Update 01/08/11: I redid all the charts using the word eat as a base line. Also, I added a few more charts so the gala is now more a gaggle.
In the 17th century “age of faith” people liked the words faith, love, and heart. Certainly, a passionate era.
The 17th century was a soulful era too. The 18th was not.
Was the 18th century an “age of reason"? Apparently not. But they liked thought. Reason was popular before and after the 18th century. I guess that spike in the very late 18th century has to do with somebody writing a book called "the age of reason".
The discussion of the Enlightenment started circa 1825. The study of romanticism began in the late 19th century and then died down. Neither seem that important compared to the basic idea of eating.
Modernity and post modern are both, well, modern and post modern. Our culture war seems so irrelevant.
Intuition continues to slowly build like the Old Master that it is. Meanwhile the upstart rationality has shot its wad as the young genius that it was. Now we can focus on really understanding our world, intuitively and deeply. Yes the Age of Intuition has really begun.
But, will intuition ever overcome our basic need of eating the way science has done?
And people wonder why the religious folks are angry at science. Science the usurper.
All fun aside, I remain skeptical about the Ngrams tool. I used a similar technique for my essay on reflexive archaeology ; there I did word counts using Google Scholar for the word reflexive. You must understand that words change meaning and nuance, and that when they change meanings their popularity within a culture can change significantly. Reflexive was a special linguistic and mathematical term, then the psychologists used it, and then it became quite common among educated people. That change happened in the 1950s-1960s when the meaning expanded to cover all types of self referential and collateral relations.
Therefore, use the Ngram tool wisely and don't take the charts at face value; dig behind the numbers to really see how words, ideas, and cultures change. Charting a few words is the beginning of a study not the end.
1. I have used the period 1500-2008 as a base line. The corpus is English (both Brits and American), and the smoothing is 3; non capitalized words. See here.
2. "Toward a Still and Quiet Conscience: A Study in Reflexive Archaeology," North American Archaeologist, 2001, 27(2): 149-174.