Joseph Campbell and Postmodernism

Joseph Campbell believed that "...each of us has an individual myth that's driving us, which we may or may not know." This forum is for assistance and inspiration in the quest to find your own personal mythology.

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jonsjourney
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Post by jonsjourney » Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:08 pm

noman...

Just for clarification...again...my quote on page 1 was a direct reflection (not necessarily a position of my own personal beliefs) of your attitude toward postmodernism. My examples of the problems of modernism are not thought experiments or philosophical discussions. They are real consequences that resulted from mistaking metaphors as being a physical reality in order to justify actions.

Evil is not, in my opinion, an external reality. It is a reflection of our own projections onto "others" aspects we would rather not deal with within ourselves. We place evil into the world by trying to separate ourselves from each other. Tribalism may bring about perceived security, but in reality it fosters aggression and differentiation.

Perhaps the "superior" philosophy is understanding their is no superior philosophy. After all, we have been debating these things for tens of thousands of years and here we are still doing it without much real change having occurred. If religion and philosophy were "answers" that had real value in our day to day lives, we surely would have seen some progress by now, right? Do we still suffer? Do we still have war? Do we still have greed?....and on and on? Yes. Why? Because the external answers offer nothing but a replacement of an outdated truth with a new false truth. Makes me think of the "12-step" programs. They are great when it comes to putting an undesired behavior on extinction, but fails in the long term by replacing a faulty system of thought with the same process of thinking that got the individual into their addiction to begin with. In other words...you are powerless, so do this instead...

That is not change. That is a shell game.
Objective knowledge, objective truth, or objective justice isn’t going to be respected or acknowledged in pomo philosophy. From what I've read, this game has ravaged the humanities and social science departments in American universities for over thirty years and has taken its toll on society at large. -noman
I would like to see examples of objective knowledge, truth, and justice that are "absolute" and have stood the test of time without being relevant to situational factors. Better yet, rather than providing endless "scholarly" support for these concepts, why not provide your own experiences of what is objective truth, knowledge, and justice. At least then, one could say that they have experienced the ideas rather than taking in the view of someone else while living in the comfort of our own reading room. I can read Joseph Campbell and utilize his expert work on mythology without building a church to worship at his alter by making the words he wrote into an absolute scripture. I can also find examples of his writing that may support many views from either side. What does this solve?

As far as POMO ravaging our society and universities....perhaps you could give some slight consideration to the idea that perhaps the damage had been done by those who felt that they had some sort of solid ground for their false claims prior to the onset of POMO thinking. My youthful education was full of misinformation based more on what our system wanted me to think than facts that would lead to the ability to see life as something more than black and white. This is indoctrination, not education.

Indoctrination works well for those who need, who indeed cannot live without, an external reality they can subscribe to. You are this...you can be that. They are this...and you do not want to be that. This is the result of externalizing reason. It seems to me that when we truly attempt to understand ourselves and how our actions are largely based on a false separation of our thoughts and actions from those we judge, we may begin to make progress in the right direction. But in order for this process to actually work, we must cast off the conditioned systems that got us into the dissociative state of mind that so many exist in. If POMO thinking helps in this process, it has value. We need not put it on an alter and make the same mistakes of those who came before.

This, noman, is where I think you are failing to understand. You seem to think that we must have an answer in order for an argument to be valid. Many have provided answers throughout history. Most have been discarded. POMO is just the latest trash pick-up service.
"He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot." -Douglas Adams
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Post by Cindy B. » Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:50 pm

noman wrote:I agree with both of them. (But not with Cindy that I don't understand pomo philosophy.)
Please don't put words in my mouth, noman. That's not what I said.

noman wrote:I understand why Cindy wouldn’t waste her time trying to explain it to me. That’s a lot of work. But I can also understand why she wouldn’t even to bother to direct me to books or authors that know pomo well and get it right and could lift me out of my ignorance. Because it’s futile. From a pomo perspective all that matters is ‘the will’; the will to go with it, the will to deny it, the will to power.
Try instead, please, because I'm well aware of your penchant for research, and you don't need me to spoon feed. I offered two subject areas. If you want to check them out, fine; if not, that's fine, too.

noman wrote:Cindy dismissed me.
I beg to differ but believe as you will. In fact, I've danced around your disrespect and antagonism throughout this discussion, and you've finally exceeded the limit of my tolerance. Perhaps a moment of self-reflection would serve you well. I'm done with your thread, noman.


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Post by noman » Mon Jan 04, 2010 11:37 pm

If religion and philosophy were "answers" that had real value in our day to day lives, we surely would have seen some progress by now, right? Do we still suffer? Do we still have war? Do we still have greed?....and on and on? Yes. Why? Because the external answers offer nothing but a replacement of an outdated truth with a new false truth.

- JJ


* * * * * * *

Postmodernism, if it is about anything, is about the prospect that the promises of the modern age are no longer believable because there is evidence that for the vast majority of people worldwide there is no realistic reason to vest hope in any version of the idea that the world is good and getting better.


- Postmodernism Is Not What You Think, Charles Lemert, 1997

* * * * * * *

“I do not see any difference between Dewey (1859 – 1952) and Foucault (1926 – 1984) on narrowly philosophical grounds. The only difference I see between them is the presence or lack of social hope which they display.”

- Richard Rorty

http://www.ed.uiuc.edu/eps/PES-Yearbook ... s/BECK.HTM
Pomo promoters tend to be self-destructive and fatalistic. I believe religion and philosophy have had a positive effect on humanity and that they have real value in our day to day lives. They never offer the answer. But they offer the best answers. But the pomo way is to reject both religion and philosophy; Nietzsche declares that God is dead in the 1880s. That authority is no good anymore. Michel Foucault, his greatest disciple, declares Man is dead in the 1980s. That authority is no good anymore. Pomo leaves us with no faith in God and no faith in human intellect. So what’s left? There are just the subjective views of individuals and subsequent social constructs. As far as education goes, indoctrination is all that is left. Truth is in the hands of the powerful.

We all know the university became more political during the 60s. The old school professors like Joseph Campbell complained about this:
Now you can see why the world today is in trouble. What is the social field today? The social field is the planet, and there isn’t a single system of action that has to do with the planet. They all have to do with one interest group or another interest group. And to bring out in newspapers, or one or another of the media, the sense of humanity as being the totality of which you are a member – into your tribe, not your social class. I think that it’s an absolute necessity.

I know what the power of education is because I was brought up in one era with the ideas of democracy. And I saw those democratic ideals disintegrated and eliminated in teaching in schools when a lot of people with an idea of society as being the shaper of everything came in. What came out very clearly at Sarah Lawrence when I went to teach there was, as I’ve said, the great joy in finding what the student wanted and needed and then trying to furnish the information that would render it.

Then I found that more than 50 percent of the faculty were not doing what I would call educating, drawing out, they were indoctrinating. Giving a discipline of a certain sociological perspective that became dogma on campus. And that was happening on every campus in the United States. And as a result there was total destruction of a whole point of view that was taken for granted when I was a kid.

The Hero’s Journey p206


* * * * * * *

The worst single manifestation of [the loss of a sense of elitism] is that we have abandoned the idea that the university invites the student to become part of a universal community of scholars, part of a universal community of human civilization where you achieve individual self-definition through participating in a universal human civilization. Now what we tell you is What’s your ethnicity? What’s your race? What’s your gender? That’s who you are. You don’t define yourself. You are defined by race, gender, class, ethnicity, and cultural background. And that isn’t just stupid – that’s evil.

- John Searle, Philosophy Professor at UC Berkeley, 1999 (page 1)
It’s interesting JJ, that you would complain about indoctrination in education. Because that is exactly my biggest complaint concerning the evil empire of pomo. Same complaint, but where I see pomo as a Darth Vader you see pomo more as a Luke Skywalker. Only pomo could produce such a situation. As Bodhi says, it’s a Rorschach inkblot exercise into which we project whatever it is we want or need. But just to clarify where I’m coming from, here is part of a conversation with the poet, Robert Bly, a friend of Campbell’s. Bly describes the same ‘enlightenment’ if you will, as I got from Joseph Campbell, when I finally recovered from the nightmare of pomo indoctrination.

(First, I have to explain the expression ‘didactic pornography’ for the uninitiated. Campbell got it from Joyce’s aesthetic theory. Didactic art is art that identifies a threat, as in warning us about sin. Pornographic art seduces; such as in advertising. So together they constitute second level of art that Joyce calls ‘improper’.)

BLY: So then Joseph says all of the novels of the last hundred years, the novelists, have been didactic pornographers. And I was the only person in the audience that clapped! And he looked at me and he smiled. The rest of them were shocked at the immense generalization.

COCKRELL: He told me that the last novel he read was Finnegans Wake; since then he has not read a novel.

BLY: Yes, well, this difference between proper and improper art is that proper art has a center, a thread of silence going down the middle of it. So then when you are finished you’re at the center of yourself and you do not move either way. The funniest thing was that while he was saying this, and I was agreeing with him about proper/improper art, a woman stood up and said, “There will be an antinuclear reading tonight given by Robert Bly at the Women’s Center!”

COCKRELL: So you were fulfilling a political purpose?

BLY: I was! A lot of my art during the Vietnam War was improper art…

COCKRELL: Yeah, but which is appropriate sometimes.

BLY: No. I would say that during the war improper art is appropriate, but, nevertheless, nobody had ever made that distinction to me. And so what is important to me about Campbell is that this concept is extremely important. It was handed down from poet to poet, indeed from Aquinas originally. It went from Aquinas, and then Joyce picked it up form him. But it was not handed down to my generation. Joseph is the one who is carrying that knowledge. When I got it from him I immediately realized how important it would be to younger poets. So I am going to carry it from Joseph, to me, for some of the younger poets.

COCKRELL: The knowledge of how to achieve an aesthetic stasis?

BLY: Yes, yes, there is a difference between proper and improper art. It isn’t all the same. Political art can be to some extent improper. You can still respect it but you can see it more clearly. I have done both kinds; I have done proper and improper art but I didn’t understand the difference. Joseph’s explanation of these functions of myth is really important. Therefore there is something wonderful in him because he is like the classic older man who takes the highest ideas of the civilization and carries them and allows them to appear.

The Hero’s Journey p192
Some of those ‘highest ideas’ me believes, are to be found in philosophy and religion.

* * * * * * *
December 21, 2009:

Well, all, my final post for this thread, I think, because ensuant to a hypercursory albeit diligent scrutinization of the myriad anglelizations vocalated herein, I’ve come to accrue certitude…

- Cindy


January 4, 2010:

I've danced around your disrespect and antagonism throughout this discussion, and you've finally exceeded the limits of my tolerance.

…I'm done with your thread, noman.

- Cindy
Cindy – Clemsy knows me better. That’s why he threw in the towel a lot earlier and just rolled his eyes. But there is a method to my madness –and my rudeness. Politics entered the university at the same time as pomo around 1970. That is no coincidence. The pomo technique, is to be rational, reasonable, scholarly, philosophical, respectful and professional when it serves a political agenda. But when it’s not working, then throw all these rules out the window. Because we’ve proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that philosophy and philosophical discourse won’t get us anywhere. So you’re allowed to yell, antagonize, intimidate, and threaten with lawsuits and so on. I've read about this. How politics in education has transformed the university. And the attitude is reflected in society as well. I think I am a fairly respectful person. But I can never respect pomo philosophy. Because it uses the techniques I’ve used in this thread. No matter what anyone says, no matter what values are expressed, they can be attacked and deconstructed because we’ve proved that words have no connection to reality, that truth and values are social constructions. There is no need to be scholarly and professional and respectful. (Though there may be an urgent need for me to be respectful if I want to keep posting in this forum.)

When Derrida was about to be given an honorary degree from Cambridge, not only did the members of the philosophy department object, but scholars from other universities voiced their complaints. But they failed to prevent that honorary degree. And universities and educators in general, from what I’ve read, have failed to counter the steady decrease of professionalism, true education, and the conveyance of classical wisdom.

Sorry, Cindy, JJ and everyone – for my rudeness. I was wrong and ya’all were right. From where the sun now stands, I will post no more (in this thread), forever.

- NoMan
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Post by richard silliker » Tue Jan 05, 2010 1:55 am

NoMan, I hope you will understand that the "conversations of a higher order" is quite incestuous and that you will reconsider your decision not to continue to post. I for one enjoy your efforts to stimulate conversation and am never insulted by what someone says to me. My feeling is that someone somewhere will bring up a point that is very valuable to others and me. Let none of us take anything personal.

Where you sought to slay another, you will slay yourself. J.C.

RS
"We sacrifice the whole truth of any given experience for the value to which we are constrained".
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Post by richard silliker » Tue Jan 05, 2010 1:57 am

Just in case.

incestuous: excessively or improperly intimate or exclusive

RS
"We sacrifice the whole truth of any given experience for the value to which we are constrained".
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Post by Evinnra » Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:13 am

NoMan, if you go and leave this forum I go too. :evil:

The conversations on this forum ebb and flow around ideas with intent to show many sides of a topic. I love that. However, one can work out quite easily who are those associates that are actively involved with academia, they flip-flop their position on a given topic in order to show off their ability to compromise. I get that too, though it is not something I like. I can tolerate it and even attempt to do the same. (Not very successfuly, mind you, but I can make an effort just like anyone else , if and when the occasion calls for it.) I do not believe your conduct on this thread was any more rude than anyone else's, including my self. If we both are being considered rude here, ' then I think its better for me to say good bye just like you.
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Post by Clemsy » Tue Jan 05, 2010 2:46 am

Sorry, Cindy, JJ and everyone – for my rudeness. I was wrong and ya’all were right. From where the sun now stands, I will post no more (in this thread), forever.
I don't think Chief Joseph is going too far....
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Post by bodhibliss » Tue Jan 05, 2010 8:05 am

Evinnra wrote:However, I must respectfully disagree with you on your claim that NoMan and my self are postmodernists without knowing it. I'd rather think that it is you who is not really a postmodernist while you might think that you are. I would think that a postmodernist is a person who is happy to leave questions open without so much as attempting to find resolution.
Fear not, Eva - you haven't offended me. If anything, I am amused and intrigued.

Of course, you are free to believe your views about yourself, as I am free to subscribe to my own personal philosophy - nothing wrong with that, or with disagreeing about it (another example of postmodern logic, Noman might say).

However, examples abound in yours and Noman's remarks of what you both have described as postmodern thinking. Noman seems comfortable admitting that, so I'll point out a few examples in your remarks that lead me to that observation, starting with this sentence:
I would think that a postmodernist is a person who is happy to leave questions open without so much as attempting to find resolution
You might think that, but this is an opinion, not a fact, even though the rest of your argument assumes this assumption is proven fact. From your contributions to this thread, I understand that you think postmoderns believe opinion is as good or better than a fact. Frankly, I've been studying this issue in depth for a few years, and I believe your assumption is mistaken, so that argument doesn't carry much weight for me - but then, I could be mistaken.

Then there is this passage of yours from several days back:
If the term philosophy meant using one's mind then Jaques Derrida was a philosopher. However the word philosophy means the love of wisdom, hence Jacques Derrida is merely a 'thinker'. Like Nietzsche. Nietzsche wasn't a philosopher but his ideas made a gigantic impact on the twentieth century. Thinkers were influential in all ages, for instance in the Scholastic era - the time when cathedrals were built - was heavily laden by the human desire to 'reach up', to somehow join the mundane human experience with glorious heavenly perfection. In comparison to these noble philosophers, priests monks and nuns who taught in the Scholastic era it does not even seem right to call Derrida a philosopher. Why? A mere process of deconstructing does not qualify for 'loving wisdom'. Can we call the person who merely demolish a building a builder? S/he might be a builder IF s/he has the intention to build something new after demolishing a building, but if all s/he does is blowing buildings up, well s/he is not a builder.
This absolutely fascinates me, for you reject the long accepted standard of what philosophy is, a standard accepted for centuries by all philosophers, and taught for centuries in all philosophy courses (a surprisingly apt example of deconstructionism on your part!). In brief, philosophy has long been recognized as the "investigation of the nature, causes, or principles of reality, knowledge, or values, based on logical reasoning rather than empirical methods" and divided into branches that include logic, ethics, aesthetics, epistemology, and metaphysics.

These are the values on which philosophy has been based for milllennia. This conception of philosophy goes back to Aristotle, and is one that Plato and Socrates would be comfortable with - but you toss all that out based solely on the etymology of the term - a technique for which Derrida is well known - rather than over 2500 years of actual practice.

(This is much as if one has decided that politics, from the Greek "polis," relates only to cities, and so politics has no bearing on the governments of nations, states, counties, or provinces).

Apart from the fact that Derrida was definitely a lover of wisdom (which one of his books have you read to make you think otherwise? I find him as complex a read as Jung and just as easily misunderstood, but his love of wisdom shines through every sentence), he is clearly viewed as a philosopher by other philosophers, including those who stridently disagree with him, he is taught in philosophy courses by trained philosophy teachers, he viewed himself as a philosopher, and he wrote works of philosophy. Even your Oxford Encyclopedia of Philosophy recognizes the man as a philosopher. (The objections of a handful of academics to his honorary degree at Cambridge in 1992 echo similar objections by academics to both Carl Jung & Joseph Campbell, but do not represent the overwhelming majority of recognized philosophers)

That his philosophy differs from your personal philosophy does not mean he isn't a philosopher, no matter how you deconstruct and redefine the term.

Arbitrarily deconstructing 2500 years of tradition and redefining the field to prove your point brings to mind this statement you made a few days ago:
Evinnra wrote:
Yeah, that is the advantage of pomo thinking. Anything can prove any claim you want
I don't know if that's pomo thinking, but given the reasoning you use to prove your point, it's clearly illustrative of your thinking - and yet you claim not to be postmodern. It's difficult to take seriously a rant against Derrida's deconstructionism in one sentence when you employ the exact same technique in the next sentence yourself.

I have read postmodern philosophers and thinkers, finding much of value in their work - and I've read enough to know that neither Derrida, Baudelaire, or myself woud arbitrarily decree that Aristotle or Thomas Aquinas or Kierkegard or Spinoza or Nietszche or Kant or Ayn Rand aren't philosophers merely because we disagree with them. For example, I believe Ayn Rand's premises and reasoning are fundamentally flawed, and both Thomas Aquinas and Kierkegard are mistaken in many of their conclusions - but that doesn't mean they aren't lovers of wisdom, or aren't philosophers.

This is but one example of many that have turned me off from participating in this thread. Maybe it's the same frustration you and Noman air in your complaints about postmoderns - it's difficult to enjoy a rational discussion with people who believe the standards they espouse apply to others, but not themselves.

I don't believe you are aware that's what you're doing, Evinnra, and it's certainly not your intent, but it's what comes across. If you're going to complain about that as a symptom of postmodernism, maybe you should either take pains not to do the same, or stop arguing the point.

And then there are the statements about postmoderns having no values.

Simply not true. That stereotype comes from concretizing the metaphor. I am reminded of my parents and siblings, who were distressed when I started studying Zen - they believed, based on their cursory understanding of what critics said about Zen, that adherents of Zen Buddhism had no values, and indeed were opposed to all values. I can see how someone who has read a little bit about Buddhism and a few out of context quotes could erroneously come to that conclusion, but not if they had read the actual works on which that philosophy is based.

I find the same dynamic among critics of postmodernism. If you were to actually read Derrida, I doubt you would say he had no values - the man had very strong values (though, again, not always your values).

Lyotard may have described the disappearance of master narratives, but Frederic Jameson (author of a seminal work in this field - "Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism") not only rejects this view, but points out Lyotard and Oliva both couch this claim in narrative form. So to assume postmoderns universally posit the end of metanarratives is to adopt the position of one branch within the school of postmodernism. I'm curious why you trust their conclusions in this regard, but reject their other conclusions? That selective approach certainly sounds pomo, doesn't it?

Also, most who write about postmodernism are merely documenting the culture. They are describing what is - and what is, is that we are living in a postmodern culture. They aren't the shapers of postmodern culture, but the chroniclers. They, like Joseph Campbell, embrace what is and say yea to it. We don't need to shoot the messenger, whether that messenger is Baudelaire, Derrida, or Jameson.

One can fight postmodernism in the same way as someone living in Germany might believe German is a terrible language (giving rise to the Holocaust and two world wars), so s/he decides to oppose German and speak nothing but Cambodian in Berlin. Nevertheless he or she will still be living in a German-speaking culture - life will just be infinitely more difficult for that individual. And regardless of the very real flaws inherent in our world, we still live in a postmodern culture, and will continue to do so - not because we are deluded, but simply because, a` la Spengler, that's the inevitable next phase of the old age of our culture.

Without a postmodern mindset it is next to impossible to understand and adapt to the world in which we live.

It takes a postmodern nature to understand and embrace the constantly shifting, decentralized nature of the internet. Without embracing the postmodern mindset, it is next to impossible to fight Al Qeada, which is the epitome of an effective postmodern organization - no one is in charge, decisions are decentralized and localized (it was the small group in Yemen, not bin Ladin, who sent the Nigerian bomber to the U.S.), there are no clear core beliefs, which remain vague apart from opposition to the dominant powers.

If we fight Al Qeada the way we have previous wars, from outside the postmodern mindset, we lose. Osama bin Ladin is a figurehead - simply capturing or killing him will only make him a martyr and increase the self-directed yet parallel tactics of the many dispersed, discrete elements of this group.

I know, because I am a major player in another postmodern organization - the Rainbow Family, a group with no leaders, no hierarchical structure, that nevertheless builds a city in a different part of the woods every summer. Site selection, water supply, feeding 20,000 people, sanitation and hygiene, parking - no one is in charge and everyone is in charge, and all beliefs (but not all behaviors) are welcome and everything is free - and yet it continues to happen every year organically ... and really ticks off the law enforcement arm of the Forest Service, who keep trying to hold nonexistent leaders responsible, and so arbitrarily designate three or four random individuals every year as the secret leaders of Rainbow and arrest them - then let the Gathering unfold over the course of a month exactly how it always has. (Ironic that the Forest Service reserves to itself the power to appoint our leaders, a power that we don't have ourselves).

Only those members of the Forest Service who embrace postmodern culture have been able to make peace with Rainbow and Burning Man and several other "pomo" events.

Briefly addressing Noman's point, like Joseph Campbell I value all mythologies equally, whether Maori shamanism or Judaism or Christianity or Wicca or Hinduism or UFOlogy. I value the mythology - which doesn't mean I condone misinformed, destructive behaviors that come from literalizing the myth.

Similarly, I value every human life; following Noman's reasoning I must therefore condone the actions of Adolf Hitler or Charlie Manson the same as Mother Teresa or Jesus Christ.
Yeah, that is the advantage of pomo thinking. Anything can prove any claim you want
There's a lot of that going around.

Joseph Campbell was able to value the truth and beauty contained in Islam, without condoning the mutilation of women by amputating their clitoris. He was able to value the magnificence of Judaism (noting that the Jewish People themselves were the collective hero of their mythology) without condoning the concretization of the myth that allowed the murder of thousands of infants of other tribes in Joshua's day.

But I could continue forever, to no avail and endless frustration.

How do we discuss this rationally? When those who vociferously oppose postmodernism do so using the very same approach and arguments they condemn, we all waste a lot of time fighting ghosts. I think it's silly to get worked up over it - and frankly, blaming everything wrong with our culture on postmodernism allows us to avoid seeking solutions to specific problems: if we could get rid of the pomo conspirators, we'd all be living in utopia, but until then, why bother?

I am also intrigued at the volume and vociferousness of the opposition. Both Jung & Campbell point out that when someone denounces something way out of proportion to the stimulus, this is a sign of shadow traits: McCarthy, in the fifties, decrying the false propaganda and destructive totalitarianism of communism, made a federal case out of it (literally so), and used false proganda and authoritarian actions to attack and destroy the lives of individuals who often were not communists; the neighbor in American Beauty so vehemently opposed to gays and their homosexual agenda turned out to be repressing his own latent homosexuality

... so even apart from the "pomo" behaviors displayed in this thread by "pomo opponents," it's only natural to wonder, given the dogmatic assertions that postmodernism is the worst evil known to man (ranked even above child abuse, totalitarianism, and the Holocaust?), if maybe some doth protest too much?

I hope I haven't offended you, Evinnra - just trying to explain my own reasoning, and not doing a very good job.

Namaste,
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Post by jonsjourney » Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:39 pm

Brit Hume is probably not a POMO thinker...or at least he would not claim to be one. :wink:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 03101.html

The hubris of this guy to make judgments about a system of thought he probably knows very little about is just sad. Sadder still, he probably does not know anything of significance about Christianity either....just which buttons to push to get conservative voters fired up.

Maybe Pat Robertson needs a new co-anchor for the 700 club, so that the next time a Hurricane hits a city of sinful people, there will be two idiots making the claim that it is god's vengeance instead of one? Hume now has the proper credentials.

This story represents, in my view, the problem with denying the reality of the world in which we live, which Stephen has addressed in his posts here. This guy is stuck in his metaphor. He cannot see that what is good for him could not possibly not be good for everyone else. So he chooses to project his own demons on others, rather than make a sincere effort to understand the suffering of another human. Blame the messenger, not the message. Would Hume have said that Tiger should maybe try Buddhism, Islam or Judaism, or whatever religion if Tiger had been a professed Christian??? Probably not.

It is hubris that often results from making a metaphor a "concrete reality".
"He was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher... or, as his wife would have it, an idiot." -Douglas Adams
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Post by noman » Wed Jan 06, 2010 5:50 am

From where the sun now stands, I will post no more (in this thread), forever.

- NoMan

* * * * * * *

I don't think Chief Joseph is going too far....

- Clemsy
LOL

The sun has not moved in a Copernican sense. Therefore, I not speak with forked tongue.

The postmodern truth is, I can’t resist answering Bodhi’s last post. Derrida was no Jung or Campbell, IMHF (In my humble fact)

(thanks RS and Eva :D )

* * * * * * *
Maybe it's the same frustration,,, Noman air[s] in his complaints about postmoderns - it's difficult to enjoy a rational discussion with people who believe the standards they espouse apply to others, but not themselves.

- Bodhi
Again, Bodhi, you know how to cut right to the heart of the matter. And this is exactly the ‘pomo technique’ I was attempting to illustrate. I’m all for criticism and challenging accepted beliefs, myths, presuppositions. Lyotard does indeed declare the end of all meta-narratives, and then uses a meta-narrative to support his argument. But in pomo philosophy, there is nothing wrong with that, because logic and reason have been proven to be fallacious to their core.
When asked "What is deconstruction?" Derrida replied, "I have no simple and formalisable response to this question. All my essays are attempts to have it out with this formidable question" (Derrida, 1985, p. 4).

Derrida believes that the term deconstruction is necessarily complicated and difficult to explain since it actively criticises the very language needed to explain it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deconstruction
In the paper JJ cites the authors say that words can’t be defined any more but we can only clarify how they are being used. But what do you think a definition is? Pomos play a perpetual game of using the very thing they condemn, whether its meta-narratives or definitions. It is much different than offering a new meta-narrative, or offering a new definition. If pomos have a better meta-narrative, or have a better set of definitions then they should just state that they have them rather than deny the validity of meta-narratives and definitions.

There is a point at which one crosses the line from philosophy (the love of wisdom) into what the physicist Alan Sokal called Fashionable Nonsense. Metaphorically, it is the point at which we cross the ‘event horizon’ into what I call the black hole of evil, the threshold to a place where language and logic and reason have no value and everything is either self-referential and/or self-contradictory.

I remember listening to a lecture on philosophy where the professor was trying to explain existentialism. He said, ‘after reading existential philosophers for a while you get the impression they're just… talking to themselves?…’.

The way he said ‘talking to themselves?...’ with the question accent at the end of the phrase really made me understand. You can’t argue with an existentialist or a pomo about right or wrong, truth or untruth. If you want to go the way of Zen and say these people have become enlightened and reached the yonder shore that’s wonderful. Instead of a black hole of evil as I call it then it’s a paradise, beyond good and evil, where there are no distinctions to make. But you must admit that my ‘black hole of evil’ is no more or less true than your ‘paradise’.

A real philosopher, such as the liberal John Searle has this to say about Derrida’s work:
...anyone who reads deconstructive texts with an open mind is likely to be struck by the same phenomena that initially surprised me: the low level of philosophical argumentation, the deliberate obscurantism of the prose, the wildly exaggerated claims, and the constant striving to give the appearance of profundity by making claims that seem paradoxical, but under analysis often turn out to be silly or trivial.

New York Review of Books, 2 February 1984
This is the same thing the very liberal Noam Chomsky said. It’s the philosophical equivalent of saying ‘Where’s the beef?’

I keep saying ‘liberal’, because the culture wars looms so large in the background when we begin to discuss pomo. People think pomo = new age = post 1970 ; anti-pomo = retro = pre 1960. I think this is a naïve view. What I personally hate most about pomo is inherent in both Left and Right.

Must give an example. Ron Suskind, a Pulitzer Prize winning author quoted an unnamed Bush aide in New York Times Magazine in October 2004, concerning the invasion of Iraq:
The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." ... "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

- Ron Suskind, New York Times Magazine in October 2004
A reporter wants truth. But is told that power is truth. Because this is the mythology we have adopted.

I don’t take the story too seriously. Who knows how drunk the aide was when he said it, or how sober Suskind was when he recorded it? But it does illustrate how far we’ve gone into this world of a complete lack of concern for reality. And it isn’t simply a two way split. Ever since the 60s we’ve been fragmenting into more and more ‘realities’. It’s almost as though America is trying to find its way back to a state of 500 nations.

I’m trying to organize this to find the point of disagreement between Bodhi and I.
I believe:

1.) There has been an increasing fragmentation of “reality” or “truth” since the 60s.
2.) That it is in part the result of mass communication, a personalized selection of information, and personalized selection of people who share the same info and opinions.
3.) That this situation is unhealthy for two reasons:
...........a.) The lack of respect for objective reality, when one has to deal with objective reality.
...........b.) The general mistrust in a culture with many different competing “realities”.

Maybe Bodhi doesn’t agree with all this. Let me know. But there is something that we can definitely disagree on I think.

I believe that the idea that reality is socially constructed is in part a self-fulfilling prophecy. Notice I say ‘in part’. Obviously national borders are social constructs. The knowledge that the sun is larger than the moon is not a social construct. The books I read are filled with examples of people crossing the line, calling something that is objectively real, merely a social construct. I gave an example of this by primatologist Frans de Waals:
P91 One of the most curious academic meetings I ever attended was on the topic of sex. It was organized by postmodern anthropologists, who believe that reality is made up of words, that it cannot be separated from our narratives. I was one of only a handful of scientists at the meeting, and scientists by definition trust facts more than words. One can see how such a meeting would not go too well. Things came to a head when one of the postmodernists claimed that if a human language lacks a word for “orgasm,” the people speaking this language cannot experience sexual climax. The scientists were taken aback. People all over the world have the same genitals and the same physiology, so how could their experiences be radically different? And what would this tell us about other animals? Would not the implication be that they feel nothing? Exasperated by the idea of sexual pleasure as a linguistic achievement, we began circulating little notes with naughty questions such as: Without a word for “oxygen,” can people breathe?

- Our Inner Ape, Frans De Waal, 2005
Keep in mind, these were not naïve street people De Waals was dealing with. These were academics. This pomo philosophy or myth, if you will, has permeated our entire culture and does have an effect on real issues – such as some of the hot political issues that have people screaming at each other. Of course we can’t blame everything that’s wrong with society on this aspect of pomo mythology. But this is a huge, huge, problem. Like Campbell, I’m a ‘Spenglerian’; a person who believes that cultures are moved by an underlying current of mythology. And I believe that pomo philosophers were not simply reporting on the current state of mythology but acting as myth-makers in this respect. And it is not a mythology that makes for a healthy society.

How different we would be if our educators constantly promoted a different myth to live by: that there is an objective reality, that it is discoverable, and that there is value in believing in this objective truth.

- NoMan
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Post by S_Watson » Wed Jan 06, 2010 8:41 am

Obviously national borders are social constructs.
Not entirely. Most national borders are social constructs informed considerably by geography. And geography informs most national characters and national self-conceptions. Britain being an island informed its literally insular national character in a very different way than, say, Russia consisting mostly of vast plains without many major natural boundaries such as sea or mountains. Russians have tended historically to be paranoid about foreign invasions because of the natural vulnerability of Russia to invaders from both the East and West. Korea being a peninsula bordered by a river has made the Koreans somewhat isolationist, the "Hermit Kingdom". Geography is inseparable from national consciousness and national mythmaking, for both good and ill.
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Post by Clemsy » Wed Jan 06, 2010 10:52 am

I can’t resist answering Bodhi’s last post.
Noman, I would have put a Franklin down on that .... but no one would have taken the bet. :lol:
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by S_Watson » Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:10 pm

Clemsy wrote:
I can’t resist answering Bodhi’s last post.
Noman, I would have put a Franklin down on that .... but no one would have taken the bet. :lol:
Why bother betting with the currency of a bankrupt nation? :lol:
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Post by noman » Wed Jan 06, 2010 7:24 pm

Good point Watson. Our socially constructed reality is influenced by – how do I put this – real reality. And it isn’t always easy to draw the line. A border is influenced by geography but not dependent on it. And it is crucial to know the difference.

Consider this statement:

The planet that travels farthest away from the sun is Pluto.

Fifty years ago that statement would be a fact. But now it might cause a brawl from academic conferences to school yards to bar rooms. That Pluto travels farther from the sun than eight planets is real reality and non-negotiable. That Pluto is a planet is a social construction. Big difference. Big fights.

- NoMan
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Post by Andreas » Wed Jan 06, 2010 8:27 pm

I think it is called evolution :lol:
“To live is enough.” ― Shunryu Suzuki
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