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A summary of the dilemma of hypermodernity

By Mark Wegierski
web posted March 2, 2015

Over more than three decades of publication endeavors, probably one of the most important essays ever published by the author is “The Dilemma of Hypermodernity.” This World: Religion and Public Life (Culture and Consumption) no. 31 (2000) (New Brunswick, USA and London, UK: Transaction Publishers), pp. 29-45. (Among the first texts read by me that inspired these ideas was Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn’s A World Split Apart: Commencement Address Delivered at Harvard University (June 8, 1978) – especially the conclusion.)

This is the 15th anniversary of the appearance of the academic version of my essay – which had also appeared in various, different, non-academic iterations in the 1990s.

The author offers here a conceptual précis of his 2000 essay. What was the author’s main idea was that both “premodernity” and “modernity” had their flaws and inadequacies. He tried to posit a so-called “postmodernity” – defined in a rather different fashion from conventional definitions of the term. Drawing on the concept of thesis-antithesis-synthesis from Hegel, the author posited a vast dialectic as between premodernity and modernity – that is supposed to “properly” – though not necessarily – culminate in a “postmodernity” – i.e., as the Negation of the Negation. By contrast, the Negation Extended is “hypermodernity” – with a variety of dystopic outcomes possible. He finds it helpful to present these notions in a schematic form.

THESIS (AFFIRMATION):

PREMODERNITY: Spirit of Humanity (Gemeinschaft; Community; Spiritual; Organic)
Central Dialectic of Premodernity: God and Humanity

ANTITHESIS (NEGATION):

MODERNITY: Spirit of Technology (Gesellschaft; ‘Society’; Material; Artificial)
Central Dialectic of Modernity: Humanity (which implicitly includes God) and Technology

SYNTHESIS (NEGATION OF THE NEGATION):

POSTMODERNITY: Humanity + Technology
‘communitarian ecology’
‘re-rootedness in reflective particularity’

OR

(THE NEGATION EXTENDED)

HYPERMODERNITY: Technology Triumphant
‘technological totalitarianism’
‘globalization/Brazilification’

OR

(THE NEGATION TAKEN TO ITS EXTREME)

HYPERMODERNITY possibly leading to EXTINCTION of Humanity:

-- nuclear war
-- pollution/ecological disasters
-- biological/medical/genetic engineering disasters
-- nanotechnology virus/plague
-- through decadence and enervation of human life, if the so-called “unlimited energy source” (e.g., fusion), is ever found, but with humans unable to set any limits on its use

OR

(A SUDDEN DIALECTICAL SHIFT)

APOCALYPSE possibly leading to POSTMODERNITY:

A combination of massive disasters (possibly including nuclear and biological warfare, or simply the catastrophic results of the exhaustion of the ecosystems of the planet) shellshocks humanity into
embracing a new paradigm, saving humanity from total extinction. The new society is saner, greener, calmer, etc. Many of humanity's religious traditions speak of a "burning at the end of time," after which a "redeemed era" commences. Perhaps this is a foreshadowing in religious imagery of what might actually await humankind. ESR

Mark Wegierski is a Canadian writer and historical researcher.

 

 

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