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The term modern and its derivatives are not new, and they are ambiguous in their meanings, especially if one considers the globe's competing worldviews and cosmologies. Whereas modernity has had for some time a positive connotation in the West, particularly among the more educated classes, the same cannot be said about the notion as understood in other parts of the world, where, until very recently in their long cultural histories, the cardinal virtues of social and intellectual life have always been stability, continuity, and predictability. The very notion that “change is natural and good,” accepted almost without reflection by many citizens of Western nations for the last several centuries, has been wholly repugnant, even inconceivable, to those billions of Asians and Africans who devoutly followed ...

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