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Modernity

Modernity


The terms modern and modernity have been widely used in the expression of two contrasting perspectives. They either (1) suggest that certain new habits, practices, or worldviews are inferior to those of ancient, medieval, or classical times and origins; or (2) they claim the superiority of these habits, practices, or worldviews, ascribing a positive meaning to their being new, up to date, fashionable, progressive, or evolutionarily successful.

It is typical of the latter perspective that the emphasis has been on "current" developments and on "the present," and that contrasts such as primitive, old, antiquated, obsolete, as well as terms with the prefix pre (e.g., premodern, preindustrial), have been used. This perspective is applied to the most recent social, literary, and aesthetic developments, and it leads to an ideology of permanent qualitative progress.

A major shift between these two views of modernity is marked by the controversy called the Querelle des Anciens et des Modernes (Quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns; a title derived from the writings of Charles Perrault), which began in England and France in 1687 and lasted for about a century. In this long debate several philosophers of the Enlightenment questioned the superiority of antiquity, its arts and values. They thus paved the way for the self-privileging of modernity over the other epochs of human history.

The term modernity also designates an epoch in human history that is characterized by the emergence of nation states that build on the political loyalty of their citizens, develop standardizations of the law, and establish legal institutions and bureaucratic forms of administration. Such nation states permit and even encourage public deliberation about the common social order, the common good, and the common goals. This development is connected to a consolidation of knowledge through institutionalized education and with strategies to acquire knowledge systematically by cultivating the "sciences." The political, educational, and scientific processes develop along with an industrial society that by the technological application of scientific knowledge generates a constant transformation of its natural and cultural environments.


Modernity as historical epoch

Since these developments have not occurred simultaneously across the globe, the localization of modernity in space and time is difficult to determine and remains open to debate. The Reformation is often designated, even in secular circles, as the breeding ground of typically modern mentalities. Modernity is also usually associated with the age of "enlightened thinking" that shaped Europe and North America from the second half of the eighteenth century on. During this period, the French revolution and the philosophy of Immanuel Kant (17241804) became the most important sources for political and intellectual ideas. During the last decades of the twentieth century, an ongoing international debate about the end of modernity set in, with Friedrich Nietzsche (18441900) acting as an early prophet of "postmodernism." The postmodern period is fuelled by the growing conviction that modernity's faith in the unity of reason and the rationality continuum was illusion, and by uncertainties about the future of nation states in the process of globalization.


The ambivalences of modernity

Whereas modernity can be regarded as an endeavor to escape religious and political tyranny and authoritarian traditionalism, it has itself become a metaphor for a deeply ambivalent global enterprise. The striving for liberation, the establishment of a public legal system, mandatory education for all people, and the development of welfare systems within the nation state were all aspects of the modern enterprise. The same modernity that fled the tyrannies of the past and strove for the unity of the state, the rule of law in political life, and political sovereignty based on the will of the people (democratization) also brought forth aggressive nation states characterized by chauvinism, imperialism, colonialism, and ecological brutality. Similarly, the escape from prescientific and even mythical worldviews, the striving for a consolidation of knowledge through the sciences, the search for scientific truth, and the appeal to rationality and reason led to more than the triumph of public education and the flourishing of discovery and technological innovation. It also led to scientistic and naturalistic ideologies that promoted blindness to religious truths and cultural complexity.

Alfred North Whitehead (18611947) offered a subtle analysis of how the unfolding and the triumph of scientific thinking shaped the modern common sense, its modes of experience and expectation, and how it correlated with a relative deformation of aesthetic, ethical, and religious experience. According to Whitehead, "The modern world has lost God and is seeking him" (1960, p.72). The process of modernization finally led to the dominance of science-assisted technical reason (industrialization) and to the triumph of the powers of the market, the media, and technologydevelopments that have turned out to be culturally imperialistic and ecologically destructive.

Ambivalence over the blessings or curses of modernity is rooted in a structural conflict within modernity itself, which has lead to the deeply negative connotations associated with the term modernity. The conflict is usually spelled out by the dual of "modernity" and "postmodernity." It is also present in the ongoing discussion of whether postmodernity is merely an extension of modernity, a self-jeopardizing of the modern enterprise that would be better identified as late modernity.

On the one hand, modernity strives for the freedom of the person, the equality of all human beings, and for the universality of reason. Modernity's fight for justice and equality, and against tyranny, is connected with a passion for universal transparency and unity. For the modern mind, unity means consensus, mutual understanding, and harmony based on equality. On the other hand, modern societies have developed a multisystemic texture as modernity brought forth a differentiation of social institutions, sciences, and rationalitiesdifferentiations that resist the plea for an overarching universal unity. Modernity thus created an ongoing conflict between unity and differentiation: a passion for unified reason, a universal rationality-continuum, and universal morality on the one hand, and a passion for differentiation of social systems, differentiation of the sciences, and a nonhierarchical differentiation of cultural spheres on the other hand.

Several social systems work for the sustenance and the wellbeing of the whole society. Such systems include, for example, politics, law, religion, education, the sciences, the market, the media, technology, the arts, and the family. In this multisystemic order each system performs a function that is essential and indispensable for the whole society. At the same time each system strives for autonomy and defends itself against interference from other systems. Each system optimizes its procedures, its rationalities, and its institutional forms. Along with the differentiation of the social systems, modern societies developed a rich texture of associations, such as political parties, ideological movements, and a variety of clubs and lobbies, all of which attempt to influence, strengthen, or question and reshape the "division of powers" within social systems. The universal and even grandiose claims of such associations grow out of the interests and goals of their members. Some associations perish quickly, while others have a long life. Some are normatively and institutionally stable, others are open to trends. These associations, which want to influence and actually do influence social systems, make up civil society. The complex, but by no means chaotic, interaction between social systems and civil associations constitutes so-called pluralistic society, which provides a structured and pluralistic setting for the sciences and other cultural formations, a setting that promises to cope with the inner conflicts of modernity.


Modernity and postmodernity

The structured pluralism of modern societies and cultures has brought a differentiation of rationalities: for example, those of the market, of the natural sciences, of historical investigation, of religion, and of common sense. This differentiation has challenged the modern ideal of the universal unity of knowledge and of mutual moral communication and understanding. Yet with its multisystemic setting it has also challenged the idea of an endless and relativistic differentiation and dissociation, an idea often connected with postmodernity. These multisystemic settings appear in many areas of life, although the question of how many social systems there are and how they should be differentiated remains open to debate. But certainly their number is finite and small, and the evolution of a new system takes a long time, as evidenced, for example, by the development of the media during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The same holds true for differentiation in the sciences or for the family of confessions in Christianity, which constitute the pluralism of the academy and the pluralism of the ecumene. The world is much more complex than the typical modern mind is willing to admit, but it is much less chaotic than those who hope to exorcise the spirits of postmodernity would have it.

The one clear difference that divides modernity and postmodernity is reflected in many areas and on many different levels: This is the difference between the highest value and the interpretation of this value in both epochs. For modernity, the value of unity is paramount. For postmodernity, the value of difference is crucial. This, of course, includes different understandings and interpretations of unity and difference on both sides. For the typical modern mind, difference meant conflict, disagreement, inequality, or even oppression. For the postmodern mind, however, difference means freedom and creative engagement, while unity raises suspicions of adaptation, control, and even oppression. The postmodern mind would nevertheless acknowledge that not all forms of difference are creative and helpful. One must differentiate between the differences and recognize that some can be destructive. The postmodern mind would also welcome differentiated forms of unity. But all forms of unity have to allow for difference, have to appreciate and even treasure difference. Otherwise they breed oppressive ideologies.

The postmodern mindset is not simply based on some Nietzschean philosophical idea. Numerous cultural and scientific achievements, along with many experiences of oppression and pain, have led to the conviction and to the affirmation that the world is poly-contextual. Society must welcome multiperspectival approaches and should embrace and cultivate pluralistic settings if it wants to maintain the modern striving for truth, justice, and dignity. Different cultures, different traditions, and different rationalities have to be taken seriously. Moreover, the human individual has to be taken much more seriously than modernity thought.

Modernity praised the value of the theoretical "human subject" and its autonomy, freedom, and rational self-control, but it failed to address the actual unique individual. Rather, modernity had in mind the idealized, standardized person of the bourgeois value system: the autonomous "subject," guided by reason and universal morals. But concrete human beings are much more subtle and complex. They are determined by unique personal histories, by complex biological endowments, by intricate passions and feelings, and by different forms of rationality. Some are more impressed by religion than others; some are devoted to the natural sciences, while others are skeptical of them. Some find their key values in family and friendship; others look for a more general orientation for the common good. The young Friedrich Schleiermacher (17681834) recognized the problems in the modern concept of the human person, and he accused Kant of having standardized modern subjectivity and of having attributed too much power to reason. Schleiermacher called for a new conception of individualism, one that takes each multifarious human person seriouslya sort of poly-individualism. In this respect, however, modernity itself provides possibilities for escape and for correcting its own reductionistic anthropological concepts. "All in all, resistance to rationalization has been as prominent a mark of modernity as has rationalization itself" (Bauman, p. 596).


See also Postmodernism; Postmodern Science



Bibliography

bauman, zygmunt "art, modernity." in the oxford companion to politics of the world, ed. joel krieger. oxford and new york: oxford university press, 1993.

berman, marshall. all that is solid melts into air: the experience of modernity. london: verso; new york: simon and schuster, 1982.

black, cyril edwin. the dynamics of modernization: a study in comparative history. new york: harper, 1966.

giddens, anthony. consequences of modernity. stanford, calif.: stanford university press, 1990.

giddens, anthony. modernity and self-identity: self and society in the late modern age. stanford, calif.: stanford university press, 1991.

habermas, jürgen. the philosophical discourse of modernity, translated by frederick lawrence. cambridge, uk: cambridge university press, 1987.

habermas, jürgen. between facts and norms, trans. william rehg. cambridge, uk: polity, 1996.

heller, agnes. can modernity survive? berkeley: university of california press, 1990.

köpping, klaus-peter; wiehl, reiner; welker, michael; eds. die autonome personeine europäische erfindung? munich, germany: fink, 2002.

lash, scott, and friedman, jonathan, eds. modernity and identity. oxford: blackwell, 1992.

levy, marion. modernization and the structure of societies. princeton, n.j.: princeton university press, 1966.

luhmann, niklas. die gesellschaft der gesellschaft, 2 vols. frankfurt am main, germany: suhrkamp, 1997.

riha, karl. prämoderne, moderne, postmoderne. frankfurt am main, germany: suhrkamp, 1995.

waters, malcolm, ed. modernity: critical concepts, 4 vols. london and new york: routledge, 1999.

wehler, hans ulrich. modernisierungstheorie und geschichte. göttingen, germany: vandenhoeck und ruprecht, 1975.

whitehead, alfred north. science and the modern world. cambridge, uk: university press, 1925.

whitehead, alfred north. religion in the making (1926). new york: meridian, 1960.

michael welker

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Modernism

Modernism

BIBLIOGRAPHY

It is helpful to distinguish between modernism and that which is modern. What is known as modern is that which is in step with the times, or not so far out of step as to have vanished from cultural memory. A list of what is modern would surely include automobiles and paved roads, photography, electric lights, travel by rail and by air, mass transit and mass production, the telegraph and telephone and television, motion pictures, recorded sound, and so on, whereas a butter churn or reading by candlelight would not qualify.

Most of what is known as modern today had its beginnings in one brief historical period of Western culture. Although there is some dispute over exact dates, the modern period is generally held to extend from the third quarter of the nineteenth century to the beginning of World War II. During this timeframe there were overwhelming changes in American lifestyles. From the landing at Plymouth Rock until the 1920s, for instance, a majority of Americans had taken their living in one form or another from the land. By 1920 this had changed as American society became more industrialized and moved away from agrarian culture, changing into a mercantile and commercial society, not to mention a metropolitan one. The 1920 census reported that for the first time in history, more Americans were living in urban environments than were living beyond them. The census suggested as well that a new strata of society was well along in its making. A modern middle class was developing as people left the land and came to work in the industries of major metropolitan areas, and this was an important modification economically because they were one and all consumers. The majority of Americans were earning their livings from some form of mass manufacture, and their buying power was likely to increase because higher wages were available to those able to acquire the greatest industrial skills. This, in turn, provided the chance to rise out of the circumstances in which one was born, not just for a few, but for the majority. Never before had a promise of upward mobility been so widely extended. Never had the American Dream seemed so American.

But it was coming at a price. Urban life was isolating. Factory work was unfulfilling. Nothing seemed sacred anymore. The result was a greater level of unhappiness.

The term modernism refers to the responses to this period of turbulence and change. T. S. Eliot's essay Tradition and the Individual Talent (1919), for instance, articulated the central challenges for those setting foot in the modern era. Eliot warned the poets of his generation they would have to put aside traditional poetic forms and long-standing poetic techniques. Modern life was so far removed from what earlier generations had experienced, poets would have to abstract what was best from the past, then find new forms of their own making in which to articulate what it now meant to be human. Most immediately, Eliot was calling for a break with the nineteenth-century notion of metrics and rhyme. Still, the implications of his call are far-reaching, for Tradition and the Individual Talent also served as a challenge to verities about human experience that dated back to the seventeenth century, or, more specifically, to the Age of Enlightenment, when thinkers such as René Descartes (15961650) broke with the mysticism and superstition of the Dark and Middle Ages and held out the possibility that human reason could, over time, gain a full understanding of our world and our lives. Foregrounding the human capacity for reasonparticularly the human capacity for inductive and deductive thoughtthe Age of Enlightenment posited a world that was subject to a matrix of fixed principles, many of which remain the core of the sciences today. If there were fixed principles to be found at the core of the sciences, it stood to reason that this was also true of all of human experience. Surely life was comprehensible if only we could grasp the causal relationships at its center, properly sequence related events, and so on.

But what if the world was not fixed? The modernists were suspicious. What if it was fluid, contiguous, ever-changing, always a step or two ahead of what anyone might grasp? What if we were losing our way? What if this overriding faith in ourselves had left us now with nothing to believe in? These were the questions modernist writers were posing in their novels, particularly Marcel Proust (18711922), James Joyce (18821941), and Virginia Woolf (18821941) in Europe, as well as Ernest Hemingway (18991961), William Faulkner (18971962), and F. Scott Fitzgerald (18961940) in the United States. None of these novelists rejected out of hand what Enlightenment thought had achieved. The periodic tables developed in the 1890s were valuable; clearly there were ways in which the world was fixed and stable. What modern experience was proving was just that being alive was a more intricate matter than the Enlightenment had allowed, the powers of science be hanged; to draw from the Irish poet William Butler Yeats's famous The Second Coming (1920):

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;

mere anarchy is loosed upon the world

The greatest novels of the modernist period are concerned with remembrance and reconstruction. Work as otherwise diverse as Proust's Á la recherche du temps perdu (19131927), Hemingway's A Farewell to Arms (1929), and Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby (1925) all deal with protagonists who are trying to organize the confusion of their pasts into a coherent, viable text. They are doing their best to take fragments of experience and place them in a meaningful, causal sequence. That they can only make sense of their lives through a process sure to falsify or otherwise misrepresent some of what actually happened is a given, but, for the modernist novel, that is the best one can do. Everything is approximate. Everything is relative. Meaning is in a constant state of flux, so, to make meaning out of our experience is to reconfigure life into forms simple enough to make sense of.

Proust's novel is best known in English by its earliest translated title, Remembrance of Things Past, but In Search of Lost Time is a closer approximation to what Proust seems to have had in mind. Both titles, though, speak to the modernist experience, a concern with organizing experience into spatial, temporal patterns so that they might be understood and appreciated. This is literally the case in Woolf's To the Lighthouse (1927), in which one of her protagonists, Lily Brisco, discovers that the ocean scene she means to paint is so mutable it alters before she can fix it on her canvas. To complicate matters, her perspective is mutable as well, she discovers. One can apprehend the scene, but never quite comprehend it before it changes, or, a more daunting thought still, before Lily changes herself.

For such modernists, this is true not just in art but in all of life. The human mind is no match for a world so contiguous and contradictory, so replete with fleeting images, sounds, and sensations. In an attempt to affix meaning, we actually make meaning. We are constantly recapitulating our experiences, making them simpler than we know them to be, forever fitting them into patterns of our own very personal design.

When Henry Ford (18631947) introduced the $5, 8-hour workday in 1914 for the workers on his assembly line in Michigan, he was recognizing the changes taking place in the social fabric of the country. This was to be an era of mass production, one in which more goods would be made available to more people than had ever been known throughout human history. But mass production meant that the aesthetics of what was desired would have to be carefully adjusted. For one thing, standardization of a product would have to be accepted in the marketplace as a virtue. Ford recognized that mass production was dependent upon mass consumption bringing about mass taste. Modern business practice would have to create a consumer with predictable spending habits; it would have to find ways to compensate those it employed and socialize them to both the boredom and rigors of routinized labor, and a delicate balance would have to be struck between the nation-state, large capital, and labor organizations.

Modernist architects such as the Dutch Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (18861969) and the French Le Corbusier (18871965) realized that creating living and working space in the cities of their day meant accommodating the need for flexibility and easy modification. Architecture had to be responsive to an incredible variety of diverse experiences and ever-changing catalysts. But this would have to be balanced against a host of conflicting demands. Architects were being called upon by a powerful capitalist agenda to design in ways that signaled permanence, that were highly functional. If the freedoms and opportunities of urban living often made life seem formless, even chaotic, it was up to them to find new forms that might bring order to bear. The more fragmented and fractured and unstable life came to seem, the more they would have to design with an eye toward historical continuity and collective memory.

The French painter Marcel Duchamp (18871968) rocked the art world in 1913 when his painting Nude Descending a Staircase was displayed at the Armory Show in New York City. One saw neither a nude nor a staircase, but rather a dizzying series of fragments, one atop the other, suggesting body parts in sequential motionyet, somehow, in no particular order. Other painters such as Georges Braque (18821963), Paul Klee (18791940), and Pablo Picasso (18811973) were working in a similar vein, defying convention, thwarting long-standing aesthetics of artistic representation. It would be a mistake to equate this with a rejection of the past, however. Much of this modernist avant garde actually owed a significant debt to primitive work from Egypt, Sumeria, China, and, in Picasso's case, to African art in general. Was it meaningful to speak any longer of divisions between the modern and the ancient, the East and the West, the avant garde and primitive?

Surely it is not coincidental that at much the same time Albert Einstein (18791955) was challenging Euclidian geometry, James Joyce was challenging how a novel should be written with his dizzying tour de force Finnegans Wake (1939). Neither is it coincidental that in this same period, Béla Bartók (18811945), Alban Berg (18851935), and Arnold Schoenberg (18741951) were creating atonal musical scores that were calling into question precisely what music was in general, and a modern music in particular. Nor is it coincidental that in this same period economists such as John Maynard Keynes were creating new economic models to fit the peculiar demands brought about in the modern era as compromises were being struck between fixity and stability on the one hand, and the flux of global capitalism on the other.

All found themselves facing the overriding question of modernism itself: How does one respond to an era so unlike any other in the history of all humankind?

SEE ALSO Alienation; Alienation-Anomie; Architecture; Colonialism; Critical Theory; Culture; Decolonization; Development; Keynes, John Maynard; Literature; Metropolis; Modernity; Modernization; Postcolonialism; Postmodernism; Relativism; Technological Progress, Economic Growth; Urbanization; Visual Arts; Work Day

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Calinescu, Matei. 1987. Five Faces of Modernity: Modernism, Avant-Garde, Decadence, Kitsch, Postmodernism. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Eliot, T. S. [1919] 1950. Tradition and the Individual Talent. Selected Essays. New York: Harcourt, Brace.

Fussell, Paul. 1975. The Gender of Modernity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Harvey, David. 1990. The Condition of Postmodernity. Oxford, U.K.: Blackwell.

Kern, Stephen. 1983. The Culture of Time and Space, 18801918. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Nicholls, Peter. 1995. Modernisms: A Literary Guide. London: Macmillan.

Jay Boyer

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Modernity

Modernity

GENERAL FEATURES OF MODERNITY

SPECIFIC MEANINGS OF MODERNITY

BIBLIOGRAPHY

When Niccolò Machiavelli (14691527) undertook to promote new modes and orders unlike those that had previously existed, he was expressing a historical vision that came to define modernity (from the late Latin modernus, derivative of the classical Latin modo, meaning just now or in a certain manner). This vision was one shared in diverse ways by other founders of modernity such as Francis Bacon (15611626), Galileo Galilei (15641642), and René Descartes (15961650), as well as world explorers of the period and leaders of the Protestant Reformation. From politics and science to philosophy and religion, an influential cadre argued for the possibility of introducing an historical break as significant as any that had preceded it, although they also often made the case for this break as a kind of return to lost traditions of antiquity.

That Machiavelli is considered a founder of a new form of political science indicates the significance of this vision for the social sciences. Indeed, modernity gave rise both to the kinds of societies or social relations studied by the field as well as to widespread notions about what it means to practice science. Yet it is an ambivalent term. Modernity can denote different historical periods and phenomena, and it is celebrated and reviled for a variety of reasons. It has multiple meanings that inform debates about the human condition and the nature of the social sciences. This is especially true at the dawn of what many theorists describe as the postmodern age.

GENERAL FEATURES OF MODERNITY

Three essential features of the modern era set it apart from premodern ways of life. First, modernity refers to radical societal changes, including the rise of democracies, the spread of religious pluralism and secularization, the European colonization of other parts of the world, the formation of the bureaucratic nation-state and market economies, increased social mobility and literacy, and the growth of industrial society with all the attendant changes in working conditions. Modernity is characterized by advanced technoindustrial society, which has brought gains in material well-being primarily to the developed (or modernized) parts of the world. Indeed, a central motif of modernity is the notion of unlimited progress. Yet it is also characterized by uniquely modern problems such as the environmental risks associated with technologies. Many social theorists argue that the emerging knowledge or information age constitutes a novel, postmodern society.

Second, modernity is characterized by a growing emphasis on reason and experience, which speaks to the rise of modern science and technology. Most importantly, modern science altered what it means to know. In the prologue to the never-completed work The Great Instauration, Bacon first made the radical argument that human knowledge and human power meet in one. Complaining of the vain speculations of earlier philosophers, Bacon argued that knowledge should lead to the conquest of nature for the relief of man's estate (Novum Organum, 1620, LII). Unlike the ancients, for whom theory was about things eternal, modern thinkers promoted a more practical science concerned with altering the changeable. This alliance between knowing and changing the world is rooted in the modern subject/object dualism first articulated by Descartes.

Third, modernity ushered in new understandings of the human self and political community, which reflected and conditioned these social and cultural changes. Modern theorists such as Thomas Hobbes (15881679) and Immanuel Kant (17241804) conceptualized the self as a reflexive, autonomous, and rational will, freely choosing its ends and projecting its values onto an indifferent nature that is void of purpose. Political association is cast less as the common pursuit for higher ends (the perfectionism of ancient political theorists) than as procedures for adjudicating demands within a framework of individual rights and freedoms. C. B. Macpherson named this political aspect of modernity possessive individualism (1962).

SPECIFIC MEANINGS OF MODERNITY

Modernity should be set within specific contexts, insofar as it is used to describe different periods of history and aspects of life. Indeed, there are numerous features associated with being modern, which have been developed in several fields of study. For example, modern art refers to works produced in the period from the late nineteenth century to the 1970s, a time characterized in part by the abandonment of earlier emphases on representationalism and religious iconography. A related term is modernism, which also has multiple meanings, but is often used to refer to cultural movements composed of modernists who embrace the features of modern life identified above. Bruce Lawrence, for example, characterizes many religious fundamentalists as modern because they take advantage of technological advances (Lawrence 1989). But they are not modernists, because they reject the fundamental philosophical underpinnings of modernity and refuse to wholly adapt their personal identities and social lives to the dictates of the modern world. At its extreme, this rejection of modernity has led to terrorist acts.

A few prominent uses of modernity from philosophy and social science indicate its multiplicity. Karl Marx (18181883) emphasized the alienation of humankind under modern capitalist systems and envisioned communism as an emancipating force. Indeed, alienation is one predominant motif in critical theories of modernity. For example, Friedrich Nietzsche (18441900) suggested that the essence of modernity is the death of God. For Nietzsche, the modern worldview necessitates that the highest values devaluate themselves. The aim is lacking: why? finds no answer (Nietzsche [1901] 1967, p. 9). He argued that each individual should mold his or her own values as the pure expression of selfhood, ignoring traditions about good and evil. In modernity, what was once thought of as transcendent and given becomes the unstable product of the human will. Marx summarized this radical historical contingency: all that is solid melts into air ([1848] 1994). Critical approaches to modern society thus often focus on securing personal orientation and meaning, frequently through spiritual or communal practices.

Auguste Comte (17981857) described the modern era as the culmination of a three-stage historical process, which is itself a characteristically modern interpretation of history in its linear, progressive outlook. The scientific or positive stage transcends the earlier theological and metaphysical stages. For Comte, the methods of the natural sciences provide the only route to certain knowledge. In a more pessimistic account, Max Weber (18641920) argued that the rationalization of life in modern society traps individuals in an iron cage of rule-based control. Similarly, Jürgen Habermas (b. 1929) criticized the modern notion of subject-centered reason by developing theories of communicative rationality. Peter Wagner explained such conflicting interpretations by arguing that modernity is ambiguous in presenting two counterposed metanarrativesliberation and disciplinization (1994). Michel Foucault (19261984) did much to highlight the latter dimension of modernity by arguing that modern society involves pervasive systems of control and surveillance, which has informed many theories critical of development and globalization. He argued that modernity possesses certain underlying conditions of rationality that constitute an understanding of the world and define what counts as truth. Similarly, Martin Heidegger (18991976) argued that modernity is a unique way of revealing and being in the world, which he called Gestell (enframing). For Heidegger, modern human existence is constituted by a technological approach to the world.

Work in feminist epistemology and the sociology of science has further refined critiques of modern rationality. Thomas Kuhn (19221996), for example, argued that scientific advance is not the steady polishing of the mirror of nature leading to a correspondence with reality in itself. Rather, science is a community endeavor in which groups define common problems and standards. Kuhn's work ushered in a variety of postmodern approaches to science and theories of our linguistically mediated existence. Indeed, all of the thinkers mentioned here have spurred thought about various alternatives to modernity. In one of the most provocative of such accounts, Bruno Latour (b. 1947) argued that we have never been modern, meaning that we have never been able to sustain the conceptual categories or the binary types, especially those of nature and culture, posited by the modern worldview. The harder we try to purify our world into distinct, bounded domains, the more intermediary forms proliferate.

SEE ALSO Comte, Auguste; Foucault, Michel; Globalization, Social and Economic Aspects of; Habermas, Jürgen; Kuhn, Thomas; Marx, Karl; Modernism; Modernization; Nietzsche, Friedrich; Postmodernism; Rationality; Science

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bacon, Francis. [c. 1620] 1994. Novum Organum; with Other Parts of the Great Instauration. Chicago: Open Court.

Bauman, Zygmunt. 1991. Modernity and Ambivalence. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Giddens, Anthony. 1991. Modernity and Self-Identity: Self and Society in the Late Modern Age. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

Hirschman, Albert. 1977. The Passions and the Interests: Political Arguments for Capitalism Before Its Triumph. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Latour, Bruno. 1993. We Have Never Been Modern. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Lawrence, Bruce. 1989. Defenders of God: The Fundamentalist Revolt Against the Modern Age. San Francisco: Harper and Row.

Macpherson, C. B. 1962. The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke. Oxford: Clarendon.

Marx, Karl, and Frederick Engels. [1848] 1948. Manifesto of the Communist Party. New York: International Publishers.

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Adam Briggle

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Modernism

Modernism Modernism is the generally accepted term to describe the sweeping changes that took place, particularly in the arts and literature, between the late nineteenth century and the beginning of the Second World War. There is, however, no clear demarcation by date, and although the term post-modern is increasingly used to describe changes since the Second World War, there are some who argue Modernism persists, and others who see its demise as having occurred much earlier. Roland Barthes, a French semiologist, defined Modernism as the pluralization of world-views deriving from the evolution of new classes, technology, and communications that were gathering momentum in the mid-nineteenth century, while the English novelist and essayist Virginia Woolf regarded it as a historic opportunity for change in human relationships and the human character.

Although there is little unanimity as to when it began or exactly what its characteristics were, stylistically Modernism is usually depicted as a movement towards sophistication, mannerism, introversion, technical display, internal self-scepticism, and as a reaction against Victorian realism. Friedrich Nietzsche, often regarded as one of the first modernists because of his proclamation that ‘no artist tolerates reality’, argued that the aim of art should be its own self-realization, and that art itself makes life. His emphases on the individual and the drama of the artist's own consciousness were influential in a number of ways for the development of Mofernism, as were Sigmund Freud's theories of the unconscious, and the importance he placed on sexuality.

Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism, Futurism, Symbolism, Imagism, Voriticism, Dadaism, and Surrealism: all of these movements sprung from what is generally called Modernism, and all were, to varying degrees, subversive of the realist or romantic impulse and disposed towards abstraction. In music, Modernism was characterized by atonalism, in poetry by vers libre, in fiction by stream of consciousness writing, while in architecture it is associated with functionalism. But Modernism was not just a movement associated with the arts. Rather, it was a broad intellectual movement affecting, and affected by, technological, political, and ideological changes and developments of the time. Einstein's theory of relativity, the discovery of X-rays, the beginning of the mass production of cars, and, crucially, shattering new developments in warfare during the First World War, all led to generalized traits of crisis, fragmentation, and introversion which can be seen as affecting all realms of culture and society at the time, and arguably still resonate at the end of the twentieth century.

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modernism

modernism, in religion, a general movement in the late 19th and 20th cent. that tried to reconcile historical Christianity with the findings of modern science and philosophy. Modernism arose mainly from the application of modern critical methods to the study of the Bible and the history of dogma and resulted in less emphasis on historic dogma and creeds and in greater stress on the humanistic aspects of religion. Importance was placed upon the immanent rather than the transcendent nature of God. The movement as a whole was profoundly influenced by the pragmatism of William James, the intuitionism of Henri Bergson, and the philosophy of action of Maurice Blondel. Modernist ideas were accepted in all or in part by many of the Protestant denominations, but there was also a reaction against them in the movement called fundamentalism. In reformed Judaism, especially among Americans, there developed a modernist movement resembling Protestant modernism. Within the Roman Catholic Church there was a movement specifically referred to as Modernism; it was condemned as the "synthesis of all heresies" by Pius X in his encyclical Pascendi (1907). Among the leaders of Catholic Modernism were A. F. Loisy in France and George Tyrrell in England. Vital to the Catholic movement were the adoption of the critical approach to the Bible, which was by that time accepted by most Protestant churches, and the rejection of the intellectualism of scholastic theology, with the corresponding subordination of doctrine to practice. Many modernists applied the pragmatic method to the sacraments, to dogma, and to prayer. They considered the sacraments to have no reality as a divinely ordained means of grace, but valuable only for their psychological effect. These tendencies led them naturally to deny the authority of the church and the traditional Christian conception of God; a decree declared the beliefs heretical, ending Roman Catholic Modernism.

See M. Rancheti, The Catholic Modernists (tr. 1969); B. M. Reardon, comp., Roman Catholic Modernism (1970); A. R. Vidler, A Variety of Catholic Modernists (1970); W. R. Hutchison, The Modernist Impulse in American Protestantism (1976); G. Daly, Transcendence and Immanence: A Study in Catholic Modernism and Integralism (1980).

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modernism

modernism Twentieth-century movement in art, architecture, design and literature that, in general, concentrates on space and form, rather than content or ornamentation. In architecture and design, early influences were Bauhaus (1919–33) and individuals such as Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe. Modernism developed the use of new building materials, such as glass, steel, and concrete. While difficult to define and date precisely, the echoes of literary modernism can still be heard in late-20th-century fiction. The most recognizably distinct form is the stream of consciousness narrative, as evidenced in the work of Virginia Woolf and James Joyce's seminal novel, Ulysses (1922). The outstanding example of modernist poetry is the fragmentary “The Wasteland” (1922) by T. S. Eliot. Literary modernism exhibits an increasing concern with psychological states and the subconscious. Artists such as Picasso and Marcel Duchamp adopted new techniques of representation and worked in previously unexploited media. The movements of Dada and surrealism were vital to this new experimentation. In music, composers such as Stravinsky and choenberg challenged previously held notions of tonality. See also abstract art; abstract expressionism; Blaue Reiter; Brücke; constructivism; cubism; deconstruction; fauvism; futurism; International style; post-modernism; suprematism; vorticism

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Modernism

Modernism. The attempt, especially in the Roman Catholic Church at the beginning of the 20th cent., to reformulate doctrine in the light of contemporary philosophical and scientific research. Exegetes, the most distinguished of whom was Alfred Loisy, argued that the scriptures had to be treated simply as historical documents, and studied without reference to tradition or to the magisterium of the Church. Modernism was condemned by the Holy Office in the decree Lamentabili of July 1907, and by Pius X's encyclical Pascendi the following Sept. The ensuing purge in the Church has been known as ‘the anti-modernist terror’, requiring as it did the anti-Modernist oath. Outside the RC Church modernism may be generally identified with theologically liberal Protestantism; and with the movement in Anglicanism which issued in the Modern Churchmen's Union.

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modernism

mod·ern·ism / ˈmädərˌnizəm/ • n. modern character or quality of thought, expression, or technique: when he waxes philosophical, he comes across as a strange mix of nostalgia and modernism. ∎  a style or movement in the arts that aims to break with classical and traditional forms. ∎  a movement toward modifying traditional beliefs in accordance with modern ideas, esp. in the Roman Catholic Church in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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modernity

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Modernism

Modernism.
1. See Modern Movement.

2. Style of the 1920s and 1930s described as Modernist.

Bibliography

Weston (1996)

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Modernity

MODERNITY.

This entry includes three subentries:

Overview
Africa
East Asia

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Modernism

MODERNISM.

This entry includes two subentries:

Overview
Latin America

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modernity

modernitybanditti, bitty, chitty, city, committee, ditty, gritty, intercity, kitty, nitty-gritty, Pitti, pity, pretty, shitty, slitty, smriti, spitty, titty, vittae, witty •fifty, fifty-fifty, nifty, shifty, swiftie, thrifty •guilty, kiltie, silty •flinty, linty, minty, shinty •ballistae, Christie, Corpus Christi, misty, twisty, wristy •sixty •deity, gaiety (US gayety), laity, simultaneity, spontaneity •contemporaneity, corporeity, femineity, heterogeneity, homogeneity •anxiety, contrariety, dubiety, impiety, impropriety, inebriety, notoriety, piety, satiety, sobriety, ubiety, variety •moiety •acuity, ambiguity, annuity, assiduity, congruity, contiguity, continuity, exiguity, fatuity, fortuity, gratuity, ingenuity, perpetuity, perspicuity, promiscuity, suety, superfluity, tenuity, vacuity •rabbity •improbity, probity •acerbity • witchetty • crotchety •heredity •acidity, acridity, aridity, avidity, cupidity, flaccidity, fluidity, frigidity, humidity, hybridity, insipidity, intrepidity, limpidity, liquidity, lividity, lucidity, morbidity, placidity, putridity, quiddity, rabidity, rancidity, rapidity, rigidity, solidity, stolidity, stupidity, tepidity, timidity, torpidity, torridity, turgidity, validity, vapidity •commodity, oddity •immodesty, modesty •crudity, nudity •fecundity, jocundity, moribundity, profundity, rotundity, rubicundity •absurdity • difficulty • gadgety •majesty • fidgety • rackety •pernickety, rickety •biscuity •banality, duality, fatality, finality, ideality, legality, locality, modality, morality, natality, orality, reality, regality, rurality, tonality, totality, venality, vitality, vocality •fidelity •ability, agility, civility, debility, docility, edibility, facility, fertility, flexility, fragility, futility, gentility, hostility, humility, imbecility, infantility, juvenility, liability, mobility, nihility, nobility, nubility, puerility, senility, servility, stability, sterility, tactility, tranquillity (US tranquility), usability, utility, versatility, viability, virility, volatility •ringlety •equality, frivolity, jollity, polity, quality •credulity, garrulity, sedulity •nullity •amity, calamity •extremity • enmity •anonymity, dimity, equanimity, magnanimity, proximity, pseudonymity, pusillanimity, unanimity •comity •conformity, deformity, enormity, multiformity, uniformity •subcommittee • pepperminty •infirmity •Christianity, humanity, inanity, profanity, sanity, urbanity, vanity •amnesty •lenity, obscenity, serenity •indemnity, solemnity •mundanity • amenity •affinity, asininity, clandestinity, divinity, femininity, infinity, masculinity, salinity, trinity, vicinity, virginity •benignity, dignity, malignity •honesty •community, immunity, importunity, impunity, opportunity, unity •confraternity, eternity, fraternity, maternity, modernity, paternity, taciturnity •serendipity, snippety •uppity •angularity, barbarity, bipolarity, charity, circularity, clarity, complementarity, familiarity, granularity, hilarity, insularity, irregularity, jocularity, linearity, parity, particularity, peculiarity, polarity, popularity, regularity, secularity, similarity, singularity, solidarity, subsidiarity, unitarity, vernacularity, vulgarity •alacrity • sacristy •ambidexterity, asperity, austerity, celerity, dexterity, ferrety, posterity, prosperity, severity, sincerity, temerity, verity •celebrity • integrity • rarity •authority, inferiority, juniority, majority, minority, priority, seniority, sonority, sorority, superiority •mediocrity • sovereignty • salubrity •entirety •futurity, immaturity, impurity, maturity, obscurity, purity, security, surety •touristy •audacity, capacity, fugacity, loquacity, mendacity, opacity, perspicacity, pertinacity, pugnacity, rapacity, sagacity, sequacity, tenacity, veracity, vivacity, voracity •laxity •sparsity, varsity •necessity •complexity, perplexity •density, immensity, propensity, tensity •scarcity • obesity •felicity, toxicity •fixity, prolixity •benedicite, nicety •anfractuosity, animosity, atrocity, bellicosity, curiosity, fabulosity, ferocity, generosity, grandiosity, impecuniosity, impetuosity, jocosity, luminosity, monstrosity, nebulosity, pomposity, ponderosity, porosity, preciosity, precocity, reciprocity, religiosity, scrupulosity, sinuosity, sumptuosity, velocity, verbosity, virtuosity, viscosity •paucity • falsity • caducity • russety •adversity, biodiversity, diversity, perversity, university •sacrosanctity, sanctity •chastity •entity, identity •quantity • certainty •cavity, concavity, depravity, gravity •travesty • suavity •brevity, levity, longevity •velvety • naivety •activity, nativity •equity •antiquity, iniquity, obliquity, ubiquity •propinquity

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