Modern world

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(Redirected from Modern Age)
See related article Modernity.

The terms Modern World, Modern Period, New World, Modern Times, Progressive Age, Modern Age, or Modern Era are recognized by historians as being that period of time commencing after the Middle Ages and the Early Modern period, after the mid-18th century.

The beginning of the period is marked by the end of the European Renaissance. Exact definition depends on the specific usage — for example a historian might be referring to the period 1650-, whilst a musician might be referring to music postdating the romantic era, which would date the beginning of modernity to around 1900.

The modern age may be defined to extend to the present day, or else to conclude postmodernism (which may be dated any time from the 1960s to the early 1980s), again depending on the usage. In the case where modern is used in a sense which means "before postmodernism", it may refer specifically to modernism. Another view is that postmodernism may, however, be considered as just the latest development of modernism itself.


The concept of the modern world as distinct from an ancient world of historical and outmoded artifacts rests on a sense that the modern world is primarily the product of relatively recent and revolutionary change. Advances in all areas of human activity -- politics, industry, society, economics, commerce, transport, communication, mechanization, automation, science, medicine, technology and culture -- appear to have transformed an "Old World" into the 'Modern or New World. In each case, the identification of a Revolutionary change can be used to demarcate the old and old-fashioned from the modern.

In European politics, the transition from feudal institutions to modern institutions has been marked by a series of Revolutions and military conflicts, beginning with the Eighty Years' War, which resulted in Dutch independence, confirmed in the Peace of Westphalia. The Peace of Westphalia (1648) established the modern international system of independent nation-states, ending feudalism in international relations. The English Glorious Revolution (1688) marked the end of feudalism in Great Britain, creating a modern constitutional monarchy. The French Revolution of 1789 overthrew the Ancien Rgime in France, and as a result of the Napoleonic Wars, served to introduce political modernity in much of Western Europe.

The American and French Revolutions ended the role of absolute monarchies to do as they wished in the world. Henceforth the world would become a "Modern" place where Democracy, and Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity became the new standards of government and of the rules of society.

Men such as the Emperor Napoleon introduced new codes of law in Europe based on merit and achievement, rather than on a class system rooted in Feudalism. The modern political system of Liberalism (derived from the word "Liberty" which means "Freedom") empowered members of the dis-enfranchised Third Estate. The power of elected bodies swept aside traditional rule by royal decree. A new attachment to one's nation, culture and language produced the powerful forces of Nationalism. This in turn ultimately contributed to new ideologies such as the ideology of Fascism, Socialism and Communism.

Taken to an extreme, the desire to demolish all vestiges of the past and create a classless society, resulted in the abuses of Communism following the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, which executed the Tsar and his family, created the Soviet Union, transformed serfdom, and forcibly modernized Mother Russia. In Germany, once the Kaiser had abdicated in 1918, chaos ensued, paving the way for the rise of Adolf Hitler and Nazism.

The new republic of the United States of America granted the vote to white, male citizens, and placed reins on government based on the new Constitution and creating a system of checks and balances between the three different branches of government of the legislature, judiciary, and executive headed by a President who won a national election.

Revolutions in science and technology have been no less influential than political revolutions in changing the shape of the modern world. The Scientific revolution, beginning with the discoveries of Kepler and Galileo, and culminating with Newton's Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (1687), changed the way educated people saw the natural world.

An Industrial Revolution initiated by mechanical automation of the manufacture of cotton cloth and the use of steam engines, commenced in the 18th century in Great Britain, followed in the 19th century by a later series of developments, which saw modern systems of communication and transportation introduced in the form of steamships, railroads and the telegraph. In the late 19th century, a Second Industrial Revolution, prompted by developments in the chemical, petroleum, steel and electrical industries, furthered transformed the modern world.

The mechanical and scientific inventions that were discovered, studied and implemented changed the way goods were produced and marketed. For example, modern machines in Britain speeded up the manufacture of commodities such as cloth and iron. The horse and ox were no longer needed as beasts of burden. The newly invented engine powered the car, train, ship, and eventually the plane produced rapidly each year. Artificially created energy powered any motor that drove any machine that was invented. Raw goods could be transported in huge quantities over vast distances and manufactured quickly and then marketed all over the world, making Britain into a very wealthy country.

Progress continued as Science saw so many new scientific discoveries. The telephone, radio, X-rays, microscopes, electricity all contributed to rapid changes in life-styles and societies. Discoveries of antibiotics such as penicillin brought new ways of combating diseases. Surgery and drugs kept on making progressive improvements in medical care, hospitals, and nursing. New theories such as Evolution and Psychoanalysis changed humanity's "old fashioned" views of itself.

Warfare was changed with the advent of new varieties of rifle, cannon, gun, machine gun, armor, tank, plane, jet, and missile. And weapons such as the atomic bomb and the hydrogen bomb, known along with chemical weapons and biological weapons as weapons of mass destruction actually made the devastation of the entire planet Earth possible in minutes. All these are among the markings of the Modern World.

New attitudes to religion, with the church diminished, and a desire for personal freedoms, induced desires for sexual freedoms, which were ultimately accepted by large sectors of the Western World. Theories of "free love" and uninhibited sex were touted by radicals in the 1960s.

Equality of the sexes in politics and economics, women's liberation movement, gay rights for homosexuals and the freedom afforded by contraception allowed for greater personal choices in these intimate areas of personal life.

The combination and confluence of all these evolving extreme political, economic, industrial, scientific, medical, technological, psychological, and cultural changes continue to produce what we know today as the Modern World.

Famous people

The Modern world replaced the Biblically-oriented value system, the monarchical government system, and the feudal economic system, with new democratic and liberal ideas in the areas of politics, science, psychology, sociology, and economics. These new ideas were derived from the writings of such people as:

(Note: The list below is not comprehensive by any means. To name all the thinkers and personalities who helped shape the modern age would be a voluminous undertaking. This selection is meant as a profile of the way major thinkers contributed to the creation of the world as we know it today.They are listed chronologically by year of death.)

Partisan use of the term Worldwide

The phrase "Worldwide" has tremendous emotional appeal, and is used in various countries not only by persons from professional historians to self-taught curmudgeons but by political groups which want to impose their view of reality upon their countrymen and even the whole world. The easiest way to do this is to establish a benchmark year and leave the particulars to specialists.

Britain: The Glorious Revolution of 1689 established a king selected by parliament, ending the troubles in that country in the seventeenth century. This was primarily done by the faction called the Whigs, who used the term "modern" for generations thereafter to gain credit. Later generations and political parties did not consider this a sufficient change to merit the term.

France: Although the French still glory in the magnificence of King Louis XIV, the end of his reign in 1715 is considered by them as a handy spot from which to tout the next phase of French glory, the Enlightenment, which they call l'Age des lumires . In other words, what happened in Britain does not concern them. After the French Revolution of 1789, they declared that the modern age had been surpassed by the contemporary age.

Russia: It took some time for the European socialists to conceive that the next great revolution would start someplace other than in France. But the Russians have always compared themselves to the French. After the October revolution, the Communist party of the Soviet Union declared that the "modern age" began with Peter the Great and the "contemporary age" began with this Bolshevik revolution.

The United States of America: A seemingly natural dividing point as far as Spain and the new world are concerned is the voyage of Columbus in 1492. But the need for such an undertaking was underscored by the taking of Constantinople by the Ottoman Empire of the Turks in 1453, so historians once took this as their benchmark. Recently, the notion of political correctness has led historians to take a less-specific date to make it appear general, with worldwide consequences. So the year 1500 is often used. It's also easier for less-studious persons to remember.

bn:আধুনিক বিশ্ব cs:Novověk de:Neuzeit fr:poque moderne he:העת החדשה ja:近代 nds:Nutied sl:Novi vek zh:現代


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