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Intercultural
Lexicon

Fundamentalism

Fundamentalism means the literal and dogmatic interpretation of holy texts (but these may also be secular texts), the prescriptive indications of which are considered the foundations of all action.

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Tolerance

After the Nineties of the 20th Century tolerance returned to the centre stage in political thought, returning to fashion a concept that has certainly been central within the framework of political thought in modern times, but that appeared to have become a closed book with the French Revolution that...

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Participation

It is possible to participate in a brutal event – such as gang rape, lynching, an ethnic cleansing operation – or in a humanitarian event – fund raising, collective adoption, sacrificing oneself in an exchange of prisoners..

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The Diaspora

Literally a diaspora is the “dispersion of a people leaving their homeland and migrating in various directions”.

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Genocide

The word genocide is nowadays used in a number of different ways and one must to try and analyse them separately, to the extent that this is possible.

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Reset
A month of ideas.
Giancarlo Bosetti Editor-in-chief
Association for dialogue and intercultural understanding
Intercultural Lexicon
IT AR Tuesday, 7 November 2006

Modernity

Massimo Rosati

The concept of modernity can be analysed from various points of view. A sociological perspective sees modernity as the historical era arising from feudal society’s profound transformation processes and that, starting with the Protestant Reformation, sees the emergence of the new bourgeoisie.


The affirmation of modernity and its main characteristics relies mainly on the following: the two great 18th Century revolutions; the industrial revolution and the French revolution; the creation of modern national states and the rationalisation of power following anonymous bureaucratic procedures; the development of a marked economy based on the division of labour; the social valorisation of individual autonomy; the universalised importance of values; urbanisation and the spreading of metropolitan lifestyles; secularisation and the masses’ progressive participation in political and social life in European society; the development of science as a self-legitimising form of knowledge compared to religion; the withdrawal to a individual’s private sphere of all that is sacred and religious; and the simultaneous decline of religion’s public role.

From a philosophical point of view, modernity coincides at least partly with enlightenment, hence according to the well-know words of Immanuel Kant, with “man’s abandoning a state of minority”. In opposing tradition, religion, and all forms of imposed authority, modernity lays claim to complete autonomy regards to the past and a constant openness as far as the future is concerned. The ideas of a break with the past, of a crisis, or continuous change, are constitutive parts of its self-representation. In spite of this, modernity’s real autonomy compared to the past and to metaphysical and religious schools of thought has been debated at length, and is still debated.

When, according to authors such as Blumenberg, the final sense of modernity relies on its full autonomy with regards to the past, according to others it continues to be parasite-like as far as a number of great religious and metaphysical categories are concerned. Some of the greatest and most characteristic modern visions of history, such as those expressed by Hegel and Marx for example, appear to be nothing more than the secularisation, hence the translation into mundane terms, of religious concepts of the times.

In this sense, the innovative element of modernity would only be a partial one and a façade. More recently the debate on modernity has concentrated more on its future than its genesis. The end if the great ideologies and of the world that appeared after World War II in fact, according to some, inaugurated a fully “post-modern” situation, favourably seen by many as the mark of the abandonment of falsely universalistic structures of modernity.

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