Postmodernism *gasp*


A small disclaimer: there is a lot of rubbish out there on the internet, and THIS is rubbish and totally opinionated and totally partial and totally not credible – if you want to know about postmodernity properly, read something by Lyotard, Baudrillard, (Foucault is, I believe, not a genuine postmodernist, nor is Derrida), or better still, something introductory by Bauman or Giddens.

What the heck is postmodernism? (Uses of the word)

Postmodernism: is one of the most dificult words in the current intellectual scene. I have seen it used in the following ways

1. It is used as a synonym for cultural/moral/relativism

Hmmm, this is sometimes the conclusion: there are weaker and stronger forms of postmodernism, but this is not a good way to define it

1a. Cultural relativism and postmodernism are conflated as ‘epistemic moral skepticism’ (how do we know x is right?)

You want a better example of moral doubt? Read Nietzsche (but not too seriously and literally – he is too easy to misread – I admit to doing that myself)

2. It is a development in European ‘continental’ philosophy

Hmmm, that is kind of true. It is, of course, perfectly possible and actual that there are Anglophone (and non-European-American) postmodernists. Look at the issue in Australia, about the ‘biography’ of that particular nation’s history; that is a very postmodern issue that they have brought up.

3. A new approach in Literature, history, goegraphy, sociology, anthopology, (psychology?), (philosophy?), theology, and lots of other things that don’t come to mind right now. Personally, I see it as a sociologically important discourse.

4. A ‘philosophy’ as distinct from a ‘historical period’. This is my favourite (and I think, correct) explanation.

POSTMODERNITY – a social phenomena that supercedes modernity. The ideology and practices of modernity have changed; and postmodernity says we are ‘beyond’ the old social practices. A more modest, and, I think, equally valid account is ‘late modernity’. Which, after a long battle, I may concede to.


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