Modernity has done a lot to improve the circumstances of billions of people around the world. Free markets, personal liberty, science, and art have done amazing things for humanity in the last several hundred years. There is a cost, however, that must be addressed.
“Modernity, the child of the Enlightenment, failed when it became apparent that the good society cannot be achieved by unaided reason.”
Individual: Modernity, especially through the progress of science and the doing away of religion, gave way to a denial in many to the inherent value of an individual. It leads to utilitarian thinking and corrupts the idea of an individual. Instead of pursuing virtue through the lens of right reason, we seek solely to delay suffering and partake in pleasurable things.
Philosophy: We’ve made philosophy into ideology. Instead of balancing different ideas in one’s own mind, we’re trained to think of the world through ideology. Think about your job. Could you entertain an idea about it and decide that it’s not the best course of action and choose another option? I’m sure you can due to training. But a lack of training in how to discuss complicated ideas has led to an inability to entertain foreign philosophies. It has also become taboo to put forward fairly moderate ideas or ideas that have been around for millennia. This is another sign of pride or ego getting in the way of a search for Truth.
Culture: Radical individualism has broken societal institutions that promoted a good culture. We’ve lost the family, community, church, and other institutions that we could take part in that give us a sense of something greater than ourselves. Now, our culture suffers from a lack of meaning and is sold either radical collectivism as a reaction or a doubling down of radical individualism. We saw this throughout the 20th century with the rise of socialism and communism (but I repeat myself) and the rise of “The American Dream.”
Religion: Separation of Church and State was meant as a separation of these into two distinct institutions where they could have a dialogue. It was a check on either’s power so they became harder to corrupt. If one entity held both religious power and state power, it was nearly invincible and this could lead easily to tyranny. We’ve used this as a weapon against religion, which has given the state total control and allowed it to devolve into tyranny.