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Modernity and Individualism - Term Paper Example

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MODERNITY Modernity and Individualism Word Count: 1,000 I. Introduction In the United States, we have come to value the individual as well as individualistic tendencies in our society. As a whole, communalism used to be the norm. Individualism is characterized by: a particular individualistic approach that has come to dominate modern society and how we have formed ourselves; consequences which are a result of this phenomena; possibilities for embracing the common good as an ideal; and positive historical and literary images that could help in re-imagining a more communal outlook on how history has evolved in an individualistic manner, including references to pieces from the Enlightenment and …
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Download file to see previous pages Jefferson's introduction to the Enlightenment by William Small marked the beginning of a thought process that led to his rejection of the doctrines of the Anglican faith in which he had been raised” (pp. 19). Meanwhile, across the Atlantic in France, Moliere’s Tartuffe, or The Imposter, was shocking crowds, the advent of his new play suggesting that religious piety sometimes belied the true intentions of people who did not practice what they preach. It was banned by the government for a total of five years due to the fact that it was so controversial. This helped to foment the idea of individualism in an age when religious piety could no longer be trusted. Not only that, but, according to Spielvogel (2008), “…Renaissance humanists [had] mastered both Greek and Latin and brought new attention to ancient works by thinkers such as Ptolemy, Archimedes, and Plato. These writings…stimulated new scientific work that sometimes led to a complete rejection of the Classical authorities” (pp. 341). This had a great impact on how people viewed the world and set up society for what would later on grow into the modern lens which dominates American society, which is postmodernism. Postmodernism, however, did not really arrive itself until much later after the Neoclassical Period. III. Possibilities For Embracing The Common Good As an Ideal When one thinks of the common good, generally the first ideal that comes to one’s mind is utilitarianism, or the greatest good for the greatest many. Embracing the common good became a very popular sentiment with the advent of the Scientific Revolution—which was not so much a revolution in terms of violence as it was in the gradual changes in thinking that occurred during that time period. According to Spielvogel (2008), “…the Scientific Revolution, popularized in the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, stands as the major force in the transition to the largely secular, rational, and materialistic perspective that has defined the modern Western mentality in modern times” (pp. 340). During this period, women were not held in high regard, and some philosophes discredited women because they were considered lesser people in comparison to men. According to Spielvogel (2008), “…philosopher Benedict de Spinoza argue[d] for the ‘natural’ inferiority of women to men [in his Political Treatise]” (pp. 350). Additionally, with the advent of science taking the forefront, Rene Descartes also developed several philosophical and scientific concepts, including his theories about dualism, or popularly known as dualisme in French. According to Spielvogel (2008), Cartesian dualism and the scientific method were developed (pp. 351). IV. Positive Historical and Literary Takes on a Communal Outlook The Declaration of Independence, of course, was one of the most important historical documents to have taken place after Europe’s philosophical movements and revolutionary theoretical developments, which set the stage for the Enlightenment. According to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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