I'm not sure I can come up with a concise definition - it's one of those things that you know it when you see it.
I would say it's most obvious elements are a dogmatic rationalism - the absolute refusal to consider the supernatural or revelation. This results in a rejection of traditional morality and its view of man. What has made Western civilization possible is the Truth that man was created in the image of God and he has an end beyond this mortal coil.
Jim Kalb writes about modernity
"Modernity stands for a system of knowledge that starts with logic and clear and unquestionable truths and out of those things attempts to construct all knowledge. Such a theory of knowledge severely limits what we can recognize as real, and thus profoundly affects our view of what there is and what we should do. Our beliefs about knowledge end up driving our beliefs about what's good and true.
Observable facts and events, and our desires regarding them, are immediately and demonstrably present to us in a way that objective ultimate goods and realities are not. Modernity therefore pays attention to the former rather than the latter. That approach has had very important consequences: on the one hand modern natural science, medicine, and standards of comfort and productivity, and on the other liberty, equality, bureaucratic social management, and "enlightenment" regarding social, political and moral issues."
and defines postmodernity as the radicalization of that mindset.
John Paul II in Fides et Ratio touches on postmodernity
"Our age has been termed by some thinkers the age of postmodernity. Often used in very different contexts, the term designates the emergence of a complex of new factors which, widespread and powerful as they are, have shown themselves able to produce important and lasting changes. The term was first used with reference to aesthetic, social and technological phenomena. It was then transposed into the philosophical field, but has remained somewhat ambiguous, both because judgement on what is called postmodern is sometimes positive and sometimes negative, and because there is as yet no consensus on the delicate question of the demarcation of the different historical periods. One thing however is certain: the currents of thought which claim to be postmodern merit appropriate attention. According to some of them, the time of certainties is irrevocably past, and the human being must now learn to live in a horizon of total absence of meaning, where everything is provisional and ephemeral. In their destructive critique of every certitude, several authors have failed to make crucial distinctions and have called into question the certitudes of faith.
This nihilism has been justified in a sense by the terrible experience of evil which has marked our age. Such a dramatic experience has ensured the collapse of rationalist optimism, which viewed history as the triumphant progress of reason, the source of all happiness and freedom; and now, at the end of this century, one of our greatest threats is the temptation to despair.
Even so, it remains true that a certain positivist cast of mind continues to nurture the illusion that, thanks to scientific and technical progress, man and woman may live as a demiurge, single-handedly and completely taking charge of their destiny.
It is my opinion that the so-called "enlightenment" was actually the great closing of the Western mind - the rejection of wisdom in favor of "knowledge". Now it has had it's benefits of course, the exclusive focus of Western thought on matters of the physical world has given us modern medicine, telecommunications and transportation.
It has also given us moral relativism, totalitarianism and modern total warfare.
So yeah, Scientists tend to look to "rational" explanations for ancient historical events. that's what they do - they look to reason over faith. Is that odd? I don't think so. They're SCIENTISTS.
Your statement here assumes an inherent friction between the two but as John Paul II beautifully reminds us in Fides et Ratio :
Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truthin a word, to know himselfso that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves (cf. Ex 33:18; Ps 27:8-9; 63:2-3; Jn 14:8; 1 Jn 3:2).
We should bring reason back to the arts and sciences.
I would strongly agree with that!
"I would strongly agree with that!"
Dangling Participle AND Passive Voice! HAH! I WIN! (don't you hate it when some ideologue pulls rank?)
Ok when I sober up I will devastate you. Right now the puter is spinning too much.