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“Pre-modern philosophy” means the line of reflection that started with Plato andvAristotle, passed through Augustine and Boethius, and reached its acme in Aquinas, Scotus, and Suarez. The whole line was harshly judged by Descartes, then mocked by the empiricsts of the 18th Century. Why, then, did Pope Leo XII make a determined effort to revive it? And, more importantly, why was the revival a stunning success by the middle of the 20th Century?


1 : of, relating to, originating in, or being an era before a modern one premodern societies/beliefs the pre-modern world in premodern times … still living in huts and using pre-modern agricultural methods 150 years after the invention of the steam engine.— Jo Ann Skousen
2 or pre-Modern : of, relating to, characterized by, or being any of the artistic and literary practices and philosophies that preceded those of modernism — see modernism sense 3 pre-Modern architecture a pre-Modern artist/writer … following pre-modern conventions of pictorial composition, the artist combines several distinct vignettes within a single picture frame …— Benjamin Schmidt

Premodern Society

If you live or have ever lived in a big city (I live in Chicago), one of the things you’ll notice right away is how busy it is. Honking cars, brightly lit billboards, towering skyscrapers, and massive crowds are just a few of the things you’ll see.

Now, contrast that image with a city you’ll find a few hours outside of Chicago, in Galena, Illinois. Galena has that small town, traditional feel, with picturesque houses where people move at a more leisurely pace. The social patterns that you would find in a place like Galena, Illinois, are close to what we would call premodern, or traditional, at least when compared to a city like Chicago. While there aren’t many truly premodern places left in the U.S., we still use the term premodernity to refer to those social patterns in a society that existed before wide-scale industrialization.

To truly understand what a premodern society might look like, there are some characteristics that many of them share. Premodern societies tend to be very homogeneous, where many of the people that live there are the same, usually in terms of race, ethnicity, and education level and who share a strong moral identity. There are also few specialized jobs (and few white collar ones as well) and maybe only a few industries around which the community is based. Because of this, social mobility is also somewhat limited.

However, since premodern communities are smaller, many of the people in the town get to know one another on a personal level, and these personal relationships serve as checks to behavior. For instance, if you’re caught speeding and are pulled over, anyone that passes you in a small town like Galena will probably have heard about it. Lastly, any significant change in the makeup and identity of these types of communities is slow and happens over generations.


The Essential Dialectic of Premodern is:

{Aristotle-Plotinus ⇆ Plotinus-Aristotle ⇅ Aristotle-Aristotle} ↻ Plotinus-Plotinus


The Complete Dialectic of Premodern is:

{Plotinus ⇆ Aristotle ⇅ Plato} ↻ Socrates



The Equivalency Dialectic of Premodern is:

{Premodern ⇆ Perimodern ⇅ Postmodern} ↻ Antemodern