In this article Diner briefly rethinks the impact of enlightenment as a historical current of thought and of modernity as its material equivalent. The text unfolds its argument against the backdrop of growing intellectual skepticism toward Western culture and its achievements, especially the phenomenon of social abstraction and human acceleration of time. The argument concerning enlightenment and modernity becomes reactualized in the context of globalization and the tight approximation of cultures based on different density and frequency of secularization, disenchanting the world. By advocating the tradition of Scottish enlightenment in distinction to its French correspondent, the article endorses a convention that claims the preservation of the bond to transcendence as a moral grounding of human behavior and action, on the one hand, while approving modernity and the positive achievements of estrangement in the sphere of social order, the regulation of individual liberties, and the accumulation of wealth, on the other. By and large the article argues for a moderate form of secular elucidation of traditional societies.
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Dan Diner; Reimagining Enlightenment: In Pursuit of Prudent Modernity. New German Critique 1 November 2012; 39 (3 (117)): 25–32. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-1677237
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