The Modern Project

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The Modern Project is a general name for the political and philosophical movement that gave (and gives) rise to modernity, broadly understood. This endeavor was begun by certain figures in the late Middle Ages and Renaissance to uproot Western culture from its traditional moorings in the givenness of the world (such as espoused in Classical philosophy, and Judeo-Christian revelation) and assert the individual human being or human mind as the origin of all things. Characteristic ideas of the modern project include individualism, liberalism, marxism, mechanism, rationalism, scientism, secularism, and subjectivism.

Key initiators of the modern project include Niccolò Machiavelli, Francis Bacon, René Descartes, and later Galileo Galilei. The conceptual shift that prepared the way for the modern project began even further back with the writings of Duns Scotus[1] and William of Ockham. The success of Newtonian mechanics marked a major victory of the modern project and started the Enlightenment.

The use of the word "project" in this case is related to Heidegger's use of entwerf in Being and Time, often translated a project or projection. "An Entwurf in Heidegger's sense is not a particular plan or project; it is what makes any plan or project possible." [2] The use of "Entwurf" is in direct response to the German anti-Moderns (Simmel etc.) and their epigones (Ortega y Gasset) who see "modern" as a moment unfolding in history. Heidegger's use of "Entwurf" moves the ground of the discussion from nineteenth century historicism to ontology.

Further reading[edit]

  • Rémi Brague, The Law of God: The Philosophical History of an Idea (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008).
  • Edward Feser, The Last Superstition (South Bend, IN: St. Augustine's Press, 2008).
  • Brad S. Gregory, “Science Versus Religion?: The Insights and Oversights of the ‘New Atheists’,” Logos 12:4 (Fall 2009), 17–55.
  • Mark Shiffman, "The Divine Law and the Modern Project," Modern Age 50:1 (Winter 2009).
  • Richard Wolin, Heidegger's Children: Hannah Arendt, Karl Liwith, Hans Jonas, and Herbert Marcuse (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2001), p. 99.


  1. ^ Gregory 2009
  2. ^ Michael Inwood, ed., "Projection and the A Priori Archived 2012-03-17 at the Wayback Machine," A Heidegger Dictionary (Blackwell Publishing, 1999).