Modernism was a movement that occurred in the late nineteenth century and continued into the twentieth century. It contrasted with the movement of neoclassicism from the eighteenth century. The latter strongly emphasized order, reason, the following of convention and optimism about human nature. Modernism did the opposite.

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) wrote several works in which he expressed very modernistic ideas: chaos, disorder, the passions, irrationality and aggressiveness.

Another theme found in modernism, particularly in Friedrich Nietzsche’s works, was a dismissal of the Christian code of morality. Nietzsche believed that people should make their own morality code to follow.

The modernistic disorder can also be found in science. Isaac Newton in the eighteenth century had said that the universe followed orderly laws. In 1913, Niels Bohr found that the electrons did not abide by Newton’s laws of motion. Therefore, he and many other scientists of that era concluded that the universe was not orderly.

Art, literature and music especially reflect modern ideas. In literature, most of the books written were placed in a world in which there was no order and everything was chaotic. Also, the writers did not follow rational and orderly and conventional grammar.



In art modernism was noticeable, particularly with the development of styles such as cubism.

Music in the modern age focused on more ragged and uneven timing. Most of the music is jagged and pounding. The composer Arnold Schoenberg is known for his excessive use of atonality (the absence of one single key in the musical piece), a common musical theme in modernism.

Western civilization was greatly affected and changed by the development of modernism.

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