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On the Future of HistoryThe Postmodernist Challenge and Its Aftermath$
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Ernst Breisach

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780226072791

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226072814.001.0001

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An Adversarial Image of Modernity

An Adversarial Image of Modernity

2 An Adversarial Image of Modernity
On the Future of History
University of Chicago Press

The lack of postmodernist debates on the chronological and formative limits of modernity has been surprising. Only a few postmodernists, among them Michel Foucault and Jean Baudrillard, have tried to locate chronological limits. That lack has been veiled by the fortuitous agreement among most postmodernists that the Enlightenment must be seen perhaps not as the beginning point but as the ultimate defining moment for modernity and modernism. The long and intense historical controversy about the Enlightenment's exact nature and standing was circumvented. Also, the postmodernist inclination to view modernity as a calamitous era ruled out the moderate view of the Enlightenment as a complex phenomenon that bestowed on the human race remarkable benefits as well as severe problems. Such a view would have favored a “carry-over” into postmodernity of some seemingly beneficent ideas and concepts of modernity. None of postmodernity's versions favored that prospect.

Keywords:   modernity, postmodernity, Enlightenment, modernism, historical controversy, ideas

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