WH – Chapter 31.1 – Years of Crisis – Section 1 – Postwar Uncertainty

Albert Einstein
A German-born physicist offered startling new ideas on space, time, energy, and matter. Scientists had found that light travels at exactly the same speed no matter what direction it moves in relation to earth

Theory of relativity
In 1905, Einstein theorized that while the speed of light is constant, other things that seem constant, such as space and time, are not. Space and time can change when measured relative to an object moving near the speed of light—about 186,000 miles per second. Relative motion is the key to Einstein’s idea.

Sigmund Freud
An Austrian physician who treated patients with psychological problems. From his experiences, he constructed a theory about the human mind. He believed that much of human behavior is irrational, or beyond reason. He called the irrational part of the mind the unconscious. In the unconscious, a number of drives existed, especially pleasure-seeking drives, of which the conscious mind was unaware. Freud’s ideas weakened faith in reason.

Existentialism
Is a belief that there is no universal meaning to life. Each person creates his or her own meaning in life through choices made and actions taken.

Friedrich Nietzsche
A German philosopher that influenced the existentialist movement. In the 1880s, Nietzsche wrote that Western ideas such as reason, democracy, and progress had stifled people’s creativity and actions. Nietzsche urged a return to the ancient heroic values of pride, assertiveness, and strength. His ideas attracted growing attention in the 20th century and had a great impact on politics in Italy and Germany in the 1920s and 1930s.

Surrealism
an art movement that sought to link the world of dreams with real life, was inspired by Freud’s ideas. The term surreal means “beyond or above reality.” Surrealists tried to call on the unconscious part of their minds. Many of their paintings have an eerie, dreamlike quality and depict objects in unrealistic ways.

Jazz
A type of music developed by musicians, mainly African Americans, in New Orleans, Memphis, and Chicago. The lively, loose beat of jazz seemed to capture the new freedom of the age.

Why were the ideas of Einstein and Freud revolutionary?
Einstein developed a new theory of Relativity of uncertainty and relativity replaced Isaac Newton’s comforting belief of a world of constants operating according to absolute laws of motion and gravity. Freud’s theories about the universe were new and challenged the Enlightenment or age of Reason theories when he that much of human behavior is irrational or beyond reason.

How did literature in the 1920s reflect the uncertainty of the period?
The brutality of World War I caused philosophers and writers to question accepted ideas about reason and progress. Disillusioned by the war many people also feared the future and expressed doubts about traditional religious beliefs. Some writers and thinkers expressed their anxieties by creating disturbing visions of the present and the future.

What impact did the increased use of the automobile have on average people?
Increased auto use by the average family led to lifestyle changes. More people traveled for pleasure. In Europe and the United States new businesses opened to serve the mobile tourist. The auto also affected where people lived and worked. People moved to suburbs and commuted to work in the cities.

Tags: