The Western Story: The Development of Modernity Michael Goheen IDIS 102, TWU.

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The Western Story: The Development of Modernity Michael Goheen IDIS 102, TWU

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Transcript of The Western Story: The Development of Modernity Michael Goheen IDIS 102, TWU.

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  • The Western Story: The Development of Modernity Michael Goheen IDIS 102, TWU
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  • Overview of lectures Last time: Examine modern humanism Deweys confession Two diagrams Way we label historical eras Brief definition Today: Look at western story and development of modern humanism 3 rd lecture: Examine postmodern humanist challenge and global spread of modern humanism
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  • Origins of Modern Humanism Roots in pagan-classical period (up to 5 th c.) Preserved and Christianized in medieval-synthesis period (5 th -14 th c.)
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  • Renaissance (14th-15th c.) Humanism begins to dissociate itself from Christian connection Change from otherworldly to this- worldly orientation Human beings orient lives toward mastery of nature
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  • Life oriented toward nature This clearly entails a spiritual choice as to cultural direction, namely, that mans destiny is realized primarily in his relation to the natural things of this world and not in relation to his fellowmen.... The centrality of the relationship of man with nature, however, is one of the most characteristic features of western culture since the Renaissance.... We distinguish ourselves as human beings primarily by the shape we give to this world through human thought and creative ability rather than by the meaning of our lives to other persons (Bob Goudzwaard).
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  • Scientific Revolution (16th-17th c) Christian and humanist vision Humanist vision to dominate nature: Scientific method gave Western society means Humanist vision expressed by Ren Descartes (1596-1650) and Francis Bacon (1561-1626)
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  • Descartes and Bacon express modern vision Knowledge is power: Scientific knowledge of world enables humankind to build better world Scientific knowledge of natures laws enables humanity to predict how nature will respond This gives power to control Nature can be manipulated in a quest for a secular paradise Need for a new method to get scientific knowledge
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  • Methodological Reason
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  • Scientific Revolution (16th-17th c) Christian and humanist vision Humanist vision to dominate nature Triumph of humanist visionwhy? Conflict with church
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  • He sets the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved (Ps. 104:5). O sun, stand still... so the sun stood still (Josh. 10:12f.). The earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises (Eccl. 1:4f.).
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  • People give ear to an upstart astrologer who strove to show that the earth revolves, not the heavens or the firmament, the sun and the moon. Whosoever wishes to appear clever must devise some new system which of all systems, of course, is the best. This fool wishes to reverse the entire science of astronomy; but Sacred Scripture tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth. -Martin Luther
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  • Scientific Revolution (16th-17th c) Christian and humanist vision Humanist vision to dominate nature Triumph of humanist visionwhy? Conflict with church Religious wars
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  • Triumph of humanist vision
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  • Conversion of West in wake of scientific revolution
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  • Enlightenment (18th c.) Scientific humanism becomes dominant religious vision (faith) Enlightenment faith
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  • Faith in progress Paradise images: Secularized vision of biblical story Progress identified primarily with economic growth ... the greatest happiness possible for us consists in the greatest possible abundance of objects suitable for our enjoyment and in the greatest liberty to profit by them (Mercier de la Riviere, 1767).
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  • Enlightenment faith Faith in progress Propelled by reason and science
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  • ...the conviction that man was steadily and inevitably approaching entrance into a better world, that man himself was being progressively improved and perfected through his own efforts, constituted one of the most characteristic, deep-seated, and consequential principles of the modern sensibility. Christianity no longer seemed to be the driving force of the human enterprise. For the robust civilization of the West at the high noon of modernity, it was science and reason, not religion and belief, which propelled that progress. Mans will, not Gods, was the acknowledged source of the worlds betterment and humanitys advancing liberation. -Richard Tarnas
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  • Enlightenment faith Faith in progress Propelled by reason and science Scientific reason translated into technology Scientific reason translated into societal organisation Progress comes by the application of reason to both technical and social issues (Plumb).
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  • Enlightenment (18th c.) Scientific humanism: dominant religious vision (faith) Enlightenment faith Conflict with the Christian faith
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  • Narrowing of gospel The early Christian belief that the Fall and Redemption pertained not just to man but to the entire cosmos, a doctrine already fading after the Reformation, now disappeared altogether; the process of salvation, if it had any meaning at all, pertained solely to the personal relation between God and man (Tarnas).
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  • Age of Revolution (19 th -20th c.) Bringing society into conformity with Enlightenment faith French, Industrial, Democratic, Marxist, American revolutions If the Enlightenment vision is true then the establishment of new social institutions is not a tedious incidental task, but a dire necessity and a highly ethical imperative. In that case, the narrow way to the lost paradise can only be the way of social revolution (Goudzwaard).
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  • Danger of humanist social structures The problem of leading a Christian life in a non- Christian society is now very present to us. It is not merely the problem of a minority in a society of individuals holding an alien belief. It is the problem constituted by our implication in a network of institutions from which we cannot dissociate ourselves; institutions the operation of which appears no longer neutral, but non-Christian; and as for the Christian who is not conscious of his dilemmaand he is in the majorityhe is becoming more and more de- Christianized by all sorts of unconscious pressures; paganism now holding all the most valuable advertising space (T.S. Eliot, The Idea of a Christian Society, 1946)
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  • Two dominant forms of scientific humanism in 20 th century Communist: Throughout Soviet Union and Eastern Europe Liberal: Throughout North America and Western Europe
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  • Development in 19th and 20th Centuries
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  • Counterculture of the 1960s: Growing Despair Rock music, drug culture, hippie movement, student uprisings, etc. Challenge to light of science and technology The youthful counter-culture have, in a variety of ways, called into question the validity of the conventional scientific worldview, and in so doing have set about the undermining the foundations of the technocracy (Theodore Roszak in Making of a Counterculture).
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  • Western Confession of Faith I believe in Science Almighty. I believe in the power of human reason disciplined by the scientific method to understand, control, and change our world. I believe in Technology and a Rational Society, its only begotten Sons which have the power to renew our world.
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  • Western Confession of Faith (cont) I believe in the spirit of Progress. I believe that a science based technology and a rationally organized society will enable me to realize my ultimate human goal-- freedom, happiness, and the comforts of material abundance. I believe in economism. I believe that the abundance of consumer goods and the leisure time to consume them will make me happy. To this I commit myself with all my money, time, energy, and resources. Amen.