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Historically, many civilizations have contained in their culture, in one way or another, the concept of the "axis mundi" or world axis. Examples of this include Yggdrasil from Norse culture and Mount Meru in Hinduism, of which Angkor Wat is a representation. In fact, a brief perusal of the linked wikipedia entry on the axis mundi reveals the concept to be seemingly ubiquitous.

Really, given such a widespread knowledge of this concept, it might be interesting to ask: Did the concept of the axis mundi appear first in one culture, and then spread to others through dispersion, or did it evolve independently in many different cultures?

If the former, then from where did it originate? Might a genuine "supernatural" origin for the concept be too outlandish to posit here? On the other hand, if the latter, then what about the concept of the axis mundi is so appealing or natural to the human psyche, that it seems to appear virtually everywhere?

Is the concept of the "axis mundi" discussed by any philosophers traditionally studied in the Western philosophical canon?

  • Cody Gray, thank you very much for your edit! – user1539 May 13 '12 at 6:53
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There is a large literature on the "axis mundi", but most of it is anthropological and historical rather than properly philosophical. Naturally, the question of whether there was a singular origin of the notion followed by cultural diffusion or multiple independent derivations is an open question; however, most people seem to think that the notion is derived directly from seeing stars rotating around the pole star.

Personally, I'd suggest you take a look at Hamlet's Mill, which although highly speculative, is a fascinating view of the problem.

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