Writing in the Hedgehog Review (Fall 2016), Lorraine Daston identifies 1890-1914 as the “moment when science went modern” (20). Going modern here involves an acceleration in the pace of discovery and invention:
For the scientists, the realization that progress might have its dark side had been germinating since the mid-nineteenth century, when they noticed with consternation that their publications were no longer read after a decade or so and that it had become necessary to revise university curricula and textbooks several times a generation. Last year’s scientific truths, they noted with alarm, were becoming obsolete almost as rapidly as last year’s fashion in millinery. By the 1890s, the pell-mell accumulation of novelties on both the theoretical and empirical fronts threatened to bury the scientists like an avalanche and to undermine the foundations of even the most stable sciences, astronomy and physics” (20-1). Scientists had to rethink “the relationship of science to history in the broadest sense: not just the past, but also the present and the future (21).
Postmodern revulsion at modernity isn’t anti-modern. The revulsion was there at the creation.