Disembedded Ego-Driven Personality
It is very noticeable that the last great breakthrough in human consciousness is attributed to a few remarkable personalities. They were not traditional leaders like kings, military leaders or high priests but “disembedded” sages, ascetics, prophets and philosophers. Finding themselves somehow outside their archaic social matrices they were capable of “reflectivity” or “second order thinking’, in other words “thinking about thinking”, which is the major differentiating characteristic of the Axial Age according to the sociologists of religion who have studied it. With the exception of Heraclitus, Lao Tzu and Siddhartha the Buddha, these individuals claimed to have received their wisdom from Heaven, Jehovah, various gods, the Logos, etc. If they had not done so but had admitted to themselves and to others that they themselves as evolved personalities were creating and communicating their own personal new vision of reality they would have been ignored as fools or persecuted as megalomaniacs.
After a transitional period of adjustment their words became canonical and previous cosmological speculation was downgraded to myth and superstition. The few individuals who still heard the gods speaking to them were successfully marginalised. These texts became sacred and previous beliefs, images and idols were either secularised as superstition or regarded as evil. However the growth in textual criticism and secular history, that began in the mercantile civilisation based on the coastal towns in ancient Greece, led to humanistic history and archaeology which progressively weakened the authority of the canonical scriptures and the theology and practices that accompanied them.