Modernity, postmodernity and transmodernity

Modernity, postmodernity and transmodernity can be understood as philosophical, cultural and social projects, great blocks of visions that nevertheless have enormous differences between them and that have developed criticisms.

DefinitionEra of thought of strong histories, nation-republics, the rights of the first generation and the belief in reason as a motive for human progress.Fall of the great stories and enormous disappointment for what was done with reason. There is no progress and man is the measure of all things, he is only the white man (European preferred).Current concept where the reading of a single new story like globalization emerges, in a fluid, virtual and financial environment.
CharacteristicsTrust in reason, man as the measure of all things, division of powers and evolution of humanity.Disappointment with the human being, shredded stories, subordinates take the words and humanity no longer has a goal.Fluidity of the human being, sex, the economy and the media. Importance of virtuality, positive and negative features of technology.

Definition of modernity

Modernity is an intellectual movement with broad resonances, whose origin, at least schematically, can be centered on the Renaissance, the 15th century and those particular republics of primordial Italy . Its consolidation, however, took place centuries later, closely linked to the idea of ​​the Enlightenment.

We speak of intellectual modifications, in the light of economic, political and social changes. Rising bourgeoisies, idea of ​​the rule of law with the republic and also of freedom of thought. Modernity, then, promoted a certain individuality, the use of reason and the protection of the rights of citizens, those who are currently known as the first generation.

Modernity, according to some scholars, is the age of strong stories, of stories where subjects (in this bourgeoisie and proletarians are combined) could and should make history . In short, it was a time that invited praxis, with a centrality in the human being, leaving aside the ideas of God. God was transformed, deconstructed, and at other times simply denied.

To all this is also attached the formation of modern nation states, with limits, development of nationalities and separation of powers, in the fight against any despotism in the style of absolute monarchy. On the other hand, if man used reason to modify reality, another strong idea such as progress, evolution, also emerged.

Characteristics of modernity

Modernity has a myriad of characteristics, of ideas that make a philosophical, intellectual and epistemological epoch of humanity its own. A great project where they excel:

  • Man is the measure of things (not God, in the realism of medieval philosophy).
  • Reason and science as methods that discover reality as it is.
  • New political-administrative structures.
  • Humanity, through reason, could progress.
  • The reason accounts for a logical and rigorous thinking that coincides with the language of the universe.

Definition of postmodernity

Postmodernity is a current of thought that emerged in the mid-twentieth century as a critique of modernity . Its prefix pos , at least initially, would give account of a posteriority that in any case is based on modernity.

Modernity can be understood culminating in the Second World War, a warlike conflict that put great enlightenment reason at the service of the utmost barbarism. The main figure in this may be the concentration camps. That demonstrated a failed project: there is no progress, there is no evolution if everything culminates in Auschwitz.

Another great milestone may also be the fall of the Berlin Wall, which meant the clear collapse of communism, also the son of modernity. Already, then, there are no great stories, or powerful subjects as central axes or measure of the whole, much less progress or blind confidence of reason.

History is now frayed, the peripheries also speak, the temporalities are not linear, there is not a necessarily promising future and there is a huge criticism in the globalized society we live in.

Postmodern characteristics

Postmodernity also has a host of characteristics, which stand out in contrast to the so-called modern era.

  • Decay of the philosophical concept of the subject.
  • The human being is not the center of the universe or the measure of things: he lives on the outskirts of a galaxy of the millions and millions that there are.
  • Certain pessimism about the path that scientific reason can take us: capitalism, consumerism and power structures.
  • History is not perfectible, that is, it does not have a positive teleology at all: it does not have a purpose.
  • There is criticism of the media, the lack of privacy, unbridled consumerism and also a huge concern for the environment.
  • The excluded are beginning to give their voice, counting from the peripheries of the world.

Definition of transmodernity

Transmodernity is a fairly recent concept and somehow treated by many thinkers, although possibly using other terminologies. We mention here an epoch of humanity’s thought based on a breakdown of both modernity and postmodernity . If there was solidarity between them, here we find a total breakdown.

In transmodernity everything becomes trans, that is, to the other side and through. It is not possible to speak of small stories as in postmodernity, from the moment that there is once again a unique one, although with different features: techno-financial capitalism. The economy, people, information, gender, sex, cultures are completely fluid. 

There is no goal here, but a description of a moment in which people are. It is not thought either in a naive and positive way, but with a critical depth regarding processes as complex as, for example, digital reason and the primacy of virtuality in people’s lives.

Characteristics of transmodernity

  • Break with modernity and its postmodern critique.
  • The subject is a myriad that flows in all its aspects.
  • Life has an unparalleled signal flow.
  • The new totality is globalization in its techno-financial aspect.
  • There is a great interculturality.
  • The alternative may be a conjunction that respects the particularity of individuals in the world.
  • A less pessimistic vision of the features of today and less Eurocentric than postmodernism.

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