Transition From Traditional to Modern Society

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What factors seem most important in the transition from traditional to modern society? Why do they seem so crucial? 2. AND… In what ways was socialism a response to that transition? In what ways did it look toward a new transition? Individual identity, racism, political morality economics, ecology, nationalism and globalization are the most important transition factors moving through 1500 to 1800. When it comes to traditional society to modern society, individuality is a characteristic of modern society. An individual in the middle ages was someone who was a representative of his or her group.

The individual was the person who was the best example of the family or general group that was being described. (Reilly 2002) In the middle ages you were not able to get out of your social class that you were born from, your occupation eventually indicated your class. One of the most important causes was the rise of the middle class population of merchants and traders who found estate society too confining for their individual talents and ambitions. (Reilly 2002)People in the middle Ages belonged to only three social classes and only worked in ten or twenty occupations.

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The modern industrial society began a revolution that continues to make people’s lifestyles and occupations more specialized. (Reilly 2002) In the traditional society there were no specialized rooms before the last couple of hundred years. Privacy was clearly impossibly in this kind of society. Without special rooms and private rooms, no one could ever be alone for very long. Since there was no privacy, there could be very little private identity. All of life was public in traditional society partly because there was very little private space. Reilly 2002) Before the 1700s almost everyone lacked the room and rooms to develop private lives and private identities. Inventions of the bedroom, bathroom and the office were significant events that transitioned into Modern society. (Reilly 2002) The peoples intellectual knowledge was also not personalized in the traditional society, with the lack of a printing press to copy and manufacture books, often copies of literature was read in a public forum at the pace and tone of the individual who could read. Before the printing press was invented, all written knowledge was handwritten.

Trying to make a copy of a literature, philosophy or science book was such a strenuous task that only a few copies were available. (Reilly 2002) In the tradition society people read very little and most of the reading was read aloud to others. The invention of printing eventually put books into the hands of almost everyone, and it vastly increased the number of titles that could be copied. With this invention, people eventual transitioned to reading to themselves, by doing this, you are able to acquire a personal interpretation of the material. Reilly 2002) A little after the 1500’s the artwork began to also have more of an individualist form to it. Artists were considered craftsmen, they working in groups of masters and apprentices. It became common practice after 1400 for a single artist to sign a painting, but the patron who commissioned the painting usually paid for the paints and chose the subject. (Reilly 2002) Artists like Leonardo and Michelangelo contributed to modern ideas of individuality not only with their interests and talents but also in the new social position they gained for being an artist. The personality of the artist replaced the work of art.

Drawings and incomplete works were saved and studied for what they revealed of the artist, the artist’s style, and the artistic process. (Reilly 2002) The personality of the artist was studied for fatal flaws that were supposed to accompany genius. During this transition from traditional to Modern society sea voyages were the most common form of travel. European colonialists a hundred years ago had a difficult time figuring out if the dark skinned Africans were the same race as the dark skinned people of southern India or the aboriginal people of Australia because they had decided there were a black race and a white race. Reilly 2002) In the Roman Empire, Roman slaves came from captured people of Africa, Asia, and Europe. Since slaves could not be identified as a single physical type, the Romans did not develop racist ideas about slavery. But in periods when the Romans enslaved a particular ethnic group in large numbers, they did tend to stereotype that group as slaves. (Reilly 2002) Slavery was not a single system; it developed at different times and at different paces. Latin American slavery from 1500 to 1800 developed in a traditional society where feudal law, ideas, and habits were important.

In English society, on the other hand, slavery became increasingly capitalist and middle class between 1600 and 1800. The English paid more attention to money and profit. (Reilly 2002) When we ask about the abuse of power in the modern state, we almost have to begin by examining the power that we allow the state without calling it abusive. Abuse of state power can be so destructive today because the accepted power of the state is so enormous. Especially given the fact that we have lost the traditional Christian ethical system which kept us honest, our anything goes ethics make any concentrated power that much more dangerous. Reilly 2002) The modern state definitely was more powerful than were the new principalities of Renaissance Europe. We allow that power to the state, not the particular individuals in the government. (Reilly 2002) We said before that two modern developments have followed from Machiavelli’s separation of politics and morality. On the one hand, morality was determined by the needs of the state, state morality and state religion replaced traditional Christian ethics of government. (Reilly 2002) On the other hand, politics divorced from Christian morality became a science.

In brief, this is what happened during the course of the middle class revolutions of the seventeenth and eighteen centuries. Beginning in England in the middle seventeenth century, the European class of merchants, lawyers, professionals, and artisans, which stood midway between the aristocracy and the poor, challenged the dominance of kings and nobles. (Reilly 2002) This middle class developed a wide ranging body of political theory that was highly moral in tone and purpose. They criticized the idea of the divine right of kings as a guise of tyranny.

They condemned the Machiavellian notion of the state as an organic body which set its own ends, and offered instead an image of the state as an artificial creation of people and a means to human ends. (Reilly 2002) They objected to the Machiavellian acceptance of the rule, prince, or king as interpreter of the public needs and called instead for representative government. They questioned Machiavelli’s contention that the exercise of power was always proper and outlined rules and laws which bound rule as well as ruled.

And they went further than Machiavelli in distinguishing between the state, which some still thought to be the eternal sovereign, and the particular governments of that state, which might be replaced at the will of the people. (Reilly 2002) One of the best ways of seeing the uniqueness of our modern capitalist, market or business civilization is to examine the ways in which economic activities like working and exchanging have been carried out in most of the other places and periods of human history. There have been markets of some ind in almost all peasant societies, and some of the first cities were essentially markets, especially for exchanging produce of the countryside, crafts of the city, and imports from far away. (Reilly 2002) All of the relationships of capitalist society tend to be market relationships. Ideally the market becomes in capitalist society a kind of invisible hand that supervises and determines all social relations. A market is a system of distribution or exchange. (Reilly 2002) There are other systems too. In fact, for most of human history the market has been only a minor method of distributing and exchanging.

Most past societies have relied on systems of exchange which some anthropologists have called house holding reciprocity and redistribution. In modern capitalist society the market has replaced most of these earlier forms. The important differences between all premarket and market systems is that the premarket systems minimized strictly economic behavior. (Reilly 2002) There was really no such thing as economics or economic activity in premarket society. Everything that we would call economics was understood simply as an aspect of social life.

From the perspective of the last fifty years, the era of integration, civil rights, equal opportunity and affirmative action has had a marked impact. The industrial revolution would have been impossible without the two guiding ideas of modern science, that humans were separate from nature, and that they could control this separate natural world. (Reilly 2002) The industrial revolution was the application of modern science to technology. Machines could only take over human work after the machine became the model of the natural world.

It is often said that socialism was a belief in equality whereas capitalism was a belief in liberty. This distinction has a lot of value. Certainly all advocates of the capitalist free market have professed greater interest in liberty than in equality and all socialist have been more concerned with equality than with liberty. (Reilly 2002) Probably every society has had it rich and poor and every one of these has had some people who were more interested in equality and others more interested in liberty. Works Cited Reilly, Kevin. “The West and the World- A history of Civilization 1400 to the present. In Self and Society: Individuality and Modernity, by Reilly Kevin, 23-37. Princeton,NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2002. Reilly, Kevin. “The West and the World- A history of Civilization 1400 to the present. ” In Race and Racism: Color & Slavory, by Reilly Kevin, 41-64. Princeton,NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2002. Reilly, Kevin. “The West and the World- A history of Civilization 1400 to the present. ” In Politics and Morality: Secular States and Middle Classes, by Reilly Kevin, 73-98. Princeton,NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2002. Reilly, Kevin. “The West and the World- A history of Civilization 1400 to the present. In Work and Exchange: Capitalism Versus Tradition, by Reilly Kevin, 101-120. Princeton,NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2002. Reilly, Kevin. “The West and the World- A history of Civilization 1400 to the present. ” In Energy and Environment: Industry and Capitalism, by Reilly Kevin, 143-156. Princeton,NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2002. Reilly, Kevin. “The West and the World- A history of Civilization 1400 to the present. ” In Economics and Revolution: Socialism and Capitalism, by Reilly Kevin, 159-176. Princeton,NJ: Markus Wiener Publishers, 2002.

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