it is knowledge that
helps us “
nd the mean. For Xunzi, morality in every sphere is not natural,Ž
but comes only with hard and unremitting learning and an understanding of
the great exemplars of the past.

Philip Ivanhoe ends his discussion of
moral self- cultivation in Xunzi with a passage from book 1:
I once spent a whole day in
ection,Ž but I found it of less value
than a moment of
learning.Ž I once tried standing on tiptoe and
gazing into the distance, but I found I could see much farther by climb-
ing to a high place.
Ivanhoe points out that the high place was the edi“ ce of culture,Ž the climb
to it took one on the steep and rugged path of learning,Ž but that the result
orded a vast and incomparable view.Ž

is chapter has covered a great deal of ground, but I feel, before closing, the
necessity of a cautionary note. In Chapters 6 and 7, concerned with ancient
Israel and ancient Greece, we seemed to be on relatively “
rm ground. Edu-
cated Westerners are assumed to have some background in both these cul-
tures. Many educated Westerners read classical Greek or Hebrew. Relatively
few Westerners read classical Chinese. Even among educated East Asians,
only a few read classical Chinese. A. C. Graham, one of the greatest twentieth-
century scholars of early Chinese thought, in answer to the charge that clas-
sical Chinese is a vagueŽ language, wrote in 1961, Most Western sinolo-
gists (including myself ) read literary Chinese without being able to write
it . . . None of us yet knows classical Chinese.Ž

John Knoblock, in the
preface to the third and “
nal volume of his complete translation of the
wrote in 1994, commenting on the fragmentary state of preservation of early
Chinese texts, 
e disorder of the preserved Chinese philosophy is evident
to any serious student.Ž
If people who have devoted their lives to the study
of early Chinese thought are so uncertain, how can one as dependent on
them as I be sure that I am saying anything of value?
When we try to understand the axial age, and even more what came be-
fore it, we are dealing with worlds long ago and far away. It is hard to empha-
size enough how di
erent these societies were from our own, and how
All rites begin with coarseness, are brought to ful“
llment with form,
and end with plea sure and beauty. Rites reach their highest perfection
when both emotion and form are fully realized . . .
rough rites, Heaven and Earth are conjoined,
the sun and moon shine brightly,
the four seasons observe their natural pre ce dence,
the stars and planets move in ranks,
the rivers and streams ”
and the myriad things prosper.
rough them, love and hate are tempered,
and joy and anger made to “
t the occasion.

As Paul Goldin indicates, 
ere is only one Way. 
e Sage Kings appre-
hended it, and their rituals embody it. 
ere is no other Way, and no other
constellation of rituals that conforms to the Way. It is through the Way,
moreover, that Heaven plays a role in our lives.Ž
Goldin compares Xunzis
idea of the Way ordained by Heaven that embodies the rituals with the
Western idea of natural law ordained by God.
Ritual, according to Xunzi, is not logical and so cannot be refuted by shal-
low theories.
e understanding of ritual requires an advanced stage of
self- cultivation, and so only the sage fully understands it: 
e sage clearly
understands ritual, the scholar and gentleman “ nd comfort in carry ing it
out, o$
cials of government have as their task preserving it, and the Hundred
Clans incorporate it into their customs.Ž

But good customs are moral cus-
toms, and Xunzi is clear that rule by punishment makes the common people
devious in the attempt to obey only the letter of the law, whereas rule by
ritual will make them desire to be moral.
Book 20 is devoted to music and, as it is often paired with ritual, partakes
of many of the same characteristics. It, too, is based on emotion and involves
the forming of emotion. With music, however, the central emotion is joy:
Music is joy,Ž the chapter begins.
It should be noted that the same graph
could be read musicŽ or joyŽ leading to occasional, perhaps sometimes in-
tentional, ambiguities as to which word is meant. Early in the chapter Xunzi
writes, Men cannot live without music,Ž which might also be read Men
cannot live without joy.Ž In any case, music is essential to a ful“
lled human
life, and Xunzi sco
s at the Mohists for thinking otherwise. Because ritual
almost always involves both music and dance, the overlap between the two is
considerable, so that Xunzis theory of ritual also applies largely to music.
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
of teacher and student. But Xunzi subjects even this relationship, and him-
self in it, to this “
rm ethical standard:
He who criticizes me and is right is my teacher. And he who agrees with
me and is right is my friend. But he who ”
atters me is my enemy.

As we saw in connection with the man in the street,Ž one attains such
high ethical standards neither easily nor naturally.Ž One has to work hard to
become a moral person, and, in Xunzis view, emphasizing a point more cen-
tral in the
than in the
through study, through the Classics,
and with the help of a worthy teacher who can spur one on and show one the
way. One of Xunzis achievements was to underline the centrality of the
Classics and the necessity of constant study, something that became embed-
ded in the tradition even when Xunzi was relatively forgotten. And among
those things that had to be studied, nothing was more important than ritual
and music
( yue).
Treatises on these subjects are among the most impor-
tant in the
Xunzis book 19 is devoted to ritual
and, as we might expect, has a
great deal of detail about proper ritual, especially the sacri“
ces carried out by
rulers at various levels and funeral rituals for rulers and others. Ritual in this
sense is a continuation of the early idea of ritual contained in the great ser-
vicesŽ discussed in the
Zuo zhuan
and referred to early in this chapter. But
book 19 also contains more general discussions of the place of ritual in hu-
man life, something even close to a theory of ritual, and so it is one of the
richest sources for the understanding of early Chinese thought about

Xunzi begins the chapter with a discussion of human desires, which, as we
have noted, are extensive and insatiable and, if not ordered, will be the
source of chaos and violence. 
e Sage Kings, however, established ritual not
in order to suppress desires but to regulate them, so that they can be ful“
in the right way. Xunzi makes the point with the clear statement: 
meaning of ritual is to nurture.Ž

Naturally, Xunzi insists that each rank of
society has its own appropriate rituals, so that the ritual order reinforces the
social hierarchy that all early Chinese thinkers except the Daoists took as
In his description of how ritual works, Xunzi reaches an intensity that
gives rise to a rhymed verse that seems to be something like a cosmological
hymn to the e ects of ritual:
the whole empire is o
ered to one, to uphold justice and not to bend
oneself, though taking death seriously„ this is the courageousness of
the scholar and the gentleman [
Even without the beginnings of virtue in ones nature, ones heart has the
capacity and the in de pen dence to make autonomous judgments, as securely
as a Kantian:
e heart [
] is the ruler of the body and the master of its godlike
intelligence. It gives commands, but it does not receive any from any-
where. It prohibits and permits by itself, it decides and chooses by
itself, it becomes active and stops by itself. 
us the mouth can be
forced to be silent or to speak, and the body can be forced to bend or
stretch itself, but the heart cannot be forced to alter its opinion. If it
regards something as right, then it accepts it, and if it regards some-
thing as wrong, then it rejects it. 
erefore I say: 
e heart is free and
unobstructed in its choices. It sees all things for itself. And although
its objects are complex and manifold, in its innermost essence it is
undivided itself.
Nonetheless, the heart when properly cultivated will not be capricious or
arbitrary: what it will discern is the true Way, and the rituals
that em-
body it„ it will not stray from the examples of the Sage Kings: Ritual is the
ridgepole of the Way of Humanity.Ž

I have not emphasized the more authoritarian side of
his willingness
to use punishments in an age when government by ritual alone seemed unre-
alistic, his willingness even to compromise with less than noble rulers if they
will be better than the worst at the time. We cannot forget that two of the
greatest Legalists, Han Fei and Li Si, were his students, however much they
betrayed both the letter and the spirit of his teaching. And the idea that for
Xunzi morality does not arise from within but can only be imposed from
without, a half- truth as we have seen, is generally considered conservative.Ž
Nonetheless Xunzi uttered or a$
rmed some of the most radical ideas to
be found anywhere in early Chinese thought; above all: Follow the Dao and
not the ruler, follow justice and not the father.Ž

Given the heavy emphasis
on obedience to rulers and fathers in imperial Confucianism, with the re-
quirement that one remonstrate but never disobey when one di
ers from
such superiors, this short sentence seems almost revolutionary.

hierarchical relation of central importance in the Confucian tradition is that
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
cause earthquakes and other natural disasters; indeed, Xunzi insists that
human portentsŽ„ such as evil government that leads to untended “
and people dying by the roadside„ that are the real portents of the fall of
states. Here we see a rejection of what Max Weber would call magic, but not
necessarily the emergence of a secularŽ view of nature. 
e triad of Heaven,
Earth, and man suggests a cosmological resonance, so that when human
airs are in order, this is in accordance with Heaven:
When the work of Heaven has been established and its accomplish-
ments brought to completion, when the form of man is whole and his
spirit is born, then love and hate, delight and anger, sorrow and joy “
lodging in him. 
ese are called his heavenly emotions. Ears, eyes,
nose, mouth, and body all have that which they perceive, but they can-
not substitute for one another. 
ey are called the heavenly faculties.
e heart [
] dwells in the center and governs the “
ve faculties, and
hence it is called the heavenly lord.
It would seem that just as Heaven is Lord of the cosmos and the king is lord
of the state, so the heart/mind is the (heavenly) lord of the bodily faculties.
Here we have a resonance that is not magical but, in the Chinese context, is
surely religious.
ere are moments when Xunzi seems to think of the
as calculating,
weighing, and seeing that disorder is harmful to human beings and order
cial; so that establishing the moral order is a way of overcoming anar-
chy and violence, and thus a utilitarian good. But at a deeper level Xunzi
rather clearly assumes that morality is a good in itself, is the very essence of
our humanity:
Fire and water possess energy [
] but are without life [
]. Grass and
trees have life but no consciousness [
]. Birds and beasts have con-
sciousness but no sense of duty [
]. Man possesses energy, life, con-
sciousness, and in addition a sense of duty. 
erefore he is the noblest
being on earth.
For the gentleman, the moral man, there is no calculation of self- interest,
only a deep commitment to doing what is right
( yi):
When justice [
] is at stake, not to bow ones head before power and
look after ones own bene“
t, and not to change ones convictions even if
it is to be called uni“
ed„ not letting one of them interfere with another
is called being uni“
e heart when sleeping dreams, when idling
takes its own course, when employed makes plans, so never ceases to
move, yet something in it is to be called still„ not letting dream and
play disorder knowledge is called being still.
is passage could be seen as an attempt to understand the wonderful
capacity of the mind, and Nivison suggests that
in Xunzi is
not mind- heart,Ž
yet Graham still translates
here as heart„ maybe
we can never be sure that
means only one end of the heart… mind
e mind, in another meta phor with a long history, is, for Xunzi, like still
water: it can re”
ect reality perfectly and can lead us to morality. But water is
easily disturbed, so the mind is not an infallible instrument„ only the prop-
erly trained mind will lead us in the right direction.
Xunzi exalts the Sage
Kings, Yao, Shun and Yu, but particularly the later kings,Ž the found ers of the
Zhou dynasty, because we know most about them, as the ones who got things
right and whose example remains true for all time. We might think, then, that
the sages were some kind of extraordinary beings, di
erent, somehow, from
ordinary humans, yet Xunzi is at pains to disabuse us of that idea:
e man in the street can become a Yu . . . If the man in the street ap-
plies himself to training and study, concentrates his mind and will, and
considers and examines things carefully, continuing his e
orts over a
long period of time and accumulating good acts without stop, then he
can achieve a godlike understanding and form a triad with Heaven and
e sage is a man who has arrived where he has through the ac-
cumulation of good acts.
It would seem that anyone who uses his mind properly, and doesnt rely on
his inborn feelings, his nature
as Mencius thought, would, with suf-
cient long- term e
ort, become a sage, a moral exemplar. And yet how do
godlike understandingŽ and forming a triad with Heaven and EarthŽ sud-
denly get into it?
Just as there is a problem with translating
as heartŽ or mind,Ž there is
a problem of translating
as HeavenŽ or Nature.Ž In his Discourse on
(book 17), Xunzi is at pains to di
erentiate what we would call
natural events from human moral norms. 
at is, evil rulers do not necessarily
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
because the idea of radical evil was absent in ancient China„ arises from his
sense that our nature consists primarily of numerous and insatiable desires,
and that without government, something like the Hobbesian war of all
against all would result as each attempted to satisfy his desires at the expense
of others. Perhaps in the harsh conditions of the third century, Menciuss
modest idea that human nature contained, along with numerous desires, at
least the beginnings of moral impulses, seemed too optimistic to Xunzi. For
him, external discipline was the secret to the development of morality, but
for him, too, something internal must understand and want such discipline.
It was Xunzis rejection of Menciuss idea that human nature is goodŽ
that probably did more harm to his long- term reputation than anything else,
and a vast literature has grown up around this issue, both in China and
among Western scholars. Here I can only seek to understand Xunzis posi-
tion without entering the full complexity of the controversy.
e funda-
mental problem in understanding Xunzis position is how, if our nature is
bad,Ž anyone ever became virtuous in the “
rst place. In his own terms,
Mencius has the same problem, because if the moral impulses, left untended,
will quickly wither away, who, then, will be motivated to tend them? 
answer, in both cases, is the heart or heart/mind
but this answer raises
new questions. For Mencius the heart seems to be the source of moral intu-
itions that have the power to nurture the moral impulses of human nature
until they produce, through self- cultivation, a genuinely moral person, a
or gentleman, who in turn can instruct others. We saw that he drew,
perhaps, from the proto- Daoist
for this idea.
A. C. Graham argues that Xunzis idea of the heart is indebted to
Zhuangzi, except that in its depth it has a moral intuition that Zhuangzi did
not observe. He quotes from book 21 of the
How does man know the Way? By the heart. How does the heart
know? By being empty, uni“
ed and still. 
e heart never ceases to store,
yet something in it is to be called empty; to be multiple, yet something
in it is to be called uni“
ed; to move, yet something in it is to be called
still. From birth man has knowledge, and in knowledge there is mem-
ory; memoryŽ is storing, yet something in it is to be called empty„
not letting the already stored interfere with the about- to- be- received is
called being empty. From birth the heart has knowledge, and in knowl-
edge there is di
erence; of the di
erentŽ it knows each at the same
time, and it knows each at the same time is multiple, yet something in
ideas in such coherently reasoned essays.Ž
Chronologically Xunzi brings
the Warring States period to a close: one conjectural set of dates has him
born in 310, possibly the year of Menciuss death, and dying in 215, six years
after the Qin uni“
cation of the empire. As Menciuss life spanned most of
the fourth century, Xunzis spanned most of the third.
e social conditions that Xunzi faced in the third century were, if any-
thing, even worse than those that Mencius faced in the fourth, and he con-
tinues the tradition of sharp social criticism. Even though his conception of
social order is hierarchical, with great emphasis on the obligations of inferi-
ors to superiors, and, like all Confucians, he cannot conceive of a good social
order without monarchy and the guiding hand of an ethical elite, he, like
Mencius, still takes the people as a barometer of the legitimacy of a ruler:
e ignorant are permitted to instruct the wise; the unworthy are per-
mitted to oversee the worthy. 
e life provided the people is impover-
ished and oppressive. 
eir obligatory ser vice is toilsome and bitter. It is
for this reason that the Hundred Clans [the people] consider their rul-
ers as base as a witch and hate him as they do ghosts. Each day they
hope to detect any opportunity to band together to overthrow him and
ultimately to drive him into exile.
It is the rulers insatiable and ravenous appetite constantly to desire the pos-
sessions of othersŽ that results in oppressive taxation of the people, their im-
pressment to build his lavish palaces and gardens, and their conscription to
ght in his wars, and the consequent endangerment of his state.
For one
who desires safety, the best thing for him to do is to govern fairly and love
the people.Ž It is these considerations that lead Xunzi to quote an old text,Ž
which says, 
e ruler is the boat and the common people are the water. It is
the water that bears the boat up, and it is the water that capsizes it.Ž
Xunzi, no more than any other early Chinese thinker, concludes from
the idea that the people are basic and the ruler is legitimate only if he cares
for them, that what is needed is a new institutional order in which the
people would have a say in their own government. 
e Daoists toy with the
idea of no government at all, but the only practical way of following that
prescription would be to withdraw from society and become a hermit. Xunzi
and other Confucians thought that the idea of the people governing them-
selves could only be a prescription for anarchy. For Xunzi the idea that hu-
man nature
(xing )
is evil„ perhaps better translated as human nature is bad,
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
cut the woods down, and the mountain has lost its beauty. Yet even so,
the day air and the night air came to it, rain and dew moistened it till
here and there fresh sprouts began to grow. But soon cattle and sheep
came along and browsed on them, and in the end the mountain became
gaunt and bare, as it is now. And seeing it thus gaunt and bare people
imagine that it was woodless from the start. Now just as the natural state
of the mountain was quite di
erent from what now appears, so too in
every man (little though they may be apparent) there assuredly were
once feelings of decency and kindness; and if these good feelings are no
longer there, it is that they have been tampered with, hewn down with
axe and bill. As each day dawns they are assailed anew. What chance
then has our nature, any more than that mountain, of keeping its
beauty? To us, too, comes the air of day, the air of night. Just at dawn,
indeed, we have for a moment and in a certain degree a mood in which
our promptings and aversions come near to being such as are proper to
men. But something is sure to happen before the morning is over, by
which these better feelings are ru%
ed or destroyed. And in the end,
when they have been ru%
ed again and again, the night air is no longer
able to preserve them, and soon our feelings are as near as may be to
those of beasts and birds; so that anyone might make the same mistake
about us as about the mountain, and think that there was never any
good in us from the very start. Yet assuredly our present state of feeling
is not what we begin with. Truly,
If rightly tended, no creature but thrives;
If left untended, no creature but pines away.Ž
Xunzi is the third great Confucian thinker of the Warring States period,
ranking with Confucius and Mencius, even if his reputation has su
more ups and downs than theirs. 
e relatively well- preserved book that goes
by his name di
ers from that of his great Confucian pre de ces sors in that it is
primarily a collection, not of anecdotes and dialogues, but of well- reasoned
essays„ covering the major issues of Warring States thought and staking out
his own position in critical response to most of the other major thinkers of
the period. David Nivison says that he is the “
rst phi los o pher in China who
could be described as academic in the modern sense,Ž and A. C. Graham
says that no other pre- Han thinker has or ga nized the full range of his basic
a kind of self- cultivation that, though clearly related to that of the
linked to morality in a way absent in that text. And for Mencius, the heart is
the source of moral feelings, capable of discrimination if properly developed,
and thus includes what we would think of as mind as well as heart, although
it is moral, not primarily cognitive, intelligence that is at issue here. 
e point
then is that, though everyone has the potentiality to develop an advanced
moral consciousness, only the hard work of moral self- cultivation is likely to
succeed in realizing it. Ordinary people, pressed by the needs of survival,
have the moral instincts but lack the time and energy to develop them fully.
us, if a virtuous ruler should arise and radiate his virtue,Ž
in its ar-
chaic sense of almost physical energy, then the people can respond. Other-
wise it is the gentleman, who can persist in virtue through prosperity and
poverty, who is its keeper.
roughout the discussion of central moral issues there is a recurrent ref-
erence to Heaven in Mencius. Such references are also to be found in Daoist
texts, where they are often assumed to have become simply another way of
referring to nature, or perhaps Nature. In Confucianism generally, but surely
in Mencius, though naturalizing tendencies are not absent, a theistic element
is “
rmly present.
A key passage is this:
Mencius said, For a man to give full realization to his heart is for him
to understand his nature, and a man who knows his own nature will
know Heaven. By maintaining a “
rm hold on his heart and nurturing
his nature he serves Heaven. Whether he is going to die young or live to
a ripe old age makes no di
erence to his steadfastness of purpose. It is
through awaiting what ever is to befall him with a perfected character
that he stands “
rm in his proper destiny.Ž
Mencius was prepared to accept the verdict of Heaven as to when a new
and better age might dawn, an age where a virtuous king, or one capable of
accepting the advice of virtuous advisors, would unify the realm and bring a
better life, material and moral, to the people. Such was not to be the way that
cation would actually come, but the ideal that Mencius stood for would
never subsequently be forgotten. To sum up his teaching, I will quote what is
perhaps the most famous passage in the
and in its “
nest translation,
that of Arthur Waley:
e Bull Mountain was once covered with lovely trees. But it is near the
capital of a great State. People came with their axes and choppers; they
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
us although Mencius believes the people have the last word„ indeed,
he expresses a version of
vox populi, vox dei,
as when he quotes the
Heaven sees with the eyes of the people. Heaven hears with the ears
of the people,Ž
and is thus in some sense legitimately seen as a populist„ he
nonetheless believes “
rmly in the existence of an elite of virtue. Let us con-
sider more closely how he can hold both beliefs.
Mencius is famous for arguing that human nature is good, particularly in
contrast to Xunzi, who is said to believe that human nature is evil. 
is is a
complex issue with a long history of argument that I need not explore at
length in this chapter.
What is clear is that Mencius believed that everyone
has the beginningsŽ of virtue by nature, along with a lot of other begin-
nings that may not turn out to be virtuous. As A. C. Graham has pointed
out, what the Chinese meant by natureŽ [
] is not exactly what we mean
by inborn nature,Ž but rather the potentiality for development over the life
So here the goodnessŽ of human nature consists in the fact that
everyone has the potentiality for the development of the primary human vir-
tues if they are properly nurtured. In the famous passage where he describes
the universal presence of moral possibilities, he begins, No man is devoid of
a heart sensitive to the su
erings of others.Ž
Because heartŽ
is a key
term in Menciuss moral psychology, let us examine it further, as it is the key
to a better understanding of Menciuss argument.
We have already seen that heartŽ is a key term in the proto- Daoist
which is a chapter in the collective work
that is believed to have been
produced by a group of scholars in the state of Qi in the fourth century and
later. Mencius spent some time late in the fourth century at what is known as
the Jixia Academy in Qi, the perhaps overly pretentious name for this group,
and there is internal evidence that Mencius read the
because some
fairly technical terms were common between them. 
unlike the
and the
lacks any polemical attack on Confucianism.
Graham speculates that the
may, therefore, date from a period be-
fore the split between Confucianism and Daoism had become clear. In short,
Mencius may have advocated methods of self- cultivation not too di
from those of the progenitors of Daoism.
In par tic u lar, Mencius discusses the cultivation of
the vital energy that
is the source of our possibility of moral action, using a term that is almost
identical with a term in the
„ namely, ”
oodlikeŽ or vastŽ qi
(hao ran
zhi qi),
which, when properly nourished, will “
ll the space between Heaven
and Earth.Ž
Such extraordinary
says Mencius, is born of accumulated
rightness [
],Ž the standard of which is set in ones heart.Ž
Here we have
e idea that an evil king is not a king, and so killing him is not regicide, is
not unique to ancient China, but it is not an archaic idea. Mencius, how-
ever, is not preaching revolution, even though the implications of his teach-
ing were revolutionary enough to lead some later leaders, not only in China
but also in Japan, to expurgate the o
ending passages in his text. His advice
to advisors of unjust rulers is to withdraw from ser vice if possible, and if
not, to do what they can to mitigate the rulers evil intentions. But the
populist side of Mencius makes it clear that in the long run it is the people
who decide:
e people are of supreme importance; the altars to the gods of earth
and grain come next; last comes the ruler. 
at is why he who gains the
dence of the multitudinous people will be the Son of Heaven.
In Menciuss nonviolent view, an evil ruler will simply be abandoned rather
than overthrown because the people will turn to a good ruler like water
owing downwards with a tremendous force,Ž as we saw above.
It is Menciuss clear elevation of a moral standard above the existing po liti-
cal status quo that makes him exemplary of the axial turn in ancient China.
Without abandoning the courtesies that po liti cal hierarchy demands, he
nonetheless places the true gentleman above any ruler when it comes to vir-
tue. Mencius recounts approvingly the response of Zisi, the grandson of
Confucius and perhaps a link in his own disciple lineage, to an inquiry from
Duke Mu of Lu:
Duke Mu frequently went to see Zisi. How did kings of states with a
thousand chariots in antiquity make friends with Gentlemen?Ž he
asked. Zisi was displeased. What the ancients talked about,Ž said he
was serving them, not making friends with them.Ž 
e reason for
Zisis dis plea sure was surely this. In point of position, you are the
prince and I am your subject. How dare I be friends with you? In point
of virtue, it is you who ought to serve me? How can you presume to
be friends with me?Ž
e Confucians apparently agreed with Aristotle that friendship is possible
only between equals, not between superior and inferior. Here the gentleman
provisionally accepts the dubious legitimacy of the ruler while insisting on
the superiority of his own virtue.
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
in common? What is common to all hearts? Reason and rightness. 
sage is simply the “
rst man to discover this common element in my
Nonetheless, the gentleman, due to self- cultivation, will, as we saw above,
maintain his virtuous heart in spite of hardship or adversity, whereas the
people will not have constant hearts if they are without constant means.Ž
It is the responsibility of the ruler, and of the gentleman in so far as he is an
ective advisor to a ruler, to assure the people of constant means.Ž 
Mencius attacks the rapacious ruler who reduces the circumstances of the
people to misery, not only for his inhumanity, but for depriving the people of
the possibility of being virtuous.
Mencius can be as scathing in his social criticism as were the Daoists. As
he said to King Hui of Liang:
ere is fat meat in your kitchen and there are well- fed horses in your
stables, yet the people look hungry and in the outskirts of cities men
drop dead from starvation. 
is is to show animals the way to devour
men . . . If, then, one who is the father and mother to the people, in rul-
ing over them, cannot, in ruling over them, avoid showing animals the
way to devour men, wherein is he father and mother of the people?
Here Mencius tells King Hui rather bluntly that he is not a king.
Nothing angers Mencius more than the incessant warfare of the period in
which he lives and the reasons for it:
In wars to gain land, the dead “
ll the plains; in wars to gain cities, the
dead “
ll the cities. 
is is known as showing the land the way to devour
human ”
esh. Death is too light a punishment for such men.
Another time King Xuan of Qi asks Mencius, concerning Zhou, the evil last
king of the Shang dynasty killed by King Wu, whether regicide is permissi-
ble. Mencius replied:
A man who mutilates benevolence [
] is a mutilator, while one who
cripples rightness [
] is a crippler. He who is both a mutilator and a
crippler is an outcast.Ž I have indeed heard of the punishment of the
outcast Zhou,Ž but I have not heard of any regicide.
is is one time; that was another time. Every “
ve hundred years a true
King should arise, and in the interval there should arise one from whom an
age takes its name. From Zhou to the present, it is over seven hundred
e “
ve hundred mark is passed; the time seems ripe. It must be
that Heaven does not as yet wish to bring peace to the world. If it did, who
is there in the present time other than me? Why should I be unhappy?Ž

As Schwartz makes clear, Mencius did not think he or Confucius could ac-
tually become the Son of Heaven unless appointed by a sage king, as Shun
had been chosen by Yao. But in their exalted conception of the virtuous
minister,Ž each could have been the mentor of such a king.

One should note
that, by Menciuss count, Confucius lived at the appropriate 500- year mark,
and he himself at the overdue 700- year mark. 
ey thus had the aura of the
savior king about them, even if Heaven had decided the time was not ripe.
Although his po liti cal intent was central to his vocation, po liti cal disap-
pointment did not deter him from the equally Confucian concern for self-
cultivation. In the end, what one would achieve in the world was up to
Heaven, but what kind of person one would become was up to the individ-
ual. He expresses his position succinctly as follows:
Extensive territory and a vast population„ the gentleman may desire
this, but his [true] delight is not here. To stand in the center of the em-
pire, to bring peace to the people within the four seas„ the gentleman
may delight in this, but what makes up his nature is not here. What the
gentleman has as his true nature cannot be added to even by the great-
est deed [rulership] and cannot be diminished even by dwelling in
is is because he is certain about his task. What the gentle-
man has as his true nature„ humaneness [
], justice [
], ritual [li],
and wisdom [
]„ is rooted in his heart [
Mencius shows a surprising blend of elitism and pop u lism. What is rooted
in the heartŽ of the gentleman, the four primary virtues„ humaneness
( yi),
and the knowledge of good and evil
„ have at
least the beginnings, as we will see below, in everyones heart. Human nature
is fundamentally common to all:
All palates have the same preference in taste; all ears in sound; all eyes
in beauty. Should hearts prove to be an exception by possessing nothing
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
ethic would go together. As Benjamin Schwartz puts it, Mencius shared with
many of his contemporaries an apocalyptic expectation that the time is ripe
for a restoration of the

Although Mencius did not think much of the feudal lords of his day, he
was always seeking one who, under his tutelage, could become virtuous
enough to bring order to the world. 
e following account shows what Men-
cius was looking for.
Mencius saw King Xiang of Liang. Coming away, he said to someone,
When I saw him at a distance he did not look like a ruler of men and
when I went close to him I did not see anything that recommended re-
spect. Abruptly he asked me, How can the world be settled?
By uni“
cation, I said.
Who can unite it?
One who is not fond of killing can unite it, I said.
Who can give it to him?
No one in the world will refuse to give it to him. Does your majesty
not know about young rice plants? Should there be a drought in the
seventh or eighth month, these plants will wilt. If clouds begin to
gather in the sky and rain comes pouring down, then the plants will
spring up again. 
is being the case, who can stop it? Now in the world
among the shepherds of men there is not one who is not fond of killing.
If there is one who is not, then the people of the world will crane their
necks to watch for his coming. 
is being truly the case, the people will
turn to him like water ”
owing downwards with a tremendous force.
Who can stop it.? Ž
In this passage, with its vivid imagery, Mencius does indeed strike an apoca-
lyptic note.
It is also clear that Mencius had an extraordinary sense of his own voca-
tion at this critical moment in history. As we will see, he, like Confucius, felt
called by Heaven, but he, also like Confucius, felt thwarted by Heaven. It
was his task to accept Heavens decrees, though not necessarily happily, as is
suggested in the following passage:
When Mencius left Qi, on the way Chongyou asked, Master, you look
somewhat unhappy. I heard from you the other day that a gentleman
reproaches neither Heaven nor man.Ž
It is in this way that the Legalists opposed the Confucian use of the old to
criticize the present, and preferred a DaoistŽ responsiveness, leavened by a
little economic determinism, instead.
But the third type of Daoism, the Syncretist, mentioned early in this sec-
tion, did not consist of a union of Daoism and Legalism. 
e rapid collapse
of the Qin dynasty after its remarkable uni“
cation of the whole country,
forever tainted that ideological option. Somehow a moral basis of rule was
necessary after all, and though Han Syncretism included Daoism and Legal-
ism to be sure, Confucianism now became an essential and increasingly
dominant element, as is already evident in the early Han Syncretist work,

Mencius„in Chinese, Mengzi„ is one of only two Chinese thinkers whose
names have been conventionally Latinized, the other being Confucius. Such
is a mea sure of his importance. 
written by Mencius with addi-
tions by his disciples, belongs together with the
as a basic text in the
Confucian tradition. Like the
it consists largely of anecdotes and
conversations, but the selections are considerably longer than those in the
and, though the book is in no sense a continuous philosophical
treatise, arguments are more fully developed than those in the earlier book.
Although Confucius and his teachings are the indispensable starting points
for him, Mencius was born close to a century after Confucius died (Men-
ciuss dates are uncertain but are usually thought to be about 390… 310 ),
and the world of thought to which he was responding was richer and more
complex than that which Confucius faced. 
us many teachings that we
take for granted as Confucian were actually added by Mencius.
It is fair to say that Mencius took Confucius as his role model. Mencius too
was an itinerant teacher, trying to persuade feudal lords, or quasi- illegitimately
self- styled kings,Ž to put his teachings into practice, accompanied by a
group of students as Confucius had been. But whereas Confucius still hoped
for a rejuvenation of the Zhou dynasty, Mencius had given up hope for that
possibility and, in accordance with the spirit of his age, began to look for-
ward to a new dispensation, one in which Heaven would give the mandate to
a new ruler who would bring about the just society for which Confucius
hoped. In accordance with ideas about earlier dynasties, the new regime would
unite the whole world under one ruler„ a universal ruler and a universal
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
holds to the source, and the four quarters come to serve him. In empti-
ness he awaits them, and they come to serve him as needed.
And again:
is is the way to listen to the words of others: Be silent as in a drunken
stupor. Say to your self: Lips& Teeth& Do not be the “
rst to move . . . If
you show delight, your troubles will multiply; if you show hatred, re-
sentment will be born. 
erefore discard both delight and hatred, and
with an empty mind become the abode of the Way.
e third chapter of the
would seem to be all too compatible
with Legalism:
erefore in governing the people, the sage empties their minds but “
their bellies, weakens their wills but strengthens their bones. He always
keeps them innocent of knowledge and free from desire, and ensures
that the clever never dare to act.
Do that which consists in taking no action, and order will prevail.

It seems that what links Daoism and Legalism is an opposition to moral-
ism; the danger is that together they reject morality. Into the vacuum of
Daoist Primitivism comes the centralized power of the Legalist state. And
the Legalists have their own explanation of why government by virtue no
longer works. In ancient times people were few and resources plentiful; today
people are many and resources few. What required little government then
requires harsh punishments today:
Hence, when men of ancient times made light of material goods, it was
not because they were benevolent, but because there was a surplus of
goods; and when men quarrel and snatch today, it is not because they
are vicious, but because goods have become scarce . . .
When the sage rules, he takes into consideration the quantity of things
and deliberates on scarcity and plenty. 
ough his punishments may be
light, this is not due to his compassion; though his penalties may be
severe, this is not because he is cruel, he simply follows the custom ap-
propriate to the time. Circumstances change according to the age, and
ways of dealing with them change with the circumstances.

Schwartz argues that one early legalist, Shen Buhai, developed a theory of
bureaucracy, and that the emergence of a theory of bureaucracy is a most
cant event in the world history of sociopo liti cal thought.Ž

e late
Warring States “
gure Han Fei, whose work, the
summed up the
Legalist teaching, remained, in spite of protests against his immorality, of
perennial interest to later generations.
e teaching that gives the school its name was its emphasis on law, on re-
wards and punishment, but especially punishments, as the key to e
ective gov-
is emphasis put the Legalists at odds with the Confucians, who
believed that rule by punishments was a symptom of the failure of rule by virtu-
ous example, and, one would have thought, at odds with Daoists as well. Legal-
ist teaching was entirely oriented to the ruler and consisted largely of advice as to
how a ruler could obtain and increase power. It is this narrow focus that makes
Legalism marginal in this chapter, and it is the link to Daoism that explains why
a discussion of it occurs only at the end of the discussion of Daoism.
No one has put more succinctly the parallels between Daoism and what
he calls Realism than Arthur Waley:
With Daoism Realism has a very real and close connection. Both doc-
trines reject the appeal to tradition, to the way of the Former Kings, upon
which the whole curriculum of the Confucians was based . . . Both con-
demn book learning and would have the people kept dull and stupid,Ž
incurious of all that lies beyond their own village and home. Even the
mystical doctrine of
wu- wei,
the Non- activity of the ruler by which every-
thing is activated, “
nds a non- mystical counterpart in Realism. When
every requirement of the ruler has been embodied in law and the penalties
for disobedience have been made so heavy that no one dares to incur
them, the Realist ruler can sink deep into his cushions and enjoy himself;
everythingŽ ( just as in Daoism) will happen of its own accord.Ž
Waley goes on to point out that major Legalist/Realist texts, such as the
often use Daoist imagery and, though very critical of other schools,
especially the Confucians, seldom have anything negative to say about the
Daoists. For an example of Legalist Daoism, we might look at a couple of
passages from the Wielding PowerŽ chapter of the
Do not let your power be seen; be blank and actionless. Government
reaches to the four quarters, but its source is in the center. 
e sage
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
e granaries are empty;
Yet some wear elegant clothes;
Fine swords dangle at their sides;
ey are stu
ed with food and drink;
And possess wealth in gross abundance.
is is known as taking pride in robbery.
Far is this from the Way&
Both the
and the
are well aware of the cost of warfare to
ordinary people:
Where troops have encamped
ere will brambles grow;
In the wake of a mighty army
Bad harvests follow without fail.

Sharp as these criticisms are, they do not lead to any proposals of reform.
Rather, these bad conditions are merely symptoms of how far society has
fallen from its original form.
In the light of these criticisms of the rulers of the warring states, it is not
only a shock but rather strange to learn that there was a relationship between
Daoism and Legalism from the earliest times.

What could be more ma-
nipulative and domineering than the technology of tyranny that the Legalists
developed? Legalism consists largely of recipes for enhancing po liti cal and
military power, but without any moral foundation. At best, in a bad scene,
the Legalists (Arthur Waley called them RealistsŽ)

could say that tyranny
is better than anarchy. Yet when the Legalists did toy with the idea of an over-
arching cosmology, it was always Daoism to which they were attracted. Why?
First, just a word about Legalism, to which I have referred, but which I
have not de“
ned. As usual in early Chinese thought, the term LegalismŽ
covers a number of thinkers and texts that di
er between themselves. As Bur-
ton Watson puts it, Legalist texts belong to a genre of technical literature
that is only marginally philosophical. 
ey are instruction manuals along
with treatises on divination, medicine, agriculture, logic, military science,
and so forth.Ž

In terms of the axial problem, Legalism is certainly an ex-
ample of a rather advanced rationalism„ as Benjamin Schwartz says, instru-
mental rationalismŽ in the Weberian sense, oriented to the enrichment of the
state and the strengthening of its military capacity,Ž as one Legalist put it.

In applying this idea, he says that the Zhou DaoistsŽ
can be interpreted as exemplary repre sen ta tions of Kohlbergs Stage
e gesture of exposing moralism, the nonconformist symbol-
ism . . . the rejection of conventional compulsion and the emphasis on
individual life„ all this “
ts well with the stage of youthful protest . . .
More than any other school, the Daoists personify the adolescent crisis
in Chinese society . . . And even if today the unembarrassed frankness
of the Daoists, much more than the sedate earnestness of most Confu-
cians, appeals to us, it is probably because it evokes reminiscences of the
naive spontaneity of childhood.

Roetz does give credit to one aspect of Daoist ethics, not the least impor-
tant today: Daoist naturalism undoubtedly contains the idea of universal-
at this universalism is not discursively mediated has one advantage:
not solely the members of the linguistic community, but everything belong-
ing to nature, also that which cannot speak, a priori falls within its range.
Ethics is macroethics from the beginning.Ž
But it is the very naturalismŽ
of Daoist thought, its emphasis on the
as inactiveŽ
and nature
as everything happening by itselfŽ
that disables Daoism from telling
us how to act, even though it tells us a lot about how not to act. If in nature
everything is perfect as it is, then returning to nature is all we have to do.
Among other things there is a remarkable absence in Daoist thought of the
dark side of nature, of the fact that aggression and dominance are as natural
as their opposites. In these ways Daoism is postconventional, but o
ers us no
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
erefore when the way is lost, virtue
appears; when virtue is lost,
appears; when benevolence is lost, propriety
pears; when propriety is lost, ritual
appears. Ritual is the husk of
loyalty and trustworthiness, the way of calamity.

It would seem that the Daoist rejection of conventional beliefs and com-
plex culture includes a rejection of the normative order as well, because in
the ideal Daoist society everything operates without doingŽ
like the
by itselfŽ
ings will naturallyŽ run well without
the need of interference, and the ideal ruler will rule by not ruling. One
might argue that there is indeed a Daoist moral order, even a feminist moral
order, of gentleness and yielding in place of aggression and interference, but
gentleness in the end is not recommended because it is good or right but
because it works.Ž D. C. Lau, in his introduction to his translation of the
suggests that the book is best interpreted as a survival manualŽ
for harsh times: one should make oneself small and scarce to stay out of
At best this is a teaching for untroubled idlersŽ or isolated villag-
ers, for those seeking to avoid the society that actually existed, not for its
reform. Of course an almost antinomian ethic of the sort the
implies is perennially attractive, and only contributes to the lasting popu-
larity of the text.
Heiner Roetz, however, o
ers an interesting interpretation in terms of
Kohlbergs scheme with which he evaluates early Chinese thought.
ough I “ nd his interpretation in many ways problematic and at best
suggestive, it is still worth considering. Roetz argues that Daoism as rep-
resented by the
and the
“ rmly rejected conventional
moralityŽ (Kohlbergs stages 3 and 4), but did not securely reach post-
conventional morality,Ž as represented in stages 5 and 6. Instead, it could
be said to have attained a stage 4
, which he describes, following Kohl-
berg, as:
e stage of anything goes,Ž the phase of youthful protest. What is
right is a question of arbitrary subjective decision. 
is stage is charac-
terized by a radical rejection of the alienated conventionalism of Level
B [conventional morality] and the recourse to the naïve plea sure prin-
ciple of Level A [preconventional morality]. Instead of new normative
rules, this stage proclaims a provocative beyond good and evil.Ž It is
postconventional but not yet principled.

Whereas Confucians criticized the behavior of the ruling class and tried
to convince the rulers of the day to follow the example of the ancient kings,
engages in a frontal assault on contemporary cultural assump-
tions, such as that the high is better than the low, men are superior to women,
and so on, assumptions held not only by the ancient Chinese but by most of
the worlds cultures. It is this assault, purveyed in vivid meta phors and images
of which I have only been able to give a very few, that has appealed to readers
for a long time in China and in recent years to readers all over the world.
Daoist Primitivism
As we have already seen in the
the assault on the commonsense
understanding of reality was conducive to a sense that things were better in
the beginning, when humans lived the same as birds and beasts,Ž a horrify-
ing idea for Confucians. 
is preference for simpler days, which has been
called Daoist Primitivism, is nowhere better exempli“ ed than in chapter 53
of the
Reduce the size and population of the state. Ensure that even though
the people have tools of war . . . they will not use them . . .
Even when they have ships and carts, they will have no use for them;
and even when they have armour and weapons, they will have no occa-
sion to make a show of them.
Bring it about that the people will return to the use of knotted rope
[instead of writing],
Will “
nd relish in their food
And beauty in their clothes.
And will be content in their abode
And happy in the way they live.
ough adjoining states are within sight of one another, and the
sound of dogs barking and cocks crowing in one state can be heard in
another, yet the people of one state will grow old and die without hav-
ing had any dealings with those of another.

In what is almost as extreme a rejection of culture as in the
sage, it is clear that the Confucian virtues, the hu$
ng and pu$
ng about
benevolence and righ teousness,Ž as Zhuangzi put it, would come in for the
same treatment. Indeed that is the case, as we “
nd in chapter 38:
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
Know the male
But keep to the female
And be a river to the world.
If you are a river to the world
en the constant virtue will not desert you
And you will again return to being a babe.
e baby, like the woman, seems weak but is really strong. Both are closer to
the source than the man or the adult, are closer to the root, another meta-
phor in our “
rst example, chapter 6. 
e root might seem insigni“
dirty, hidden„ when compared to the mature plant, but it is the source of
the plants life, it is the essential; it seems not to be doing anything, yet it
does everything.
ere is a debate over whether the
can be called quietist,Ž but
the essential point is that in the end what prevails is quiet, not bluster and
force. It is in this way that the negativityŽ of the
is to be under-
stood, that is, its identi“
cation of the
with NothingŽ: it is from Noth-
ing that Something comes:
Turning back is how the way moves;
Weakness is the means the way employs
e myriad creatures of the world are born from Something,
and Something from Nothing.

And it is in this context that we must understand
in the
e “
rst line of chapter 37: 
e Dao does nothing
and nothing
remains undone,Ž or, more literally, Nothing doing; nothing not done.Ž
Michael LaFargue is the one scholar who has tried to give a social context
for the teaching of the
He believes that the teaching arose among
a group of 
- idealists,Ž using the word
as we have seen, to designate a
group that descended from the lowest rank of the nobility but had come to
mean o$
cials, or just educated people, in the Warring States period.

idealists among the
were those concerned with the state of society and
with their own moral integrity. Under the harsh conditions of the Warring
States, many of the
though they were by vocation trained for o$
cial ser-
vice, were unemployed or underemployed and had become disillusioned
with the current po liti cal situation. 
ey did not turn to rebellion, but they
did turn to criticism.
Let us look at some of the individual terms that appear in this short chap-
ter, as they provide an entry into the rich world of images and meta phors
that pervade the
We can brie”
y note that the word all three trans-
lators translate as spiritŽ is the ancient word for minor divinities,
as in
ghosts and gods,Ž
which we commented on in the discussion of
Moeller argues that here spiritŽ is impersonal and implies a kind
of virtue, strength or power, like, lets say, the American spirit. Ž

at may
be true, but the resonance with older ideas of divinity has survived, because
the graph
even up to the present, has never lost that reference.
With the term valley,Ž we are already in the heart of
As Waley puts it, 
e valleys, then, are nearer to
 than the hills; and in
the whole of creation it is the negative, passive, female element alone that has
access to
which can only be mirrored in a still pool. Ž

It is the lowness
of valleys to which the water comes, creating rivers that eventually run into
the great water, the sea. And water itself is another central image; as chapter
8 puts it: Highest good is like water. Because water excels in bene“
ting the
myriad creatures without contending with them and settles where none
would like to be, it comes close to the way.Ž
It is the relative formlessness of
the valley as compared to the mountains that makes it an e
ective image.
Chapter 15 links it to another whole set of related images:
Falling apart like thawing ice;
ick like the uncarved block;
Vacant like a valley;
Murky like muddy water.
Who can be muddy and yet, settling, slowly become limpid?
Who can be at rest and yet, stirring, slowly come to life?
He who holds fast to this way
Desires not to be full.
awing ice, uncarved wood, an empty valley, and muddy water are all ap-
parently formless, and, in the eyes of the world, worthless, yet it is through
these that the way is attained.
e meta phors of the
build up a complex of paradoxes in which
what seems weak overcomes what seems strong. Nowhere is this more evi-
dent than in the exaltation of the feminine; chapter 61, for instance, as-
serts: 
e female overcomes the male / by constant stillness.Ž
And in
chapter 28:
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
Within the constraints of this chapter, I can give the reader only a hint of the
richness and complexity of the original.
Moeller starts his examination of the text with the short chapter 6, in part
because it contains so many central images. As one of the darker,Ž more
mysterious passages, this chapter has attracted the attention of other transla-
tors. Let us start with Moellers translation:
e spirit [
] of the valley does not die„
is is called dark femininity.
e gate of dark femininity„
is is called: root of heaven and earth.
How ongoing&
As if it were existent.
In its use inexhaustible.
D. C. Laus translation is not very di
erent, yet suggests how the use of dif-
ferent En glish words can change the overall impression:
e spirit of the valley never dies,
is is called the mysterious female.
e gateway of the mysterious female
Is called the root of heaven and earth.
Dimly visible, it seems as if it were there,
Yet use will never drain it.

Arthur Waley translates this similarly, but uses DoorwayŽ instead of gateŽ
or gateway,Ž capitalizes HeavenŽ and Earth,Ž and translates the last two
lines thus:
It [the valley spirit] is there within us all the while;
Draw upon it as you will, it never runs dry.

ese examples give only a very elementary sense of how this highly con-
densed text can be variously read by highly knowledgeable Sinologists. In
addition, Waley thinks this chapter may have circulated in de pen dently as
part of the stock of early Daoist teaching,Ž and “
nds it, or passages similar
to it, in other early Chinese texts.

Lau suggests the remote possibility that
the language used here is an echo of some primitive creation myth.Ž

e most famous of all DaoistŽ texts is surely the
written by Laozi, for whom the text is also often named. It is the most often
translated of Chinese texts and one of the most often translated texts in the
world. It is usually paired with the
and has been so from the Han
dynasty. In the Warring States period, however, it was transmitted and dis-
cussed separately from the
In spite of their, to us, similar teach-
ings, and their parallels with the
they were apparently transmitted by
erent lineages and not seen as parts of a single tradition until a consider-
ably later time.
Formally the
is closer to the
than to the
it has poetic moments but is mostly prose; it contains anecdotes
and conversations similar to, though considerably more developed than, the
Unlike the
with its continuity of argument, but similar to the
each segment of the text stands alone. If it has a consistent teaching,
it is built up from a variety of insights from various points of view, not by
sustained argument. Like almost all early Chinese texts, with the exception
of the
and possibly the
it is hazardous to try to “
nd a systemŽ
in thought that prefers to move from insight to insight rather than through
systematic re”
In these respects, the
is similar to the
but in other
ways it is quite di
erent. For one thing, like the
it is entirely poetic; it
could even be considered one long poem, though from early on it has been
divided into two parts and 81 chapters. Rather than stories, allegories, and
parables, in which the
revels, its teaching is largely expressed in a
series of striking images or meta phors, meta phors that have become emblem-
atic of DaoismŽ throughout the world.
Hans- Georg Moeller makes the point that the
is not a bookŽ
as we think of a book, that is, writing intended to be read silently, with a
beginning, middle, and end, and remembered or forgotten as we happen to
feel. Rather, even after the text was written down, and its earliest versions
were probably oral, it was intended to be listened to, ultimately memorized„
internalized„by those for whom it was formative. Its texture is recursive
rather than linear, which means one can start anywhere and “
nd connec-
tions with everything else in the text.
In most of these regards the
is similar to the other texts treated in this chapter, indeed to many of the
texts treated in this book. But in its dense network of images and meta phors
does express a power that many readers have found unique.
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
men live the same as birds and beasts, group themselves side by side
with the ten thousand things. Who then knows anything about gen-
tlemanŽ [
] or petty manŽ [
]? Dull and unwitting, men
have no wisdom, thus their Virtue does not depart from them . . .
en along comes the sage, hu$
ng and pu$
ng after benevolence
ren], reaching on tiptoe for righ teousness [
], and the world for the
rst time has doubts.

From there it is all downhill.
Both the
and the
ne their teachings in opposition
to those of the Confucians, very much on the grounds that the latter o$
ciously interfere with the natural functioning of life by trying to regulate
people with rules and norms. Opposed to such interference, they teach
(nonaction, or Do Nothing,Ž as we saw above). Actually the term
appears in the
in a late passage cited above, and Edward Slingerland
argues that the idea, as opposed to the term, is pervasive in the
where it points, not, as in Daoism, to an original position, but to the result of
long training so that one does what one ought to do naturally,Ž without
thinking, so to speak. So nonaction is another of those terms that pervades
all of early Chinese thought, though meaning di
erent things in di

In one of his vivid parables Zhuangzi makes the case for
e story
is about Hundun, who, Hans- Georg Moeller says, had a perfect and perma-
nent life at the
of the world, but was
of personal features„ he had
no face.Ž

 e passage at the end of book 7 of the
is as follows:
e Emperor of the South Sea was Fast, the Emperor of the North Sea
was Furious, the emperor of the centre was Hundun. Fast and Furious
met from time to time in the land of Hundun, who treated them very
generously. Fast and Furious were discussing how to repay Hunduns
All men have seven holes through which they look, listen, eat,
breathe; he alone doesnt have any. Lets try boring them.Ž
Every day they tried boring one hole. On the seventh day Hundun
Moeller adds, Guo Xian comments laconically on this story:
Activism killed
him. Ž

What men are these? 
e decencies of conduct are nothing to them,
they treat the very bones of their bodies as outside them. 
ey sing with
the corpse right there at their feet, and not a change in the look on their
faces. I have no words to name them. What men are these?Ž
ey are the sort that roam beyond the guidelines,Ž said Confucius.
I am the sort that roams within the guidelines. Beyond and within have
nothing in common, and to send you to mourn was stupid on my
e three friends are surely among the untroubled idlersŽ that Zhuangzi
commended, and they shared his sense of the unity of life and death. In a
similar passage Zhuangzis friend Huishi criticized him when, after the
death of his beloved wife, he was found squatting with his knees out, drum-
ming on a pot and singing.Ž Zhuangzi explained that his wife was now
companion with spring and autumn, winter and summer, in the pro cession
of the four seasons,Ž and that she was about to lie down and sleep in the
greatest of mansions.Ž

In short, for those who roam beyond the guide-
linesŽ the formalities of mourning can be ignored. Indeed, such formalities
are a limitation, a sign of a lack of understanding of the Way. In this passage
Zhuangzi says that before we were born we were within the
after we die
we return to the
and during our life, if we only knew it, we are also
within the
so what is there to worry about?
In both the
and the
there is a strong sense that things
started out well when humans were merged with nature, but began to go
downhill when culture was invented. In a variety of forms this expresses the
Primitivist vision. Zhuangzi discusses the early human condition as a time of
what Burton Watson translates as Perfect Virtue.Ž VirtueŽ here translates
a term discussed above in the section on Confucianism. As with the term
which in Confucianism usually referred to human beliefs and
(power, potency, virtue, in Confucianism) in the Daoist texts
takes on a cosmological reference. 
us Zhuangzi says that in the earliest time,
the people have their constant inborn nature. To weave for their cloth-
ing, to till for their food„ this is the Virtue
they share.

ey are
one in it and not partisan, and it is called the Emancipation of Heaven.
erefore in a time of Perfect Virtue the gait of men is slow and am-
bling; their gaze is steady and mild. In such an age mountains have no
paths or trails, lakes no boats or bridges . . . In this age of Perfect Virtue
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
shows strong evidence of the Primitivist tendency.
is a book of
great complexity and sophistication. It pushes the idea of the Way to an ex-
treme and, in that it questions every aspect of given reality, it is clearly axial
in its meaning. Yet in its refusal to be pinned down, its tendency to speak of
the Way and then undercut the very way it speaks of the Way, it seems to be
a Chinese version of negative theology. It calls in question every given real-
ity, yet it quietly a$
rms the most mundane realities. To treat it adequately
would transgress the limits of this chapter. What I will do instead is give a
few of its many stories, allegories, parables, so that the ”
avor of the book may
perhaps lead the reader unfamiliar with it to the text itself.
If the
is a response to Confucianism, it is so silently, by its exclusive
emphasis on inner cultivation and its lack of concern for ethics or politics.
With the
(and the
) Confucius and his teaching are a
frequent reference point, a butt of humor, or a source of error. 
e following
story illustrates Zhuangzis view of death and his opposition to Confucian
teaching at the same time:
e three men, Master Sanghu, Meng Zifan and Master Qinzhang,
were talking together. Which of us can be
where there is no being
with, be
where there is no being for?
Which of us are able to climb
the sky and roam the mists and go whirling into the in“
nite, living
forgetful of each other for ever and ever?Ž
e three men looked at each other and smiled, and none was reluc-
tant in his heart. So they became friends.
After they had been living quietly for a while Master Sanghu died.
Before he was buried, Confucius heard about it and sent Zigong to as-
sist at the funeral. One of the men was plaiting frames for silkworms,
the other strumming a zither, and they sang in unison
Hey- ho, Sanghu&
Hey- ho, Sanghu&
Youve gone back to being what one truly is,
But we go on being human, O&Ž
Zigong hurried forward and asked
May I inquire whether it is in accordance with the rites to sing with
the corpse right there at your feet?Ž
e two men exchanged glances and smiled.
What does he know about the meaning of the rites?Ž
Zigong returned and told Confucius
It generates the “
ve grains below
And becomes the constellated stars above.
When ”
owing amid the heavens [
] and the earth
We call it ghostly and numinous [
When stored within the chests of human beings,
We call them sages [

In another poem, the “
fteenth in Roths edition, there is a pairing of the
the Way, with the
which Roth translates as mind,Ž often also trans-
lated as heartŽ or heart/mind,Ž and which he explains is, for the early
Chinese, the locus of the entire range of conscious experience, including
perception, thought, emotion, desire and intuition.Ž

is where the
happens,Ž as it were, at least for the individual, and is an important
term in subsequent Confucian as well as Daoist thought:
 e Way “
lls the entire world.
It is everywhere that people are,
But people are unable to understand this.
When you are released by this one word [
You reach up to the heavens above;
You stretch down to the earth below;
You pervade the nine inhabited regions.
What does it mean to be released by it?
e answer resides in the calmness of the mind [

Roth suggests that
as this one word,Ž may have functioned as a man-
tra does in Indian forms of meditation„ the word and the thing become
is concerned solely with cosmological ideas and practices of self-
cultivation, but these ideas and practices are present in all other expressions
of what can loosely be called the Daoist tradition, what ever else is added to
is a far greater book than the
and, though there are
cant parallels in contents, it is a very di
erent book.
Like the
it is very much concerned with inner cultivation, but like the
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
Brooks in holding that the transition from oral to literate took place approxi-
mately in the middle of the fourth century , which may indicate a rough
date for this text.

If the text is indeed this early, the technical vocabulary
concerning cosmology and mystical practice may have been just developing,
so that we need to be careful not to read into it later meanings of some key
Without getting into too many technical details, we need to consider
three important terms and their relation to the central term,
itself. Self-
cultivation is concerned with three aspects of the cosmos in which humans
e “
rst is
a term so basic but so foreign to Western thought
that it is usually left untranslated, which in the
may still be understood
as breath in humans and air in the natural world, but is already beginning to
have the more general meaning of the vital ”
describes these techniquesŽ as follows: Broadly stated . . . for the Confu-
cians, maintaining proper ritual in the family and the state; for the Mohists,
economizing state and family expenditures to maximize the bene“
t of avail-
able resources; for the Legalists, establishing the rule of law and the methods
of maintaining adherence to it . . . and, for the Daoists, the advocacy of
mystical cultivation leading to uniting with the Way as the essential element
of rulership.Ž
Within the schools the primary form of or ga ni za tion was
teacher- student lineages, leading to considerable diversity. Even the later
Mohists were split into three mutually unfriendly sects. 
e di
erences be-
tween Mencius and Xunzi are only the most obvious of the many di
tendencies in the Confucian school. 
e Daoists, who were not even called
by that term until middle Han times, were always divided between followers
of di
erent teachers and the texts they took as central.
For con ve nience, I will or ga nize my discussion of the major tendencies in
Warring States Daoism using a typology developed by Harold Roth, even
though the chronology he applies to it is contested.
Roth sees all strands of
Daoism as being de“
ned by mystical cultivation, but developing in three
stages with respect to the social implications of their position: (1) Individu-
alistŽ because of its virtual absence of social and po liti cal thoughtŽ (in my
own view, no Chinese tradition can be called individualistŽ in our sense of
that term„ here the meaning is that the focus is on self- cultivation without
much concern for the social context); (2) PrimitivistŽ because of its advo-
cacy of a simple society and politicŽ; and (3) Syncretist,Ž because its teach-
ing is commended to the ruler as a technique of government, the emphasis
on the precise coordination of the po liti cal and cosmic orders by the thus-
enlightened ruler, and a syncretic social and po liti cal philosophy that bor-
rows relevant ideas from the earlier Legalist and the Confucian schools.Ž
Chapter of the
According to Harold Roth, the
chapter of the collective work,
represents the earliest phase of what will come to be known as Daoism.
Whether it is the earliest work in the Daoist tradition is disputed, but it
surely represents the “
rst of Roths types, what he calls Individualist,Ž and
which I would prefer to call the Inner CultivationŽ tradition, in that it con-
tains almost no ethical or po liti cal references and is entirely concerned with
the practice of self- cultivation. 
e text of the
is in verse and may well
represent teachings that were originally handed down orally. Roth follows
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
however, has argued convincingly that there are no pre- Confucian references
and that the
was always connected to Confucius. He writes: In
sum, groups of men professionally skilled in ceremonial practice in ways
similar to Confucius and his followers unquestionably existed prior to Con-
fucius time: however, virtually no evidence is found to suggest that the term
was ever used to describe them. 
e term seems to have been an innova-
tion originally intended to denote the new sect founded by Confucius.Ž

But the idea of the
as the Scholarly School rather than Confucian-
ismŽ makes sense if we remember that Confucius de“
ned himself as a trans-
mitter rather than a creator, and that the Five Classics were at the center of
tradition, namely, the
Odes (Shi),
Documents (Shu),
the three
Changes (Yi),
and the
Spring and Autumn Annals (Chunqiu),
with the possible inclusion of a sixth classic, the lost
Music (Yue).
Note that
neither the
nor the
was among the Five Classics, though
very much later, from the Song dynasty on, they became two of the Four
Books that came near to replacing the Five Classics as the central texts of the
Confucian tradition.

Although the Classics throughout Chinese history
were absolutely central texts, some knowledge of which was essential to pass
the examinations that were the gateway to o$
ce in imperial times, and the
was not among them, there was still a very strong relation between
the Classics and Confucius, as evidenced in the words of Lu Jia at the very
beginning of the Han dynasty: 
e later ages declined and fell to waste.
ereupon, the later sage [i.e., Confucius] established the Five Classics and
ed the six arts to correspond to Heaven, govern Earth, and probe af-

Confucius may have been the uncrowned king,Ž but because he did
not actually rule, he handed down the Five Classics to keep alive the forms
of right order for a time when they could again be implemented. 
e Confu-
cians were more deeply concerned with the preservation of the ancient Chi-
nese tradition than any other school, so it is not surprising that they were
known as the Scholarly School, or we might even say the Classicists. Even so,
we have to remember that Confucius was always the patron saint of scholars
in the classical tradition, so it is far from completely wrong to speak of the
as Confucianism.
Harold Roth has a suggestion that will help clarify the way we should
think of the various strands of Warring States thought. He holds that pre-
Han schools should be de“
ned in terms of practices or techniques (he uses
these terms interchangeably) rather than doctrine. I would argue that Mo-
hism is a partial exception, the one schoolŽ that really was dogmatic. Roth
not work hard at ploughing had no means to support life; any who did
not work hard at weaving had nothing with which to clothe the body.
Whether one had ample or less than enough was each persons own re-
sponsibility. Food and clothing were abundant, crimes and vices did
not breed; they lived untroubled in security and happiness, and the
world ran on an even level.
e agrarian utopia of Shen Nong, needless to say, was a kind of rural anar-
chy, without punishments or authorities able to in” ict them. Rather, all
governed themselves in simple self- su$
ciency. Graham notes that this ideal
remained attractive long after the Warring States period, as is indicated by
the many e
orts to demonstrate that its principles were unworkable.

though the Chinese were often enough governed by authoritarian states,
there were always those who wished to withdraw from them as much as pos-
sible, and ideas that held that life could go on happily without them never
completely died away. Only the Confucians developed an alternative, as we
will see, and it was not a demo cratic one. It was, however, unlike withdrawal
into private life or indulging in utopian dreams, concerned with ways to
curb the worst excesses of tyranny, and, though it often failed, the degree of
its success is perhaps mea sured by the long- term stability of the imperial
Chinese po liti cal system.
So far in this chapter we have rather blithely used such terms as Confucian-
ism,Ž Mohism,Ž and DaoismŽ as if they represented something like the doc-
trinal schools we are used to hearing about in Western classical philosophy„
Platonism, Aristotelianism, Stoicism, Epicureanism, and so on. It is probably
a mistake to reify the Greco- Roman schools any more than the Chinese
ones. Each contained great diversity, con”
icting student- teacher lineages
that might even be called isms,Ž and markedly changing fortunes over time.
We have already noted that in the Warring States period only Confucianism
and Mohism could really be called schools. Now we must even qualify that
assertion. If we think of doctrine as the primary basis for the de“
nition of a
school,Ž perhaps only Mohism would really count.
What we translate as Confucianism is in Chinese
perhaps more ac-
curately translated as Scholarly School. 
ere is some dispute over the mean-
ing of
„ some have imagined that it was a pre- Confucian term meaning
ritual specialists,Ž of whom Confucius was supposedly one. Robert Eno,
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
the thought of Yang Zhou is clearly similar to that of the
and the
What is missing is any concern for inner cultivation, to borrow a
term from Harold Roth„ that is, the practices of controlled breathing and
mental concentration that were believed to lead to tranquility and insight„
that is the hallmark of all strands of Daoism.
Even in the po liti cal teaching
just quoted, the Son of Heaven is charged with nurturing life,Ž which could
be seen as slightly more interventionist than the nonaction
that is all
that is required of the ideal Daoist ruler.

We really dont know when Yang
Zhu or Zhuangzi lived or when the
was composed or written
down, but it is reasonable to suppose that Yang was a pre de ces sor of the Dao-
ist thinkers, reacting strongly against the Mohists by claiming that bene“
should be “
rst of all for the sake of the individual, and only when that idea
was established would all under heaven bene“
e Daoists, like the Confu-
cians, shied away from the idea that bene“
t, even the bene“
t of a long life,
was the central concern, although there remained a Yangist element in Dao-
ism that would never be entirely lost in subsequent history.
e Farmers School
Among the hermits of the Warring States period there was a group that de-
veloped an interesting ideology„ namely, that everyone, even the rulers,
should plough the “
elds and raise their own food. 
e believers in such an
agrarian utopia, and we have some reason to believe that some of them prac-
ticed what they preached, revered and perhaps invented an early king,Ž even
earlier than the Confucians Yao and Shun, namely Shen Nong, the Divine
Farmer,Ž who in earliest antiquity put this teaching into practice. 
e dis-
covery of earlier and earlier early kingsŽ became more frequent as time went
on, so that the principle of the earlier the king the later his appearance in
historical texts was already exempli“
ed here.
e teachings of the Farmers School have been reconstructed from frag-
ments embedded in the Han text,
erefore the Law of Shen NongŽ says: If in the prime of life a man
does not plough, someone in the world will go hungry because of it; if
in the prime of life a woman does not weave, someone in the world will
be cold because of it.Ž 
erefore he himself ploughed with his own
hands, and his wife wove, to give a lead to the world.
In guiding the people, he did not value commodities di$
cult to ob-
tain, did not trea sure things without use. Consequently, any who did
drove home his point: that many hairs could add up to skin; much skin
could add up to a limb; starting down that road will come to a bad end;
therefore how can one treat even a single hair lightly?
In this interchange Yang Zhu does seem to verge on egoism. Yet consider
the following, which starts out much as the above:
Yao resigned the Empire to Zizhou Qifu, who replied:
It might not be a bad idea to make me Emperor. However, just now
I have an ailment that is worrying me. I am going to have it treated, and
have no time now to bother about the Empire.Ž
e Empire is the weightiest thing of all, but he would not harm his
life for the sake of it, and how much less for any other thing& Only the
man who cares nothing for the empire deserves to be entrusted with the
Here Zizhous sel“
shness would seem to be absolute, but suddenly we are
told that he above all deserves to be entrusted with the empire. Consider
another Yangist passage, the opening passage of the Making Life the Foun-
dationŽ chapter of the
Lüshi chunqiu:
Heaven is what “
rst engenders life in things. Man is what ful“
lls that
life by nurturing it. 
e person who is capable of nurturing the life that
Heaven has created without doing violence to it is called the Son of
e purpose of all the son of Heavens activity is to keep intact
the life Heaven originally engendered. 
is is the origin of the o$
ces of
e purpose of establishing them was to keep life intact.
e deluded lords of the present age have multiplied the o$
ces of gov-
ernment and are using them to harm life„ this is missing the purpose
for establishing them. Consider the example of training soldiers: sol-
diers are trained to prepare against bandits; but if the soldiers who have
been trained attack each other, then the original reason for their train-
ing has been lost.
It would seem that at least some Yangists had a po liti cal teaching„ one
could almost say that every tendency in Warring States thought had a po liti-
cal teaching. Maybe one could say the same for ancient Greek thought, or
axial age thought in general„ that would be something to keep in mind. In
the concern for the self as well as in the po liti cal conclusions drawn from it,
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
wilderness, angle for “
sh and live untroubled, interested only in Doing Noth-
ing [
]„ such are the tastes of the recluses of the riverside and the sea-
side, the shunners of the age, the untroubled idlers.Ž
Yang Zhu (and, as we will see, Zhuangzi) clearly belongs to the second
group. We hear of hermits in the
but perhaps they come from a
later period than that of Confucius himself, and the image of the hermit is
only an extreme example of a withdrawal that could be less absolute. Gra-
ham o
ers some re”
ections that help us understand this signi“
cant tendency
in Warring States thought:
A philosophy entitling members of the ruling class to resist the over-
whelming pressures to take o$
ce remained a permanent necessity in
Imperial China.
Yangism is the earliest, to be superseded in due time
by Daoism and, from the early centuries AD, by Buddhism. But Yan-
gism di
ers from its successors in having nothing mystical about it. It
starts from the same calculations of bene“
t and harm as does Mohism,
but its question is not How shall we bene“
t the world?Ž but What is
truly bene“
cial to man?Ž, more speci“
cally, What is bene“
cial to my-
self?Ž Is it wealth and power, as the vulgar suppose? Or the life and
health of the body and the satisfaction of the senses?
Yang Zhus teaching is easy to parody, but it is not as simple as it might
seem. According to A. C. Graham, it should not be seen as a form of radical
egoism, pitting the self alone against every other good, but rather as a form
of sel“
shness, in which concern for nurturing ones own life is primary, but
concern for others remains secondary, and indeed the doctrine of nurturing
ones own life is seen as contributing to the general good if universally ad-
As in the Mencius quote above, the idea of not giving one hair to
t the world is a kind of trademark of Yangism. Let us look at a fuller
account of this idea, as contained in a late work that Graham argues has
early material embedded within it.
When a Mohist interlocutor asked Yang, If you could help the whole
world by the loss of a hair o
your body, would you do it?Ž Yang replied that
a hair wouldnt help the world. 
e interlocutor said, but suppose that it
would? Yang was silent but a follower of his asked the interlocutor if he
would give up some of his skin for a thousand in gold. 
e interlocutor said
he would. 
en the follower asked if the interlocutor would cut o
a limb to
obtain a state. At this point the interlocutor was silent. 
e follower then
current social conditions could retreat. Some of the centralizing states were
tolerant of diverse ideological trends, even ones opposed to centralization, in
their search for cultural capital and possible ideological support.
Yang Zhu and his supporters, whose ideas we will discuss shortly, were
extreme in their emphasis on the individual as against society. It is signi“
cant that Mencius, representing the Confucian balance between public and
private concerns, was appalled that the words of Yang Zhu and Mozi “ ll
the world. Yang is for sel“
shness, which is to have no lord; Mo is concerned
for everyone, which is to have no father. To have no father nor lord is to be a
bird or a beastŽ (Mencius 3B.9).
Elsewhere Mencius puts the contrast even
more vividly:
Yangzi chose sel“
shness; if by plucking out one hair he could bene“
the world he would not do it. Mozi was concerned for everyone; if by
shaving from his crown right down to his heels he could bene“
t the
world he would do it . . . 
e reason for disliking those who hold to one
extreme is that they cripple the Way. (Mencius 7A:26)
Nonetheless, as Nivison points out, Mencius was actually deeply in”
by both Mozi and Yang Zhu,Ž and therefore we should not let the existence
of sharp controversy lead us to overlook the fact that in the world of a hun-
dred schoolsŽ ideas were shared as well as contested.
Yang Zhu
We have no text explicitly attributed to Yang Zhu, and even what scholars
attribute to him in such texts as the
and the
Lüshi chunqiu
may be
the words of his followers, as is so often the case with Warring States think-
We have no idea of Yangs dates. If we believed that he really had dia-
logues with Confucius or Mozi (he could hardly have had dialogues with
both) as are recounted in various texts, we would have to place him in the
fth century , but it is more probable to date him some time in the fourth
century. In any case he seems to represent a tendency toward radical with-
drawal from society, exhibited at its extreme by those who chose to live as
distinguishes between two types of hermits: those
who withdraw to mountain and valley,Ž discourse loftily and criticize vin-
dictively,Ž who as condemners of the age, wither away and drown them-
selvesŽ; and those who head for the woods and moors, settle in an untroubled
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
emerging in the Warring States period, where merit was being recognized as
more important then lineage. But it was also preparing students to be a cer-
tain kind of person who could in”
uence others by example, and lead a satis-
fying life whether he held o$
ce or not, supporting himself when out of o$
by teaching or by serving as a ritual specialist. Robert Eno believes that
Confucianism was primarily a sect, oriented more to private life than to of-
ce, though the continuous concern with politics and the responsibilities of
ce that we “
nd in Confucius and his successors makes this view appear
one- sided.
Mozi and his followers, on the other hand, seem to have been oriented
primarily to public life, in ser vice to a sympathetic lord where possible, but
or ga niz ing for action when that was not possible. 
e quasi- military or ga ni-
za tion of the Mohists and their interest in defensive warfare, including in-
venting mechanical devices to foil attacking armies, suggest a degree of ac-
tivism that is quite un- Confucian. Self- cultivation as such does not appear to
have been a Mohist concern, though activism is itself a kind of personal
ough the Mohists signi“ cantly advanced logic and rational
argument beyond anything we “
nd in the
Mohist rational dis-
course was always in the ser vice of practical ends, as its relentless utilitarian-
ism indicates.
If Confucianism appears to have attempted a balance between public and
private life and Mohism veered rather strongly in the public direction, there
were other tendencies, less well or ga nized than these two, that moved in the
direction of exclusive concern for private life. Daoism,Ž which I put in quotes
because it was not in the Warring States period a coherent movement even to
the extent that Confucianism and Mohism were, is a term that can be applied
to several “
gures and/or texts that use the term
as central to their teach-
ing, but, equally importantly, emphasize some kind of meditation technique
in the pro cess of self- development. 
ere were, however, other tendencies
emphasizing private life that cannot be called Daoist even by these loose cri-
teria, that were also prevalent in the Warring States period. 
is is hardly
surprising in a period of such turmoil and constant warfare.
In the face of an increasingly coherent ideology of centralized militariza-
tion and total control of the population, usually discussed under the rubric
of Legalism,Ž it might seem that there was no privateŽ space to retreat to.
But as I have noted before, the very disorder of the Warring States period,
the fact that small states lacking strong central controls continued to exist at
least for a while, suggests that there were places to which those appalled at
loving to himself. I would not slander Mozis Way; however, if you sang
he condemned you for singing, if you wept he condemned you for
weeping, if you made music he condemned you for making music, was
he really the same sort as the rest of us? With the living he took such
pains, with the dead he was so niggardly, his way was too impoverished,
he made men worry, made them pine, his code was hard to live up to, I
am afraid it cannot be the Way of a sage. It went counter to the hearts
of the empire, the empire would not bear it . . .
[Mozi took as a model the early king Yu, who wore out his body for
the empire.Ž]  e result was that many of the Mohists of later genera-
tions dressed in furs or coarse wool, wore clogs or hemp sandals, never
rested day or night and thought of self- torment as the noblest thing of
all . . .
As far as the idea of Mozi and Qin Guli [his chief disciple] is con-
cerned, they were right; but in putting it into e
ect they were wrong. 
result was simply that Mohists of later generations had to urge each other
on to torment themselves until there was no ”
esh on their thighs or down
on their shins. It was a superior sort of disorder, an inferior sort of order.
However Mozi was truly the best man in the empire, you will not “
another like him. However shriveled and worn, he would not give up. He
was a man of talent, shall we say?
But although Mohists pushed the idea of bene“
tŽ to a logical extreme
that placed them near the outer limit of Chinese thought, it is still well to
remember that, in a more common sense way, the idea of bene“
t was part of
the mainstream of Chinese thought. Confucians would judge rulers by
whether they bene“
ted the people„ indeed, Mencius makes that the crite-
rion of po liti cal legitimacy. Except for its fascination with logical consis-
tency, Mohism is perhaps less eccentric relative to the Chinese tradition than
rst might appear.
DaoismŽ and the Turn to Private Life
We have seen Confucius and his disciples creating, on the basis of traditions
of aristocratic education, a new kind of education aiming at the formation of
a certain kind of character, one that could go on developing through the
whole of life by means of the practice of self- cultivation. 
is education was
intended to prepare the students for ser vice in the newly centralizing states
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
wealth and poverty, long life and early death, are decreed for him by
Heaven and outside his control. He can therefore act rightly with an
untroubled mind, leaving the consequences to Heaven. For the Mohist
on the other hand, judging all conduct in terms of bene“
t and harm,
there can be no meaning in a morality detached from consequences.
Many di
erences follow from this fundamental one, and some of them
must rouse our admiration for the Mohists. 
ey bitterly opposed the Con-
fucian doctrine of fate,Ž of what Heaven has decreed, as an avoidance of
human responsibility.
Similarly Mozi was indignant with Confuciuss re-
fusal to serve a lord he did not feel was worthy. For Mozi that was an expres-
sion of personal pride: any opportunity for ser vice can be turned toward the
t of the people. 
e Mohists criticized elaborate ritual, especially ex-
tensive funeral ritual, and music, meaning the elaborate musical entertain-
ments of the elite, because of the great expense involved, money that could
be used to better the lives of the people. 
e attack on ritual
and music,
goes to the heart of the Confucian project and surely annoyed the elite of the
time, as well as adding to the notion of Mohists as dour.
e Mohists were against aggressive war but were not paci“
sts. As an or-
ga nized movement, Mohists even engaged in defensive warfare, helping de-
fend small states from the attack of large ones. Like utilitarians in later times
and places, the Mohists were activists, advocates of simple living and devotion
to the cause of helping others.
eir demise as a movement had probably
more to do with their activism, and their capacity to or ga nize for military ac-
tion, than with their doctrines. Such or ga nized activism was not at all what
Qin Shihuangdi was inclined to tolerate in a newly united Chinese empire.
But we have already commented on the lack of lasting appeal of Mohism as
a doctrine even after the collapse of the movement. 
is is not at all to say
Mohism had no impact. It in”
uenced in one way or another every tendency
in Warring States thought, sometimes in active opposition, sometimes in
surreptitious borrowing.
e Tianxia chapter (33) of the
written by Zhuangzi or some-
one later, gives an interesting assessment of Mozi that can serve as a “
coda to this section:
Now Mozi alone refused to sing a song for the living or wear mourning
for the dead . . . Teaching this to others I am afraid he was not loving to
others, and practicing this in his own case most certainly he was not
Mozi said: I know that Heaven is more eminent and wise than the
Son of Heaven for this reason: If the Son of Heaven does something
good, Heaven has the power to reward him, and if he does something
bad, Heaven has the power to punish him.
As it turns out, and we “
nd this over and over again in the
does indeed desire the right and the good, but it is the infallible bene“
t that
will result in obeying the will of Heaven and the infallible punishment that
will follow disobeying that are the “
nal reasons for obeying the will of Heaven.
Even the injunction of
jian ai,
universal love, is based on the fact that if every-
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
Chinese civilization as in these few centuries [the Warring States pe-
riod] it assumes lasting shape. No one else “
nds it tolerable to insist that
you should be as concerned for the other mans family as for your
I am tempted to compare Mozi, the inventor of logic in China, with Par-
menides, the inventor of logic in Greece. Each in his enthusiasm with his
new toy pushed the implications to an extreme. Parmenides provedŽ that
Being doesnt change„ it just is. Change is illusory. He had pushed his
metaphysical logic to a position that was at odds with any glance at the em-
pirical world. Nonetheless he provided the impetus to later developments in
logic that would be central for all Western philosophy. Mozi pushed his logic
to an extreme not in metaphysics but in ethics. Although his successors, the
Later Mohists,Ž greatly advanced his rather crude beginnings in logic, their
work ceased with the general collapse of Mohism at the end of the Warring
States period, and logic did not become central in later Chinese thought.
Perhaps pushing logic to absurdity in the “
eld of ethics was more dangerous
than in metaphysics. It didnt take only scholars to sense that something was
wrong. Indeed, later Mohists tried to moderate Mozis argument by holding
that although concern for others should be equal, irrespective of kinship, it
is to the bene“
t of all that each should include among his duties the care of
his own kin.Ž
e problem with Mozis relentless logic is deeper than that involved in
his doctrine of
jian ai
(universal love, Concern for Everyone, impartial car-
ing), though it includes it. It concerns his notion of bene“
t (
a homonym
but a di
erent word from
ritual) as the motive for every action, which is
generally called Mozis utilitarianism. As we have seen, Heaven has a promi-
nent place in Mozis teaching, having created the world as we know it out of
love for human beings. As in the
it is hard to imagine translating
as Nature rather than as Heaven. And indeed, Heaven has a will that humans
should obey. What Heaven wills is
right; concretely it wills that the strong
will not oppress the weak; the eminent will not lord it over the humble; the
cunning will not deceive the stupid.Ž
Even the Son of Heaven must obey the
will of Heaven. But then, here comes the rub:
Now people in the world say: It is perfectly obvious that the Son of
Heaven is more eminent than the feudal lords and that the feudal lords
are more eminent than the ministers. But we do not know that Heaven
is more eminent and wise than the Son of Heaven&Ž
level of the
but becomes prominent only later. In any case, not only
does it become prominent, but eventually it is seen as the basis of all other
ethical obligations, such as loyalty to the ruler, and of the ethical virtues,
even the central virtue of
Master You said: A man who respects his parents and his elders could
hardly be inclined to defy his superiors. A man who is not inclined to
defy his superiors will never foment a rebellion. A gentlemen works at
the root. Once the root is secured, the Way unfolds. To respect parents
and elders is the root of humanity [
].Ž (1:2, trans. Leys)
But although Confucians always believed that Mozis teachings violated
lial piety and so were to be rejected, they were not entirely immune to
ey argued that concern for ones own relatives, though a primary
obligation, did not mean that one should not be concerned for nonrelatives.
For example, respect for ones father, though primary, was to be comple-
mented by respect for elders in general. And in one widely quoted passage in
a leading disciple of Confucius takes a view that does not seem
to be wholly incompatible with that of Mozi:
Sima Niu was grieving: All men have brothers; I alone have none.Ž
Zixia said: I have heard this: life and death are decreed by fate, riches
and honors are allotted by Heaven. Since a gentleman behaves with
reverence and diligence, treating people with deference and courtesy
li], all within the Four Seas are his brothers. How could a gentleman
ever complain that he has no brothers?Ž (12:5, trans. Leys)
But what we have here, as is usual in the
is an aphorism, pungent
and to the point, an expression of moral universalism, but not a theory that
can be generalized to all cases.
Graham notes that it is the relentlessness of Mozis logic with respect to
jian ai
that sets him o
not only from the Confucians, but from all other
thinkers of the time:
Concern for EveryoneŽ [
jian ai
] is a concern for each person irrespec-
tive of relations of kinship with oneself. It is this relentless driving of a
principle to its logical conclusion which gives Mohism its appearance of
being foreign, not merely to Confucian thinking, but to the whole of
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
commonly translated as universal love
( jian ai),
Ž that Graham prefers to
translate as Concern for EveryoneŽ
and David Nivison as impartial car-
A brief description of what
jian ai
means is as follows:
erefore Mozi said: Partiality should be replaced by universality. But
how can partiality be replaced by universality? If men were to regard
the states of others as they regard their own, then who would raise up
his state to attack the state of another? It would be like attacking his
own. If men were to regard the cities of others as they regard their own,
then who would raise up his city to attack the city of another? It would
be like attacking his own. If men were to regard the families of others
as they regard their own, then who would raise up his family to over-
throw that of another? It would be like overthrowing his own. Now
when states and cities do not attack and make war on each other and
families and individuals do not overthrow or injure one another, is this
a harm or a bene“
t to the world? Surely it is a bene“
We will need to consider Mozis justi“
cation of the doctrine of
jian ai
terms of bene“
t, for that will lead us into a central issue concerning his
teaching: his utilitarianism. But “
rst we must consider another issue that the
above passage raises, and certainly raised for the Confucians, the con”
e world was as chaotic as though it were inhabited by birds and
beasts alone.
To anyone who examined the cause, it was obvious that this chaos
came about because of the absence of rulers and leaders.
Here Mozi sounds almost like Hobbes, except that the source of the war of
all against all is the absence of common views rather than the absence of law.
But the solution is the same: rulers. Except that for Mozi the primary func-
tion of the ruler is to establish right views: What the superior considers
right all shall consider right; what the superior considers wrong, all shall
consider wrong.Ž
At each level, from the local to the whole world, those
below are to look to those above for the right standards, standards that else-
where Mozi tells us can be discerned by taking the will of Heaven as a com-
pass or a carpenters square, that is, as the model to be followed.
In spite of
the apparently relentless authoritarianism of Mozis view in the Identifying
with Ones SuperiorŽ section, the necessity of following the judgment of
those above right up to the supreme ruler, the Son of Heaven, still Mozi says:
If we examine the reason why the world was well ordered, we “
nd that
it was simply that the Son of Heaven was able to unify the standards of
judgment throughout the world, and this resulted in order.
But although all the people in the world may identify themselves with
the Son of Heaven, if they do not also identify themselves with Heaven
itself, then calamities will never cease. 
e violent winds and bitter
rains which sweep the world in such profusion these days„ these are
simply the punishments of Heaven sent down upon the people because
they fail to identify themselves with Heaven.
Although this may be a comment on the sad state of the times, when the
judgment of the Son of Heaven (the vestigial Zhou king) was no longer in ac-
cord with Heaven, or perhaps even that there was in e
ect no Son of Heaven
at the time, it does make clear that there was a standard other than the will
of the superior, a substantive standard, the most basic idea of Mozis teach-
ing, in terms of which any regime would in the end have to be judged. In the
passage above that recounts Heavens creative e
orts, the reason Heaven cre-
ates is stated to be because Heaven loves the people.Ž And for humans to
identify with Heaven means that they, too, must love the people,Ž all the
people, and without distinctions. Here we have the Mohist doctrine most
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
e master Mozi said: Not so . . . Desiring for goodness to increase all the
more, I believe in transmitting the good things of the past and creating good
things for the present. Ž
Puett argues that Mozis positive evaluation of creation, not just transmis-
sion, is based on an understanding of Heaven as an active creator, not just a
pattern to be imitated. Mozi writes:
Moreover, I know from the following reason that Heaven loves the
people generously: It sets forth one after another the sun and the moon,
the stars and constellations to lighten and lead them; it orders the four
seasons, spring, fall, winter, and summer, to regulate their lives; it sends
down snow and frost, rain and dew, to nourish the “
ve grains, hemp,
and silk, so that the people may enjoy the bene“
t of them. It lays out
the mountains and rivers, the ravines and valley streams, and makes
known all a
airs so as to ascertain the good or evil of the people. It es-
tablishes kings and lords to reward the worthy and punish the wicked,
to gather together metal and wood, birds and beasts, and to see to the
cultivation of the “
ve grains, hemp, and silk, so that the people may
have enough food and clothing. From ancient times to the present this
has always been so.
Although in the above passage it appears that Heaven establishes kings
and lords just as primordially as the sun and the moon, there is another pas-
sage that suggests original mankind was without rulers:
Mozi said: In ancient times, when mankind was “
rst born and before
there were any laws or government, it may be said that every mans view
of things was di
erent. One man had one view, two men had two
views, ten men had ten views„ the more men, the more views. More-
over, each man believed that his own views were correct and disap-
proved of those of others, so that people spent their time condemning
one another. Within the family fathers and sons, older and younger
brothers grew to hate each other and the family split up, unable to live
in harmony, while throughout the world the people all resorted to wa-
ter, “
re, and poison in an e
ort to do each other injury. 
ose with
strength to spare refused to help out others, those with surplus wealth
would let it rot before they would share it, and those with bene“
doctrines to teach would keep them secret and refuse to impart them.
oldest levels, the
from the beginning introduces sustained argument,
often directed toward the rejection or revision of ideas attributed to Confu-
cius. A. C. Graham argues that it is with Mozi that rational debate in China
starts.Ž True as that may be, it is hard to see how, without the foil of Confu-
cius, Mozi would have gotten started.
If Confucius can be understood in part because of his social situation on
the border between the lowest level of the old aristocracy and commoners
seeking the education that would allow them to become o$
cials in state
systems now more interested in merit than lineage, what can we say about
the social situation of Mozi? We have no in de pen dent evidence for giving
him a social location, but many have made inferences from the text itself,
leading to the idea that he came from a somewhat lower stratum than Con-
fucius, perhaps from the artisan class that was in”
uential in urban settings
and perhaps especially in the capitals of small states, for which Mozi seems
to have been especially concerned. Michael Puett has noted the concern for
craftsmanship in this text: Indeed, meta phors of craft- building, construct-
ing, and fashioning„ are so prevalent in the Mohist writings that some
scholars have argued that the Mohists were in fact a school of artisans.Ž
A. C. Graham links Mozis status to his most distinctive teaching: It
would seem that Mozi was a man of low status, an artisan . . . and that this
has something to do with his most distinctive innovation, that he judges in-
stitutions not by the tradition of Zhou but by their practical utility, by
whether like the linchpin of a wheel they are bene“
cial to the people.Ž
Puett underpins this practical emphasis of the Mohists with an argument for
a basic di
erence with the Confucians as to the legitimacy of innovation at
all. He notes that Confuciuss claim to be a transmitter rather than a creator
7:1) can be attributed to his modesty, but when placed beside an-
other text may have a more far- reaching meaning:
e master said: Great indeed was the rulership of Yao. So majestic„
only Heaven is great, and only Yao patterned himself upon it. So
boundless, the people were not able to “
nd a name for it. Majestic were
his achievements. Illustrious are his patterned forms [
wen zhang
Puett argues that the
fairly consistently emphasizes patterningŽ
pattern,Ž sometimes translated as cultureŽ) rather than innovating or
creating, thus giving some substance to Mozis criticism of Confucius: Gong
Mengzi said: 
e superior man does not create [
] but only transmits.
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
Mohist tradition. Otherwise, each intellectual tradition is identi“
ed by the
name of its putative found er and is de“
ned entirely by a book or books that
bore his name.Ž
We should note that such books were handed down by
disciples„ we might call them scholarly lineages if we dont want to use the
term schoolŽ„ who undoubtedly added to the originalŽ text, often di$
to distinguish from such later additions.
Brooks calls this pattern growth by
accretionŽ and “
nds it present in the
as we have noted, but in other
Confucian and non- Confucian texts as well.
the primary text of
the Mohist movement, is clearly a text of this sort. We may not know exactly
how much of it goes back to Mozi himself, but it is clear that the early parts
of the text are quite di
erent from the later parts, attributed to the Later
e Mohist movement disappeared more completely than any other major
strand of Warring States thought once the country was uni“
ed, so it is hard
for us to imagine that through most of the period it was the chief rival to
Confucianism for intellectual dominance. We will have to consider below
the cause of the movements sudden and total demise, but we can here con-
sider why the text itself, which did survive, attracted little interest and less
devotion from Chinese scholars of imperial times. Partly the answer is that
from mid- Han times Confucianism became something like an o$
cial ideol-
ogy and Mohism was considered not only as opposed to Confucianism,
which makes it especially interesting to us, but as having been thoroughly
refuted by Confucians, something that could never quite be said of texts that
were later denominated Daoist. On top of that, Mo Di does not emerge from
the text as a three- dimensional “
e portrait of Confucius in the
however much embellished by later legend, has made an indelible im-
pression on Chinese throughout the centuries and on Westerners as soon as
they began to learn about him, but Mo Di remains a voice more than a
person. Finally, the style of the book is awkward and repetitious and lacks
the expressiveness of the
the poetry of the
or the intel-
lectual seriousness of the
Nonetheless, as the most widespread alter-
native to Confucianism in the Warring States period it deserves serious
as we have noted, consists largely of aphorisms and anec-
e axial nature of the
derives from its use of old ideas in new
ways, its introduction of new terms in the moral vocabulary, and its making
ideas that were previously taken for granted available for re”
ection, but not
from the development of logical argument. However unsophisticated in its
the Warring States period was much more ”
uid, even disor ga nized, than the
above picture suggests. 
e constant warfare, the fall of states, the loss of
status by the old aristocratic lineages, the rise of new groups of prosperous
artisans and landholders, produced a society very much in ”
ux. Members of
the old elite, including its lowest level, the
were often displaced and had
to seek protection and employment from rulers outside their place of birth.
Even peasants were not infrequently displaced. One result of the turbulence
of Warring States society was the presence of large numbers of men with
various skills and abilities who had lost their ancestral roots and were
available for hire by whomever wanted them. Many of these were “
and provided troops for ambitious rulers. Others were administrators, ad-
visors, and diplomats, some of whom developed teachings that were handed
down by their disciples, but only in the Han dynasty came to be called
Among this large group of people who had lost their traditional places in
society were itinerant scholars, often descended, as the Confucians were,
from teachers of the Six Arts of the aristocratic tradition, still fashionable
among the new elites. Toward the middle of the Warring States period it
became a status symbol for rulers or high administrators of the larger states
to attract a number of scholars of diverse backgrounds to give a kind of cul-
tural luster to the state. We dont know much about these developments, but
it does appear that the state of Qi was the “
rst to gather such a group of
scholars. Both Mencius and Xunzi may have been associated with it, though
the scholars themselves were of eclectic background, as is represented by the
a collective work that may consist largely of contributions of the Qi
e Qin state that would eventually unite the whole of China, not
to be outdone by Qi, gathered a large group of scholars under the patronage
of its chief minister, Lü Buwei, from which the collective work
Lüshi chunqiu
Although several of the prominent Warring States thinkers, Xunzi
for one, argued that their and only their views should be o$
cially recog-
nized, partly because they claimed to have included all that was good from
the other traditions while eliminating the bad, there was no e
ective thought
control until the Qin First Emperor tried to enforce one. A thinker who be-
came unpop u lar in one place, or had annoyed a ruler of one state, could always
move to another, and would often be welcomed as an addition to the local
cultural capital.
Lewis sums up the situation as follows: Apart from those that emerged from
Confuciuss disciples, the only full- blown school attested to in the rec ords is the
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
state secured control of military force, while the kin groups were re-
duced to the individual house holds that provided both taxes and labor
ser vice . . . 
e ultimate sanction of segmentary, aristocratic rule in the
ancestral cults was replaced by forms of sanctioned violence and author-
ity that were justi“
ed through the imitation of the patterns of HeavenŽ
by a single, cosmically potent ruler. Finally, the new or ga ni za tion and
interpretation of violence allowed the Warring States Chinese to de-
velop a new understanding of human society and the natural world.
Whereas in Western Zhou and early Spring and Autumn China, partici-
pation in military action was limited to the aristocracy, it gradually came to
include nonaristocratic inhabitants of capital cities, but eventually the peas-
antry as well, so that in the mature Warring States there was something close
to universal manhood conscription. As a result the old chariot armies of the
nobility were replaced by mass infantry recruited from the lower strata of
society, eliminating the social power of the great ministerial lineages and of
the aristocracy generally. Mass infantry required far less complex skills and
was much less expensive to equip than the chariot armies of the aristocracy.
e brave aristocratic warrior engaging in single combat was replaced by the
skilled general who knew how to deploy multiple divisions of armies num-
bering in the thousands. As in other spheres, warfare became an art and
leadership was based on proven merit, not birth. Technological inventions
helped drive these changes in the form of warfare: the increasing use of iron
weapons, of the recently invented (or imported) crossbow, of more e
armor, and of more e
ective and widely available swords. New forms of war-
fare, as has been true in many times and places, drove changes throughout
society, including the state, the economy, and the family.
Peasant land was now private property,Ž in the sense that peasants were
no longer serfs bonded to noble lords, but were, as individuals and nuclear
families, subject to taxation, corvée, and conscription by centralized states.
Instead of being or ga nized geo graph i cally into villages belonging to a noble
lineage, peasants were now or ga nized into administrative districts under
bureaucrats appointed by the head of state. 
ese districts combined civil
and military functions. Peasants were or ga nized into units of “
ve family heads,
providing the lowest- level infantry unit, and, in civil as well as military life,
were jointly responsible for each others behavior.
All this sounds very authoritarian, verging on totalitarian, and, in the the-
ory that will later be called Legalist,Ž that was the intention. Nonetheless,
most exalted level we have the vision of a society which not only enjoys har-
mony and welfare but a society trans“
gured by a life of sacred and beautiful
ritual in which all classes would participate.Ž
We will see that the social conditions to which Confucius was responding,
the subversion of the inherited norms of ethical and po liti cal behavior, and
the rise of ever more militarized and ruthless states contending for suprem-
acy, would only become more widespread as the Warring States period un-
folded. It was to these conditions that Confucians, but also their critics,
would have to continue to respond.
Mo Di (personal name) or Mozi (Master Mo) probably was born after the
death of Confucius in 479 , ”
ourished in the second half of the “ fth
century, perhaps surviving into the early fourth century, probably was edu-
cated by Confucians but later turned bitterly against them, and was the
found er of a schoolŽ that arose during the Warring States period and con-
tested the dominance of Confucian teachings. Before describing his teach-
ings and the or ga ni za tion of his followers, it would be well to look a bit
more closely at the changes that were going on in society. Mark Lewis gives
a condensed picture of changes that had begun incipiently even in the sev-
enth and sixth centuries  and reached their culmination in the fourth
and third centuries:
e constant wars of the Zhou noble lineages gradually led to the cre-
ation of ever larger territorial units through the conquest of alien states
and the extension of central government control into the countryside.
ese were called warring statesŽ because they devoted themselves to
warfare, they were created through the progressive extension of military
ser vice, and the registration and mobilization of their populations for
battle remained fundamental to their existence as states . . . Whereas
under the nobility the actual per for mance of ritually sanctioned vio-
lence had been the hallmark of authority, in the Warring States all men
engaged in licit violence, while authority was associated with its ma-
nipulation and control. Instead of being a means of defending honor,
sanctioned violence served to establish or reinforce the authoritarian,
hierarchic bonds that constituted the new social structure. In place of
the lineage as the primary unit of both politics and elite kinship, the
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
an aspiration toward universality. Confucian ethics are intended to be hu-
man ethics, not Chinese ethics. Roetz has shown the remarkable lack of
ethnocentrism in early Chinese ethical thought. Although there are terms
we can adequately translate as barbarians,Ž these non- Chinese people are
not treated as ethically di
erent„ they may even provide instructive exam-
ples for the Chinese.
Although Confucius and his followers lived in a situation that they be-
lieved exhibited moral decay, and of which they were sharply critical, we now
know that axial China, not unlike the other axial civilizations, was in a pe-
riod of rapid growth, demographically, eco nom ical ly, and in terms of po liti-
cal/military power. 
e ethical consequences of this growthŽ stimulated
Confucian criticism. As Benjamin Schwartz has pointed out, this links China
to the other axial cases:
I should like to say a word about Confucius image of moral evil. In fact
the description of these evil tendencies which impede the achievement of
the good is strikingly similar to the diagnoses made by prophets, wise
men, and phi los o phers in all the high civilizations of this period. 
unbridled pursuit of wealth, power, fame, sensual passion, arrogance, and
pride„ these themes “
gure centrally as the source of the di$
language of the vices lends itself comparatively easily to translation into
the vocabulary of Gautama Buddha, Plato and the Hebrew prophets.
e material development of all the high civilizations had enormously
increased the opportunities„ at least for certain strata„ for aggran-
dizement of power, increase of luxury, and pursuit of status and pres-
tige . . . It is precisely in the moral orientations of the creative minori-
ties of the “
rst millennium that we “
nd a resounding no to certain
characteristic modes of human self- a$
rmation, which had emerged
with the progress of civilization. For them the divine no longer dwelt in
the manifestations of power, wealth, and external glory.
In trying to make sense of the response of Confucius and his followers to
these conditions, we can again turn to Schwartz when he a$
rms that Con-
fuciuss thought is both sociopo liti cal and ethicoritual,Ž and he “
nds the
two dimensions to be inextricably intertwined.Ž Although not uncritical of
much of Fingarettes argument, Schwartz turns to him for help in summing
up his own position: In the end, however, there is truth in Fingarettes asser-
tion that Confucius vision is certainly not merely a po liti cal vision. On its
So what are we to make of this extraordinary man, and of the book at-
tributed to him? Was he a po liti cal activist, attempting to revive a just po liti-
cal order that had fallen into decay? Was he the found er of a new sect, seek-
ing the moral purity of its members, but basically withdrawing from society?
Or was he, like Socrates, a critic of the social and po liti cal practices of his
time, a seeker of truth rather than o$ ce, who through his example drew to
himself disciples who would in various ways carry on the tradition that he
established? Robert Eno considers that Confuciuss achievement was to es-
tablish a new understanding of education, one that through the knowledge
and practice of
would lead to the transformation of his students into ethi-
cal and wise beings,Ž
what I have called formation.Ž Probably there is
some truth in all these possibilities. Certainly we can “
nd in the
beginning of the Confucian tradition of self- cultivation, so central in later
Chinese history.
What is signi“
cant from the point of view of our concern with the under-
standing of the axial transformation in its several cases is how far Confucius
went, or how far he and those disciples who continued his tradition went, as
recounted in the
in carry ing through the essentials of that transi-
tion. It is true that in the
we dont “
nd much second- orderŽ
thinking„ that is, thinking about thinking. Formal logic never became
central in Chinese thought, though as we will see, it was developed with
considerable sophistication later in the Warring States period. Nevertheless,
Chinese science, based on careful observation and close attention to what
works and what doesnt, made striking advances„ through much of history
being equal to or, often, in advance of Western science, as the great work of
Joseph Needham has extensively demonstrated.
Confucius, however, like
Socrates, was interested primarily in human society, not the natural cosmos,
and his contributions and those of his followers were primarily in that realm.
ese contributions were nonetheless major.
Critical reasoning, even though in aphoristic or dialogical form, provided
explanations of why things went wrong in society and in human conduct,
and suggested alternatives that might set them right. Although not all Sinol-
ogists agree, I have argued, following Heiner Roetz, that the
contain an ethics based in part on universal values. I should be clear that I
do not think universalŽ values exist in any culture in absolute form. 
ey are
always phrased in a par tic u lar language in a par tic u lar time and place. If we
translate them as justice,Ž benevolence,Ž or the like, we are using terms in-
evitably situated in a di
erent cultural milieu and therefore approximations
at best to the Chinese terms being translated. What I mean by universalŽ is
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
done. And if Heaven does not intend to destroy such culture, what have
I to fear from the people of Kuang? (9:5, trans. Waley)
What made Confucius not simply one more teacher of the Six Arts, was
his mission„ his mandateŽ we could say, thinking of later ideas that Con-
fucius was the uncrowned king, the real holder of the Mandate of Heaven„ to
transmit and, we must add, to reanimate, the tradition of the ancients, with
all that that implied. Elsewhere we “
nd Confucius claiming what we can
only call a personalŽ relation with Heaven:
e Master said, 
ere is no one, is there, who recognizes me.Ž Zigong
said, Why is it that no one recognizes you?Ž 
e Master said, I neither
resent Heaven nor blame man; in learning about the lower, I have fath-
omed the higher. 
e one who recognizes me, wouldnt it be Heaven?Ž
(14:35, trans. Graham)
And when his favorite disciple died he grieved with such abandon that he
startled the other disciples (11:10) and turned to Heaven:
When Yan Hui died, the Master said, Alas, Heaven has abandoned
me, Heaven has abandoned me.Ž (11:9, trans. Graham)
Because Heaven is concerned with the human moral order, and in this
sense Confuciuss thought is continuous with that of Western Zhou, there is
a relationship between Heaven and the Way,
Yet Confucius
never uses the term Way of HeavenŽ
Graham argues that this
is perhaps because diviners and others who used it to refer to the course of
the heavenly bodies had at that time preempted the term.
Confucius had
little interest in cosmology; for him both
were concerned above
all with the human moral order.
In spite of the agreement of many scholars that Chinese thought is basi-
cally optimistic,Ž Confucius, though relying on Heaven and the
is, if
not pessimistic, at least in doubt. He can feel, as we just saw, abandoned by
Heaven. And his concern with the
is very much with its absence: 
Way does not prevailŽ (5:7, trans. Leys). 
e world had lost the WayŽ (16:2,
trans. Leys). As with other axial thinkers, Confucius believes the world is out
of joint, that it is his task to do what he can to set it right, but that, win or
lose, above all he must hold on to his principles, he must behave in accor-
dance with
e Master said, Shen& My way
is pervaded by one.Ž Yes&Ž said
Zengzi. When the Master had gone, the disciples asked, What does he
mean?Ž Zengzi said, 
e way of our teacher is benevolence and fair-
and thats all.Ž
Here is
again, paired with
usually translated as loyalty, but having
a range of meanings such that here benevolenceŽ seems more apt. Roetzs
point is that the golden rule is a formal procedure, not a virtue, and as such
is universalizable and not context- dependent.
Yet it still needs the back-
ground assumption of a universal ethical concept governing what it is that
one does or does not want done to one. It is just this that
ren, shu,
(humaneness, fairness, benevolence) are providing.
Fingarette has emphasized the place of
in the
and argued that
Confucius interpreted
as a sense of life as ceremonial, within which and
only within which human beings can become human. It is in this vision that
he sees the secular as sacred,Ž the subtitle to his book. Yet we dont want to let
this idea simply reinforce the notion of Confucianism as a secular philos-
ophy and not a religion. It is probably right to see something that only mod-
ern Westerners have called an ismŽ as not to be called, as again only modern
Westerners have called it, a religion.Ž
But we cannot deny the adjective
religiousŽ to Confucianism. Many of its key terms„
Tian, Dao, de, ren, li
(after all,
never loses its basic meaning as religious ritual)„ point beyond
the mundane world, have an aura of the sacred about them that they never
lose, and that will be rea$ rmed much later by neo- Confucianism.
ere is one unmistakably religious term that does not appear often in the
but that is nonetheless present at certain key moments, and that is
Heaven. Even here there is an e
ort to argue for the secularity of Con-
fucianism by holding that
no longer has any religious meaning, but is
simply a term for nature.Ž Nature,Ž however, in all premodern cultures is
normally a religious term„ even
Greek for nature,Ž meant something
alive, growing, and worthy of respect. But the speci“
c appearances of Heaven
in the
imply something clearly other than any meaning we can nor-
mally give to nature.Ž For example:
When the Master was trapped in Kuang, he said, When King Wen
perished, did that mean that culture
ceased to exist? If Heaven
had really intended that such culture as his should disappear, a latter-
day mortal would never have been able to link himself to it as I have
China in the Late First Millennium

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I am sympathetic with Roetz in his e ort to rescue Confucius and Confu-
cianism from those who deny them ethical universalism and categorize Con-
fucian ethics as group ethics,Ž lacking any standard by which individuals
can judge group conventions. But I would argue, contra Roetz, that Finga-
rette, despite his insistence on the Confucian self as a social, not a psycho-
logical, self (an argument that I dont want to get into), does not think of
Confucian ethics as group ethicsŽ in this derogatory sense. On the contrary,
I think Fingarette, with his emphasis on the revisability of tradition in the
light of new circumstances, is actually raising up
to the same stage of ethi-
cal universalism as
Still, I would like to go a bit further along with Roetz in emphasizing the
universal ethical element in the
Starting from
again, something
new is added in
Zhonggong inquired about
e Master replied, In your public
life, behave as though you are receiving important visitors; employ the
common people as though you are overseeing a great sacri“
ce. Do not
impose on others what you yourself do not want, and you will not incur
personal or po liti cal ill will.Ž
Here we have one of several versions of the golden rule to be found in the
It follows and ampli“
es the admonition to treat others in ones private and
public life with the greatest dignity, and it is given as an explanation of
However, there is another key term that also turns up in golden rule say-
ings, one we havent mentioned before but adds to the richness of the Confu-
cian vocabulary:
Zigong asked, Is there something which consists of a single word and
which, because of its nature, can be practiced for all ones life?Ž 
Master said, I should say this is
What you do not want for your-
self, do not do unto others.Ž (15:24, trans. Roetz)
Roetz leaves
untranslated as he wants to question the usual translation of
reciprocityŽ as potentially implying utilitarian calculation, a lower level of
moral reasoning than he thinks is involved here. He points out that the term
is more usually translated forgivenessŽ or indulgence,Ž and he suggests
the best translation would be fairness,Ž emphasizing its universality as a
turns up in another key passage, 4:15, which Roetz translates:
seems to be the essential precondition of
without which it would be mean-
ingless, and so takes pre ce dence over
Perhaps Fingarette can show us that what seems to be a contradiction is
really a complementarity, and he uses music, so often coupled with
in the
to do so:
Acts that are
are not just rote, formula- conforming per for mances;
they are subtle and intelligent acts exhibiting more or less sensitivity of
context, more or less integrity in per for mance. We would do well to take
music, of which Confucius was a devotee, as our model here. We dis-
tinguish sensitive and intelligent musical per for mances from dull and
unperceptive ones; and we detect in the per for mance con“
dence and
integrity, or perhaps hesitation, con”
ict, faking,Ž sentimentalizing.Ž
We detect all this
the per for mance; we do not have to look into the
psyche or personality of the performer . . .
Analogously, an act may be seen as
if we look to see how
son does it, and more speci“
cally whether it reveals that he treats all
persons involved as of ultimately equal dignity with himself by virtue of
their participation along with him in
We can see that for Fingarette
are part of a single package, each
implying the other.
Roetz also sees the complementarity, yet he wants to give
a higherŽ
moral status than
For him
points to conventional morality (
Hegelian terms) whereas
represents postconventional morality, morality
based on universal ethical principles (
in Hegelian/Kantian terms),
and he uses Lawrence Kohlbergs stages of the development of moral rea-
soning in the child to rank
as applying to stages 3 and 4, the conventional
level, and
as applying to stage 6, the highest stage of postconventional
moral reasoning.
Roetz also pairs another postconventionalŽ term with
often translated as right,Ž rightness,Ž or, as Roetz prefers,
justice.Ž In any case,
is found in what Brooks considers the old-
est part of the
book 4: 
e Master said, 
e gentlemans relation to
the world is thus: he has no predilections or prohibitions. When he regards
something as right, he sides with itŽ (4:10, trans. Brooks). 
e Master said,
e gentleman concentrates on right; the little man concentrates on advan-
tageŽ (4:16, trans. Brooks). We will have more to say about
when we dis-
cuss the
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
narrative of an ancient past. Much of the content of that narrative, though
reworked for the needs of the time, is contained in the section on Shang and
Western Zhou China in Chapter 5 and in the “
rst section of this chapter.
Fingarette calls it a narrative myth,Ž and it is that, but it is told as history and
it clearly has a relationship to history as we know it. When Confucius talks
of the culture of the Shang, and of the early Zhou, especially King Wen and
the Duke of Zhou, he is talking about things that we believe actually ex-
isted. He also talks of a Xia dynasty, which so far has no historical substan-
tiation, and of kings earlier than the Xia such as Yao and Shun, where we are
surely in the realm of myth. But the distinction between myth and history is
never an easy one, and the fact that Chinese myth is presented as history, is
itself signi“
cant. Later thinkers will come up with even earlier kings to ap-
peal to as legitimating their positions. Although the content is quite di
ent, China resembles Israel and di
ers from Greece and India in its attach-
ment to history, or should we say mythistory, as a de“
ning cultural form.
It is now time to return to our question as to which is more important,
ere are two passages in the
that are taken to give diametri-
cally opposite answers to that question. We must remember that the
is an aphoristic book, at best anecdotal, that it is not a systematic work, that
it does not itself ever develop systematic connections between its key terms.
Under these conditions, apparent contradictions are numerous and varying
interpretations inevitable. But let us turn to the passages:
Yan Yuan asked about
e Master said, To overcome ones self
and to return to
If for one day one will overcome the self and
return to
then the whole world will turn towards
ren. Ren
can only
come from the self„ how could it come from others?Ž
Yan Yuan said, I beg to ask for the concrete steps.Ž 
e master said,
Do not look at what is contrary to
Do not listen to what is contrary
Do not speak what is contrary to
Do not put into action what is
contrary to
Yan Yuan said, although I am not smart, I wish to serve these words.Ž
(12:1, trans. Roetz)
seems to take pre ce dence over
because returning to
Ž seems to
be the very de“
nition of
But here is the other passage: 
e Master said,
A man who is not
what can he have to do with
A man who is not
what can he have to do with music
?Ž (3:3, trans. Waley).
in not accepting the usual (in modern culture) derogatory meaning of such
terms as conventionŽ and tradition,Ž but instead seeing the extent to which
the man who claimed to be a transmitter and not a creator was actually say-
ing something new, never said before in Chinese history. According to Fin-
garette, Confucius was o
ering a
new ideal of a universalistic community based upon shared conven-
of his proposal was to found the new community as a
tradition. But he also found ready to hand a powerful
mode of
discourse in which to propagate the ideal; indeed he used the most
deeply rooted mode of discourse in human culture„ the narrative and
especially the narrative myth or anecdote of an ancient past . . .
Confucius perceived humanity through the imagery of ceremony
and thus of tradition. It was peculiarly appropriate for him to turn to
the narrative mode of formulation in its most common form„ the nar-
rative of an ancient past. 
us the content of his teaching was perfectly
congenial to the oldest and probably the most evocative of all forms of
thinking about lifes meaning. Although the narrative mode used in
this way is an archaicŽ form of thought, it is not any more an archaism
in Confucius than it is in a contemporary novel or drama. Confucius
used narrative of a mythic past in the ser vice of a new ideal grounded in
radically new insights into mans essential nature and powers.
Fingarette rejects the common view of tradition as the dead hand of the
past, intrinsically given, unquestionable, for a more accurate view of tradi-
tion as it actually operated in most traditionalŽ societies, that is, as in a state
of constant revision and reinterpretation in the face of new circumstances.
He cites a key passage from the
to show that this was Confuciuss
view: 
e master said, He who by reanimating the Old can gain knowledge
of the New is “
t to be a teacherŽ (2:11, trans. Waley). Fingarettes point is
that it is only through tradition or convention (what the anthropologists call
culture) that human beings can act in ways not determined by instinct or
conditioning alone, but that new conditions always require that tradition be
rethought, reanimated.Ž Without reanimation, tradition is indeed dead, but
transmitted by Confucius was alive, at work, as Fingarette puts it, in
reunitingŽ human beings.
We might return brie”
y to what Fingarette called the formal modeŽ of
discourse in which the
roots the vision of the new community, the
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
early Zhou, had become generalized and extended to a wide variety of situa-
tions, still including high religious ceremonies, but now also including many
areas that we would think of more in terms of manners or politeness, and yet
all seen as, if properly performed, the basis of social stability. 
especially but not exclusively in book 10, does include many heterogeneous
examples of
some of them, to us, rather trivial„ for example, He must
not sit on a mat that is not straightŽ (10:9, trans. Waley).
If Confucius began as an instructor in ritual, it would have probably been
in the details of sacri“
ce, but also of appropriate action in various social situ-
ations, that he would have specialized. But in his concern for the formation
of his students, he moved, tentatively at least, to generalize
as a way of re-
lating to the world and ones fellow humans, expressive in its own way of the
same ethical depth as
At the opposite extreme to the straight mat, Con-
fucius describes the correct action, in its minimalism, nonaction
the sage ruler Shun, earlier even than the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties:
e Master said: Shun was certainly one of those who knew how to govern
by inactivity [
]. How did he do it? He sat reverently on the throne, fac-
ing south„ and that was all Ž (15:5, trans. Leys). Simon Leys, whose transla-
tion I am using here, makes the point in his notes that inactivityŽ could
also be translated as noninterference,Ž and that the ethical aspect of what
Shun did lies in his setting a moral example, and his virtue
down to the people.Ž
Putting the sayings about the straight mat and facing
south together, we can see that how you sit can be far from trivial.
Ritual, then, is a way of relating and a way of governing. In the
is often contrasted with rule by punishments. In the ideal society there
would be no punishments, no executions or mutilations, as people would act
in accord with ritual: 
e Master said: Lead them by po liti cal maneuvers,
restrain them with punishments: the people will become cunning and shame-
less. Lead them by virtue
restrain them with ritual
they will develop
a sense of shame and a sense of participation Ž (2:3, trans. Leys). But it is not
only the ruler who can “
nd ritual e
e gentleman
( junzi)
who acts
in accord with ritual will also in”
uence those around him: 
e Master
wished to live among the barbarian Nine Tribes. Someone said, 
eyre un-
couth. What about that? He said, If a gentleman lived among them, what
uncouthness would there be? Ž (9:14, trans. Graham).
is not just a heterogeneous collection of customary behavior that can
be summed up, as Roetz sometimes does, as conventional ethics,Ž it is be-
cause Confucius locates it in a new vision. Fingarette here seems to me right
done, as humanity,Ž thus agreeing with Amess objection to the translation
humanityŽ as implying it to be a general human characteristic. Humane-
nessŽ attempts to capture the element of aspiration to an ideal that, though
close at hand, is not easily realized in practice. It is nonetheless a norm or
standard, indeed
norm or standard with which to judge human behavior.
ough rooted in embodied, social, life, it is nonetheless universal.
Fingarette, who is generally believed to subordinate
gives a de“
nition of
that epitomizes its claim to universality: society is
men treating each other as men.Ž
Almost Kantian, treating other human
beings as ends in themselves. Perhaps we will understand better how hu-
maneness works in Confucian practice after we consider its complementary
What is striking about
in its earliest appearance, that is, if Brooks and
Brooks are right, in book 4, is that it appears nearly contextless. What ever
artsŽ Confucius was teaching to his students, he was deeply concerned with
their personal formation and he set for them a high, almost unattainable
ethical goal. We will see eventually that
does have a context, however
stark its “
rst appearances. But the substance of what Confucius taught was
and we can hardly introduce a discussion of
without some con-
cern for its context. Fingarette argues cogently that the key context is
the Way.
is an important term in the
as it is for most Warring
States thinkers, but its meaning varies with the thinker and we should not
identify it everywhere as having the meaning given to it by those we have
come to call Daoists. In the
is not so much the Way of the
Cosmos as it is the Way of the ancients, the Way of the former kings, the Way
of the gentleman
( junzi).
In the
is paired with the term
(power, potency, virtue), as it will be quite di
erently in the
following fairly closely the early Zhou use of the term,
is the
charismaŽ of the ruler, a power that draws people to him and brings them to
the practice of the Way. Confucius does indeed attribute
to the early
kings, creators, he believes, of an ideal form of government, but he general-
izes it as a quality of the gentleman, of any sincere follower of the Way.
e Way has a dignity of its own, nowhere expressed so clearly as, again,
in book 4, 
e Master said, In the morning hear the Way; in the eve ning
die contentŽ (4:8, trans. Waley).
Fingarette nonetheless argues that the acts
that are necessary in following the Way are speci“
ed in the
and in its pri-
mary meaning, ritual.Ž
By late Chunqiu times, if we can place any con“
dence in the
the idea of ritual, epitomized in the Great Ser vicesŽ of the
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
Nor did Confucius himself claim to be
e master said, How would I dare consider myself a Sage
What can be said about me is that I continue my studies without
respite and instruct others without growing weary. (7:34)
And when the disciples ask for a de“
nition of
the answer is usually eva-
sive, or whether such and such a person is
the answer is usually in the
negative. Yet Confucius tells us that
is not remote:
e Master said, Is
indeed so far away? If we really wanted
should “
nd that it was at our very side. (7:30)
What we can make out from these passages is that, although
is near,
and one who loved it would put nothing else above it, yet no one, not even
Confucius himself, has been able to put it into practice, though no one lacks
the strength to do so. Particularly in the later books of the
the sub-
stance of
ere were undoubtedly many teachers of the aristocratic arts and had
been for a long time before Confucius. What made him unique, the begin-
ning of a new phase of Chinese culture, is that he was not interested only in
teaching speci“
c arts, even rites and music that would be so central in the
Confucian tradition, but was above all consciously concerned with what we
might call the formationŽ of his students, their ethical development as per-
sons and their ethical stance in the world. He was also concerned with the
sad state of society in his time, and with the loss of traditions that, in his
view, had once provided greater stability and greater dignity for all people.
What is clear is that Confucius was a man of extraordinary integrity who
made an impression on his students that later generations never forgot.
In trying to reconstruct his teaching, we must begin with the argument as
to which of the two most central terms,
(which Waley translates as good-
nessŽ) and
(which Waley translates as ritualŽ),
is the most important
and even ask if we really have to choose between them. According to Brooks
and Brooks,
is a key term in book 4, which they believe is the earliest
book, and the only one that we can be relatively sure recounts the actual
views of the historical Confucius. In that book,
appears in a number of
passages, whereas
is mentioned only once and in passing. Everyone agrees
is extremely rare in any text earlier than the
but very com-
mon there. Its pre- Confucian meaning is not easy to establish from its rare
occurrences. It is always noted that the graph for
consists of the graph for
person, human being, also pronounced
and the number two. Its early
usages may have meant handsome,Ž valiant,Ž or possibly, as a play on the
related term for human being, manly,Ž and was probably an aristocratic
quality, not an ethical virtue. In the
Analects, ren
is clearly ethical and yet its
meaning, as the many di
erent translations of it indicate, is not entirely
If book 4 is the earliest and the one closest to Confucius, we “
nd in it right
from the beginning something mysterious, something elusive about
e master said, For my part I have never seen anyone who loved
and hated the not-
One who loved
would put nothing else above
it. One who hated the not-
would himself be
he would not let
the not-
come near his person. Is there anyone who for a single day
has put forth all his strength on
For my part I have never seen any-
one whose
was not su$ cient for it. 
ere may be some, but, for
my part, I have never seen one. (4:6)
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
several later Warring States texts:
Mozi, Mencius (Mengzi), Zhuangzi, Xunzi,
as well as by collective books such as the
and the
Lüshi chunqiu.
formally, the
does indeed look early,Ž even if its in”
uence has been
enormous. But we are not even sure how early the text is. 
e conventional
dates for Confucius are 551… 479 , but we have no reason to think that
Confucius wrote anything. What we have was written down by his disciples,
perhaps in his lifetime, perhaps after his death, and it is almost universally
agreed that the book as we have it is not all from the same period. Books 3…
10 or 4… 9, or generally the early books, are widely believed to be closest to
the time of Confucius himself; the later books, 11… 20, but often including
books 1… 2 or 1… 3, are felt to be later additions by disciples or disciples of
disciples, but how much later is in dispute, some believing that the whole
text is from a generation or two after Confucius, or, the extreme case, E. Bruce
and Taeko A. Brooks, in their
e Original Analects,
argue that the text ex-
tends over most of the Warring States period with later additions only ceas-
ing with the Qin conquest of Lu in 249 .
Brooks and Brooks see in the later books of the
responses to much
of the later development of Warring States thought. 
e chief objection to
this idea is that the later books never attain the quality of sustained argu-
ment characteristic of late Warring States thought. While noting these dif-
ferences of opinion and occasionally referring to them, I do not need to take
a position on them. 
at the
is a central text, perhaps
text, is not in dispute, and all later Chinese thinkers treated the text as a
whole, constructing a ConfuciusŽ who may never have existed except in the
minds of all literate Chinese for over 2,000 years.
Looking at the
our only secure source, we are still not sure who
exactly Confucius was. If he was a noble, he was surely a
the lowest level
of nobility, at a time when the distinction between
and commoner was
fading. He was a teacher, for he had students, disciples. What he taught was
probably some version of what came to be known as the Six Arts„ rites,
music, archery, charioteering, writing, and arithmetic„the polite arts of
the aristocracy,Ž
and that educated commoners were at that time also inter-
ested in learning. 
e Six Arts would much later be eclipsed by the Five (or
Six) Classics, but it is clear that they were not texts, but skills. For example,
one did not learn
ritual and music, but how to perform ritual and mu-
sic, actually two closely related activities. Archery and charioteering were
military arts, and Brooks and Brooks argue that the earliest level of the
book 4, has a military ethos, though that is not obvious to me.
cius, this lends further credibility to his claim to be a transmitter rather than
a creator.
Nonetheless, the
Zuo zhuan
provides us only with anecdotal ac-
ere was no formal discussion of these changes before the
indeed no private thinkersŽ or peripatetic phi los o phersŽ before Confucius.
What ever changes were under way, he was the “
rst to think of them system-
atically or, as it were, objectively.Ž Even though the
is more aphoris-
tic than systematic, it is surely right to see Confucius as inaugurating the
Chinese axial age.
Still, the extent to which Confucius thought of himself as embodying the
traditional culture of Zhou, and the record seems to indicate that some of
what we think of as his innovations may have been developing well before
him, suggests that Benjamin Schwartz was right in asserting that Confucius
and his followers more truly represented some of the
cultural ori-
entations of the past than did some of their later rivals.Ž
We began this chapter with a contrast between Greece and China with re-
spect to continuity with the archaic past. We begin our discussion of Confu-
cius with another contrast with Greece: if there is any “
gure in Chinese his-
tory who has exerted in”
uence comparable to that of Plato in the West, it is
surely Confucius. Whitehead famously said that all Western philosophy is
nothing but a series of footnotes to Plato; we could say the same of Confu-
cius: all Chinese philosophy is nothing but a series of footnotes to Confucius.
Although all Chinese thought is surely not Confucian any more than all West-
ern thought is Platonic, it is still true that every major Chinese thinker of
what ever schoolŽ has had to come to terms with Confucius. 
e contrast is
where the two are located in the unfolding of their respective axial transfor-
mations: Plato at the end of a long development beginning with 
ales, the
rst Greek thinker whose name we know; Confucius at the beginning of a
long development, but occupying the position of 
ales, that is, the “
Chinese thinker whose name we know, though with the in”
uence of Plato.
How to understand this, at “
rst glance, striking contrast will become
easier if we look more closely at the
Lun yu,
the only book we
have of Confucius and virtually our only source of knowledge about him. 
surely resembles in size and style one of the early pre- Socratics, say
Heraclitus, particularly if we had the whole text of Heraclitus. 
very long, much of it is aphoristic, and it is surpassed as sustained argument by
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
Two changes in the terminology of social status that are compatible with
the long- term changes described by Falkenhausen largely on the basis of ar-
chaeology are the shift in meaning of the term
described above as the
lowest level of the ranked aristocracy but now taking on the meaning of of-
cial,Ž even low- ranking o$
cial, on the basis of status rather than birth. At a
time when in the larger Warring States, o$
cials were chosen on the basis of
merit rather than birth, and we know of instances where merchants were
given high o$
ce, this is an indication of the declining signi“
cance of heredi-
tary lineages at all but the highest levels of status. 
e term
One feature of the earlier warrior society noted especially by Lewis was
particularly vulnerable to these shifts, namely the basic egalitarianism of the
warrior elite. Lewis remarks that the carefully graded ranks of the warrior
nobility should not obscure to us the fact that these gradations were based
on incremental additions to a fundamental nobility common to all members
of the elite on the basis of their kinship and joint participation in the great
ser vices. Ž
Further, the
the lowest level of the noble hierarchy, was none-
theless a generic term for nobleman, so that higher ranks were added onŽ so
to speak, to ones basic de“
nition as a
e king was at the top of the
nobility and the
at the bottom, but the language and ritual procedures of
the period insisted that the two shared a common noble nature, that they
were divided in degree but not in kind.Ž
Confucius was probably a
in a
time when the term was, as we shall see, taking on new meanings. If the
newly powerful rulers of the Warring States ruled a society of equals, it was
because all would be equally subject to the ruler. Confucius would make
new distinctions, but on the basis of moral qualities, not lineage.
It is now time to sum up what the immediately preceding period gave
Confucius to work with as he rethought the cultural basis of Chinese society.
Here we face a dilemma concerning our principal textual source for the
Chunqiu period, the
Zuo zhuan.
is text is one of the three canonical com-
mentaries on the
the so- called
Spring and Autumn Annals,
the Annals of the state of Lu, which attained primary canonical status be-
cause, almost assuredly mistakenly, its compilation was attributed to Confu-
Zuo zhuan,
unlike the other commentaries, is a large continuous
history of the period, only uncomfortably and partially unsuccessfully ac-
commodated to the form of a commentary on the
Although it is
generally agreed that it was compiled only in the fourth century , there is
disagreement as to the authenticity of the sources from which it was com-
If it was written or rewritten extensively by Confucians in the fourth
century, it can hardly be used as describing the historical backgroundŽ
from which Confucian thought derived. If, however, the speeches contained
in it really do predate Confucius, they give us a sense of the cultural re-
sources available to Confucius. I am in no position to make an in de pen dent
judgment of this technical issue, although the arguments for the authentic-
ity of at least some of the
Zuo zhuan
seem convincing to me. But for my
purposes whether the
Zuo zhuan
recounts what preceded Confucius or only
the views of the early Confucians is less important than the developments
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
and restore hierarchical order.Ž
But as Pines goes on to say, the restoration
of ritual
which still meant the hierarchical forms of the Zhou system we
have described above and not yet the conceptual reformulation of the Con-
fucians, was the universal panaceaŽ o
ered to achieve these ends, a panacea,
however, that never seemed to work. Confucius, living at the very end of the
Chunqiu period, symbolizes the moment when the need for a dramatic re-
formulation emerged, even though it would be couched in terms of a return
to the time of the early kings.
Before we summarize the legacy of Spring and Autumn thought for the
emergence of philosophical re”
ection in the following period, it would be
well to look at some deep underlying socioreligious changes that had oc-
curred before the Warring States period, which can help us understand
the new developments then. Falkenhausen argues that these changes are
more obvious in the archaeological record than in the texts. 
ere were
two major shifts, each succinctly summarized in the titles of chapters 8 and
9 of Falkenhausens book: 
e Separation of the Higher and Lower Élites
(ca. 750… 221 )Ž and 
e Merging of the Lower Élite with the Com-
moner Classes (ca. 600… 221 ).Ž
e Late Western Zhou Ritual Reform
of around 850  had the e
ect of demoting the vast majority of the
ranked elite from the upper stratum of a two- tiered society, dominated by
the contrast between the ranked and commoner members of its constituent
lineages, to a newly created middle layer sandwiched between the increas-
ingly powerful rulers above and the unranked commoners below.Ž
Part of
the problem of the Chunqiu period was that the increasingly powerful elite
was deeply divided between ever more powerful states and within these
states between ruling lineages and ministerial lineages„ it was these divi-
sions that made the society so unstable.
e Middle Spring and Autumn Ritual Restructuring of around 600 
had the further consequence of augmenting even more the privileges of the
upper ranks while reducing the privileges of the lower elite, to the point
where their very di
erence from commoners was nearly obliterated and
would be obliterated in the Warring States period.
As Falkenhausen puts it,
e formation of a specially privileged subgroup within the elite preceded,
and no doubt paved the way for, the full emergence of despotic rulers during
the Warring States.Ž
What this double shift downward of the lower elite
meant was that the very nature of the warrior society that we described as
existing in early Western Zhou gradually ceased to exist, and the meaning of
the three ser vices that de“
ned that society was gradually lost.
that this kind of warfare was fought by an aristocratic elite. Commoners
might be involved in supportive roles, but they did not participate in the
ghting. Similarly, though commoners might “
sh and hunt for small ani-
mals, only the ceremonial hunts of the aristocrats had as their quarry large
or dangerous animals. Because our texts concern the warrior elite virtually
exclusively, we know little about the farmer and artisan classes. Some of
these latter may have been of non- Huaxia cultural background, and in any
case they were attached to the territory they inhabited and belongedŽ to
those who controlled the territory. Early Zhou society was, then, in many ways
very di
erent from what later Chinese society would be like. And though rit-
ual would be central both early and late, its meaning would change dramati-
cally over time.
e early Zhou establishment of branch and allied lineages in various
parts of the country was a way to spread their dominion over a greater terri-
tory than the Shang had ever controlled. But in the sparsely settled and
largely uncultivated countryside, the lineage heads would be established in
towns and controlled only the closely surrounding territory. 
e original
meaning of the term
which later came to mean state,Ž was the capital,Ž
if that is not too grandiose a term, of such a lineage, namely, the location of
the rulers palaceŽ and, above all, of the ancestral temple, the locus of the all-
important sacri“
ces. As population grew and more and more land was brought
into cultivation, something more like a territorially de“
ned state gradually
Warfare that originally had been largely ceremonial became
more in earnest, and small states began to be annexed by larger ones. In this
pro cess, and especially in the Spring and Autumn (Chunqiu) period, the
capacity of the Zhou kings to bring about any semblance of order collapsed.
Not only was there “
ghting between incipient states, there was serious dis-
sension within lineages (there had always been succession struggles), but
also between lineages in a single state, and even between the sublineages
within the lineages. 
e ritual system that was supposed to bring order to
the society was increasingly violated, and although honor would never cease
to be a source of con” ict, wars were now fought for power, even hegemony,
and not just for the ancestors. As Yuri Pines puts it: Indeed, the Chunqiu
was the age of disintegration. 
e continuous usurpation of superiors pre-
rogatives by their underlings resulted in incessant strife among the states,
among the major lineages within each state, and often within the lineages.
e history of Chunqiu po liti cal thought may be summarized as the states-
mens painstaking e
orts to put an end to the disintegration, prevent anarchy,
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
implements appropriate to each lineage level in its sacri“
cial rituals devoted
to the ancestors. Certain forms were reserved only for the Zhou king; others
for the great branch lineages of the royal family and its highest ranking allies
that had been established in various parts of north China; and still others for
subsidiary lineages in the ser vice of the king or the rulers of the various
It is probable that the standardization that the ritual reform created with
remarkable thoroughness was an e
ort to bring order into a disorderly situa-
tion. After two centuries of Zhou rule, dozens of small domains and a few
larger ones were increasingly in de pen dent. Culturally there was remarkable
unity among the elite„ the widespread success of the Reform shows that„
but po liti cally it was more and more di$
cult for the Zhou king to or ga nize
any kind of concerted action among polities that were increasingly in de pen-
dent. Further, as in many aristocratic societies, ones honor and, through
ones actions, the honor of ones ancestors, was a major concern. War was one
of the great ritual ser vices and was often brought on by some real or imag-
ined slight to the honor of ones lineage.
Lewis notes the highly ceremonial character of military campaigns.
Every stage of the campaign was marked by special rituals that linked the
actions in the “
eld to the state cults and guaranteed the sacred character of
Critically important was the formal declaration of the reasons for
the campaign:
Before every battle the warriors would assemble and be told why the
will of Heaven, the imperatives of duty, the honor of the state, and the
spirits of the ancestors demanded that this battle be fought. Together
with the divination before the tablets of the ancestors, the battle prayer,
and the ceremonial command
(ming ),
this oath “ xed the days carnage
within the po liti cal and religious framework. It stipulated the rules of
discipline, but did so in a form which bound both the commanders and
the warriors to the common ser vice of their ancestors and the gods.
As one might expect in such ritualized combat, there were rules that gave
warfare a formal quality: an invading army was to be greeted with gifts; a
time and place for combat was set; if an army had to cross a stream and was
in disarray, the opposing force would wait until order had been restored be-
fore attacking; if the lord of a state had died, an invading army was supposed
to withdraw in order not to increase mourning.Ž
It goes without saying
which standardized the form of ritual implements and the number of them
appropriate for each rank, a reform that very rapidly established itself all
across the Chinese cultural world, but that is not described in any text. Lo-
thar von Falkenhausen, in his important synthesis of de cades of archaeo-
logical discovery, has argued that what he calls the Late Western Zhou Rit-
ual Reform was probably an e
ort to restore coherence to a system of lineage
relationships that had become confused after 200 years of Zhou rule, in
that the demographic increase in aristocratic lineages created a situation
that was hard to represent ritually. 
e Reform drastically restricted the
number of lines of descent that carried signi“
cant status, reducing many
nobles to a kind of low- level elite status represented by the term
translated as knight,Ž to which Confucius may have belonged. Falkenhau-
sen further speculates that this drastic Reform was justi“
ed on archaistic
grounds as going back to the founding period of the Zhou, and that it was
only during that Reform that Kings Wen and Wu and the Duke of Zhou
took on their archetypal signi“
cance, and even that the earliest parts of the
Shangshu (Documents)
and the
Shi (Odes)
were initially codi“
ed only in this
Reform period.
What ever the actual date of the Zhou ritual system that Confucius saw
himself as renewing, what is signi“
cant is the extreme importance of ritual
from the earliest historical times, that is, in the Shang dynasty as well as in
Western Zhou. Because ritual
is at the center of the thought of Confucius
and the Confucian tradition, this should not be a surprise, yet it is important
to realize that
in the Western Zhou did not mean exactly what it would
later mean to the Confucians. Falkenhausen helps us understand this early
importance of ritual:
One instance in which archaeology has in de pen dently veri“
ed preexist-
ing textual knowledge is the revelation of an extremely close connec-
tion between the social order and the ritual practices required by the
ancestral cult of the Zhou elite„ a connection abundantly attested by
the material evidence . . . Such a nexus is, of course, a common phe-
nomenon in early societies. Yet a direct linkage of social status to ritual
privilege may very well have been taken more for granted in early
China than in other early civilizations.
e ritual reform of about 850  was an elaborate e
ort to stabilize the
po liti cal ranking of the aristocratic lineages by dictating the forms and
China in the Late First Millennium

\t \f+\f \f 
In the Spring and Autumn period po liti cal authority was derived from
the worship of potent ancestral sprits and the gods of locality through
regular o
ering made at the altars of the ancestral temple and the state.
e actions that set the rulers apart from the masses were the great ser-
vicesŽ of those altars, and these ser vices were ritually directed violence
in the form of sacri“ ces, warfare, and hunting. 
ese activities, sym-
bolically linked through the ceremonial exchange and consumption
of meat, reached their common culmination in the o
ering up of liv-
ing beings at the altars. 
us the noble was above all a warrior and
cer, a man who took life in order to feed the spirits who gave him
Lewis then quotes from the
Zuo zhuan,
a text probably assembled in the
fourth century  but drawing on older materials and still our best source
for the Spring and Autumn period:
e great ser vices of the state are sacri“
ce and warfare. In the sacri“
one takes the meat from the sacri“
ces in the ancestral temple, and in
warfare [before setting out on a campaign] one receives the meat from
the sacri“
ces at the
ese are the great ceremonies of the
ce and warfare (hunting was ancillary to both, providing some of
the meat for the sacri“
ce and training for warfare) de“
ned the warriors
against the common people, who participated in neither. Further, sacri“
ected the or ga ni za tion of the warrior class, divided into lineages as it was,
and or ga nized hierarchically in lineage terms.
In this patrilineal society, primogeniture was a signi“
cant factor: the el-
dest son succeeded, in principle though often not in fact, to his fathers posi-
tion, but younger brothers would be granted domains of their own. In the
domains of younger brothers, their younger sons would receive still smaller
domains. A formal system of ranks, depending on where one stood in the
lineage system, was expressed ritually by rules governing the kind and num-
ber of ritual implements appropriate for each level of the hierarchy and the
degree of elaboration of the ceremonies.
Archaeology has discovered that the so- called Zhou ritual system, the one
that Confucius idealized, probably was not established at the founding of the
dynasty but was the result of a major ritual reform dating to around 850 ,
China in the Late First Millennium

ties, gradually disintegrate. 
e decline of central authority was signaled by,
though in fact it had almost surely preceded, the fall of the Western Zhou
capital in 771  and the move of the capital from the Wei River valley in
western China, which had long been the home of the Zhou people, to Louy-
ang in the east, where the power of the Zhou became largely ceremonial and
depended on the goodwill of the more powerful, now in fact in de pen dent,
eastern states.
e ensuing Chunqiu (Spring and Autumn) period, named after a chron-
icle that spans the years 722 to 481 , saw a gradual descent into incessant
warfare, leading into the Warring States period (450… 221 ) when a series
of new developments changed the nature of Chinese culture and society and
led to the elimination of the warrior aristocracy that still dominated in the
Spring and Autumn period.
Confucius himself lived at the end of the Spring and Autumn period and
viewed the society in which he lived with critical apprehension. He idealized
the early Zhou, and he was the “
rst to use the old to criticize the present,Ž a
practice that never ceased among his followers and that many rulers, includ-
ing the “
rst Qin emperor, strongly condemned. By looking more closely at
the reality of Spring and Autumn society, we can see what tied Confucius to
it and what he condemned in it.
Mark Edward Lewis describes the great ser vicesŽ that were the primary
concern of the Spring and Autumn aristocracy: sacri“
ce, war, and hunting.
ese three ser vices were heavily ritualized and interrelated; ceremonial was
at the heart of this, as of many other aristocratic societies. 
would come to have very di
erent meanings in later Confucianism, it was, in
the form of the great ser vices,Ž at the very heart of the early Zhou culture
that Confucius claimed to venerate. 
e central ser vice, of which war and
hunting were extensions, was sacri“
ce itself. 
e great sacri“
ces to the spirits
and the ancestors were the forms in which Zhou society enacted itself to it-
self. Because our Western view of China is so much in”
uenced by the central
gure of the civilian scholar- bureaucrat in imperial China, it is important to
recognize that in Western Zhou and Spring and Autumn China we are deal-
ing with a warrior society, one di
erent from, but perhaps of the same genus
as, premonarchical Israel (think Samson and the David of the David and
Goliath story), Homeric Greece, and the India of the Mahabharata. It was
the warrior who carried out the sacri“
ces so central to the societys self-
understanding, in this respect similar to early Greece, but not to early Israel
or India, where the priestly class carried out the sacri“
ces. As Lewis puts it:
\t \f+\f \f 
understanding of Shang and Western Zhou society than we have of Myce-
naean and Dark Age Greece, because we have not only rich archaeological
material but signi“
cant textual continuities.
And yet, China from the time of Confucius (conventional dating, 551…
479 ) to the Qin uni“
cation (221 ) was as stunningly innovative as
was ancient Greece. It was the time of the ”
owering of the hundred schools,Ž
in their variety as well as in their content presaging modernity, di
but to the same degree as the classical Greeks. 
e Confucian
those who subsequently venerated Confucius as their teacher, idealized the
culture of early Zhou and made it a standard to which later China should re-
turn, but in the guise of returning to the old they opened up remarkably new
possibilities. China in the late “
rst millennium was undergoing a dramatic
transition from the feudalŽ (in the sense described in Chapter 5) regime of
the Zhou to the centralized bureaucratic regime of the Chinese Empire. Be-
cause the society that the Confucians idealized di
ered signi“
cantly from the
society we take for granted as Chinese, we must “
rst try to understand what
it was like, returning brie”
y to some of the themes of Chapter 5. Chinas axial
transition occurred when a society ruled by warriors was being transformed
into a society ruled by imperial bureaucrats. What was that society ruled by
warriors like?
Before Confucius
As we noted in Chapter 5, Western Zhou (1045… 771 ) society, though in
its decentralization similar to what we think of as feudal, was actually a lin-
eage society in that “
efsŽ were not based on a contractual relation between
lord and vassal, but were giftsŽ from the king, usually to kinsmen, sometimes
to other loyal vassals, that were in principle conditional, such that they could
be revoked at any time.
In Weberian terms it was a decentralized patrimo-
nial society, and using the term feudalŽ points only to its decentralization.
We must remember that early “
rst- millennium  China was more thinly
populated, and less eco nom ical ly developed and urbanized, than would be
the case by the end of the millennium. Non- Chinese tribesŽ were inter-
spersed with Huaxia (Chinese) peoples, and much of the land had yet to be
Under these circumstances the early Zhou monarchy probably main-
tained a degree of centralized control only for a century or two. Centralized
rule would, with the passage of time and the increasing distance of lineal
e Axial Age III: China in the
Late First Millennium 
One of the more remarkable things about classical Greece is that it seemed to
go from a tribal society (actually a retribalized society) to something on the
verge of modernity within a matter of generations. 
e sheer rapidity of the
change has been seen as having something to do with the vigor of the ulti-
mate ”
ere had, of course, been a Bronze Age palace society, the
Mycenaean, in second- millennium  Greece, with powerful rulers, monu-
mental buildings, and a written script. All that had been largely forgotten
during the Greek Dark Age from roughly 1200 to 800 , with only the
foggiest memories surviving, and, signi“
cantly, the complete loss of writing.
e monuments of that earlier culture were strange outcrops on the land-
scape, in need of invented legends to make sense of them.
Ancient China could hardly have been more di
erent. In Chapter 5 we
considered pre- axial China„ the Shang dynasty in the late second millen-
nium  and the Western Zhou in the early “
rst millennium .
noted that the continuity between pre- axial and axial culture in China was
without parallel in Greece or Israel (we will consider the question of such
continuity in India below). 
is continuity is signaled by the continuity of the
writing system„ the graphs that we have from the Shang dynasty are recog-
nizably ancestral to all subsequent Chinese writing. Confucius is said to
have taught his students selections from what we know as the
and the
which in their present form were edited long after Confu-
ciuss death, but parts of which probably date to the early Zhou, and were in
existence in the lifetime of Confucius.
e continuity in writing signals an
even more signi“
cant continuity in cultural content. We have a much clearer
\t \f+\f \f 
Greek culture, imitating it rather than attempting to destroy it. And it was
also the good fortune for the survival of the tradition that Christianity, not
inherently friendly to the Greek ethos or to philosophy in par tic u lar, was,
even in the letters of Paul if not earlier, gradually Hellenized, so that much of
Greek culture and Greek thought survived inside the church, even though
the intolerant church once in power closed not only the temples but the
philosophical schools as well.
What survived would be reborn again and again. And what survived de-
pended very much on or ga ni za tion. Chance, to be sure, played a part, but it
can hardly be entirely by accident that Plato and Aristotle survive almost
entire, but of Heraclituss little book, so small, but so precious, we have per-
haps less than half, not to mention the great majority of Greek tragedies that
are lost. But enough, surely enough, of what was created, especially in those
rst de cades after Socrates, survived to make the world forever a di
place. And when the traditions of axial Israel came together in a strange love-
hate relation with the traditions of axial Greece, the result was, to more than
a small degree, and for evil as well as good, the world we have.
Ancient Greece
special geopo liti cal situation„ close enough to learn from neighboring civi-
lizations, but too remote to be conquered by them: witness the basically lo-
gistic failure of the Persians, which we can recognize without minimizing
Greek heroism. 
e dead end of the polis was the very fact that made it so
culturally creative: it never became a state, and for sure, it never became a
state of states. 
is citizen state, which was its citizens, wasnt even a city-
state. For all Platos attacks on Athenian democracy (we should remember
that Plato also bitterly attacks oligarchy, the only realistic alternative to de-
mocracy other than tyranny in the Greek polis), he a$
rms in the
that other than in the good city, philosophy could arise only in a democracy;
and for all his sympathy for Sparta, when he tries to found the second- best
city in the
the primary speaker is not a Spartan stranger, but an Athe-
nian one. One could not imagine a Spartan speaking so long. It is the very
uniqueness of the Greek sociopo liti cal form, particularly its democracy, that
made it the germ of so much that we still value culturally, its combination of
the very primitive and the ultrasophisticated, unique in world history, but
this was also its fatal weakness when “
nally faced with the much more resil-
ient form of a large scale monarchy, this time, much closer than Persia,
namely Macedonia. Runciman argues that only a monarchy, or a very strong
oligarchy such as Rome or Venice, of the kind the Greeks never had, could
mobilize the power to compete e ectively in the po liti cal world of antiquity.
e Greek poleis were just too small and too divided to withstand a major
challenge. If there is a Greek miracle, it is its geo graph i cal situation that al-
lowed the Greeks for almost “
ve centuries, from the eighth through most of
the fourth, the freedom to carry out their extraordinary experiment without
having to pay the price for their po liti cal/military vulnerability.

For that
we can only say, Halleluiah&
Runciman has pointed out that evolution occurs at more than one level.
Biological, social, and cultural evolution are interdependent, even interpen-
etrative, pro cesses, but are not identical.

e failure of the polis as a social
experiment did not mean the failure of Greek culture. And, of course, cul-
ture never survives without some kind of social carriers. We have already in-
dicated the social vehicle for the survival of Greek culture: the schools, in the
rst place the gymnasia, in the second the various schools of philosophy, but
also of medicine and other arts. Long after Athens lost its po liti cal in de pen-
dence, it remained a center of culture, of the schools to which Greeks and
later Romans from all over came to study. Of course, another factor of critical
importance was that both the Macedonians and the Romans deeply admired
\t \f+\f \f 
rancor, though certainly not evading a good argument when he needed one.
ere was very little he did not see. 
ough less religiously musicalŽ than
Plato, as Max Weber would have put it, we must not think of Aristotle as
secular. He had a theology as well as a logic and a metaphysics, a variation on
the idea of a Cosmic God as “
rst dimly discerned by Anaximander, and de-
veloped richly in Platos late dialogues, a theology that would be very in”
ential in later times. And certainly, like Plato, he thought of philosophy as a
way of life.
e philosophic schools were indeed the or gan i za tion al form for the edu-
cation of the Hellenistic and Roman elites. None of the schools ever became
orthodox even to the extent that Confucianism did in China, and they al-
ways had to compete with poetry and rhetoric for the allegiance of members
of the elite. 
e extent to which philosophy as a way of life penetrated non-
elite strata is an open question. 
ere the old Olympian myth and ritual
pattern never entirely lost its hold, even though increasingly interpreted al-
But that classical culture after Plato and Aristotle was axial
seems beyond dispute.
Doomed to ExtinctionŽ
We saw earlier Eric Voegelin viewing the trial of Socrates as the death sen-
tence not only of Socrates by the city, but of the city by the gods. Obviously
Athens did not collapse in 399 , though the “
nal conquest by Macedonia
in 322 did end its in de pen dence, and Paul Veyne has argued that even ear-
lier than that the Athenian democracy was turning into the rule of the no-
tables that would characterize most Greek cities in the Hellenistic age, even
if their outer forms, as Athenss did, remained demo cratic.

e spiritŽ of
the golden age, however, did not disappear, it simply moved out of the polis
as such. If the order of the polis was transferred to the soul of Socrates and
then to that of Plato, we can see that happening so cio log i cally in the emer-
gence of the Platonic Academy, to be followed by other philosophical schools
later in the fourth century, notably Aristotles Lyceum, but also Stoics, Epi-
cureans, and others in time.
W. G. Runciman helps us understand what happened to the Greek polis
in the fourth century, and it had to do with the end of an extraordinary
geopo liti cal anomaly rather than the death of Socrates, with which it corre-
lates only in spirit.Ž Runcimans basic point is that the Greek polis was an
evolutionary dead- end,Ž able to survive as long as it did only because of its
Ancient Greece
mimetic and mythic by the theoretic alone.
Such a replacement is an ex-
periment that no one central to the axial transition in any of the four cases
undertook; that awaited the emergence of Western modernity in the seven-
teenth century.
I have referred to Aristotle as perhaps the second greatest mind of all time,
so it would seem churlish not to give him equal or almost equal space with
Plato, but we dont have such space. Aristotle is an e
ective writer„ at times,
such as in the
\t \f+\f \f 
ere is then the fact that though Homer and Hesiod are thrown out at
the front door, they keep sneaking in at the back door. In an interesting essay
on poetry in the
David OConnor points out the poetic allusions
that underlie so much of the action. He points in par tic u lar to Platos use of
Odysseuss Visit to the DeadŽ (
book 11) as an implicit model for
much of the
but for the parable of the cave in par tic u lar. After hav-
ing excoriated Homers account of the visit to the dead in book 3 (386a… d),
he actually uses it positively in relating the parable of the cave where he cites
(516d… e) in support of the idea that one who had once reached
the surface of the earth would never want to return to the cave, where all one
sees are shadows,Ž Homers word for the dead in Hades. Homer as ban-
ished; Homer as authority (Plato in many dialogues, in passing, cites a line of
Homer, often to clinch a point); Homer as subtext for the whole structure of
a dialogue. OConnor also develops Platos elaborate use of Hesiods Races
of MetalŽ from the
Works and Days
as providing the substructure of his ac-
count of the various regimes, the kind of human being appropriate to each,
and their successive decline in books 8 and 9 of the
an argument
well worth pursuing if we had space, but only reinforcing the idea that what
Plato threw out so unceremoniously in book 2 remains fundamental to the
whole structure of the dialogue, at least subterraneously, or, for Greeks who
often knew much of Homer and Hesiod by heart, not so hard to see at all.
What is that telling us about the relationship of theory and narrative?
Finally, as Gadamer, Kahn, and others have pointed out, it is the dia-
logues as the rivals of Homer and Sophocles, the
even the
if read rightly, that pull us into the
philosophical life; whereas the arguments are often disconcerting, ending in
mid- air, as when Socrates in the
just wont tell us what the idea of
the good really is, or the arguments need recasting, often in the same dia-
logue, sometimes in a later one.
In his outline of the highest level of edu-
cation in the
I know that Plato puts mathematics, and particularly
geometry, very high, because there the truth is evident to the mind alone and
needs no con“
rmation from the senses, and then he puts dialectic, logical
argument, even higher, and here one thinks of Platos revisions of Par-
menidess arguments for Being. None of that do I deny. But if that were all,
would Plato be Plato?
Would he not be just another interesting early logi-
cian? My point is that the power of Plato is his reform of the whole of what
Donald called the cultural hybrid system,Ž the system that includes mi-
metic, mythic, and theoretic in a new synthesis, but not the replacement of
Ancient Greece
many respects it is lost altogether.  e gods, however, took pity on the
human race, born to su
er as it was, and gave it relief in the form of
religious festivals to serve as periods of rest from its labors. 
ey gave us
the Muses, with Apollo their leader, and Dionysus, by having these gods
to share their holidays, men were to be made whole again, and thanks to
them, we “
nd refreshment in the celebration of these festivals.
Plato knows that only a few can devote their lives to rational argument,
however important that is to the good life for everyone, and that narrative„
myth„remains the primary mode of expressing truth.
Here things get
tricky indeed, and I cannot solve arguments that have perplexed many, but
Plato, though holding that his newŽ myths are on the whole true, or some-
thing like the truth,Ž or likely,Ž and thus provide an important supplement
to rational discourse even for the most advanced students, can also admit
that he is on occasion lying„ for a bene“
cial purpose to be sure, but still ly-
e most famous and most vili“
ed instance is the noble lieŽ in the
intended to convince the various classes in the city that their position
is natural.Ž It is beyond my purpose to get into this argument, except to say
that this untrue myth (as opposed to the true myths,Ž such as the one about
Atlantis in the
) is, it seems to me, more intended to convince the
guardians that their goldenŽ nature is su$
ciently wonderful that they dont
need the metal, gold, or the properties and house holds that go with wealth,
rather than to convince the lower classes, who can have all these things, that
they are naturallyŽ subservient.
Yet, for all Platos distinction between the poetic myths (Homer, and so
on) that must be abolished and the poetic myths (his own) that are basic to
the good city, there is an element of myth, maybe several elements, that
never come to the surface of discussion. It would be unwise to imagine that
Plato, in every way so sensitive and intelligent, was unaware of them, but had
his own reasons for not pointing them out. For one thing, in the sense of
myth as a story or account, never lost in Plato, there is a basic myth in the
whole corpus of his dialogues: the myth of the life and death of Socrates. It
is this above all that Plato is holding up; it is surely in his eyes a true myth,
even when he attributes thoughts to Socrates that he might logically have
had though he didnt actually have them. And Socrates is not an argument;
he is a person with a story, a narrative. What does that do to the idea that
\t \f+\f \f 
Heraclitus and Parmenides escape, not his occasional criticism, but his cen-
sure, and he owed a great deal to Parmenides, who, after all, wrote in dac-
tylic hexameters, but neither did he reject the great lawgivers, Solon in par-
tic u lar, but Lycurgus and others. With Solon he even recognized a form of
poetry that need not be banned.) Plato knew that education
key to his reform e
ort: a new kind of person had to be educated to make
possible a new kind of city. He took the traditional elements of Greek educa-
(not too far from our athleticsŽ) and
(including our
music, singing, and dancing, but the arts generally) and gave them a new
form. With
his reform was primarily negative: one was not to
overemphasize athletic competitions (so dear to the Greeks), because that
could lead to the exclusion of what is really important, and even to a kind of
sloth. Care of the body remained important so long as it contributed to
health, vitality, and good looks, but beyond that it was only a distraction.
too, he began with tradition, but then replaced the sub-
stance. In both the
and the
Plato emphasizes that the right
kind of music, singing, and dancing (and for children, games) begin the or-
dering of the soul that makes rational re”
ection possible at a later age. Book
2 of the
is the place where Plato most fully spells out his views on musi-
cal education. For example:
So, by an uneducated man we shall mean a man who has
not been trained to take part in a chorus and we must say that if a
man has been su$
ciently trained, he is educated.
And of course a per for mance by a chorus is a combination of
dancing and singing?
Of course.
And this means that the well- educated man will be able
both to sing and dance
So it seems.
Of course the Athenian stranger, who speaks (we think) for Plato, goes on to
describe in more detail what moral elements are involved in singing and
But the experience of participating in a chorus is not just for
educating the young; it essential for everyone:
Education, then, is a matter of correctly disciplined feelings of plea sure
and pain. But in the course of a mans life the e
ect wears o
, and in
Ancient Greece
Platos criticism is no longer poetic criticism of myth, for unlike the
poets he does not preserve ancient poetry in a form puri“
ed by criti-
cism. He destroys it. To that extent his criticism becomes an attack on
the foundations of Greek culture and on the inheritance bequeathed to
us by Greek history. We might perhaps expect something of this sort
from an unmusical rationalist but not from a man whose work itself is
nourished from poetic sources and who cast a poetic spell which has
enthralled mankind for thousands of years.
Charles Kahn con“
rms Gadamers point: Plato is the only major phi los o-
pher who is also a supreme literary artist . . . Plato is the only Socratic writer to
turn this pop u lar genre [the dialogue] into a major art form, in rivalry with
the great works of “
fth- century Attic drama.Ž
Kahn gives us the clue to
how Plato, the great poet, can reject the entire poetic tradition. Plato, as I
would expect in terms of my argument about the axial transition, by no
means rejects the mimetic and the mythic„ indeed, he sees that without
them he can never make his theoretic insights e
ective. What he rejects is
not the mimetic and the mythic as such, only the entire tradition of them&
Plato would abandon Homer and Hesiod, Aeschylus and Sophocles„ and
replace them with what? 
ends with most of the participants
in the previous nights discussion awaking with hangovers, only to “
Socrates and Aristophanes engaged in argument, as though they had never
slept at all. And what was the argument about? Whether the same man could
write tragedy and comedy, with Aristophanes saying it would be impossible
and Socrates arguing that it should be possible. And who was the man who
wrote comic tragedies or tragic comedies?
So Plato, the man who rejected tradition (and so can in no way be called
conservative), knew that humans cannot live without tradition. What he cre-
ated was a new tradition (oxymoron though that is), one in which Socrates
replaced Achilles, and his own dialogues replaced the epic and tragic poets
(we might add, in size as well as contents). Did he pull it o ? Not completely,
to be sure, and thank God for that, but he did indeed establish his new tradi-
tion, one that continues to our day. For any lesser man (and who could we
name as greater than Plato), the very project would be that of a madman. Yet
Plato was not mad. In the scope and depth of his thought he can be com-
pared, perhaps, to only one man, his pupil, Aristotle.
But we need to say more, though not much more, about how Plato kept
the mimetic and mythic aspects of tradition along with the theoretic. (And
we should not forget that Plato did not reject all of his Greek inheritance:
\t \f+\f \f 
Brisson describes the critical distinction that Plato made: By
as nonfalsi“
able discourse to falsi“
able discourse
and as story to argumentative discourse, Plato reorganizes, in an original and
decisive way, the vocabulary of speech in ancient Greek, in accordance with
his principal objective: that of making the phi los o phers discourse the mea-
sure by which all other discourses, including and especially that of the poet,
can be determined.Ž
Myths are inherently unreliable because they recount stories, not argu-
ments, and because the stories they recount, handed down orally, occurred
so far in the past than no one can possibly know if they are true or not. Plato
was of