Perception of the eonic effect, the extended pattern of the Axial Age,
shows us that the rise of the modern, that controversial and often misunderstood
world transition, stands in line as a kind of successor Axial interval or
'second Axial Age'. Taken this way, many of the confusions of both world
historical analysis and, indeed, the nature of modernity itself fall into place.
A more extended analysis, such as that provided by the full eonic model
described in World History And The Eonic Effect, is needed to clarify
this viewpoint, with its concepts of the 'frontier effect' and three century
transitions. The eonic sequence always switches its zones of manifestation
according to a basic rule, and seems to comprise distinct 'transitions' about
three centuries in length. The period from 1500 to 1800 roughly speaking takes
its place in the eonic sequence as the crucial period of rapid transition
leading, as did the Axial period, to a whole new age period of world history.
Correct perception of this phenomenon is often confused by Eurocentrism or the
incorrect perspective of a 'western civilization'. In fact, the modern
transition, just as do the Axial transitions, initiates via a localized region a
process of globalization.
In a real sense, therefore, a new age begins with the rise of the modern
world. This point is insufficient appreciated by many students, or proponents of
the religious interpretation of the Axial period. But we have seen that the
roots of modernity lie in the original Axial era itself. Indeed, the distinction
of secular and sacred has simply confused the issue entirely. The rise of the
modern world shows one and the same transformation of religion in the Protestant
Reformation, even as this leads rapidly to the distinctly modern tone, that of
the Enlightenment, and its secular outcome. The polarization of religion and
secularism is a misleading in this sense: the secular and the religious are not
intrinsically opposed. The secular is simply resetting the stage for a new set
of perspectives altogether, and moving to pass beyond an earlier phase of world
civilization. The Enlightenment fulfills all the requirements of a new advance
in 'religious evolution', by its explosive attack on religion itself! This
confusing point is by no means as complicated as it might seem. It is one and
the same process that we see in the Israelite revolution against 'religion',
viz. polytheism, that was characteristic of the Axial period.