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Modernity, a topic in the humanities and social sciences, is both a historical period (the
modern era Human history, or world history, is the narrative of humanity Humanity most commonly refers to: * Human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of primates, characterized by bipedality, opposable thumbs, ...
) and the ensemble of particular socio-cultural
norms Norm, the Norm or NORM may refer to: In academic disciplines * Norm (geology), an estimate of the idealised mineral content of a rock * Norm (philosophy), a standard in normative ethics that is prescriptive rather than a descriptive or explanato ...
, attitudes and practices that arose in the wake of the
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

Renaissance
in the " Age of Reason" of 17th-century thought and the 18th-century "
Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * Age of Enlightenment, period in Western intellectual history from the late 17th to late 18th century, centered in France but also encompassing: ** Midlands Enlightenment ...
". Some commentators consider the era of modernity to have ended by 1930, with
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literatur ...
in 1945, or the 1980s or 1990s; the following era is called
postmodernity Postmodernity (post-modernity or the postmodern condition) is the economic or cultural state or condition of society which is said to exist ''after'' modernity. Some schools of thought hold that modernity ended in the late 20th century – in the ...
. The term "
contemporary history Contemporary history, in English-language historiography, is a subset of modern history that describes the historical period from approximately 1945 to the present. Contemporary history is either a subset of the late modern period, or it is o ...
" is also used to refer to the post-1945 timeframe, without assigning it to either the modern or postmodern era. (Thus "modern" may be used as a name of a particular era in the past, as opposed to meaning "the current era".) Depending on the field, "modernity" may refer to different time periods or qualities. In historiography, the 17th and 18th centuries are usually described as
early modern The early modern period of modern history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of 's past. It is understood through , , , and , and since the , from and s. Humanity's written history was preceded by its , beginning with ...
, while the
long 19th century The ''long nineteenth century'' is a term for the 125-year period comprising the years 1789 through 1914. It was coined by Russian writer Ilya Ehrenburg and British Marxism, Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm. The term refers to the notion that the p ...
corresponds to "
modern history Human history, or world history, is the narrative of Human, humanity's past. It is understood through archaeology, anthropology, genetics, and linguistics, and since the History of writing, advent of writing, from primary source, primary an ...
" proper. While it includes a wide range of interrelated historical processes and cultural phenomena (from
fashion Fashion is a form of self-expression and autonomy at a particular period and place and in a specific context, of clothing Clothing (also known as clothes, apparel, and attire) are items worn on the body. Typically, clothing is made of fab ...

fashion
to
modern warfare Modern warfare is warfare War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The Stat ...
), it can also refer to the subjective or existential experience of the conditions they produce, and their ongoing impact on human culture, institutions, and politics. As an analytical concept and
normative Normative generally means relating to an evaluative standard. Normativity is the phenomenon in human societies of designating some actions or outcomes as good or desirable or permissible and others as bad or undesirable or impermissible. A Norm (p ...
idea, modernity is closely linked to the
ethos Ethos ( or ) is a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...

ethos
of philosophical and aesthetic
modernism Modernism is both a philosophical movement A philosophical movement refers to the phenomenon defined by a group of philosophers A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and ...
; political and intellectual currents that intersect with the Enlightenment; and subsequent developments such as
existentialism Existentialism ( ) is a form of philosophy, philosophical inquiry that explores the problem of human existence and centres on the experience of thinking, feeling, and acting. In the view of the existentialist, the individual's starting point ha ...
,
modern art Modern art includes artistic work produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the styles and philosophies of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the tradi ...
, the formal establishment of
social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of plant life and a branch of biology. A botanist, plant scientist o ...

social science
, and contemporaneous antithetical developments such as
Marxism Marxism is a method of socioeconomic Socioeconomics (also known as social economics) is the social science that studies how economic activity affects and is shaped by social processes. In general it analyzes how modern society, societies soci ...
. It also encompasses the social relations associated with the rise of capitalism, and shifts in attitudes associated with
secularisation In sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytolo ...
,
liberalization Liberalization or Liberalisation (British English British English (BrE) is the standard dialect A standard language (also standard variety, standard dialect, and standard) is a language variety that has undergone substantial codification ...
,
modernization Modernization theory is used to explain the process of modernization within societies. Modernization theory originated from the ideas of German sociologist Max Weber Maximilian Karl Emil Weber (; ; 21 April 186414 June 1920) was a German Soci ...
and post-industrial
life Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities A bubble of exhaled gas in water In common usage and classical mechanics, a physical object or physical body (or simply an object or body) is a collection of matter within a ...

life
. By the late 19th and 20th centuries,
modernist Modernism is both a philosophical movement A philosophical movement refers to the phenomenon defined by a group of philosophers A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and ...
art, politics, science and culture has come to dominate not only
Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical r ...

Western Europe
and
North America North America is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by convention (norm), convention rather than any strict criteria, up to seven geographical regions are commonly regarded as continen ...

North America
, but almost every civilized area on the globe, including movements thought of as opposed to the
West West or Occident is one of the four cardinal directions or points of the compass The points of the compass are an evenly spaced set of horizontal directions (or azimuth An azimuth (; from Arabic اَلسُّمُوت ''as-sumūt'', 'the di ...
and
globalization Globalization, or globalisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a of the , originally spoken by the inhabitants of . It is named after the , one of the ancient that migrated from , a peninsu ...

globalization
. The modern era is closely associated with the development of
individualism Individualism is the Ethics, moral stance, political philosophy, ideology and social outlook that emphasizes the intrinsic worth of the individual. Individualists promote the exercise of one's goals and desires and to value independence and self ...
,
capitalism Capitalism is an economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon one another. The idea o ...

capitalism
,
urbanization Urbanization (or urbanisation) refers to the population shift from rural File:Rural landscape in Finland.jpg, A rural landscape in Lappeenranta, South Karelia, Finland. 15 July 2000. In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographi ...
and a belief in the possibilities of technological and political
progress Progress is the movement towards a refined, improved, or otherwise desired state. In the context of progressivism Progressivism is a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philos ...
. Wars and other perceived problems of this era, many of which come from the effects of rapid change, and the connected loss of strength of traditional religious and ethical norms, have led to many reactions against modern development. Optimism and belief in constant progress has been most recently criticized by
postmodernism Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or mode of discourse defined by an attitude of philosophical skepticism, skepticism toward what it describes as the meta-narrative, grand narratives and ideology, ideologies of modernism, as well as oppos ...
while the dominance of Western Europe and
Anglo-America Anglo-America (also referred to as Anglo-Saxon America) most often refers to a region in the Americas The Americas (also collectively called America) is a landmass comprising the totality of North America, North and South America. The Am ...
over other continents has been criticized by
postcolonial theory Postcolonialism is the critical Critical or Critically may refer to: *Critical, or critical but stable, medical state Medical state is a term used to describe a hospital A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment with ...
. In the context of
art history
art history
, "modernity" (''modernité'') has a more limited sense, "
modern art Modern art includes artistic work produced during the period extending roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, and denotes the styles and philosophies of the art produced during that era. The term is usually associated with art in which the tradi ...
" covering the period of  1860–1970. Use of the term in this sense is attributed to
Charles Baudelaire Charles Pierre Baudelaire (, ; ; 9 April 1821 – 31 August 1867) was a French poet List of poets French poetry, who have written in the French language: A * Louise-Victorine Ackermann (1813–1890) * Adam de la Halle (v.1250 – v.1285) * ...

Charles Baudelaire
, who in his 1864 essay "The Painter of Modern Life", designated the "fleeting, ephemeral experience of life in an urban metropolis", and the responsibility art has to capture that experience. In this sense, the term refers to "a particular relationship to time, one characterized by intense historical discontinuity or rupture, openness to the novelty of the future, and a heightened sensitivity to what is unique about the present".


Etymology

The
Late Latin Late Latin ( la, Latinitas serior) is the scholarly name for the written Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, kn ...
adjective ''
modernus
modernus
'', a derivation from the adverb ''
modo
modo
'' "presently, just now", is attested from the 5th century, at first in the context of distinguishing the
Christian era The terms (AD) and before Christ (BC) are used to label or number years in the Julian and Gregorian calendar The Gregorian calendar is the calendar used in most of the world. It was introduced in October 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII as a ...
from the pagan era. In the 6th century,
Cassiodorus Magnus Aurelius Cassiodorus Senator (c. 485 – c. 585), commonly known as Cassiodorus (), was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people ...
appears to have been the first writer to use ''modernus'' "modern" regularly to refer to his own age. The terms ''antiquus'' and ''modernus'' were used in a chronological sense in the
Carolingian era The Carolingian Empire (800–888) was a large Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical Germanic peoples (from lat, Germani) are a category of ancient nort ...
. For example, a ''magister modernus'' referred to a contemporary scholar, as opposed to old authorities such as
Benedict of Nursia Benedict of Nursia ( la, Benedictus Nursiae; it, Benedetto da Norcia; la, label=Vulgar Latin Vulgar Latin, also known as Popular or Colloquial Latin, is non-literary Literature broadly is any collection of written Writing is a m ...

Benedict of Nursia
. In early medieval usage, ''modernus'' referred to authorities younger than pagan antiquity and the early church fathers, but not necessarily to the present day, and could include authors several centuries old, from about the time of
Bede Bede ( ; ang, Bǣda , ; 672/326 May 735), also known as Saint Bede, The Venerable Bede, and Bede the Venerable ( la, Beda Venerabilis), was an English Benedictine The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sa ...

Bede
, i.e. referring to the time after the foundation of the
Order of Saint Benedict The Benedictines, officially the Order of Saint Benedict ( la, Ordo Sancti Benedicti, abbreviated as OSB), are a Christian monasticism, monastic Religious order (Catholic), religious order of the Catholic Church following the Rule of Saint Be ...
and/or the fall of the
Western Roman Empire The Western Roman Empire comprises the western provinces of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican ...

Western Roman Empire
. The Latin adjective was adopted in
Middle French Middle French (french: moyen français) is a historical division of the French language French ( or ) is a Romance language The Romance languages, less commonly Latin or Neo-Latin languages, are the modern languages that evolved from ...
, as ''moderne'', by the 15th century, and hence, in the early
Tudor period The Tudor period occurred between 1485 and 1603 in England and Wales England and Wales () is a legal jurisdiction covering England and Wales, two of the four countries of the United Kingdom, parts of the United Kingdom. England and Wales forms ...
, into
Early Modern English Early Modern English or Early New English (sometimes abbreviated EModE, EMnE, or EME) is the stage of the English language English is a of the , originally spoken by the inhabitants of . It is named after the , one of the ancient th ...
. The early modern word meant "now existing", or "pertaining to the present times", not necessarily with a positive connotation.
Shakespeare William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest dramatist. He is often called England's national p ...

Shakespeare
uses ''modern'' in the sense of "every-day, ordinary, commonplace". The word entered wide usage in the context of the late 17th-century
quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns The quarrel of the Ancients and the Moderns (french: link=no, querelle des Anciens et des Modernes) began overtly as a literary Literature broadly is any collection of written Writing is a medium of human communication Communicat ...
within the
Académie française An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary education, secondary or tertiary education, tertiary higher education, higher learning, research, or honorary membership. Academia is the w ...
, debating the question of "Is Modern culture superior to Classical (Græco–Roman) culture?" In the context of this debate, the "ancients" (''anciens'') and "moderns" (''modernes'') were proponents of opposing views, the former believing that contemporary writers could do no better than imitate the genius of classical antiquity, while the latter, first with
Charles Perrault Charles Perrault ( , also , ; 12 January 1628 – 16 May 1703) was an iconic French author and member of the Académie Française An academy (Attic Greek: Ἀκαδήμεια; Koine Greek Ἀκαδημία) is an institution of secondary educ ...

Charles Perrault
(1687), proposed that more than a mere "
Renaissance The Renaissance ( , ) , from , with the same meanings. is a period Period may refer to: Common uses * Era, a length or span of time * Full stop (or period), a punctuation mark Arts, entertainment, and media * Period (music), a concept in ...

Renaissance
" of ancient achievements, the "
Age of Reason The Age of reason, or the Enlightenment, was an intellectual and philosophical movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 17th to 19th centuries. Age of reason or Age of Reason may also refer to: * Age of reason (canon law), ...
" had gone beyond what had been possible in the classical period. The term
modernity Modernity, a topic in the humanities and social sciences, is both a historical period (the modern era Human history, or world history, is the narrative of humanity Humanity most commonly refers to: * Human Humans (''Homo sapiens' ...
, first coined in the 1620s, in this context assumed the implication of a historical epoch following the Renaissance, in which the achievements of antiquity were surpassed.


Phases

Modernity has been associated with cultural and
intellectual An intellectual is a person who engages in critical thinking Critical thinking is the analysis of facts to form a judgment. The subject is complex; several different Critical thinking#Definitions, definitions exist, which generally includ ...
movements of 1436–1789 and extending to the 1970s or later. According to
Marshall Berman Marshall Howard Berman (1940–2013) was an American philosopher American(s) may refer to: * American, something of, from, or related to the United States of America, commonly known as the United States ** Americans, citizens and nationals of t ...

Marshall Berman
, modernity is periodized into three conventional phases dubbed "Early," "Classical," and "Late" by Peter Osborne: * Early modernity: 1500–1789 (or 1453–1789 in traditional historiography) **People were beginning to experience a more modern life (Laughey, 31). * Classical modernity: 1789–1900 (corresponding to the
long 19th century The ''long nineteenth century'' is a term for the 125-year period comprising the years 1789 through 1914. It was coined by Russian writer Ilya Ehrenburg and British Marxism, Marxist historian Eric Hobsbawm. The term refers to the notion that the p ...
(1789–1914) in
Hobsbawm
Hobsbawm
's scheme) **Consisted of the rise and growing use of daily newspapers, telegraphs, telephones and other forms of mass media, which influenced the growth of communicating on a broader scale (Laughey, 31). * Late modernity: 1900–1989 **Consisted of the globalization of modern life (Laughey, 31). In the second phase, Berman draws upon the growth of modern technologies such as the newspaper, telegraph and other forms of mass media. There was a great shift into modernization in the name of industrial capitalism. Finally in the third phase, modernist arts and individual creativity marked the beginning of a new modernist age as it combats oppressive politics, economics as well as other social forces including mass media. Some authors, such as Lyotard and
Baudrillard Jean Baudrillard ( , , ; 27 July 1929 – 6 March 2007) was a French sociologist, philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those ...

Baudrillard
, believe that modernity ended in the mid- or late 20th century and thus have defined a period subsequent to modernity, namely
Postmodernity Postmodernity (post-modernity or the postmodern condition) is the economic or cultural state or condition of society which is said to exist ''after'' modernity. Some schools of thought hold that modernity ended in the late 20th century – in the ...
(1930s/1950s/1990s–present). Other theorists, however, regard the period from the late 20th century to the present as merely another phase of modernity;
Zygmunt Bauman Zygmunt Bauman (; 19 November 1925 – 9 January 2017) was a Polish sociologist and philosopher. He was driven out of the Polish People's Republic The Polish People's Republic ( pl, Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa, PRL) was a country in Centr ...

Zygmunt Bauman
calls this phase "liquid" modernity, Giddens labels it "high" modernity (see
High modernism High modernism (also known as high modernity) is a form of modernity Modernity, a topic in the humanities and social sciences, is both a historical period (the modern era) and the ensemble of particular socio-cultural norms, attitudes and pra ...
).


Definition


Political

Politically, modernity's earliest phase starts with
Niccolò Machiavelli Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (; ; rarely rendered Nicholas Machiavel (see below See or SEE may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Music: ** See (album), ''See'' (album), studio album by rock band The Rascals *** "See", song by ...
's works which openly rejected the medieval and Aristotelian style of analyzing politics by comparison with ideas about how things should be, in favour of realistic analysis of how things really are. He also proposed that an aim of politics is to control one's own chance or fortune, and that relying upon providence actually leads to evil. Machiavelli argued, for example, that violent divisions within political communities are unavoidable, but can also be a source of strength which lawmakers and leaders should account for and even encourage in some ways. Machiavelli's recommendations were sometimes influential upon kings and princes, but eventually came to be seen as favoring free republics over monarchies. Machiavelli in turn influenced
Francis Bacon Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban, (; 22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626), also known as Lord Verulam, was an English philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General for England and Wales, Attorney General and as Lord Chancellor of K ...

Francis Bacon
,
Marchamont Needham Marchamont Nedham, also Marchmont and Needham (1620 – November 1678), was a journalist, publisher and pamphleteer during the English Civil War who wrote official news and propaganda for both sides of the conflict. A "highly productive propagand ...
, James Harrington,
John Milton John Milton (9 December 16088 November 1674) was an English poet and intellectual who served as a civil servant for the under its Council of State and later under . He wrote at a time of religious flux and political upheaval, and is best kno ...

John Milton
,
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) Cranston, Maurice, and Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020 999999 or triple nine most often refers to: * 999 (emergency telephone number) 250px, A sign on a beach ...

David Hume
., and many others Important modern political doctrines which stem from the new Machiavellian realism include
Mandeville
Mandeville
's influential proposal that "''Private Vices by the dextrous Management of a skilful Politician may be turned into Publick Benefits''" (the last sentence of his ''
Fable of the Bees ''The Fable of The Bees: or, Private Vices, Publick Benefits'' (1714) is a book by the Anglo-Dutch social philosopher Bernard Mandeville Bernard Mandeville, or Bernard de Mandeville (; 15 November 1670 – 21 January 1733), was an Anglo-Dutch ...
''), and also the doctrine of a constitutional "
separation of powers Separation of powers refers to the division of a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper), ''The State'' ...
" in government, first clearly proposed by
Montesquieu Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu, Lot-et-Garonne, Montesquieu (; ; 18 January 168910 February 1755), generally referred to as simply Montesqui ...

Montesquieu
. Both these principles are enshrined within the
constitution A constitution is an aggregate of fundamental principles A principle is a proposition or value that is a guide for behavior or evaluation. In law, it is a rule Rule or ruling may refer to: Human activity * The exercise of political ...

constitution
s of most modern democracies. It has been observed that while Machiavelli's realism saw a value to war and political violence, his lasting influence has been "tamed" so that useful conflict was deliberately converted as much as possible to formalized political struggles and the economic "conflict" encouraged between free, private enterprises.) Starting with
Thomas Hobbes Thomas Hobbes ( ; sometimes known as Thomas Hobbes of Malmesbury; 5 April 1588 – 4 December 1679) was an English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first sp ...
, attempts were made to use the methods of the new modern physical sciences, as proposed by
Bacon Bacon is a type of salt-cured pork Pork is the culinary name for the meat of the Pig, domestic pig (''Sus scrofa domesticus''). It is the most commonly consumed meat worldwide, with evidence of pig animal husbandry, husbandry dating ba ...

Bacon
and
Descartes
Descartes
, applied to humanity and politics. Notable attempts to improve upon the methodological approach of Hobbes include those of
John Locke John Locke (; 29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * ...

John Locke
,
Spinoza Baruch (de) Spinoza (; ; ; born Baruch Espinosa; later as an author and a correspondent Benedictus de Spinoza, anglicized to Benedict de Spinoza; 24 November 1632 – 21 February 1677) was a Dutch philosopher of Spanish and Portuguese Jews, Por ...

Spinoza
,
Giambattista Vico Giambattista Vico (born Giovan Battista Vico ; ; 23 June 1668 – 23 January 1744) was an Italian philosopher, rhetorician, historian, and jurist during the Italian enlightenment, Italian Enlightenment. He criticized the expansion and development ...

Giambattista Vico
, and Rousseau.
David Hume David Hume (; born David Home; 7 May 1711 NS (26 April 1711 OS) – 25 August 1776) Cranston, Maurice, and Thomas Edmund Jessop. 2020 999999 or triple nine most often refers to: * 999 (emergency telephone number) 250px, A sign on a beach ...

David Hume
made what he considered to be the first proper attempt at trying to apply Bacon's scientific method to political subjects, rejecting some aspects of the approach of Hobbes. Modernist republicanism openly influenced the foundation of republics during the Dutch Revolt (1568–1609),
English Civil War The English Civil War (1642–1651) was a series of civil wars A civil war, also known as an intrastate war in polemology, is a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, ...
(1642–1651),
American Revolution The American Revolution was an ideological and political revolution which occurred in colonial North America between 1765 and 1783. The Americans in the Thirteen Colonies The Thirteen Colonies, also known as the Thirteen British Colo ...
(1775–1783), the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

French Revolution
(1789–1799), and the
Haitian revolution The Haitian Revolution (french: révolution haïtienne ; ht, revolisyon ayisyen) was a successful insurrection Rebellion, uprising, or insurrection is a refusal of obedience or order. It refers to the open resistance against the orders o ...

Haitian revolution
(1791–1804). A second phase of modernist political thinking begins with Rousseau, who questioned the natural rationality and sociality of humanity and proposed that
human nature Human nature is a concept that denotes the fundamental disposition A disposition is a quality of character, a habit A habit (or wont as a humorous and formal term) is a routine of behavior Behavior (American English) or behaviour (British ...

human nature
was much more malleable than had been previously thought. By this logic, what makes a good political system or a good man is completely dependent upon the chance path a whole people has taken over history. This thought influenced the political (and aesthetic) thinking of
Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about r ...

Immanuel Kant
,
Edmund Burke Edmund Burke (; 12 January NS.html"_;"title="New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS">New_Style.html"_;"title="/nowiki>New_Style">NS/nowiki>_1729_–_9_July_1797)_was_an_Anglo-Irish_Politician.html" "title="New_Style">NS.html" ;"title ...
and others and led to a critical review of modernist politics. On the conservative side, Burke argued that this understanding encouraged caution and avoidance of radical change. However more ambitious movements also developed from this insight into human
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals i ...

culture
, initially
Romanticism Romanticism (also known as the Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to ...
and
Historicism Historicism is an approach to explaining the existence of phenomena A phenomenon (; plural phenomena) is an observable fact or event. The term came into its modern philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fun ...
, and eventually both the
Communism Communism (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Repu ...

Communism
of
Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx (; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, M ...

Karl Marx
, and the modern forms of
nationalism Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation A nation is a community A community is a social unitThe term "level of analysis" is used in the social sciences to point to the location, size, or scale of a research target ...
inspired by the
French Revolution The French Revolution ( ) was a period of radical political and societal change in France France (), officially the French Republic (french: link=no, République française), is a spanning and in the and the , and s. Its ...

French Revolution
, including, in one extreme, the German
Nazi Nazism ( ), officially National Socialism (german: Nationalsozialismus, ), is the ideology An ideology () is a set of belief A belief is an Attitude (psychology), attitude that something is the case, or that some proposition about th ...
movement. On the other hand, the notion of modernity has been contested also due to its Euro-centric underpinnings. This is further aggravated by the re-emergence of non-Western powers. Yet, the contestations about modernity are also linked with Western notions of democracy, social discipline, and development.


Sociological

In
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
, a discipline that arose in direct response to the social problems of "modernity", the term most generally refers to the social conditions, processes, and discourses consequent to the
Age of Enlightenment The Age of Enlightenment (also known as the Age of Reason or simply the Enlightenment); ger, Aufklärung, "Enlightenment"; it, L'Illuminismo, "Enlightenment"; pl, Oświecenie , "Enlightenment"; pt, Iluminismo, "Enlightenment"; es, link= ...
. In the most basic terms,
Anthony Giddens Anthony Giddens, Baron Giddens (born 18 January 1938) is an English sociologist who is known for his theory of structuration and his holistic Holism (from Ancient Greek, Greek ''holos'' "all, whole, entire") is the idea that various systems ( ...
describes modernity as
...a shorthand term for modern society, or industrial civilization. Portrayed in more detail, it is associated with (1) a certain set of attitudes towards the world, the idea of the world as open to transformation, by human intervention; (2) a complex of economic institutions, especially industrial production and a market economy; (3) a certain range of political institutions, including the nation-state and mass democracy. Largely as a result of these characteristics, modernity is vastly more dynamic than any previous type of social order. It is a society—more technically, a complex of institutions—which, unlike any preceding culture, lives in the future, rather than the past.
Other writers have criticized such definitions as just being a listing of factors. They argue that modernity, contingently understood as marked by an ontological formation in dominance, needs to be defined much more fundamentally in terms of different ways of being.
The modern is thus defined by the way in which prior valences of social life ... are reconstituted through a constructivist reframing of social practices in relation to basic categories of existence common to all humans: time, space, embodiment, performance and knowledge. The word 'reconstituted' here explicitly does not mean replaced.
This means that modernity overlays earlier formations of traditional and customary life without necessarily replacing them.


Cultural and philosophical

The era of modernity is characterised socially by industrialisation and the division of labour and philosophically by "the loss of certainty, and the realization that certainty can never be established, once and for all". With new social and philosophical conditions arose fundamental new challenges. Various 19th-century intellectuals, from Auguste Comte to
Karl Marx Karl Heinrich Marx (; 5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, M ...

Karl Marx
to Sigmund Freud, attempted to offer scientific and/or political ideologies in the wake of secularisation. Modernity may be described as the "age of ideology." Critical theory, Critical theorists such as Theodor Adorno and
Zygmunt Bauman Zygmunt Bauman (; 19 November 1925 – 9 January 2017) was a Polish sociologist and philosopher. He was driven out of the Polish People's Republic The Polish People's Republic ( pl, Polska Rzeczpospolita Ludowa, PRL) was a country in Centr ...

Zygmunt Bauman
propose that modernity or industrialization represents a departure from the central tenets of the Enlightenment and towards nefarious processes of social alienation, alienation, such as commodity fetishism and the Holocaust. Contemporary sociological critical theory presents the concept of "rationalization (sociology), rationalization" in even more negative terms than those Weber originally defined. Processes of rationalization—as progress for the sake of progress—may in many cases have what critical theory says is a negative and dehumanising effect on modern society. Consequent to debate about economic globalization, the comparative analysis of civilizations, and the post-colonial perspective of "alternative modernities," Shmuel Eisenstadt introduced the concept of "multiple modernities". Modernity as a "plural condition" is the central concept of this sociologic approach and perspective, which broadens the definition of "modernity" from exclusively denoting Western European culture to a cultural relativism, culturally relativistic definition, thereby: "Modernity is not Westernization, and its key processes and dynamics can be found in all societies".


Secularization

Modernity, or the Modern Age, is typically defined as a post-traditional, and post-medieval historical period
66–67
. Central to modernity is emancipation from religion, specifically the hegemony of Christianity (mainly Roman Catholicism), and the consequent secularization. According to writers like Fackenheim and Husserl, modern thought repudiates the Judeo-Christian belief in the Biblical God as a mere relic of superstitious ages.Quotation from : Quotation from ,: It all started with Descartes' revolutionary methodic doubt, which transformed the concept of truth in the concept of certainty, whose only guarantor is no longer God or the Church, but Man's subjective judgement.Quotation from Heidegger 1938: Theologians have adapted in different ways to the challenge of modernity. Liberal theology, over perhaps the past 200 years or so, has tried, in various iterations, to accommodate, or at least tolerate, modern doubt in expounding Christian revelation, while Traditionalist Catholics, Eastern Orthodoxy, Eastern Orthodox and fundamentalism, fundamentalist Protestantism, Protestant thinkers and clerics have tried to fight back, denouncing skepticism of every kind. Quotation from : Modernity aimed towards "a progressive force promising to liberate humankind from ignorance and irrationality", but as of 2021, Hindu fundamentalism in India and Islamic fundamentalism particularly in the Middle East remain problematic, meaning that intra-society value conflicts are by no means an intrinsically Christian phenomenon.


Scientific

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Copernicus, Kepler, Galileo and others developed a new approach to physics and astronomy which changed the way people came to think about many things. Copernicus presented new models of the Solar System which no longer placed humanity's home, on Earth, in the centre. Kepler used mathematics to discuss physics and described regularities of nature this way. Galileo actually made his famous proof of uniform acceleration in freefall using mathematics.
Francis Bacon Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St Alban, (; 22 January 1561 – 9 April 1626), also known as Lord Verulam, was an English philosopher and statesman who served as Attorney General for England and Wales, Attorney General and as Lord Chancellor of K ...

Francis Bacon
, especially in his ''Novum Organum'', argued for a new methodological approach. It was an experimental based approach to science, which sought no knowledge of four causes, formal or final causes. Yet, he was no materialist. He also talked of the two books of God, God's Word (Scripture) and God's work (nature). But he also added a theme that science should seek to control nature for the sake of humanity, and not seek to understand it just for the sake of understanding. In both these things he was influenced by Machiavelli's earlier criticism of medieval Scholasticism, and his proposal that leaders should aim to control their own fortune. Influenced both by Galileo's new physics and Bacon, René Descartes argued soon afterward that mathematics and geometry provided a model of how scientific knowledge could be built up in small steps. He also argued openly that human beings themselves could be understood as complex machines. Isaac Newton, influenced by Descartes, but also, like Bacon, a proponent of experimentation, provided the archetypal example of how both Cartesianism, Cartesian mathematics, geometry and theory, theoretical Deductive reasoning, deduction on the one hand, and Baconian method, Baconian scientific method, experimental observation and Inductive reasoning, induction on the other hand, together could lead to great advances in the practical understanding of regularities in Nature (philosophy), nature.


Technological

One common conception of modernity is the condition of Western history since the mid-15th century, or roughly the European development of movable type and the printing press. In this context the "modern" society is said to develop over many periods, and to be influenced by important events that represent breaks in the continuity.''Weber, irrationality, and social order'' by Alan Sica


Artistic

After modernist political thinking had already become widely known in France, Rousseau's re-examination of human nature led to a new criticism of the value of reasoning itself which in turn led to a new understanding of less rationalistic human activities, especially the arts. The initial influence was upon the movements known as German Idealism and
Romanticism Romanticism (also known as the Romantic era) was an artistic, literary, musical, and intellectual movement that originated in Europe towards the end of the 18th century, and in most areas was at its peak in the approximate period from 1800 to ...
in the 18th and 19th century. Modern art therefore belongs only to the later phases of modernity. For this reason
art history
art history
keeps the term "modernity" distinct from the terms Modern History, Modern Age and Modernism – as a discrete "term applied to the cultural condition in which the seemingly absolute necessity of innovation becomes a primary fact of life, work, and thought". And modernity in art "is more than merely the state of being modern, or the opposition between old and new". In the essay "The Painter of Modern Life" (1864), Charles Baudelaire gives a literary definition: "By modernity I mean the transitory, the fugitive, the contingent". Advancing technological innovation, affecting artistic technique and the means of manufacture, changed rapidly the possibilities of art and its status in a rapidly changing society. Photography challenged the place of the painter and painting. Architecture was transformed by the availability of steel for structures.


Theological

From conservative Protestant theologian Thomas C. Oden's perspective, "modernity" is marked by "four fundamental values": * "Moral relativism (which says that what is right is dictated by culture, social location, and situation)" * "Autonomous individualism (which assumes that moral authority comes essentially from within)" * "Narcissistic hedonism (which focuses on egocentric personal pleasure)" * "Reductive naturalism (which reduces what is reliably known to what one can see, hear, and empirically investigate)" Modernity rejects anything "old" and makes "novelty ... a criterion for truth." This results in a great "phobic response to anything antiquarian." In contrast, "classical Christian consciousness" resisted "novelty". Within Roman Catholicism, Pope Pius IX and Pope Pius X claim that Modernism in the Catholic Church, Modernism (in a particular definition of the Catholic Church) is a danger to the Christian faith. Pope Pius IX compiled a Syllabus of Errors published on December 8, 1864 to describe his objections to Modernism. Pope Pius X further elaborated on the characteristics and consequences of Modernism, from his perspective, in an encyclical entitled "Pascendi dominici gregis" (Feeding the Lord's Flock) on September 8, 1907. Pascendi Dominici Gregis states that the principles of Modernism, taken to a logical conclusion, lead to atheism. The Roman Catholic Church was serious enough about the threat of Modernism that it required all Roman Catholic clergy, pastors, confessors, preachers, religious superiors and seminary professors to swear an Oath against modernism, Oath Against Modernism from 1910 until this directive was rescinded in 1967, in keeping with the directives of the Second Vatican Council.


Defined

Of the available conceptual definitions in
sociology Sociology is a social science Social science is the branch The branches and leaves of a tree. A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the scie ...
, modernity is "marked and defined by an obsession with 'evidence'," visual culture, and personal visibility. Generally, the large-scale social integration constituting modernity, involves the: * increased movement of goods, Capital (economics), capital, people, and information among formerly discrete populations, and consequent influence beyond the local area * increased formal social organization of mobile populaces, development of "circuits" on which they and their influence travel, and societal standardization conducive to socio-economic mobility * increased specialization of the segments of society, i.e., division of labor, and area inter-dependency * increased level of excessive stratification in terms of social life of a modern man * Increased state of dehumanisation, dehumanity, unionisation, as man became embittered about the negative turn of events which sprouted a growing fear. * man became a victim of the underlying circumstances presented by the modern world * Increased competitiveness amongst people in the society (survival of the fittest) as the jungle rule sets in.


See also


Notes


References


Bibliography

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Further reading

* Adem, Seifudein. 2004. "Decolonizing Modernity: Ibn-Khaldun and Modern Historiography." In ''Islam: Past, Present and Future'', International Seminar on Islamic Thought Proceedings, edited by Ahmad Sunawari Long, Jaffary Awang, and Kamaruddin Salleh, 570–87. Salangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia: Department of Theology and Philosophy, Faculty of Islamic Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. * Hannah Arendt, Arendt, Hannah. 1958. "The Origins Of Totalitarianism" Cleavland: World Publishing Co. * Christine Buci-Glucksmann, Buci-Glucksmann, Christine. 1994. ''Baroque Reason: The Aesthetics of Modernity''. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Sage Publications. (cloth) (pbk) * Carroll, Michael Thomas. 2000. ''Popular Modernity in America: Experience, Technology, Mythohistory''. SUNY Series in Postmodern Culture. Albany: State University of New York Press. (hc) (pbk) * Corchia, Luca. 2008.
Il concetto di modernità in Jürgen Habermas. Un indice ragionato
" ''The Lab's Quarterly/Il Trimestrale del Laboratorio'' 2:396ff. ISSN 2035-5548. * Crouch, Christopher. 2000. "Modernism in Art Design and Architecture," New York: St. Martins Press. (cloth) (pbk) * Davidann, Jon Thares. 2019. "The Limits of Westernization: American and East Asians Create Modernity, 1860-1960." Oxford: Routledge. * Davies, Oliver. 2004. "The Theological Aesthetics". In ''The Cambridge Companion to Hans Urs von Balthasar'', edited by Edward T. Oakes and David Moss, 131–42. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press. .
Dipper, Christof: ''Moderne (modernity)''
version: 2.0, in: Docupedia Zeitgeschichte, 22. november 2018 * Eisenstadt, Shmuel Noah. 2003. ''Comparative Civilizations and Multiple Modernities'', 2 vols. Leiden and Boston: Brill. * William Everdell, Everdell, William R. 1997. The First Moderns, ''The First Moderns: Profiles in the Origins of Twentieth-Century Thought''. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. (cloth); (pbk). * Gaonkar, Dilip Parameshwar (ed.). 2001. ''Alternative Modernities''. A Millennial Quartet Book. Durham: Duke University Press. (cloth); (pbk) * Giddens, Anthony. 1990. ''The Consequences of Modernity''. Stanford: Stanford University Press. (cloth); (pbk); Cambridge, UK: Polity Press in association with Basil Blackwell, Oxford. * Horváth, Ágnes, 2013. ''Modernism and Charisma''. Houndmills, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. (cloth) * Mark Jarzombek, Jarzombek, Mark. 2000. ''The Psychologizing of Modernity: Art, Architecture, History.'' Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. * Kolakowsi, Leszek. 1990. ''Modernity on Endless Trial''. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. * Mario Kopić, Kopić, Mario. ''Sekstant''. Belgrade: Službeni glasnik. * Bruno Latour, Latour, Bruno. 1993. ''We Have Never Been Modern'', translated by Catherine Porter. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (hb) (pbk.) * Perreau-Saussine, Emile. 2005.  . ''Commentaire'' no. 109 (Spring): 181–93. * Vinje, Victor Condorcet. 2017. ''The Challenges of Modernity''. Nisus Publications. * Peter Wagner (social theorist), Wagner, Peter. 1993. ''A Sociology of Modernity: Liberty and Discipline.'' Routledge: London. * Peter Wagner (social theorist), Wagner, Peter. 2001. ''Theorizing Modernity. Inescapability and Attainability in Social Theory.'' SAGE: London. * Peter Wagner (social theorist), Wagner, Peter. 2008. ''Modernity as Experience and Interpretation: A New Sociology of Modernity.'' Polity Press: London.


External links

{{Authority control Modernity, Historiography Postmodern theory Modernism Historical eras Sociological terminology