Main moments in the history of
The "Western" world view
since the late 18th century

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

© 2010 KIMBALL FILES
 

Table of Contents =

1. "Christendom" broke up; the medieval consensus fragmented
2. "Science" seemed to contribute to the disintegration of medieval mental coherence
3. Then science was thought to provide a substitute for that lost unity of world view
4. But not everyone found full satisfaction in "scientistic" certainty
5. Science even seemed to be pulling the rug out from under that "scientistic" certainty
6. Institutions given or assuming responsibility and control over ways of thinking
7. Are we at the end of the secular age?

 

 

 

1. "Christendom" broke up; the medieval consensus fragmented

    "The Second Coming"
-- William Butler Yeats, 1920/21

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the center cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand,
The Second Coming! Hardly are these words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight; somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion's body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

 

2. "Science" seemed to contribute to the disintegration of medieval mental coherence

English poet John Donne wrote =

[The] new philosophy calls all in doubt,
The Element of fire is quite put out;

The Sun is lost, and the earth, and no man's wit
Can well direct him where to looke for it.
"Tis all in peeces, all cohaerence gone;
All just supply, and all Relation.

[... Elsewhere Donne described the quintessentially modern gadget, the clock]

Noble machine with toothed wheels
Lacerates the days, fragments them in hours

 

3. Then science was thought to provide a substitute for that lost unity of world view

Alexander Pope wrote =

Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night;
God said, "Let Newton be," and all was light.

Irish poet William Butler Yeats wrote =

Locke sank into a swoon;
The garden died;
God took the spinning Jenny
Out of his side.

*--Enlightenment (rationalism and empiricism) vs. traditional transcendent and "idealist" world views
*--Scientism =
*--Utilitarianism = Jeremy Bentham
*--August Comte ("positivism")
*--Darwin(ism) = 1859:England | 1868:England | 1902:London |
*--Karl Marx [LOOP]
*--"Techno-pragmatism" (neo-utilitarianism) = B.F. Skinner and Behaviorism |  Norbert Wiener

 

4. But not everyone found full satisfaction in "scientistic" certainty

*--Romanticism
*--Hegel

*--Irrationalism
*--Fedor Dostoevskii, novelist and moralist
*--Nietzsche = 1883:1891
*--Leo Tolstoy, novelist and moralist
*--The reaction against the rationalist and "positivist" trends of the 19th century caused intellectuals to denounce intelligentsia
*--Scientific Socialism (Communism) vs. Fascist and Nazi ideologies

Religion =
*--Bertrand Russell | Martin Buber | Reinhold Niebuhr | 1937:England, Oxford. World Ecumenical Conference | Rudolf Bultmann | Jacques Maritain | Dietrich Bonhoeffer | Paul Tillich

Letters (literature) followed some of the general curve of thought in 19th and 20th centuries =
*--Realism, Russian "Silver Age" | Thomas Mann | Franz Kafka | James Joyce | Virginia Woolf | Albert Camus

Arts too =
*--"Classical Music", Richard Wagner | Pablo Picasso | Italian Futurism | Wassily Kandinsky | Igor Stravinsky | "Dada" Movement | Bauhaus | Surrealism | Walter Benjamin

 

5. Science even seemed to be pulling the rug out
from under that "scientistic" certainty

*--Einstein [LOOP]
*--Freud = [LOOP]
*--Carl Jung wrote, "As soon as [a person] has outgrown whatever local form of religion he was born to -- as soon as this religion can no longer embrace his life in all its fullness -- then the psyche becomes something in its own right which cannot be dealt with by the measures of the Church alone. It is for this reason that we of today have a psychology founded on experience, and not upon articles of faith of the postulates of any philosophical system. The very fact that we have such a psychology is to me symptomatic of a profound convulsion of spiritual life. Disruption in the spiritual life of an age shows the same pattern as radical change in an individual."
*--Goedel
*--Heisenberg
*--Piaget
*--Philosophers, political theorist and pundits took heart = Henri Bergson | Josť Ortega y Gasset | Miguel de Unamuno | Jean-Paul Sartre | Karl Jaspers | Arnold Toynbee oscillated between cultural pessimism, multi-culturalism, and "Western" triumphalism | Michel Foucault

 

6. Institutions given or assuming responsibility and control over ways of thinking

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

*--Churches and other institutionalized religious authorities [EG]
*--Schools [EG]
*--Universities
*--Courts and legal protections of "civil rights" [EG]
*--Censorship and propaganda ministries [EG#1] [EG#2]
*--"The media" [LOOP on "pop-arts"]

 

7. Are we at the end of the secular age?

GO TO "New World Order"

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