The Modern Error: Or, the Unbearable Enlightenment of Being

In Mike Featherstone, Scott Lash & Roland Robertson (eds.), Global Modernities. New York, NY, USA: pp. 260-277 (1995)
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I claim that the underlying premises of the modern era - e-r-a - are false in a way that carries catastrophic consequences. Despite the many genuine achievements of the modern world—which I for one would not want to live without—the spirit of modernity has been one which denigrated the basic conditions of human being. In the name of freedom and knowledge, the modern era gave birth precisely to the non-empathically responding world, the schizoid ghost in the machine, which now threatens to dissolve both humanity and the natural world. We must find the means to correct the mistaken premises which form the modern error. The time has come to find a new way of renewing reason, a project requiring a transformation of values and outlook as vast as those which took place in the axial age or the modern age. The renewal of reason will involve opening the gates to the entire historical and prehistorical heritage of humankind, to renew the archaic values of family, household, neighborhood and local community and the sympathetic relations they engender, to renew those organic and communicative essences of play, dreaming and mother-infant nurturance which are our human-mammalian legacy and crucial for the development of the spontaneous self, and also making a life-sustaining world culture with self-critical institutions capable of supporting and protecting the vitality of local ways. Without the hope of such a thoroughgoing transformation, we are likely to continue to go the way of the earth’s ozone shield into corrosive self-extinction
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