Summary Of Bernard Yack's Fetishism Of Modernity

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The first chapter of Fetishism of Modernities by Bernard Yack is, in essence, an exercise in the process of lumping and splitting, discussed by Eviatar Zerubavel in Lumping and Splitting: Notes on Social Classification. In his writing, Yack strives to come up with a way of defining the concept of modernity so that he can explore it further in his book. In the first chapter, Yack uses lumping and splitting to help define the complex idea of modernity and to outline a way to determine if things or ideas belong in the group of those things which are modern. Yack begins by wrestling with how language, which should facilitate the grouping of concepts, makes understanding of the concept of modernity difficult. Zerubavel states that language is what…show more content…
To answer this, Yack goes on to consider how the concept of the modern age is separated into ways in which it is temporal and ways in which it is subjective. The temporal sense is straight forward, it represents a time-period which occurs “on the current side of some perceived disruption of historical continuity” (Yack 1997:25). The exact date that this time-period begins is up for debate, but everything that happens after that date is, by this definition, considered…show more content…
So how then can we define things that are modern? The temporal answer again is easier to come by, “the modern is whatever is new, that is, anything that develops after the disruption of historical continuity that marks the beginning of the modern age” (Yack 1997:30). So, in the temporal sense something that is modern is something that has developed after whatever date is chosen as the beginning of the modern
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