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
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:
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.