TEN PRESUPPOSITIONS OF THE MODERN PERIOD

 

1.  Modernism emphasizes the Centrality and Authority of Man (contra the premodern Christian model which emphasized the centrality of God and His sovereignty). Modernism shifted attention to the human contra the authority of God, Church and Scriptures.

 

2.  The Centrality of Nature was a major assumption. The focus shifted from God to man, from the heavenly to earthly preoccupation.

 

3.  This growing interest in nature was the context of the Origin and Development of The Scientific Method. This method became the major means of gaining knowledge and became the paradigm of the only method for investigating truth.

 

4.  Fused with these concepts was the idea that nature was dynamic and as the sole and sufficient cause and explanation of what is and what transpires.

 

5.  This period of Scientific Development generated a growing conception of Determination or absolute causation within the whole of the universe. This led to the assumption of Uniformitarianism or complete regularity or complete causation in nature.

 

6.  From Determinism there was a growing tendency towards Reductionism, the effort to explain everything by fewer or more basic factors. This psychology has tended to reduce to biology, biology to chemistry, and chemistry to physics.

 

7.  The Modern Period was grounded in Foundationalism. This is the idea that knowledge must be justified by being based on certain indubitable or incorrigible beliefs.

 

8.  Metaphysical Realism was a fundamental assumption. Physical objects were believed to have real existence apart from our perception of them.

 

9.  The Modern Perspective affirmed the Representative, Expressive Theory of Language. Language has as its primary role to represent that to which it refers. Language names objects and represents facts about these objects.

 

10. Fundamental to the Modern mode is a Correspondence Theory of Truth. Those propositions are true that correctly reflect or correspond to things as they really are. This theory of truth was supplemented and often competed with by the pragmatic theory of truth.

 

(These are notes from John Randall, Jr. The Making of The Modern Mind (Boston: Houghton and Mifflin, 1940)

 

(James D. Strauss, Lincoln, Illinois)