chapter  1
27 Pages

The Modern Condition

At the turn of the twenty-first century Eurocentric culture faces a situation like the one that faced Quattrocento Italy 600 years earlier: a situation in which various tectonic shifts have changed the foundations of culture and disturbed common sense in ways that will take centuries fully to unfold. Today, as in the fifteenth century, we cannot map in clear outlines the differences between one cultural formation and another because that can only come with hindsight. These complexities await the simplification provided by historical recollection. But we can mark changes in degree that become changes in kind, that disturb equilibrium states in multiple ways that have no predictable consequences, that bear on each other in cascading effects, and that resist rationalization.