Habermas and David Kolb suggest, back to Hegel.
For the sake of brevity,I will restrict my remarks here to Habermas in the attempt to track “theshifting horizon of modernity” in terms of attitudes toward metaphysics.For it is here, in the critiques of metaphysics, that the pathology of modernity witnessed in all radical critics is most visible.
Some may question whether the assumption of such a relationshipbetween modernity and metaphysics is legitimate. To the social scientist, Western modernity is manifest in the structures of industrial society, incapitalism, technology, and liberal democracy.
Weber, as is known,attributed the dynamism behind these structures to rationalization, but just how this works out in the concrete for modern civilizations is far fromself-evident. Philosophically and historically, we need to look to a deeperunderstanding of being—that is, of the world and human beings—in thethought of ³gures like Descartes and Kant. In order for society to be“rationalized” in the form of modernity, there must be some sort of underlying metaphysical mind-set at work.In the “modern” age, the processes of rationalization are carried on within an epistemological framework of the subject-object duality. Thisframework measures and certi³es our knowledge of the external world.The foundation of epistemic certainty is therefore located on the side of the subject: for Descartes, in the ego of the
; for Kant, in theautonomous self as law-giver and world-viewer. The subject, in particularthe thinking subject, becomes the center of being, while the object isreduced to something external to and represented by the subject. Thismind-set functions not only in the epistemic realm, but extends to theethico-political realm as well, where things and persons are objecti³ed andrepresented by the thinking subject. They become items of reason,objects for rationalizaton. This mode of thought lies behind the greatachievements of the Enlightenment. As Heidegger has observed:
Western history has now begun to enter into the completion of that peri-od we call modern, and which is de³ned by the fact that man becomesthe measure and the center of beings. Man is what lies at the bottom of all beings; that is, in modern terms, at the bottom of all objecti³cationand representability.
Modernity is therefore the triumph of a human-centered or subject-centered world view in which everything is reduced to the status of “representation.”