Review of Metaphysics 50 (3):694-695 (1997)

Smith poses a considerable challenge for himself and his readers by taking on the task of presenting a historical and dialectical perspective on modernism and its predominately self-defeating attempts to transcend itself. Two thinkers dominate our own period and, in significant part, define the context in which the discussion of the "overcoming" of modernism must take place: Nietzsche and Heidegger. In part 1, "The Essence of Modernity," Smith undertakes, quite successfully, the difficult responsibility of untangling the often bewildering array of characterizations that attach to postmodernist theory. Remarkably, he does this with very little usage of the jargon of these positions. In these sections, Smith delineates the fundamental tendencies of a variety of species of both modernism and postmodernism with real insight and clarity--no small achievement! Modernism, in its self-indulgent celebration of nihilism, is characterized by the "Spirit of Revenge." This concept provides a natural transition into an examination of the thought of Nietzsche and, in particular, his massive attacks on the institutions which characterize modern culture.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph199750334
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