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Modernity - Essay Example

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Marshall Berman describes modernity in this inspired quotation, further modernity encompasses social change and the manner in which these social changes are experienced and reflected in various circles. It connotes various things, which are contradictory, like definition and ambiguity, static definitions and constant change…
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Download file to see previous pages... Berman further expounds that "to be modern is to live a life of paradox and contradiction, to be both revolutionary and conservative: alive to new possibilities for experience and adventure, frightened by the nihilistic depths to which so many modern adventures lead" (Berman, 1982).
The consumer by virtue of his purchasing power, in the exercise of which, decides whether to purchase or not, is considered to be the master in a capitalistic society. Berman however, disagrees and to buttress his contention states that the availability of options only begins the list of restrictions. He further states that this seeming paradox arises because modernity is defined by a set of contradictory ideas constantly shifting and changing even while remaining the same. Further, as people learn to interact with and within this environment, these contradictions become so familiar and ingrained that they are no longer apparent. In this context Berman said, "To be modern is to live a life of paradox and contradiction" (Berman, 1982).
It is essential to understand different features of modern urban life and the place of man in a modern city. In The Metropolis and Mental Life, Simmel gave an analytical treatment of the topic " individual life in the context of modern, metropolitan life" (Micro Approaches and Simmel) wherein he contended that in a modern urban society an individual can successfully develop his capabilities, as it promotes individual freedom, all the same he stated emphatically that "the city conspires to erase difference by assaulting the individual with an overwhelming and never-ending stream of visual stimuli" (Byram, 2002). He also said that our society consists of individual interactions which define its identity, "While there is no perception of society until individuals begin to interact, once formed by the interaction of individuals, the society affects the individuals as an outside force" (Crow Ch., et al., 2000). Benjamin considered the modern urban experience from the perspective of the development of technologies and supportive communications with an emphasis on their liberating influence on society. He was in favour of such technologies as film and photography which were "making available radical new access and roles for art in mass culture" (Bicket, 2001). Simmel and Benjamin stressed the importance of technological development and its influence on art, culture and its furtherance of the understanding of the social environment. Simmel's views tend to focus on the negative influence of urban life on individuals, whereas Benjamin views are more positively inclined in respect of the technological and cultural aspects of modern and post-modern urban society. A utopia is an imaginary place which is socially, morally, and politically ideal, whereas a dystopia is its exact opposite. Ideologies are as transient as fashions and are as subjective, as they are relative to the perspective employed. Hitler had a utopia in mind while creating the Thousand Year Reich, but Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, and other victims of his vision would beg to differ (Tartar, 2004).
Human rationality implies, for enlightened thinkers, an attempt to know and understand the natural world, and the use of rational principles to solve ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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