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Was Europe modern in the beginning of the nineteenth century?

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The French artist Guy de Maupassant compared the Eiffel Tower to a high and skinny pyramid of iron ladders, a giant ungainly skeleton, and said that the base appeared to be made for a wonderful monument of Cyclops. This was how he described one of the most visited monuments in the world today. This description was made shortly before the construction of the Eiffel Tower. Despite his descriptions, it is undeniable that this tower is a masterpiece of modernism and grandeur. In most cases, modernity is always very difficult to accept and consider. This may be due to several reasons.

The first reason might be the difficulty associated with the definition of the concept of modernity, which is quite difficult. The basic definition says that modernity is to be modern, or contemporary. But, if we try to look a little further, we will realize the complexity of the term. Modernity embraces concepts that are quite large. These concepts can be political, economic, social, intellectual, cultural and even scientific. Hence, it is appropriate to consider modernity as the process that goes in the direction of progress. But, this definition raises a serious question. When we try to define modernity, whose perspective should we use? Is it going to be the perspective of someone who was there when the structure was built, or our perspective, of today? This problem could be discussed at length.

In this document, we will consider modernity as the economic, political, social and intellectual step toward progress and democratization. So, was the whole of Europe on the path of modernity in the nineteenth century? In this document, we will discuss the issue of modernity in Europe, and try to answer the following. Is modernity inevitable like democracy? Was Europe on the path to modernity in 1900, or was it virtually standstill, displaying the permanence of the traditional structures of the ancient regime?

Modernity in Europe is a big question and we will try here to answer the following. Many debates animate historians. Some, like Gaillard and Rowley consider the movement of modernity and democracy as inevitable, like the French Alexis de Tocqueville who believed democracy as inevitable. Others, such as the American Arno Mayer are of the opinion that in the Europe of 1900 one can see a near standstill and permanence of the traditional structures of Old Regime. What hypothesis seems the most true?

The Europe of 1900 is a space that was transformed by the nineteenth century. This century was the century of innovation, liberalization and rationalism.

The Age of Enlightenment followed by a very special century, just as effervescent intellectually, and along with a profusion of new ideas, of course, accompanied by profound changes today at the foundation of our society, both economically and politically, these three aspects of modernity are clearly linked to each other.

A scientific and intellectual ferment - The nineteenth century was a period rich in discoveries that were opposed to the traditions and religious beliefs, creating a tension and a climate of controversy emblematic of modernity. But the climate was conducive to innovations that allowed greater access and general culture.

Tags: Age of Enlightenment , Old Regime, Arno Mayer

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