"Modernity" is a troubling concept, not only for scholars but for the general public, for it seems to represent a choice between oppressive traditions and empty, rootless freedom. Seeking a broader understanding of modernity, Kolb first considers the views of Weber and then discusses in detail the pivotal writings of Hegel and Heidegger. He uses the novel strategy of presenting Heidegger's critique of Hegel and then suggesting the critique of Heidegger that Hegel might have made.
Kolb offers his own views, proposing the possibility of a meaningful life that is free but still rooted in shared contexts. He concludes with comments on "postmodernity" as discussed by Lyotard and others, arguing persuasively against the presupposition of a unified Modern or Postmodern Age.