The term modernity refers to a set of political, economic, social, and cultural processes usually traced back to forms of knowledge and practice that emerged in Europe around the 16th through the 18th centuries, a period often termed the Enlightenment. The philosophies associated with the Enlightenment have been much debated and modified over the centuries, but their central principles of the primacy of reason and the autonomy of the individual continue to underpin dominant forms of social order in today's global context. Typically implied in the concept of modernity are a sense of rupture with the past and tradition and a sense of progress toward a society governed by greater rationality, justice, and truth. Many scholars challenge these assumptions, highlighting modernity's “dark side,” including the ...

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