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Industrialization and the concomitant growth in populations and economic activity happened in parallel with changes in everyday life, both material (hygiene, diet, mobility) and immaterial (literacy, law, values and ideas about political order and human life). It is associated with Enlightenment, the emancipatory stream of Modernity. It meant changing roles and relations between the major institutions: (nation-)state, church and (community-)market. The outstanding hallmark was and is the idea of Progress, exemplified in the characteristics of the scientific worldview and its claim to ’objective Truth’. Another feature lies in the new ideas about good and evil, as propounded in Industrial Era ethics of liberalism and utilitarianism and in Enlightenment ethics.
The themes from this book require extending into other research areas. First, the history of political thought and ideas: psychology itself is an idea, since modern political thought emanated not only from thinking about ‘man’ but also from what the thinker believed himself to be, qua man: that is, his interior religious and/or psychological status. Second is the history of education, where the importance of the German-language tradition (Schleiermacher, Herbart, Froebel) might lead to studying the idea of universal salvation as a founding discourse of modern schooling, and the ‘developer’ as the individual embodiment of social and national progress. Third comes disability history, concerning institutions and asylums, which has encouraged a single reified notion of developmental disability; a critical conceptual history should make it possible to stand outside this. The fourth area is literature. The novel is the classic literary ‘form’ of a linear developmental narrative, but its historical examples reveal it to be a constant subversion rather than reflection of the developmental idea, even in the typical novel of personal formation (Bildungsroman).
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