Berlin, Germany

Berlin: Experiment in Modernity

Language: English Studies in English
University website: www.berlin.bard.edu
Modernity
Modernity, a topic in the humanities and social sciences, is both a historical period (the modern era), as well as the ensemble of particular socio-cultural norms, attitudes and practices that arose in the wake of Renaissance, in the "Age of Reason" of 17th-century thought and the 18th-century "Enlightenment".
Modernity
That teaching of modern metaphysics ... exhorts man to feel comparatively little esteem for the truly thinking portion of himself and to honor the active and willing part of himself with all his devotion.
Julien Benda, Treason of the Intellectuals, p. 149
Modernity
The polypoid character of the Greek states, in which every individual enjoyed an independent existence but could, when need arose, grow into the whole organism, now made way for an ingenious clock-work, in which out of the piecing together of innumerable but lifeless parts, a mechanical kind of collective life ensued. State and church, laws and customs were now torn asunder; enjoyment was divorced from labor, the means from the end, the effort from the reward. Everlastingly chained to a single little fragment of the whole, man himself develops into nothing but a fragment; everlastingly in his ear the monotonous sound of the wheel that he turns, he never develops the harmony of his being, and instead of putting the stamp of humanity upon his own nature, he becomes nothing more than the imprint of his occupation or of his specialized knowledge.
Friedrich Schiller, The Aesthetic Education of Man, Sixth Letter
Modernity
The greater part of present-day object knowledges has, in fact, freed itself from any relation to a self and confronts our consciousness in that extracted matter-of-factness from which no path is any longer bent “back” to a subjectivity. Nowhere does an ego experience it-“self” in modern scientific knowledge. Where this ego still bends over itself, with its obvious tendency to a worldless inwardness, it leaves reality behind. Thus, for present-day thinking, inwardness and outwardness, subjectivity and things, have been split into “alien worlds”; at the same time, the classical premise of philosophizing falls away. “Know thyself” has long since been understood by modern people as an invitation to an ego trip for an escapist ignorance. Modern reflection expressly renounces any competency in embedding subjectivities without rupture into objective worlds. What it uncovers is rather the gulf between both.
Peter Sloterdijk, Critique of Cynical Reason, M. Eldred, trans. (1987), p. 537
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