Modernity "Highlights"
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Modernity "Highlights" Social changes                 Historical Moments               Philosophical Themes Trade                                               Age of exploration ( c15-17)        Secularism

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Modernity "Highlights"

Social changes                 Historical Moments               Philosophical Themes

Trade                                               Age of exploration ( c15-17)        Secularism

Technological progress Renaissance (c15-16) Individualism

Urbanization                                   Reformation (c16) [ECW] Scientism

Political centralization           Scientific Revolution (c16-17)                                       

Religious diversity                          Enlightenment (c18)                    

                                                          Age of Democracy (c18-19)

Industrial Revolution (c19)

Popular government

Modern political thought is a documentary record of the intellectual development that contributed to the making of modernity. Machiavelli – a modern looking back - marks its beginning. Marx – a modern looking beyond modernity – marks its maturation.


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Politics, “Ancient” and “Modern”(Benjamin Constant)

--What defines the differences between "ancient" and "modern" liberty?

--What is the relationship of "private" and "public" concerns in these different ideals?

-- How do ancient and modern regimes compare with respect to:

*their spatial (or geographical) characteristics?

*the foundations of their material life?

*the goals they mean to promote?

*the meaning or value of citizenship?

*the composition of the citizenry (who is in, who was out?)

*the institutional arrangements for expressing popular will?

*the dangers to which they are subject?


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Forms of politics: ENDS

Features “Ancient” “Modern” _

Freedom active participation in politics individual independence

Public/private primacy of public sphere primacy of private sphere

spheres relationship

Regime goals security and virtue wealth and material comfort


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Forms of politics: MEANS

Features “Ancient” “Modern” _

Spatial small, intimate large, anonymous

characteristics

Material war and conquest commerce and trade

foundations

Basis of popular direct participation/ representation/ republican

sovereignty democratic government government

Composition of exclusive, limited inclusive, universal

citizenry

Meaning of efficacious, rewarding inefficacious, burdensome

citizenship

DANGERS neglect of individual rights neglect of public duties


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The danger of modern liberty is that, absorbed in the enjoyment of our private independence, and in the pursuit of our particular interests, we should surrender our right to share in political power too easily. The holders of authority are only too anxious to encourage us to do so. They are so ready to spare us all sort of troubles, except those of obeying and paying! They will say to us: what, in the end, is the aim of your efforts, the motive of your labors, the object of all your hopes? Is it not happiness? Well, leave this happiness to us and we shall give it to you. No, Sirs, we must not leave it to them…

[U]nless they are idiots, rich men who employ stewards keep a close watch on whether these stewards are doing their duty... Similarly, the people who, in order to enjoy the liberty which suits them, resort to the representative system, must exercise an active and constant surveillance over their representatives, and reserve for themselves, at times which should not be separated by too lengthy intervals, the right to discard them if they betray their trust, and to revoke the powers which they might have abused.


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The Classical and the Modern Political Ideals enjoyment of our private independence, and in the pursuit of our particular interests, we should surrender our right to share in political power too easily. The holders of authority are only too anxious to encourage us to do so. They are so ready to spare us all sort of troubles, except those of obeying and paying! They will say to us: what, in the end, is the aim of your efforts, the motive of your labors, the object of all your hopes? Is it not happiness? Well, leave this happiness to us and we shall give it to you. No, Sirs, we must not leave it to them…

We can no longerenjoy the liberty of the ancients, which consisted in an active and constant participation in collective power. Our freedom must consist of peaceful enjoyment and private independence. The share which in antiquity everyone held in national sovereignty was by no means an abstract presumption as it is in our own day. The w ill of each individual had real influence: the exercise of this will was a vivid and repeated pleasure. Consequently the ancients were ready to make many a sacrifice to preserve their political rights and their share in the administration of the state. Everybody, feeling with pride all that his suffrage was worth, found in this awareness of his personal importance a great compensation.

This compensation no longer exists for us today. Lost in the multitude, the individual can almost never perceive the influence he exercises. Never does his will impress itself upon the whole; nothing confirms in his eyes his own cooperation. The exercise of political rights, therefore, offers us but a part of the pleasures that the ancients found in it, while at the same time the progress of civilization, the commercial tendency of the age, the communication amongst peoples, have infinitely multiplied and varied the means of personal happiness.

It follows that we must be far more attached than the ancients to our individual independence. For the ancients when they sacrificed that independence to their political rights, sacrificed less to obtain more; while in making the same sacrifice! we would give more to obtain less. The aim of the ancients was the sharing of social power among the citizens of the same fatherland: this is what they called liberty. The aim of the moderns is the enjoyment of security in private pleasures; and they call liberty the guarantees accorded by institutions to these pleasures.

Benjamin Constant, 1816


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A Modern’s view of enjoyment of our private independence, and in the pursuit of our particular interests, we should surrender our right to share in political power too easily. The holders of authority are only too anxious to encourage us to do so. They are so ready to spare us all sort of troubles, except those of obeying and paying! They will say to us: what, in the end, is the aim of your efforts, the motive of your labors, the object of all your hopes? Is it not happiness? Well, leave this happiness to us and we shall give it to you. No, Sirs, we must not leave it to them…

“Ancient” and “Modern” politics:

Political participation v. Individual independence

Public interests v. Private interests

Intimate communities v. Mass societies

War, conquest, slavery v. Peace, commerce, trade

Virtue, excellence v. Wealth, happiness

Civic commitment v. Civic disengagement

Exclusive membership v. Inclusive membership

Direct democracy v. Representative government

Disorder, chaos, violence, v. Order, predictability, peace,

hardship, repression, poverty comfort, rights, security

OPPRESSION

LIBERTY


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An “Ancient’s” view of enjoyment of our private independence, and in the pursuit of our particular interests, we should surrender our right to share in political power too easily. The holders of authority are only too anxious to encourage us to do so. They are so ready to spare us all sort of troubles, except those of obeying and paying! They will say to us: what, in the end, is the aim of your efforts, the motive of your labors, the object of all your hopes? Is it not happiness? Well, leave this happiness to us and we shall give it to you. No, Sirs, we must not leave it to them…

“Ancient” and “Modern” politics:

Political participation v. Individual independence

Public interests v. Private interests

Intimate communities v. Mass societies

War, conquest, slavery v. Peace, commerce, trade

Virtue, excellence v. Wealth, happiness

Civic commitment v. Civic disengagement

Exclusive membership v. Inclusive membership

Direct democracy v. Representative government

Greatness, skill, fortitude v. Meanness, mediocrity, cowardice

magnanimity, judgment, selfishness, deference,

principle, immortality compromise, obscurity

LIBERTY

OPPRESSION


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