Modernity and human rights: beyond a simple association


  • Leno Francisco Danner Universidade Federal de Rondônia (UNIR)



Beginning with the Jürgen Habermas’ reconstruction of a normative model of European cultural modernity as basis to a contemporary notion of epistemological-moral universalism as condition to critic, to integration and to intervention, which leads to the affirmation that democracy and human rights represent the modernity’s fundamental legacy, I will discuss that such theoretical reconstruction only can be possible from a historical-sociological blindness which is based on the separation between a normative notion of European cultural modernity and the Realpolitik of colonialism – just from this theoretical-political standpoint it is possible to sustain a universalistic normative paradigm which is capable to ground the criticism, the integration and the intervention of all social-cultural contexts, which means that modern culture and normativism can serve as medium and guide of all particular cultures, at least in a strong way. Against that optimistic role of the Habermasian normative model of European cultural modernity, I will argue that democracy and human rights as modernity’s legacy have basically two tasks in the contemporary Realpolitik: first, to restrain the modernity’s totalizing tendency to rationalization and to globalization, i.e. its movement of assimilation of all cultures and societies in a model of epistemological, cultural and economic universalism; and to ground an international institutional politics based on the social-economic reparation for the colonialism, which implies in a universalistic extension of the social rights to all people in the world (for example, the Philippe van Parijs’ idea of basic income).


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Danner, L. F. (2016). Modernity and human rights: beyond a simple association. Revista De Filosofia Aurora, 28(43), 99–118.