Models of Modernity: Birth of Post-Modern Culture


In order to understand Post-modernity we must first grasp the model of modernity. What is this mind set? "Modernity is a period, a mind set, and a malaise. The period begins with the French Revolution (1789). The mind set is the ethos replaced by the elitist intellectual class of ‘change agents’ . . . [It's] four fundamentals are moral relativism (which says that what is taught 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), and reductive naturalism (which reduces what is really known to what one can see, hear and empirically investigate). The malaise of modernity is related to the rapidly deteriorating influence of these values." T. Oden, “Back to the Fathers”, Interview by Christopher Hall in Christianity Today, Sept. 20, 1990, pp. 28-31.


I.     Four Pillars of Classical Liberalism


a. Complete animality of man.

b. Inevitability of progress, science, technology, education

c. Inherent goodness of man (contra sin, guilt, lostness)

d. Perfectibility of man (man as creator of new self, society, global village, new age monism)


II. Freud's Architects of Modernity: "Change in agents"


a. Copernicus: from earth center to sun center, removal of centrality of man

b. Darwin; complete animality of man; up from the apes (mind, brain)

c. Marx (not one listed by Freud): personal social chaos caused by alienation generated by socio/political/economic dynamics

d. Freud: Religion reduced to pathology, sin, guilt; redemption reduced to psychoanalysis.


III. Oden's Mindset of Malaise: Characteristics of Modernity


a. Moral relativism

b. Autonomous individualism

c. Narcissistic hedonism (Greek myth)

d. Reductive naturalism: Science/technology/education/The Global Village


IV. Demise of Western Dominance: Coming of Post-Modern Culture (Search for Lost Transcendence in the East and Within)


a. Resurgent non-Christian religions (1960's)

b. Cults - Dissatisfaction with established churches (megachurches and shaping forces)

c. Occult/New Age - Non-Linear Physics, Los Alamos, Princeton gnostics, et. al.

d. Sexual Revolution, and Drug Use

e. Eastern Meditation

f. Shift in educational paradigms (inner, etc), Spock, Derrida, Value Clarification, needs assessment, political correctness, global education, science fiction.  

James D. Strauss