Toward the Modern Consciousness

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Toward the Modern Consciousness: Intellectual and Cultural Developments

values and ideals that had been generated by the Scientific Revolution and the Enlightenment, Reason, Science, and progress were still important words modern technology as electric lights, phonographs, and automobiles new view of the physical universe , an appeal to the irrational, alternative views of human nature, and radically innovative forms of literacy and artistic expression shattered old beliefs

Developments in the Sciences: The Emergence of a New Physics Science, chief pillars supporting the optimistic and rationalistic view of the world that many Westerners shared hard facts and cold reason

science offered a certainty of belief in the orderliness of nature traditional religious beliefs no longer had much meaning
already known scientific laws= complete understanding of the physical world seriously questioned
French scientist Marie Curie and her husband Pierre- element radium gave off rays of radiation within the atom itself Atoms= small worlds containing subatomic particles as electrons and protons random and inexplicable fashion^

Berlin physicist, Max Planck, a heated body radiates energy in a steady stream but maintained instead that energy is radiated discontinuously, in irregular packets that he called "quanta" quantum theory raised fundamental questions about the subatomic realm of the atom Albert Einstein, German- born patent officer

new theories of thermodynamics into new terrain
"The Electro- dynamics of Moving Bodies" special theory of relativity space and time are not absolute but relative to the observer, interwoven into what Einstein called a four- dimensional space- time continuum existence independent of human experience

matter and energy reflected the relativity of time and space epochal formula E= mc2= each particle of matter is equivalent to its mass times the square of the velocity of light- explaining the vast energies contained within the atom led to the atomic age^

total eclipse of the sun in May 1919, demonstrate that light was deflected in the gravitational field of the sun 1920's= "heroic age" of physics
Toward a New Understanding of the Irrational
decades before 1914
contradictory developments
small group of intellectuals attacked the idea of optimistic progress, dethroned reason, and glorified the irrational Friedrich Nietzsche, glorified the irrational
bourgeois society & incapable of any real cultural creativity emphasis on rational faculty @ the expense of emotions, passions, and instincts humans were at the mercy of irrational life forces
Christianity should shoulder much of the blame for Western Civilization's enfeeblement "slave morality" of Christianity, had obliterated the human impulse for life and had crushed the human will "God is dead.", Europeans had killed God

rejected and condemned political democracy, social reform, and universal suffrage Henri Bergson, French philosopher, most important influences in French, accepted rational, scientific thought as a practical instrument, reality was the "life force", it could not be divided into analyzable parts Georges Sorel, French political theorist, combined

Bergson's and Nietzsche's ideas on the limits of rational thinking with his own passionate interest in revolutionary socialism understood the political potential of the non-rational and advocated violent action as the only sure way to achieve the aims of socialism destroy capitalist society

use of general strike
inspire workers to take violent, heroic action against the capitalist order new socialist society would have to be governed by a small elite because the masses were incapable of ruling themselves Sigmund Freud and Psychoanalysis

Viennese doctor, Sigmund Freud, put forth a series of the theories that undermined optimism about the rational nature of the human mind Interpretation of Dreams, contained the basic foundation of what came to be known as psychoanalysis human behavior...
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