Modern Ideas

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Information about Modern Ideas

Published on February 24, 2008

Author: Nikita


Modern Ideas:  Modern Ideas New Ideas in Science, the New Physics, Advance of the Social Sciences, Modernism vs. Religion Modernism (1850-1914):  Modernism (1850-1914) Many thinkers helped fulfill the Enlightenment project of using reason to discover the laws of nature However, many cherished Enlightenment notions were called into question by emerging trends New Ideas In Science:  New Ideas In Science Darwinian Evolution Evolution was not a new idea in the nineteenth century Darwin observes that finches descended from a common ancestor Charles Darwin (1809-1882) On the Origin of the Species (1859):  On the Origin of the Species (1859) Darwin borrowed from Malthus’s population theories Random variations = survival advantage Natural selection suggested that biological development occurred randomly, not through design or purpose Response to Darwin’s Theory:  Response to Darwin’s Theory Religious Figures (Biblical Literalism) T.H. Huxley (“Darwin’s Bulldog”) Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) (1825-1894) The Descent of Man (1871):  The Descent of Man (1871) Darwin applies his theory of evolution to the human race New Ideas in Science:  New Ideas in Science The New Physics Newtonian physics ruled the world of science for two centuries (The Old Physics) (1) accurate explanations of natural phenomena (2) an appealing vision of the cosmos as orderly and predictable (3) atomic theory Atomic Theory Incorrect?:  Atomic Theory Incorrect? Marie Curie (1867-1934) J.J. Thomson (1856-1940) Ernest Rutherford (1871-1931) Practical Applications:  Practical Applications William Röntgen (1845-1923) X-Rays Quantum Theory:  Quantum Theory 1900 – German physicist (1) Particles did not emit or absorb energy in constant streams but in bundles, or “packets” of energy (2) light acts sometimes as a particle; sometimes as a wave (3) behavior of particles can only be expressed by probability Max Planck Relativity Theory:  Relativity Theory Argued that absolute time and space do not exist They are relative the observer’s status of motion This adds another dimension to our three-dimensional universe – space-time Matter and energy are interchangeable (E = mc²) Destruction of an atom might potentially liberate massive amounts of energy Advance of Social Sciences:  Advance of Social Sciences Freudian Psychology and the Irrational Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) Revealed the instinctual and unconscious nature of human behavior Developed the theory and practice of psychoanalysis: “unlocking” hidden desires, fears, memories The Human Psyche:  The Human Psyche (1) The ID “pleasure principle” (2) The EGO “reason” (3) The SUPEREGO “conscience” Dreams and Sexuality:  Dreams and Sexuality The Interpretation of Dreams (1900) Unpleasant and/or painful memories might be buried in the subconscious Hypnosis and dream analysis could help Freud claimed sexual feelings occurred early in life children develop sexually through stages Each stage marked by conflict – for example: (1) Oedipal complex (2) Electra complex Advances of the Social Sciences:  Advances of the Social Sciences Sociology Human action often results from factors other than human choice Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) Experiments with salivation of dogs Human behavior could be controlled through appropriate stimuli Advances of the Social Sciences:  Advances of the Social Sciences Sociology Criminologists showed criminal behavior might result from genetics Max Weber and Emile Durkheim explored: (1) influences of impersonal bureaucratic structures (2) influence of crowd mentalities on individuals (1864-1920) Social Darwinism:  Social Darwinism British sociologist who applied Darwin’s ideas to society Inequalities & divisions with classes or races = result of natural selection applied to human affairs “survival of the fittest” Herbert Spencer (1820-1903) Racial Darwinism:  Racial Darwinism Nationalists distorted Darwinian science to advance their ideas of racial inferiority The pseudoscience of eugenics emerges Selective breeding for humans! Darwin’s ideas will find their way into justifications for war Francis Galton Philosophy: A Flight to the Irrational:  Philosophy: A Flight to the Irrational Philosophy had long upheld reason, but in the late nineteenth century, the most influential philosophers showed the power of irrationality (1) Henri Bergson (1859-1941) (2) Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) Henri Bergson:  Henri Bergson French thinker who introduced theory of “vitalism” Nature could not be divided into analyzable units Irreducible vital forces pervaded the natural world Human behavior driven by these forces Cannot be reduced to any explanatory factors Friedrich Nietzsche:  Friedrich Nietzsche “God is dead!” Ideas do not actually represent reality The “will to power” Human nature = rational + instinctual Christianity twisted human nature Morality is personal – beyond conceptions of good and evil Called for the Übermensch Religion: The Challenge of Modernism:  Religion: The Challenge of Modernism Modern ideas = a crisis for Protestant and Catholic Christianity Even in religious communities, some scholars attempted to update religious beliefs Ernst Renan’s Life of Jesus Ernst Renan Effects on Protestantism:  Effects on Protestantism More committed to the Bible as the source of authority Protestants found it difficult to shield members from modern ideas Protestant denominations began to split (1) modernists (2) fundamentalists Church attendance declined in Europe Mere adherence to customs Effects on Catholicism:  Effects on Catholicism Attempted to tone down anti-modern attacks Sought to advance the cause of social justice Rerum Novarum Much in socialism reflected Christian teachings However, firmly rejected Marxism Adopted a “wait-and-see” attitude towards Darwinian theory Church attendance fairly stable Leo XIII (r. 1878-1903)

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