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Dimensions of Modernity and Their Contemporary Fate

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image of Frontiers of Philosophy in China

Modernity, a focal point of interest in our time, means the cultural schemata and mechanisms of social action stemming from the Enlightenment and the modernization process. It is a set of new and “man-made” rationalized mechanisms and rules for human societies that naturally grow beyond geographical boundaries. The interrelated dimensions of modernity may be roughly grouped into “intellectual” and “institutional” categories including subjectivity and individual self-consciousness, a spirit of rationalized and contracting public culture, modernity in sociohistorical narratives as an ideology, rationalization of economic operations, bureaucracy in administrative management, autonomy of the public sphere, and the democratization and contraction of public power. Modernity is inherently contradictory and risky, yet until now there has been no sign of an end in sight. It remains to be the major support and dynamic in keeping human society running. Let us beware of superficial judgment when reflecting upon theoretical critiques of modernity and try to grasp the great challenges and opportunities of globalization—essentially a process of modernity.


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