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The Shape of the New: Four Big Ideas and How They Made the Modern World

The Shape of the New consists of two parts, seven chapters and a conclusion. The subtitle, “Four Big Ideas and How they Made the Modern World” refers to Montgomery and Chirot’s belief that modern institutions and political systems are created and shaped according to the thoughts of the important thinkers. The authors claim that the history of the twentieth century is founded on the ideas of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin and the founders of American democracy. The impacts of these thinkers have continued in the twenty-first century. The authors, in this book, follow a different method in writing intellectual history.

The Shape of the New consists of two parts, seven chapters and a conclusion. The subtitle, “Four Big Ideas and How they Made the Modern World” refers to Montgomery and Chirot’s belief that modern institutions and political systems are created and shaped according to the thoughts of the important thinkers. The authors claim that the history of the twentieth century is founded on the ideas of Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin and the founders of American democracy. The impacts of these thinkers have continued in the twenty-first century. The authors, in this book, follow a different method in writing intellectual history. They argue that ideas are among the primary forces behind modern history, and that those ideas define and shape the modern world. The main subjects of the book are the concepts of the Enlightenment and counter-Enlightenment; and the two main parts are classified according to these concepts. The first part of the book, entitled “Inventors of Modernity and What Became of Their Ideas,” examines the major thinkers of the modern Enlightenment, namely Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Charles Darwin, and Jefferson-Hamilton, in four chapters. In the second part, entitled “Secular and Religious Reactions Against Enlightenment,” the authors examine the examples of the counter-Enlightenment in three chapters, which are “Counter-Enlightenment: From Antimodernism to Fascism,” “Christian Fundamentalism: The Politics of God in America,” and “Purifying Islam: The Muslim Reaction against the Western Enlightenment.”

In the first chapter, the authors extensively delineate the main ideas of Adam Smith, the founding father of the modern economy. They describe the world he wanted to bring about, and evaluate his rightfully famous book Wealth of Nations in this framework. It is vital to note that the ideas we use today, instinctively, were radical at that time of their introduction, even though they were not produced to violently destroy cont

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