Cultures de la légitimation – Karl Jaspers revisité


Abstract: The attempts to identify and establish Europe’s proper coordinates become ironic pretexts for modern writers such as Robert Musil or Joseph Roth. German sociologist Hans Joas, a theorist of values, knows, as the two mentioned above, that values are, in most occasions, our own wishes. Thus, patrimony turns to be formed form those poor aspects, which are less pragmatic and more desirable. This assumption does not hinder Joas to make an inventory of European cultural values. The first one is cultivating a culture of legitimacy, which comes from describing existence in transcendent categories. It is shared by all those cultures, which Karl Jaspers considered axial and developed between 800 and 200 B.C. Rereading Jaspers, Shmuel Noah Eisenstadt, a sociologist of religion, the author of the first proposal in Joas’s catalogue, extends this interval until 500 A.D. and the Islam’s consolidation. This paper discusses the cultural policy’s arguments for such an historical movement, which he believes to have developed from an ecumenical utopia: Christianity and Islam, as well the other religions Jaspers referred to, had better capacitated the discourses about legitimacy. How do new cosmologies export the project into institutional models, in power structures and in constituting the collective identities they legitimate?

Keywords : culture axiale, axialité élargie, non°axial, valeurs européennes, christianisme, Islam.