Peter J. Leithart is President of the Theopolis Institute, Birmingham, Alabama, and an adjunct Senior Fellow at New St. Andrews College. He is author, most recently, of Gratitude: An Intellectual History (Baylor).

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Two modernisms

From Leithart

Kumar defines modernism as an intellectual, cultural and artistic revolt against modernity. Yet modernism itself, especially as expressed in architecture, was complex and racked with internal contradictions: “It could denounce the ‘inauthentic’ present in the name of the future, . . . . Continue Reading »

Two modernities?

From Leithart

At least two: The modernity of science and technology, the factory system and city planning, of bureacracy and management. And on the other hand the modernity of sensibility, literature, hedonism, the lust for ever-new experience. On the one hand, Industrialization; on the other, the Romanticism . . . . Continue Reading »

Liquid modernity

From Leithart

“Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation . . . All fixed, fast-frozen relationships . . . are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify.” Zygmunt Bauman? No: Marx and . . . . Continue Reading »

Modernity and antiquity

From Leithart

Kumar suggests that “some of the principal hall-marks of modernity” are already evident in the Christian notions of time and history. Both Christianity and modernity separate time from nature, and humanize time; time is seen by both as “linear and irreversible”; both see . . . . Continue Reading »

First Modernity

From Leithart

The Latin modernus was coined in the late fifth century, as an antonym to antiquus , and variations of modernus became particularly common after the 10th century. Thus, Krishan Kumar writes, “Modernity is . . . an invention of the Christian Middle Ages,” and was used to emphasize the . . . . Continue Reading »

Computer Communications and the Self

From Leithart

Poster lists four effects that computer communications (email, chat groups, etc) have on the self: “1 they introduce new possibilities for playing with identities; 2 they degender communications by removing gender cues; 3 they destabilize existing hierarchies in relationships and . . . . Continue Reading »

Computers, subjects and objects

From Leithart

Descartes famously contrasted the mind (res cogitans) with the external world (res extensa), but Mark Poster suggests that computer writing fudges that distinction: “the computer dematerializes the written trace. As inputs are made to the computer through the keyboard, pixels of phosphor are . . . . Continue Reading »

Community and New Communications

From Leithart

Mark Poster points to a tension between the modern institutions of production and the postmodern technologies of communication, particularly as they impact the formation of the self: “If modernity or the mode of production signifies patterned practices that elicit identities as autonomous and . . . . Continue Reading »

Telephone

From Leithart

Prior to World War I, Telefon Hirmondo, the telephone system of Budapest, was used as a broadcast system, with a published schedule of programs that were restricted to certain classes of people in Hungary. Only later did it develop into a communications system in which everyone could pass . . . . Continue Reading »

Consumerism

From Leithart

Consumerism is a popular category of analysis, but what exactly does it mean? How is consumerism or the consumer society different from anything else? Haven’t every economies had producers and consumers? In his The Romantic Ethic and the Spirit of Modern Consumerism , Colin Campbell offers . . . . Continue Reading »