Antiquity and Modernity

Morley, Neville
Date published: 
October 2008

The nature, faults and future of modern civilization and how these connect to the past are tackled in this broad-reaching volume. Modernity is typically represented as a complete economic, political, cultural and psychological break from earlier time periods and non western cultures, but the ideas and culture of classicism have clearly influenced key modern theorists. This book explores the relationship between antiquity and modernity, examining a broad range of thought in the process. It considers the views of German philosophers, British political economists, and French social theorists from the end of the nineteenth to the beginning of the twentieth century, including such totemic figures as Adam Smith, Marx, Mill, Nietzsche, Weber, and Freud. The first part considers the development of ideas about the difference between ancient and modern, whether conceptualized in economic, political, cultural, social or psychological terms; and it explores the way that modernity comes to be defined by this difference. The second part explores the uses of the past and of narratives of historical development in the modern era, both in the foundation myths of modernity and in the critiques offered by those who sought to promote alternative forms of society.