EP 220 Lene Rachel Andersen on Polymodernity

Jim talks with Lene Rachel Andersen about the ideas in her book Polymodernity: Meaning and Hope in a Complex World. They discuss the meaning of polymodernism, working with four cultural codes, polymodernism vs metamodernism, the flaw in combining stage theories with cultural history, the problem with postmodernism’s deconstruction of guidance & boundaries, 3 factors leading to modernity, the beginnings of alienation, postmodernism as a critique of modernism, the danger of reifying theories, why a post-modern society would fall apart, learning from indigenous prehistoric cultures, the influence of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, Lene’s relationship to Christianity and conversion to Judaism, being a practicing doubting Jew, long-term consequences of having good narratives that people believe in, Jewish law vs Hammurabi’s Code, reading the Pentateuch, using post-modern tech to implement a pre-modern order, Emily Wilson’s translation of The Iliad, mining the social learnings of the past with discernment, why religious people have often led the resistance to authoritarian regimes, true encouragement, the bildung rose, the problem with hypermodernism, the eternal misery of hypermodernist success, learning as one of the essences of being human, and much more.

Lene Rachel Andersen is an economist, author, futurist, philosopher and Bildung activist. She heads the think tank Nordic Bildung in Copenhagen and is a member of the Club of Rome. After studying business economy for three years, she worked as a substitute teacher before studying theology. During her studies, she wrote entertainment for Danish television until she decided to quit theology, become a full-time writer, and focus on technological development, big history, and the future of humanity. Since 2005, she has written 20 books and received two Danish democracy awards: Ebbe Kløvedal-Reich Democracy Baton (2007) and Døssing Prisen, the Danish librarians’ democracy prize (2012). Among her books are The Nordic Secret (2017, new edition 2024), Bildung: Keep Growing (2020), What is Bildung? (2021), Libertism (2022), and Polymodernity (2023, previously Metamodernity (2019)).