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aries1988 : modernity   9

One is the loneliest number: the history of a Western problem | Aeon Ideas
loneliness is not a universal condition; nor is it a purely visceral, internal experience. It is less a single emotion and more a complex cluster of feelings, composed of anger, grief, fear, anxiety, sadness and shame. It also has social and political dimensions, shifting through time according ideas about the self, God and the natural world. Loneliness, in other words, has a history.

The contemporary notion of loneliness stems from cultural and economic transformations that have taken place in the modern West. Industrialisation, the growth of the consumer economy, the declining influence of religion and the popularity of evolutionary biology all served to emphasise that the individual was what mattered – not traditional, paternalistic visions of a society in which everyone had a place.

In the 19th century, political philosophers used Charles Darwin’s theories about the ‘survival of the fittest’ to justify the pursuit of individual wealth to Victorians. Scientific medicine, with its emphasis on brain-centred emotions and experiences, and the classification of the body into ‘normal’ and abnormal states, underlined this shift. The four humours (phlegmatic, sanguine, choleric, melancholic) that had dominated Western medicine for 2,000 years and made people into ‘types’, fell away in favour of a new model of health dependent on the physical, individual body.

my claim is that human emotions are inseparable from their social, economic and ideological contexts. The righteous anger of the morally affronted, for instance, would be impossible without a belief in right and wrong, and personal accountability. Likewise, loneliness can exist only in a world where the individual is conceived as separate from, rather than part of, the social fabric. It’s clear that the rise of individualism corroded social and communal ties, and led to a language of loneliness that didn’t exist prior to around 1800.
mind  state  modernity  19C 
october 2018 by aries1988
The Modern Origins of the Early Middle Ages | Reviews in History
what part did the rise of Christianity and the Catholic Church play in the ending of Roman rule? Was the influence of Christianity baleful or liberating?
roman  empire  history  historian  christianity  europe  question  modernity 
september 2018 by aries1988
The future was now at the 1939 World's Fair – and it is still awesome | Aeon Videos
From the perspective of the 21st century, it’s hard to imagine what a marvel the 1939-1940 New York World’s Fair would have been to its visitors. Still living in the heavy shadow of the stock market crash of 1929, the many people who flocked to the big exhibition found not only bounteous luxuries such as free Coca-Cola, but the unveiling of unthinkable new technologies that promised that a better world lay ahead. Using sparkling, rare, colour film footage – itself a brand-new technology at the time – the US director Amanda Murray mines the memories of several people who attended the New York World’s Fair in 1939.
worldfair  usa  childhood  memory  modernity  technology  newyork  movie  interview 
august 2018 by aries1988
赵鼎新:加州学派与工业资本主义的兴起
笔者强调的是经济行动者的特性,以及与军事和经济竞争相关联的机制的重要性;笔者同时强调以私利为导向的工具理性成为可被正面价值观是工业资本主义兴起中的一个关键。

反事实思维在历史分析中按说是破坏目的论思想的利器,但实际上,它更多地被用来制造另一种奇思幻想的目的论,在其中,某一因素被无限地从历史情境中抽离、拔高,成为历史进程的主要推动力。

儒家学者则更多地将儒家思想视为道德体系而非超验真理。当李贽表达他的非正统的观点时,它引起的是李贽和与他交好的耿定理的哥哥耿定向之间带有私人性质的争论。主流儒生更感兴趣的是掌握理学经义以通过科举考试,而不是这种辩论。明朝中央政府甚至没有插手其间。

中国的城市仍有不同于欧洲城市的几个关键方面。最明显的是,中国的城市从来没有拥有过自治的政治和法律地位,并且它们也没有像中世纪一些获得特许状的城镇或自由城镇那样拥有属于自己的军队。因此,研究中国城市的学者都承认政治和行政命令对中国城市的命运有着决定性的影响。

面对国家的政治主宰和理学思想的统治地位,明清商人非常热衷于让他们的孩子接受儒家教育,取得科举功名并致仕。他们与地方官员建立密切的关系,并且与仕宦家族联姻。他们为政府征收税款,并且介入乡镇治理活动。他参与地方慈善活动,仿效士人的生活方式,旨在获取尊重与信任,并使得商业活动能更顺利开展。然而,这些经济行动者无法构建诸如自由主义或“看不见的手”这样的非正统的价值观来为他们的经营性行为正名,而且他们必须严格隶从官府。这些都显示了中国经济行动者的弱势,更进一步表明在西方到来之前工业资本主义很难在中国自发地崛起。

由于商业发展和繁荣,中国的富庶地区有着较高的生活水准,然而,明清时候的中国,技术创新并没有鼓励性的回报,理论/形式理性极不发达;最重要的是,新儒家意识形态没有面临重大的挑战,而商人无法利用他们的财富来获取政治、军事和意识形态方面的权力从而抗衡国家的权力。与欧洲情况不同的是,晚期中华帝国维持灿烂的商业的原因不是新儒家世界的衰弱和资产阶级力量的崛起,而是帝国庞大的领土和人口所带来的巨大市场和王朝中期特有的长期政治稳定。当欧洲人在19 世纪持着现代武器抵达中国时,中国并没有走向工业革命而是走向王朝的衰落。中国并非自发地迈入现代化,而是被西方和日本帝国主义拖入到工业化和现代化的历史进程当中。
debate  china  qing  ming  capitalism  modernity  society  state  question  europe  confucianism  to:pdf 
july 2018 by aries1988
After 150 years, why does the Meiji restoration matter? - The Economist explains
It all went to Japan’s head. There was no clear break, as there was in Germany with Hitler’s rise to power, between the enlightened Japan that the Meiji reformers built and the militarist one that in 1937 launched into total war. The seeds of Japanese aggression and atrocities were sown in the emperor worship and glorification of the armed forces that were essential elements of the Meiji world.
japan  history  modernity  today 
february 2018 by aries1988
Interview with Emmanuel Macron: 'We Need to Develop Political Heroism' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - International

Nothing here should become habitual, because routine lends one a deceptive feeling of security. You begin not noticing certain things and lose your focus on what's important. Uncertainty and change keep you attentive.

It is a place laden with history. The emperors spent time here, Napoleon I and Napoleon III. In the Fourth Republic, it was the palace of a president without powers. Only in the Fifth Republic did Charles de Gaulle move back in.

Germany is different from France. You are more Protestant, which results in a significant difference. Through the church, through Catholicism, French society was structured vertically, from top to bottom. I am convinced that it has remained so until today.

France is a country of regicidal monarchists. It is a paradox: The French want to elect a king, but they would like to be able to overthrow him whenever they want.

I am a strong believer that modern political life must rediscover a sense for symbolism. We need to develop a kind of political heroism. I don't mean that I want to play the hero. But we need to be amenable once again to creating grand narratives. If you like, post-modernism was the worst thing that could have happened to our democracy. The idea that you have to deconstruct and destroy all grand narratives is not a good one. Since then, trust has evaporated in everything and everyone.

I am putting an end to the cronyism between politics and the media. For a president, constantly speaking to journalists, constantly being surrounded by journalists, has nothing to do with closeness to the people. A president should keep the media at arm's length.
interview  français  deutschland  newspaper  2017  macron  democracy  europe  politics  france  state  president  opinion  comparison  protestant  society  hierarchy  narrative  post  modernity  trust  media  idea  reform  heroism 
october 2017 by aries1988
A Culture of Growth by Joel Mokyr — why did the Industrial Revolution happen?

A Culture of Growth, by the equally distinguished historian Joel Mokyr, also sees economic growth as the result of ideas rather than material conditions or political and economic institutions.

Mokyr’s new book seeks to identify the conditions that turned the inventions of the late 18th and early 19th centuries into sustained, modern economic growth. There had been earlier significant waves of invention in China and the Islamic world, for example, but none snowballed into a world-changing industrial revolution. Mokyr argues that in western Europe at the time of the Enlightenment, a set of conditions happened to coincide to create a Republic of Letters, a ferment of public debate and innovation we might now label as open science. Knowledge, from deep scientific insight to more practical technological know-how and tinkering, became a common resource. Leading scientists and thinkers corresponded with counterparts around the continent, and were helped by the political fragmentation of Europe, which led to rulers competing to attract the most prominent intellectual stars to their own territories.
book  history  development  opinion  knowledge  culture  modernity  human 
december 2016 by aries1988
Are We Really So Modern?

Modernity cannot be identified with any particular technological or social breakthrough. Rather, it is a subjective condition, a feeling or an intuition that we are in some profound sense different from the people who lived before us.

Modern life, which we tend to think of as an accelerating series of gains in knowledge, wealth, and power over nature, is predicated on a loss: the loss of contact with the past.

in treating the philosophy of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, it is conventional to cast it as a struggle between rationalists and empiricists. In this account, everyone from Descartes to Hume is engaged in one long battle over whether truth is to be found in here, through strictly logical reasoning on the model of mathematics, or out there, through observation of the world.

As Gottlieb points out, much of the Western philosophy that still matters to us is the product of just two such eras: Athens in the fifth and fourth centuries B.C. and Western Europe in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries A.D.

Not caring about things like being and meaning, however, is impossible, because they are the fundamental concepts that structure our very experience of the world. People who say they don’t care about metaphysics really mean that their received ideas on such matters are so fixed that they have disappeared from consciousness, in the same way that you don’t usually notice your heartbeat. Philosophers are people who, for some reason—Plato called it the sense of wonder—feel compelled to make the obvious strange.

Another way of putting this is that Descartes described reality in terms of qualities that can be measured mathematically.

He insisted on libertas philosophandi, freedom of thought, and, while he granted that the state had the power to establish the outward forms of religious worship, he adamantly opposed any coercion of conscience. Each person had the right to decide what God was and how best to serve him. Taken together, these beliefs give Spinoza a claim to be considered the first great philosopher of liberal democracy.

All our knowledge of the world depends on experience, which means that it is contingent, not absolute. We can, of course, trust that the sun will rise in the east tomorrow, just as it did yesterday and every day before that. But we can’t prove that it will rise in the same way we can prove that two plus two is four. ’Tis not, therefore, reason, which is the guide of life, but custom, Hume concluded.
modernity  book  culture  idea  history  philosophy 
august 2016 by aries1988

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