Intellectual And Cultural Movement Of The 18th Century Sociology Essay

August 24, 2017 Sociology

The modern mind of the eighteenth century Europe therefore believed that anything and everything could be subjected to the survey of ground. Art, imposts, ethical motives, traditions etc. hence could wholly be submitted to the survey and rational apprehension. It was felt that the ‘truth ‘ of these reveled finds could be applied in political and societal domains to ‘fix ‘ the jobs of society and better upon the general conditions of world. However the epoch of Enlightenment and its ensuing results did keep an arguably cardinal failure. The Enlightenment in great portion, failed to keep the capacity to cover with general human differences and diverseness in footings of civilization, tradition and ethnicities. The sedate effect of this failure can clearly be seen in Europe ‘s relationship with non-European peoples and civilizations in the period that came during and after the Enlightenment epoch. This period was the era of cultural in-sensitivity, colonisation and racism etc. And these can attributed in great portion, to the universalist models of enquiry of that clip. The rational idea of eighteenth century Europe was arguably steeped in abstract constructs of a standardised and inflexible human nature and olympian narrations of a progressive history of human civilisation. The bequest of Enlightenment therefore is plagued by an epistemic insufficiency of givens which fostered a mode of thought that would for two centuries, serve to legalize European planetary domination, racism and devastation.


The birth of modernness, took topographic point in approximately the same clip frame of that of the Enlightenment motion. In general footings, modernness refers to an historical epoch which is characterized by a move from feudal system towards modern twenty-four hours capitalist economy, secularisation, rationalisation and industrialisation. Modernity means the cultural scheme and mechanisms of societal action stemming from the Enlightenment and the modernisation procedure. It is a set of new and “ semisynthetic ” rationalized mechanisms and regulations for human societies. The interconnected dimensions of modernness may be approximately grouped into “ rational ” and “ institutional ” classs including subjectiveness and single uneasiness, a spirit of rationalized public civilization, rationalisation of economic operations, bureaucratism in administrative direction, self-denial of public sphere and democratisation etc. Modernity remains the major support and moral force in maintaining human society running today. Features of modernness are based on extremely industrialised societies, which have regular forms of mundane life. Some of the chief features of these modern societies include have already been mentioned ; nevertheless are some cardinal 1s, described in more item:

Bureaucracy: Impersonal, societal hierarchies that are based on the general division of labour coupled with regularity of systems, methods and processs.

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Rationalization: A manner of looking at the universe and pull offing it through the usage of logic, objectiveness and impartial theories and informations.

Disenchantment: A move off from understanding the natural universe, the celestial spheres and general life through metaphysical thoughts.

Secularization: A move off from spiritual influence at a social degree

Commodification: The diminution of all aspects and facets of life to the points of pecuniary exchange, use and ingestion.

Alienation: Isolation of persons from establishments of significance and emotions i.e. faith, household, tradition, meaningful work etc.

Modernity and the Holocaust

A figure of postmodern theoreticians have attacked modernness for doing racism. Far from seeing the Enlightenment belief in reason as likely to sabotage racialist beliefs, they have argued that modernness has really encouraged racism. Postmodernist theoreticians have besides argued that racism arises out of a modern inclination to see the universe in footings of binary resistances, or brace of antonyms. Western modernness has contrasted itself with ‘others ‘ who are taken to be really different. Out of this procedure racism develops.

In Modernity and the Holocaust ( 1989 ) ‘Zygmunt Bauman ‘ argues that the Holocaust was a merchandise of modernness. The mass extinction of Jews ( and others in Nazi Germany ) was non merely a consequence of antisemitism, an unlogical racism directed against Jews. Rather, the Holocaust was a merchandise of the cardinal characteristics of modernness. Bauman says:

The truth is that every ‘ingredient ‘ of the Holocaust-all those many things that rendered it possible -was normalaˆ¦in the sense of being to the full in maintaining with everything we know about our civilisations, its steering spirit, its prioritiesaˆ¦of the proper ways to prosecute human felicity together with a perfect society. ( Bauman 1989 )

The links between the Holocaust and modernness take a figure of signifiers:

The Holocaust was a merchandise of modern, bureaucratic reason. The German bureaucratism ( peculiarly the ill-famed SS ) were charged with the undertaking of taking Jews from Germany. In maintaining with the rules of modern bureaucratism, the people involved did non oppugn the purposes given to them by their political Masterss. They merely sought the technically efficient agencies to accomplish the aim. Traveling the Jews to Poland caused administrative jobs for those Germans who had to regulate the annexed districts. Another proposal at that clip was to direct the Jews to Madagascar, a settlement of defeated France. However this proven impractical as good. The distances involved and the British naval capablenesss meant that 1000000s of Jews could non be sent at that place. Mass extinction was chosen because it was merely the most technically efficient agencies with which to free Germany of Jewish presence. The ‘Final Solution ‘ did non collide at any phase with the rational chases of efficient, optimum end execution. On the contrary it arose out of a genuinely rational concern, and it was generated by bureaucratism true to its signifier and intent. Thus bureaucratic organisation can be used to function any terminal, and the modern ethos that administrative officials should non oppugn the intent of their organisation, precludes them from taking stairss to forestall events such as those of the Holocaust.

Evidence from the Holocaust subsisters suggests that most of the members of the SS responsible for transporting out the Holocaust did non look to be psychologically disturbed sadists. They in fact, appeared to be comparatively normal persons. However, they were able to take part in such cold Acts of the Apostless because they were authorized to make so by their higher-ups and because the violent death was routinized. They subjected themselves to the subject of the organisation to which they belonged. Accepting organisational subject is another characteristic of rational organisation in modernness. The award of civil retainers depends upon their ability to follow the orders of their political Masterss, even if they personally disagree with those orders. Furthermore, modern, rational organisation tends to do the effect of single actions less obvious. The portion played by each member of a bureaucratic system may look distant from the concluding effect. Thus an functionary who designated people as ‘non-Aryan ‘ in Nazi Germany would be improbable to believe of himself or herself as being responsible for mass slaying. Even the existent violent death in the Holocaust was sanitized by the usage of gas Chamberss. Earlier methods had included machine gunning victims. However, this was both inefficient and made the inhumaneness if what was traveling on, markedly more obvious. Gas Chamberss minimized such troubles.

Modernity is based upon the being of nation-states with clear cut boundaries. Jews were regarded as ‘foreigners within ‘ in European provinces. Harmonizing to Bauman, in pre-modern Europe the presence of Judaic ‘otherness ‘ did non on the whole prevent their adjustment into the general societal order. Pre-modern societies were divided by castes and Jews were a different group. Modern state provinces emphasize the homogeneousness of a state in order to further nationalist sentiment. Their desire to keep boundaries involves excepting the foreigner ‘other ‘ . This produces a status within which racism can boom.

From the Enlightenment onwards, modern thought has maintained that human societies can come on through the application of rational, scientific cognition in be aftering society. The antisemitism that was expressed in utmost signifier in the Holocaust was backed by German scientists who could purportedly turn out the lower status of the Judaic race. The mass extinction of the Judaic population was based on the evidences that making so, would better the cloth of German society as a whole. Such undertakings to transform society are typically modern and would non be considered in pre-modern societies, which lacked such a sense of advancement.

The claims made by Bauman, are controversial to the state the least and therefore have been met with much unfavorable judgment. Critics like sociologist, ‘Karen Malik ‘ denies that modernness can be seen as responsible for racism and is extremely critical of the postmodern attack to ‘race ‘ . He does non deny that racism has been a powerful and caustic force in modern societies but he does non see racism as a merchandise of modernness itself. He does non believe that the jubilation of difference, which he sees as a cardinal characteristic of postmodern thought, is the manner to sabotage racism. Alternatively, he argues that racism can outdo be tackled by resuscitating some of the rules upon which modernness is based. In peculiar he believes that the application of cosmopolitan rules is preferred to admiting and observing assortment in human groups.

Karen Malik is besides critical of the claim that the Holocaust can be blamed on modernness merely because modernness provides the technological agencies to carry through mass extinction. Modern engineering has besides been used to relieve jobs such as dearth and material poorness. The being of advanced engineering in itself can non be held responsible for the political determination to utilize engineering to kill off people by gassing.

I find it abominable that bookmans can in all seriousness equate mass extinction with the production of McDonald ‘s hamburgersaˆ¦or make a comparing between engineering aimed at bettering the material copiousness of society and political determinations which annihilate whole peoples and destroy full societies. ( Malik 1996 )

Other critics have criticized Bauman ‘s claim that the Holocaust was a merchandise of modernness. They argue alternatively, that the Holocaust arose in specific historical fortunes instead than being a merchandise of modernness in general. If incrimination for the holocaust can be attributed to anything, it should be to capitalism instead than ground. Modernity involves a belief in ground and the application of scientific discipline, while capitalist economy involves economic relationships based on the chase of net income. The two are non the same, so capitalist economy may do it hard to accomplish the equality that was the aim of many modern minds. The inequalities produced by capitalist economy may promote people to believe of other ‘races ‘ as inferior, but this is non the same as stating that racism is produced by scientific discipline and ground.

Michael Hviid Jacobsen is another critic, who criticizes the claim that racism can be understood in footings of the construct of the ‘other ‘ . He does non believe that modernness causes people to automatically compare themselves to other people, and that as a consequence racism develops. He suggests that such claims are so sweeping as to be earnestly misdirecting. In his position, it can non be assumed that, over many centuries Westerners have seen all non-Westerners as the ‘Other ‘ in the same manner. Western positions of other people have been related to specific contexts and fortunes. For illustration, different significances have been given to the ownership of black tegument at different times and at different topographic points in modern history. At one clip, most westerners thought it was acceptable to enslave people with black teguments nevertheless ; this is no longer the instance. The significance of ‘otherness ‘ is frequently disputed and combative, and non all modern, post-Enlightenment minds have been persuaded of the truth of racialist beliefs.


Bauman claims that the possibility of the Holocaust was created by modernness. He does non deny that modernness has had its benefits, but he does believe that it created the conditions in which racism can boom. This is peculiarly because modernness detaches morality from reason and proficient efficiency. In subsequently plants, Bauman goes onto discuses post-modernity and argues, that in post-modernity authorization becomes dispersed amongst different groups of experts and is non centralized in the custodies of the province. This returns more moral duty to the custodies of the person, who can now take at least which authorization to take notice of. Bauman therefore believes that post-modernity reduces the opportunities of events such as those of the Holocaust occurring. It opens up more chance for challenges to racism and more likeliness of the tolerance of diverseness. Bauman associates post-modernism with the credence of pluralism and the rejection of harmful efforts to direct the development of society.


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