Postmodern

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1. WHAT IS POSTMODERN?

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Postmodernism is a broad movement that developed in the mid- to late 20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism, marking a departure from modernism. The term has been more generally applied to describe what postmodernists believe to be the historical era following modernity and the tendencies of this era.

While encompassing a wide variety of approaches and disciplines, postmodernism is generally defined by an attitude of skepticism, irony, or rejection of the grand narratives and ideologies of modernism, often calling into question various assumptions of Enlightenment rationality. Consequently, common targets of postmodern critique include universalist notions of objective reality, morality, truth, human nature, reason, science, language, and social progress. Postmodern thinkers frequently call attention to the contingent or socially-conditioned nature of knowledge claims and value systems, situating them as products of particular political, historical, or cultural discourses and hierarchies. Accordingly, postmodern thought is broadly characterized by tendencies to self-referentiality, epistemological and moral relativism, pluralism, and irreverence.

Postmodern critical approaches gained purchase in the 1980s and 1990s, and have been adopted in a variety of academic and theoretical disciplines, including cultural studies, philosophy of science, economics, linguistics, architecture, feminist theory, and literary criticism, as well as art movements in fields such as literature, contemporary art, and music. Postmodernism is often associated with schools of thought such as deconstruction, post-structuralism, and institutional critique, as well as philosophers such as Jean-François Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, and Fredric Jameson.

Criticisms of postmodernism are intellectually diverse, and include assertions that postmodernism promotes obscurantism, and is meaningless, adding nothing to analytical or empirical knowledge.

Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or a mode of discourse that rejects the possibility of reliable knowledge, denies the existence of a universal, stable reality, and frames aesthetics and beauty as arbitrary and subjective. It can be described as a reaction against scientific attempts to explain reality with objective certainty, recognizing that reality is constructed as the mind tries to understand its own personal circumstances. It is characterized by an attitude of skepticism, irony, or rejection toward the grand narratives and ideologies of modernism, often denying or challenging the validity of scientific inquiry, or declaiming the arbitrariness of the aesthetics of artistic works or other artifacts of cultural production, or questioning various assumptions of Enlightenment rationality. Initially, postmodernism was a mode of discourse on literature and literary criticism, commenting on the nature of literary text, meaning, author and reader, writing and reading. Postmodernism developed in the mid- to late-twentieth century across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism as a departure or rejection of modernism.

Postmodernism relies on critical theory, an approach that confronts the ideological, social, and historical structures that shape and constrain cultural production. Common targets of postmodernism and critical theory include universalist notions of objective reality, morality, truth, human nature, reason, language, and social progress.Postmodernist approaches have been adopted in a variety of academic and theoretical disciplines, including political science, organization theory, cultural studies, philosophy of science, economics, linguistics, architecture, feminist theory, and literary criticism, as well as art movements in fields such as literature and music.

Postmodern thinkers frequently call attention to the contingent or socially-conditioned nature of knowledge claims and value systems, situating them as products of particular political, historical, or cultural discourses and hierarchies. Accordingly, postmodern thought is broadly characterized by tendencies to self-referentiality, epistemological and moral relativism, pluralism, and irreverence. Postmodernism is often associated with schools of thought such as deconstruction and post-structuralism, as well as philosophers such as Jean-François Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, and Fredric Jameson.

Criticisms of postmodernism are intellectually diverse, and include assertions that postmodernism promotes obscurantism, and is meaningless, adding nothing to analytical or empirical knowledge. Some philosophers, beginning with the pragmatist philosopher Jürgen Habermas, assert that those who employ postmodernist discourse are prey to a performative contradiction and a paradox of self-reference, as their critique would be impossible without the concepts and methods that modern reason provides. Conservatives Michael Oakeshott and Leo Strauss considered postmodernism to be an abandonment of the rationalist project which many conservatives consider the most important cultural product of humans and Leo Strauss sought to restore rationalism to a more skeptical Aristotelian version “embedded in the ordinary reality that humans perceived”.[27] Others have claimed that persons who are knowledgeable about postmodernism have difficulty distinguishing nonsensical postmodernist artifacts from those that are nominally genuine.

The term postmodern was first used around the 1870s. John Watkins Chapman suggested “a Postmodern style of painting” as a way to depart from French Impressionism. J. M. Thompson, in his 1914 article in The Hibbert Journal (a quarterly philosophical review), used it to describe changes in attitudes and beliefs in the critique of religion, writing: “The raison d’être of Post-Modernism is to escape from the double-mindedness of Modernism by being thorough in its criticism by extending it to religion as well as theology, to Catholic feeling as well as to Catholic tradition.”

In 1942 H. R. Hays described postmodernism as a new literary form.

In 1926, Bernard Iddings Bell, president of St. Stephen’s College (now Bard College), published Postmodernism and Other Essays, marking the first use of the term to describe the historical period following Modernity. In it, he criticizes the lingering socio-cultural norms, attitudes and practices of the Age of Enlightenment; forecasts the major cultural shifts toward Postmodernity, and (being an Anglo-Catholic priest) offers orthodox religion as a solution. However, as a general theory for a historical movement, it was first used in 1939 by Arnold J. Toynbee: “Our own Post-Modern Age has been inaugurated by the general war of 1914–1918”.

In 1949 the term was used to describe a dissatisfaction with modern architecture, and led to the postmodern architecture movement, and a response to the modernist architectural movement known as the International Style. Postmodernism in architecture was initially marked by a re-emergence of surface ornament, reference to surrounding buildings in urban settings, historical reference in decorative forms (eclecticism), and non-orthogonal angles.

Peter Drucker suggested the transformation into a post-modern world happened between 1937 and 1957 (when he was writing). He described an as yet “nameless era” which he characterized as a shift to conceptual world based on pattern, purpose, and process rather than mechanical cause, outlined by four new realities: the emergence of Educated Society, the importance of international development, the decline of the nation state, and the collapse of the viability of non-Western cultures.

In 1971, in a lecture delivered at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London, Mel Bochner described “post-modernism” in art as having started with Jasper Johns, “who first rejected sense-data and the singular point-of-view as the basis for his art, and treated art as a critical investigation”.

In 1996, Walter Truett Anderson described postmodernism as belonging to one of four typological world views, which he identifies as either (a) Postmodern-ironist, which sees truth as socially constructed, (b) Scientific-rational, in which truth is found through methodical, disciplined inquiry, (c) Social-traditional, in which truth is found in the heritage of American and Western civilization, or (d) Neo-Romantic, in which truth is found through attaining harmony with nature or spiritual exploration of the inner self.

Structuralism was a philosophical movement developed by French academics in the 1950s, partly in response to French Existentialism, and often interpreted in relation to Modernism and High modernism. Thinkers who have been called structuralists include the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, and the semiotician Algirdas Greimas. The early writings of the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan and the literary theorist Roland Barthes have also been called structuralists. Those who began as structuralists but became post-structuralists include Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Jean Baudrillard, and Gilles Deleuze. Other post-structuralists include Jacques Derrida, Pierre Bourdieu, Jean-François Lyotard, Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous, and Luce Irigaray. The American cultural theorists, critics and intellectuals whom they influenced include Judith Butler, John Fiske, Rosalind Krauss, Avital Ronell, and Hayden White.

Like structuralists, post-structuralists start from the assumption that people’s identities, values and economic conditions determine each other rather than having intrinsic properties that can be understood in isolation. Thus the French structuralists considered themselves to be espousing Relativism and Constructionism. But they nevertheless tended to explore how the subjects of their study might be described, reductively, as a set of essential relationships, schematics, or mathematical symbols. (An example is Claude Lévi-Strauss’s algebraic formulation of mythological transformation in “The Structural Study of Myth”).

Postmodernist ideas in philosophy and in the analysis of culture and society have expanded the importance of critical theory. They have been the point of departure for works of literature, architecture and design, as well as being visible in marketing/business and the interpretation of history, law and culture, starting in the late 20th century. These developments—re-evaluation of the entire Western value system (love, marriage, popular culture, shift from industrial to service economy) that took place since the 1950s and 1960s, with a peak in the Social Revolution of 1968—are described with the term “postmodernity”, as opposed to Postmodernism, a term referring to an opinion or movement. Post-structuralism is characterized by new ways of thinking through structuralism, contrary to the original form.

One of the most well-known postmodernist concerns is “deconstruction,” a theory for philosophy, literary criticism, and textual analysis developed by Jacques Derrida. Critics have insisted that Derrida’s work is rooted in a statement found in Of Grammatology: “Il n’y a pas de hors-texte” (there is no Outside-text). Such critics misinterpret the statement as denying any reality outside of books. The statement is actually part of a critique of “inside” and “outside” metaphors when referring to text, and is corollary to the observation that there is no “inside” of a text as well. This attention to a text’s unacknowledged reliance on metaphors and figures embedded within its discourse is characteristic of Derrida’s approach. Derrida’s method sometimes involves demonstrating that a given philosophical discourse depends on binary oppositions or excluding terms that the discourse itself has declared to be irrelevant or inapplicable. Derrida’s philosophy inspired a postmodern movement called deconstructivism among architects, characterized by design that rejects structural “centers” and encourages decentralized play among its elements. Derrida discontinued his involvement with the movement after the publication of his collaborative project with architect Peter Eisenman in Chora L Works: Jacques Derrida and Peter Eisenman.

The connection between postmodernism, posthumanism, and cyborgism has led to a challenge to postmodernism, for which the terms “postpostmodernism” and “postpoststructuralism” were first coined in 2003:

In some sense, we may regard postmodernism, posthumanism, poststructuralism, etc., as being of the ‘cyborg age’ of mind over body. Deconference was an exploration in post-cyborgism (i.e. what comes after the postcorporeal era), and thus explored issues of postpostmodernism, postpoststructuralism, and the like. To understand this transition from ‘pomo’ (cyborgism) to ‘popo’ (postcyborgism) we must first understand the cyborg era itself.

More recently metamodernism, post-postmodernism and the “death of postmodernism” have been widely debated: in 2007 Andrew Hoberek noted in his introduction to a special issue of the journal Twentieth Century Literature titled “After Postmodernism” that “declarations of postmodernism’s demise have become a critical commonplace”. A small group of critics has put forth a range of theories that aim to describe culture or society in the alleged aftermath of postmodernism, most notably Raoul Eshelman (performatism), Gilles Lipovetsky (hypermodernity), Nicolas Bourriaud (altermodern), and Alan Kirby (digimodernism, formerly called pseudo-modernism). None of these new theories or labels have so far gained very widespread acceptance. Sociocultural anthropologist Nina Müller-Schwarze offers neostructuralism as a possible direction.[64] The exhibition Postmodernism – Style and Subversion 1970–1990 at the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, 24 September 2011 – 15 January 2012) was billed as the first show to document postmodernism as a historical movement.

In the 1970s a group of poststructuralists in France developed a radical critique of modern philosophy with roots discernible in Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, and Heidegger, and became known as postmodern theorists, notably including Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Jean-François Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, and others. New and challenging modes of thought and writing pushed the development of new areas and topics in philosophy. By the 1980s, this spread to America (Richard Rorty) and the world.

Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher best known for developing a form of semiotic analysis known as deconstruction, which he discussed in numerous texts, and developed in the context of phenomenology. He is one of the major figures associated with post-structuralism and postmodern philosophy.

Derrida re-examined the fundamentals of writing and its consequences on philosophy in general; sought to undermine the language of “presence” or metaphysics in an analytical technique which, beginning as a point of departure from Heidegger’s notion of Destruktion, came to be known as Deconstruction.

Michel Foucault was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, social theorist, and literary critic. First associated with structuralism, Foucault created an oeuvre which today is seen as belonging to post-structuralism, and to postmodern philosophy. Leading light of French theory , his work remains fruitful in the English-speaking academic world, above and beyond the sub-disciplines involved. The Times Higher Education Guide described him in 2009 as the most cited author in the humanities.

Michel Foucault introduced concepts such as ‘discursive regime’, or re-invoked those of older philosophers like ‘episteme’ and ‘genealogy’ in order to explain the relationship between meaning, power, and social behavior within social orders.

Jean-François Lyotard is credited with being the first to use the term in a philosophical context, in his 1979 work The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. In it, he follows Wittgenstein’s language games model and speech act theory, contrasting two different language games, that of the expert, and that of the philosopher. He talks about transformation of knowledge into information in the computer age, and likens the transmission or reception of coded messages (information) to a position within a language game.

Lyotard defined philosophical postmodernism in The Postmodern Condition, writing: “Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity towards meta narratives….”  where what he means by metanarrative is something like a unified, complete, universal, and epistemically certain story about everything that is. Postmodernists reject metanarratives because they reject the concept of truth that metanarratives presuppose. Postmodernist philosophers in general argue that truth is always contingent on historical and social context rather than being absolute and universal and that truth is always partial and “at issue” rather than being complete and certain.

Richard Rorty argues in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature that contemporary analytic philosophy mistakenly imitates scientific methods. In addition, he denounces the traditional epistemological perspectives of representationalism and correspondence theory that rely upon the independence of knowers and observers from phenomena and the passivity of natural phenomena in relation to consciousness.

Jean Baudrillard, in Simulacra and Simulation, introduced the concept that reality or the principle of “The Real” is short-circuited by the interchangeability of signs in an era whose communicative and semantic acts are dominated by electronic media and digital technologies. Baudrillard proposes the notion that, in such a state, where subjects are detached from the outcomes of events (political, literary, artistic, personal, or otherwise), events no longer hold any particular sway on the subject nor have any identifiable context; they therefore have the effect of producing widespread indifference, detachment, and passivity in industrialized populations. He claimed that a constant stream of appearances and references without any direct consequences to viewers or readers could eventually render the division between appearance and object indiscernible, resulting, ironically, in the “disappearance” of mankind in what is, in effect, a virtual or holographic state, composed only of appearances. For Baudrillard, “simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or a reality: a hyperreal.”

“In short, (Postmodern/Pluralism) believes that it is universally true that there are no universal truths; it believes that its view is superior, but it also believes that there are no superior views anywhere. This is called a “performative contradiction,” because you yourself are doing what you claim you cannot or should not do.

This view ranks ranking as being bad; judges judging as being oppressive; gives a very Big Picture about why Big Pictures are not possible; claims it is universally true that there are no universal truths; places hierarchies on the lowest level of its particular hierarchy; and claims its view is superior in a world where nothing is supposed to be superior.”

Source: Wilber, Ken: The Religion of Tomorrow: A Vision for the Future of the Great Traditions

2. WHAT IS THE ESSENTIAL DIALECTIC OF POSTMODERN?

The Essential Dialectic of Postmodern is:

{Heidegger-Husserl ⇆ Husserl-Heidegger ⇅ Heidegger-Heidegger} ↻ Husserl-Husserl

3. WHAT IS THE COMPLETE DIALECTIC OF POSTMODERN?

The Complete Dialectic of Postmodern is:

{Husserl ⇆ Heidegger ⇅ Zizek} ↻ Richards

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4. WHAT IS THE EQUIVALENCY DIALECTIC OF POSTMODERN?

The Equivalency Dialectic of Postmodern is:

{Premodern ⇆ Perimodern ⇅ Postmodern} ↻ Antemodern

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