Socially conscious dating
(Consider, for example, how three developments–the steam engine, the harnessing of electricity, and Darwin’s evolutionary theory–had radically altered the social consciousness of western man.) Modern man could find a new, rational foundation for universal truth; science, particularly, would reveal new truth, which, when applied to modern society and institutions, would literally remake the world. held the extravagant expectation that the arts and sciences would further not only the control of the forces of nature but also the understanding of self and world, moral progress, justice in social institutions, and even human happiness.” (Jurgen Habermas, man was a thinking being capable of rationally perceiving, knowing, and conquering the world–and he would.
To be “modern,” then, was to embrace the power of scientific rationality, the spirit of progress, a vision of unlimited potential for human society, and an optimism for the future in which man could obtain his two greatest needs: meaning and material security.
One of postmodernism’s preeminent theorists, Michel Foucault, combines the philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche’s ideas about how those in power shape the world with a theory of how language is the primary tool for making culture.But “modern” also refers to a specific period of time (roughly 1870 through the mid-1960s) and to the range of cultural ideas, beliefs, and artifacts that people generated during that period.Modernism was grounded in the beliefs of the Enlightenment–a time in western civilization (roughly 1730-1800) in which the “great minds” of the West began to disbelieve in the authority of the Judeo-Christian God as the basis for the truth and the law that undergird society and culture.Replacing traditional beliefs in God, church, and king, they established a new authority centered in man and his rational abilities to create a new, “liberated” social and intellectual framework for human endeavor.The modernist believed that science had shaken the foundations of traditional authorities and truths.