By Gerard Delanty
A brand new manner of conceptualizing the modernity-postmodernity debate, and an exhilarating new method of the roots of latest social idea
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Additional resources for Modernity and Postmodernity : Knowledge, Power and the Self
Nietzsche, Heidegger (1968, p. 55) argues, 'sees clearly that in the history of Western man something is coming to an end'. But it is an ending that is also a beginning, an 'unspoken gathering of the whole of western fate, the gathering from which alone the Occident can go forth to meet the coming decisions - to become, perhaps and in a wholly other mode, a land of dawn, an Orient' (Heidegger, 1968, pp. 69-70). The name 'Europe' means for Heidegger the 'late-comers': 'Europeans are living in the twilight of a world on which sunset is about to fall and the new age that is to dawn will be a post-historical age but one in which the original Greek insight into the most fundamental questions of human existence will be revealed' (Heidegger, 1957, pp.
In this respect there is a pronounced postmodern theme in Marx's writing (Carver, 1998). The creative dimension to Marx's thought is not always stressed, and as Hans Joas (1996) argues, it can be seen alongside the idea of the creativity of action in authors as diverse as Schopenhauer, Dewey, Simmel - the philosophy of life and pragmatism. The theme of the crisis of modernity can be traced back to Hegel's pessimistic account of civil society and his notion of the 'cunning of reason'. Marx's writings displayed an even stronger conviction of the promise of modernity than Hegel, who ultimately retreated into speculative thought and redemption through philosophical reflection.
Rejecting Bauman's reduction of modernity to the rule of legislators, he argues for a more differentiated conception of modernity as itself embodying a reflexive dimension. This is also the thesis of Johann Arnason (1995), who sees modernity as irreducible to power, for it also entails the separate question of culture. The cultural dimension of modernity cannot be separated, he argues, from issues relating to selftransformation and reflexive critique. This is a view of modernity which is also reflected in Peter Wagner's (1994) theorization of modernity as a struggle between mastery and liberty.