Abduh, Muhammad

Philosophy with The VALiens: The Nature of Modernity by Muhammad Abduh

Modernity, or the modern age, is usually defined as post-traditional, post-medieval historical

period (Heidegger 1938, 66-67), marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism,

industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions

and forms of surveillance (Barker 2004, 444). From conceptual understanding, modernity relates

to modern era and to modernism, but forms a distinct idea. Whereas the enlightenment refers to

specific movement in western philosophy, modernity tends to refer only to social relations

associated with the rise of capitalism. Modernity may also refer to certain intellectual cultures,

particularly the movement associated with secularization and post-industrial life, such as

Marxism, existentialism, and some formal establishment of social science.

Modernity denotes the renunciation of the past, favoring a new beginning, and a reinterpretation

of historical origin. Central to modernity is the emancipation from religion, especially the

hegemony of Christianity, and subsequent call for secularization. The idea of modernity has

many ramifications in politics, sociology, culture, philosophy, science, and art.

The distinction between modernity and modernism, modern, and modernization begin to arise in

the nineteenth century (Delanty 2007) with such attempt to define its precise meaning and nature

in modern time.

John F. Wilson defined “modern” as “a correlative term: it implies what is new as opposed to

what is ancient, what is innovative as opposed to what is traditional or handed down.” (Wilson

1987, 18). Modern, therefore, must be viewed as a relative term historically (e.g. what one

considered to be modern sculpture of architecture in 1900 was much different than the modern

expressions of art in 1990). (Berry, 1990, 7). Richard Bendix describe ‘modern society’ as “the

social conditions of the present, or of recent times including the present, as contrasted with those

of an earlier period.” (Richard Bendix 1968, 275). Modern, in one way, is an innovative present

age as contrasted to modernization, which is a “programmatic remaking of the political and

economic aspects of society in support of the new” (John Wilson, 10), which shows that the

process of modernization remakes or reforms the traditional character of political and economic

institutions of a given culture based on the affirmation of new discoveries or innovations. Wilson

reserves modernization to politics and economics, and prefer to coin modernism with religious

tradition. Peter Berger defined modernization as: “the growth and diffusion of a set of

institutions rooted in the transformation of the economy by means of technology”. (Peter Berger

1974, 9).

Modernism, in its widest definition, is modern thought, character and practiced. Specifically, it

describes the modernist movement in the arts, its set of cultural tendencies and associated

cultural movements, arising from far-reaching changes to Western societies in the late 19th and

early 20th centuries. The development of modern industrial societies, the rapid growth of cities

and the eruption of World War I, were major factors that shaped modernism. Some experts

define modernism as “a socially progressive trend of thought that affirms the power of human

beings to create, improve and reshape their environment with the aid of practical

experimentation, scientific knowledge or technology” (Bermann 1988, 16).

Many traditionalists consider modernism as potentially pose greater challenge to religious

heritage than modernization. Robert Bellah sees modernism as “an explicit and self conscious

commitment to the modern in intellectual and cultural matters” (or at least support of the claims

of the new as against its critics and detractors). (Robert Bellah 1970, 72-3). According to him,

modernism involves a conscientious effort on the part of the participant to enlighten a particular

religious tradition by accommodating or adapting to the cultural or intellectual innovations of the


Modernism in Christianity refers to the progressive theological thought which developed in the

nineteenth and twentieth century. (M.G. Reardon 1987, 14). The work of Christian modernists,w. lsuch as Alfred Loisy, Ernst Troeltsch, William Bousset and others reflected the progressive spirit of Christian modernist thought since nineteenth century. The same period witness the emergent of Muslim modernists of high standing such as Sir Sayyid Ahmad khan, Ameer Ali, Muhammad Iqbal, Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, Shaykh Muhammad Abduh and Muhammad Rashid Rida.

Modernist movement constitutes radical new direction in approaching art, architecture, music,

literature, culture, letters, design, and technology especially in the late 20th century which stress

on freedom of expression, experimentation, radicalism and revolutionary concept and ideas.

— original source www.ajmse.leena-luna.co.jp

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