Topics: Liberalism, Sociology, 20th century Pages: 6 (2052 words) Published: May 11, 2013

In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, during the scientific revolution, the idea of modern identity, or Modernity, first began to flourish. In the beginning modernity was revolutionary. This is because for most people modernity was an idea of a greater future, a better tomorrow. This idea was introduced in a time where human understanding of all things started to grow and change. It was the idea of pushing the human ideas into the future, while challenging the traditional knowledge of the past. The eighteenth through the late nineteenth century the thought of modernity was welcomed and practiced by many. Though it would not always stay that way, from the late nineteenth through the twentieth century the thought of modernity vastly changed. It was once thought that modernity was to be the dawning of a better time, yet over the decades that thought evaporated and what was left was fear. In the early years of the twentieth century many people became fearful and believed that somehow the modern world that had been molded and created was, through the ideals of modernity, headed for some dire fate. This change in belief and opinion, of modernity, plays a giant role in the study of history and also how history was therefore studied and “periodized”.

Modernity, if traced back far enough began in sixteenth and seventeenth century, in Renaissance Europe, during the scientific revolution. It began to grow in Western Europe, when intellectuals started to question the way things were done in the past. More thought provocation of traditional methods and knowledge lead to the spread of modernity ideals. These people called themselves moderns, or living in a new “mode”. These moderns looked at the world with a different perspective and thus science began to dominate the way of thinking. This was a way to understand nature and the world around them all while helping improve social conditions and the material world. This sudden expansion in modernity and science lead to what was referred to, by Immanuel Kant in 1784, as the “age of enlightenment”.

The “age of enlightenment” gave way to drastic change. Where in the past change was also coupled with fear, it was now embraced and welcomed with open arms. The idea was that of a better future and that the future would always be better and ever improving. This change in learning sparked a great deal of events, such as, the beginnings of philosophy, improvement of social structure, and improvement of the self. Though these systems of events not only lead to not only change and the improvement of science and the material world, but also society and the birth of human rights. It was because of this that by the end of the eighteenth century, modern ideas became the foundation of political movements, and the overall bettering of torn social structures.

Through the gain of human rights and the overall bettering of social and class structure people began to push for more. Revolutions gave birth to open societies, in many countries throughout Europe, middle class reforms began to take back their governments. They were creating governments where people were free to roam and not be shackled by class and social stigmas. Many of these people migrated to larger cities during the “industrial revolution” for more opportunities. With the freedom of mobility and the changing of government and society Europe continued to benefit. Workers had better conditions and pay, welfare programs were thus created, better prices for goods and services, and free public schools were opened for the children to attend. At this point the material world was growing. The expansions of manufacturing and agriculture, growing public health, and improved living conditions created larger, ever growing, cities for the people to flock to. With the growing of governmental strength as well as economic strength, some countries pursued more territories and lands as colonies, which began to cause tension on...
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