Difference between Modernity and Postmodernity (comparison chart)

We explain how modernity differs from postmodernity, the times in which they arose, their values, goals and other characteristics.

Difference between modernity and postmodernity
Modernity idealizes technological advancement and postmodernity denounces its horrors.

What is the difference between modernity and postmodernity?

When we speak of modernity and postmodernity, we refer to two different philosophical and cultural paradigms, which broadly define the way of thinking of the Western world from the end of the 15th century to the beginning of the 21st century.

These are two tendencies of thought that present points of contact and great points found, especially because postmodern thought is the criticism or crisis of modern thought.

It is important to understand that we are not talking here about two different times, although each paradigm, in effect, corresponded to a historical moment of birth. But, although the emergence of modernity in the fifteenth century as a Western scheme of thought was what gave the Modern Age its name, we should not therefore confuse the doctrine of thought and the historical division. Especially since there is no “postmodern era.”

In any case, modernity emerged at the end of the Middle Ages, as a stream of rationalist thought. Thus, he broke with the medieval religious tradition and laid the foundations for the emergence of science as we know it today.

As a result of the thought of philosophers such as René Descartes (1593-1650), it placed the human being at the center of the known world (instead of God) and made him the owner and responsible for his destiny. Therefore, modern thought he was very prone to pursuing the great social utopias and the great illustrated projects, as attempted by the French Revolution: Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.

Instead, postmodernity emerged as a concept in the late 20th century, bringing together a very different set of aesthetic, philosophical, artistic and cultural trends that, after the numerous and tragic events of the 20th century, distrusted the promises of modernity.

Postmodernity was particularly opposed to the idealization of scientific and technological development, which promised that it would always play in favor of the welfare of the human being: two atomic bombs seem to affirm the opposite.

Thus, the fundamental difference between modernity and postmodernity has to do with their stance on “progress”: while the former pursues it at all costs and places it as the goal to be achieved, the latter looks at it suspiciously, suspiciously. That is why it is common to say that postmodernity is the crisis stage of modernity, its moment of breakdown and transformation.

This and other differences can be summarized as follows:

It arises in the 15th century and breaks with the prevailing medieval tradition.It arises in the 20th century (70-80s) and breaks with the prevailing modern promise.
He places his faith in human reason and in scientific-technological progress, expressed above all through industrialization.He distrusts human reason and scientific-technological progress, and points out how industrialization does not necessarily lead to a generalized welfare state.
He defends the accumulation of knowledge, in the terms in which the Enlightenment and encyclopedism put it. Knowing more is being freer.It reviews the way in which knowledge has been accumulated, opposing the idea of ​​a hegemony or a unique way of thinking about things. Values ​​plurality and diversity.
It is prone to utopias and the great projects of humanity. Believe in ideologies.He opposes utopias and ideologies, and points out how great human values ​​may be absent in modern society.
It values ​​the idea of ​​the nation, of national identity and of the modern republican state.It aspires to the global and the misplaced, to the erasure of borders and the free flow of information.
It aspires to the common welfare through the control and planning of society.He is individualistic, distrustful of social controls.
Think of industrialization as the path to human progress.Defend the environment and warn about the ecological collapse of the industrial model.