Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, Melville and Modernism

by Charles Hugh Smith
Of Two Minds

This idea of a Superman arising from internal characteristics rather than recognized authority is an extraordinarily modern idea.

What makes our world modern, that is, different from previous eras? I think the basic answer is that authority is no longer absolute: not just the political authority of monarchy or the state, but the moral authority of the church.

What triggered this erosion of moral and political certitude?

That is of course a complicated topic, but the basic answer is 1) nearly universal literacy in the West and 2) widespread prosperity that enabled a new class (the middle class) of people who were educated and enjoyed leisure.

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