Modernity as Crisis
This is a very nice essay by Armin Nassehi, which resonates with me as a sociologist working in safety and crisis management:
On All Saints' Day in 1755, Lisbon was destroyed after an earthquake and a subsequent tsunami. The event revived the age-old question of how God could allow such a disaster. The Enlightenment was a response to this crisis, characterized by the need to find new ways to interpret and cope with disasters. Society tried to separate natural and cultural spheres and developed science and rationality to explain natural phenomena. The concept of the future as an absent presence was developed as a way to provide hope and overcome the uncertainties of the present, leading to the belief that even irrational events could be overcome through rational means. Ultimately, the modern era was born out of crisis, with the need to reconcile necessity and freedom, reason and irrationality, and ultimately to find hope in a better future.
It’s challenging to integrate crises into the narrative of modernity, as different emancipated logics have their own societal significance, which can also lead to a lack of a cohesive solution for societal problems.
The crisis of modernity arises from the fact that the available concepts and paradigms that attempt to solve problems through a single lens are insufficient to deal with the complexity of modern society. The experience is that modernity is ungovernable and that nothing can come to an end. It’s necessary to face this crisis with serenity. The potential of modernity lies in the provisional nature of events. Modernity is characterized by error-friendliness. The relationship between problems and solutions is multi-dimensional, not dualistic. The crisis is an opportunity for growth and development.
Ref.: Nassehi, A. (2012), Der Ausnahmezustand als Normalfall: Modernität als Krise, in: Kursbuch “Krisen Lieben”, Jahrgang 48 (2012) Heft 170.