An Adversarial Image of Modernity

in On the Future of History

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2003 | ISBN: 9780226072791
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226072814 | DOI:
An Adversarial Image of Modernity

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The lack of postmodernist debates on the chronological and formative limits of modernity has been surprising. Only a few postmodernists, among them Michel Foucault and Jean Baudrillard, have tried to locate chronological limits. That lack has been veiled by the fortuitous agreement among most postmodernists that the Enlightenment must be seen perhaps not as the beginning point but as the ultimate defining moment for modernity and modernism. The long and intense historical controversy about the Enlightenment's exact nature and standing was circumvented. Also, the postmodernist inclination to view modernity as a calamitous era ruled out the moderate view of the Enlightenment as a complex phenomenon that bestowed on the human race remarkable benefits as well as severe problems. Such a view would have favored a “carry-over” into postmodernity of some seemingly beneficent ideas and concepts of modernity. None of postmodernity's versions favored that prospect.

Keywords: modernity; postmodernity; Enlightenment; modernism; historical controversy; ideas

Chapter.  1819 words. 

Subjects: Theory, Methods, and Historiography

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