Thursday, September 24, 2020

Postmodernism Political Theory


Postmodernism Political Theory, also spelled post-modernism, in Western philosophy, a late 20th-century movement characterized by broad skepticism, subjectivism, or relativism; a general suspicion of reason; and an acute sensitivity to the role of ideology in asserting and maintaining political and economic power.

Postmodernism And Modern Philosophy

Postmodernism Political Theory, Postmodernism is essentially a reaction against the intellectual assumptions and values of the fashionable period within the history of Western philosophy (roughly, the 17th through the 19th century). Indeed, many of the doctrines characteristically related to postmodernism can fairly be described because the straightforward denial of general philosophical viewpoints that were taken without any consideration during the 18th-century Enlightenment, though they weren't unique thereto period. the foremost important of those viewpoints are the subsequent .

1. there's an objective natural reality, a reality whose existence and properties are logically independent of human beings—of their minds, their societies, their social practices, or their investigative techniques. Postmodernists dismiss this concept as a sort of realism . Such reality as there's , consistent with postmodernists, may be a conceptual construct, an artifact of scientific practice and language. now also applies to the investigation of past events by historians and to the outline of social institutions, structures, or practices by social scientists.

2. The descriptive and explanatory statements of scientists and historians can, in theory , be objectively true or false. The postmodern denial of this viewpoint—which follows from the rejection of an objective natural reality—is sometimes expressed by saying that there's no such thing as Truth.

3. Through the utilization of reason and logic, and with the more specialized tools provided by science and technology, citizenry are likely to vary themselves and their societies for the higher . it's reasonable to expect that future societies are going to be more humane, more just, more enlightened, and more prosperous than they're now. Postmodernists deny this Enlightenment faith in science and technology as instruments of human progress. Indeed, many postmodernists hold that the misguided (or unguided) pursuit of scientific and technological knowledge led to the event of technologies for killing on a huge scale in war II. Some go thus far on say that science and technology—and even reason and logic—are inherently destructive and oppressive, because they need been employed by evil people, especially during the 20th century, to destroy and oppress others.

4. Reason and logic are universally valid—i.e., their laws are an equivalent for, or apply equally to, any thinker and any domain of data . For postmodernists, reason and logic too are merely conceptual constructs and are therefore valid only within the established intellectual traditions during which they're used.

5. there's such a thing as human nature; it consists of colleges , aptitudes, or dispositions that are in some sense present in citizenry at birth instead of learned or instilled through social forces. Postmodernists insist that each one , or nearly all, aspects of human psychology are completely socially determined.

6. Language refers to and represents a reality outside itself. consistent with postmodernists, language isn't such a “mirror of nature,” because the American pragmatist philosopher Richard Rorty characterized the Enlightenment view. Inspired by the work of Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Saussure , postmodernists claim that language is semantically self-contained, or self-referential: the meaning of a word isn't a static thing within the world or maybe a thought within the mind but rather a variety of contrasts and differences with the meanings of other words. Postmodernism Political Theory, Because meanings are during this sense functions of other meanings—which themselves are functions of other meanings, then on—they are never fully “present” to the speaker or hearer but are endlessly “deferred.” Self-reference characterizes not only natural languages but also the more specialized “discourses” of particular communities or traditions; such discourses are embedded in social practices and reflect the conceptual schemes and moral and intellectual values of the community or tradition during which they're used. The postmodern view of language and discourse is due largely to the French philosopher and literary theorist Derrida (1930–2004), the originator and leading practitioner of deconstruction.

7. citizenry can acquire knowledge about natural reality, and this data are often justified ultimately on the idea of evidence or principles that are, or can be, known immediately, intuitively, or otherwise with certainty. Postmodernists reject philosophical foundationalism—the attempt, perhaps best exemplified by the 17th-century French philosopher René Descartes’s dictum cogito, ergo sum (“I think, therefore I am”), to spot a foundation of certainty on which to create the edifice of empirical (including scientific) knowledge.

8. it's possible, a minimum of in theory , to construct general theories that specify many aspects of the natural or social world within a given domain of knowledge—e.g., a general theory of human history, like materialism . Furthermore, it should be a goal of scientific and historical research to construct such theories, albeit they're never perfectly attainable in practice. Postmodernists dismiss this notion as a dream and indeed as diagnostic an unhealthy tendency within Enlightenment discourses to adopt “totalizing” systems of thought (as the French philosopher Emmanuel Lévinas called them) or grand “metanarratives” of human biological, historical, and social development (as the French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard claimed). These theories are pernicious not merely because they're false but because they effectively impose conformity on other perspectives or discourses, thereby oppressing, marginalizing, or silencing them. Derrida himself equated the theoretical tendency toward totality with totalitarianism.

Postmodernism And Relativism

As indicated within the preceding section, many of the characteristic doctrines of postmodernism constitute or imply some sort of metaphysical, epistemological, or ethical relativism. (It should be noted, however, that some postmodernists vehemently reject the relativist label.) Postmodernism Political Theory, Postmodernists deny that there are aspects of reality that are objective; that there are statements about reality that are objectively true or false; that it's possible to possess knowledge of such statements (objective knowledge); that it's possible for citizenry to understand some things with certainty; which there are objective, or absolute, moral values. Reality, knowledge, and value are constructed by discourses; hence they will vary with them. this suggests that the discourse of recent science, when considered aside from the evidential standards internal thereto , has no greater purchase on the reality than do alternative perspectives, including (for example) astrology and witchcraft. Postmodernists sometimes characterize the evidential standards of science, including the utilization of reason and logic, as “Enlightenment rationality.”

That postmodernism is indefinable may be a truism. However, it are often described as a group of critical, strategic and rhetorical practices employing concepts like difference, repetition, the trace, the simulacrum, and hyperreality to destabilize other concepts like presence, identity, historical progress, epistemic certainty, and therefore the univocity of meaning.

The term “postmodernism” first entered the philosophical lexicon in 1979, with the publication of The Postmodern Condition by Jean-François Lyotard. I therefore give Lyotard pride of place within the sections that follow. An economy of selection dictated the selection of other figures for this entry. Postmodernism Political Theory, I even have selected only those most ordinarily cited in discussions of philosophical postmodernism, five French and two Italian, although individually they'll resist common affiliation. Ordering them by nationality might duplicate a modernist schema they might question, but there are strong differences among them, and these tend to divide along linguistic and cultural lines. The French, for instance , work with concepts developed during the structuralist revolution in Paris within the 1950s and early 1960s, including structuralist readings of Marx and Freud. For this reason they're often called “poststructuralists.” They also cite the events of May 1968 as a watershed moment for contemporary thought and its institutions, especially the schools . The Italians, against this , draw upon a practice of aesthetics and rhetoric including figures like Giambattista Vico and Benedetto Croce. Their emphasis is strongly historical, and that they exhibit no fascination with a revolutionary moment. Instead, they emphasize continuity, narrative, and difference within continuity, instead of counter-strategies and discursive gaps. Neither side, however, suggests that postmodernism is an attack upon modernity or an entire departure from it. Rather, its differences lie within modernity itself, and postmodernism may be a continuation of recent thinking in another mode.

Finally, I even have included a summary of Habermas's critique of postmodernism, representing the most lines of dialogue on each side of the Atlantic. Habermas argues that postmodernism contradicts itself through self-reference, and notes that postmodernists presuppose concepts they otherwise seek to undermine, e.g., freedom, subjectivity, or creativity. He sees during this a rhetorical application of strategies employed by the artistic avant-garde of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, an avant-garde that's possible only because modernity separates artistic values from science and politics within the first place. Postmodernism Political Theory, On his view, postmodernism is a bootleg aestheticization of data and public discourse. Against this, Habermas seeks to rehabilitate modern reason as a system of procedural rules for achieving consensus and agreement among communicating subjects. Insofar as postmodernism introduces aesthetic playfulness and subversion into science and politics, he resists it within the name of a modernity moving toward completion instead of self-transformation.


The philosophical modernism in dispute in postmodernism begins with Kant's “Copernican revolution,” that's , his assumption that we cannot know things in themselves which objects of data must conform to our schools of representation (Kant 1787). Ideas like God, freedom, immortality, the world, first beginning, and final end have only a regulative function for knowledge, since they can't find fulfilling instances among objects of experience. With Hegel, the immediacy of the subject-object relation itself is shown to be illusory.

Postmodernism Political Theory, As he states within the Phenomenology of Spirit, “we find that neither the one nor the opposite is merely immediately present in sense-certainty, but each is at an equivalent time mediated” (Hegel 1807, 59), because subject and object are both instances of a “this” and a “now,” neither of which are immediately sensed. So-called immediate perception therefore lacks the knowledge of immediacy itself, a certainty that has got to be deferred to the understanding of an entire system of experience. However, later thinkers means that Hegel's logic pre-supposes concepts, like identity and negation (see Hegel 1812), which cannot themselves be accepted as immediately given, and which therefore must be accounted for in another , non-dialectical way.

The later nineteenth century is that the age of modernity as an achieved reality, where science and technology, including networks of mass communication and transportation, reshape human perceptions. there's no clear distinction, then, between the natural and therefore the artificial in experience. Indeed, many proponents of postmodernism challenge the viability of such a distinction tout court, seeing in achieved modernism the emergence of a drag the philosophical tradition has repressed. A consequence of achieved modernism is what postmodernists might ask as de-realization. De-realization affects both the topic and therefore the objects of experience, such their sense of identity, constancy, and substance is upset or dissolved. Important precursors to the present notion are found in Kierkegaard, Marx and Nietzsche. Kierkegaard, for instance , describes modern society as a network of relations during which individuals are leveled into an abstract phantom referred to as “the public” (Kierkegaard 1846, 59). the fashionable public, in contrast to ancient and medieval communities, may be a creation of the press, which is that the only instrument capable of holding together the mass of unreal individuals “who never are and never are often united in an actual situation or organization” (Kierkegaard 1846, 60). Postmodernism Political Theory, during this sense, society has become a realization of reasoning , held together by a man-made and all-pervasive medium speaking for everybody and for nobody . In Marx, on the opposite hand, we've an analysis of the fetishism of commodities (Marx 1867, 444–461) where objects lose the solidity of their use value and become spectral figures under the aspect of exchange value.

The Postmodern Condition

The term “postmodern” came into the philosophical lexicon with the publication of Jean-François Lyotard's La Condition Postmoderne in 1979 (in English: The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, 1984), where he employs Wittgenstein's model of language games (see Wittgenstein 1953) and ideas taken from act theory to account for what he calls a change of the sport rules for science, art, and literature since the top of the nineteenth century.

He describes his text as a mixture of two very different language games, that of the philosopher which of the expert. Postmodernism Political Theory, Where the expert knows what he knows and what he doesn't know, the philosopher knows neither, but poses questions. In light of this ambiguity, Lyotard states that his portrayal of the state of data “makes no claims to being original or maybe true,” which his hypotheses “should not be accorded predictive value in reference to reality, but strategic value in reference to the questions raised” (Lyotard 1984 [1979], 7). The book, then, is the maximum amount an experiment within the combination of language games because it is an objective “report.”

On Lyotard's account, the pc age has transformed knowledge into information, that is, coded messages within a system of transmission and communication. Analysis of this data involves a pragmatics of communication insofar because the phrasing of messages, their transmission and reception, must follow rules so as to be accepted by those that judge them. However, as Lyotard points out, the position of judge or legislator is additionally an edge within a language game, and this raises the question of legitimation. As he insists, “there may be a strict interlinkage between the type of language called science and therefore the kind called ethics and politics” (Lyotard 1984 [1979], 8), and this interlinkage constitutes the cultural perspective of the West. Science is therefore tightly interwoven with government and administration, especially within the modern era , where enormous amounts of capital and enormous installations are needed for research.

Genealogy and Subjectivity

The Nietzschean method of genealogy, in its application to modern subjectivity, is another facet of philosophical postmodernism. Michel Foucault's application of genealogy to formative moments in modernity's history and his exhortations to experiment with subjectivity place him within the scope of postmodern discourse. Postmodernism Political Theory, within the 1971 essay “Nietzsche, Genealogy, History,” Foucault spells out his adaptation of the genealogical method in his historical studies. First and foremost, he says, genealogy “opposes itself to the look for ‘origins’” (Foucault 1977, 141).

That is, genealogy studies the accidents and contingencies that converge at crucial moments, giving rise to new epochs, concepts, and institutions. As Foucault remarks: “What is found at the historical beginning of things isn't the inviolable identity of their origin; it's the dissension of other things. it's disparity” (Foucault 1977, 142). In Nietzschean fashion, Foucault exposes history conceived because the origin and development of a uniform subject, e.g., “modernity,” as a fiction modern discourses invent after the very fact .

Underlying the fiction of modernity may be a sense of temporality that excludes the weather of chance and contingency live at every moment. In short, linear, progressive history covers up the discontinuities and interruptions that mark points of succession in historical time.

Productive Difference

The concept of difference as a productive mechanism, instead of a negation of identity, is additionally an indicator of postmodernism in philosophy. Gilles Deleuze deploys this idea throughout his work, beginning with Nietzsche and Philosophy (1962, in English 1983), where he sets Nietzsche against the models of thinking at add Kant and Hegel. Here, he proposes to think against reason in resistance to Kant's assertion of the self-justifying authority of reason alone (Deleuze 1983 [1962], 93). during a phrase echoed by Foucault, he states that the aim of his critique of reason “is not justification but a special way of feeling:

another sensibility” (Deleuze 1983 [1962], 94). Philosophical critique, he declares, is an encounter between thought and what forces it into action: it's a matter of sensibility instead of a tribunal where reason judges itself by its own laws (see Kant 1787, 9). Furthermore, the critique of reason isn't a way , but is achieved by “culture” within the Nietzschean sense: training, discipline, inventiveness, and a particular cruelty (see Nietzsche 1887).

Since thought cannot activate itself as thinking, Deleuze says it must suffer violence if it's to awaken and move. Postmodernism Political Theory, Art, science, and philosophy deploy such violence insofar as they're transformative and experimental.


The term “deconstruction,” like “postmodernism,” has taken on many meanings within the popular imagination. However, in philosophy, it signifies certain strategies for reading and writing texts. The term was introduced into philosophical literature in 1967, with the publication of three texts by Jacques Derrida: Of Grammatology (in English 1974), Writing and Difference (in English 1978), and Speech and Phenomena (in English 1973). This so-called “publication blitz” immediately established Derrida as a serious figure within the new movement in philosophy and therefore the human sciences centered in Paris, and brought the idiom “deconstruction” into its vocabulary. Derrida and deconstruction are routinely related to postmodernism, although like Deleuze and Foucault, he doesn't use the term and would resist affiliation with “-isms” of any sort. Of the three books from 1967, Of Grammatology is that the more comprehensive in laying out the background for deconstruction as how of reading modern theories of language, especially structuralism, and Heidegger's meditations on the non-presence of being. It also sets out Derrida's difference with Heidegger over Nietzsche. Where Heidegger places Nietzsche within the metaphysics of presence, Derrida insists that “reading, and thus writing, the text were for Nietzsche ‘originary’ operations,” (Derrida 1974 [1967], 19), and this puts him at the closure of metaphysics (not the end), a closure that liberates writing from the normal logos, which takes writing to be a symbol (a visible mark) for an additional sign (speech), whose “signified” may be a fully present meaning.

This closure has emerged, says Derrida, with the newest developments in linguistics, the human sciences, mathematics, and cybernetics, where the written mark or signifier is only technical, that is, a matter of function instead of meaning. Postmodernism Political Theory, Precisely the liberation of function over meaning indicates that the epoch of what Heidegger calls the metaphysics of presence has come to closure, although this closure doesn't mean its termination. even as within the essay “On the Question of Being” (Heidegger 1998, 291-322) Heidegger sees fit cross off the word “being,” leaving it visible, nevertheless, under the mark, Derrida takes the closure of metaphysics to be its “erasure,” where it doesn't entirely disappear, but remains inscribed together side of a difference, and where the mark of deletion is itself a trace of the difference that joins and separates this mark and what it crosses out.

Derrida calls this joining and separating of signs différance (Derrida 1974 [1967], 23), a tool which will only be read and not heard when différance and différence are pronounced in French. The “a” may be a written mark that differentiates independently of the voice, the privileged medium of metaphysics. during this sense, différance because the spacing of difference, as archi-writing, would be the gram of grammatology. However, as Derrida remarks: “There can't be a science of difference itself in its operation, because it is impossible to possess a science of the origin of presence itself, that's to mention of a particular non-origin” (Derrida 1974 [1967], 63). Instead, there's only the marking of the trace of difference, that is, deconstruction.


Hyperreality is closely associated with the concept of the simulacrum: a replica or image without regard to an ingenious . In postmodernism, hyperreality is that the results of the technological mediation of experience, where what passes for reality may be a network of images and signs without an external referent, such what's represented is representation itself. Postmodernism Political Theory, In Symbolic Exchange and Death (1976), Jean Baudrillard uses Lacan's concepts of the symbolic, the imaginary, and therefore the real to develop this idea while attacking orthodoxies of the political Left, beginning with the assumed reality of power, production, desire, society, and political legitimacy. Baudrillard argues that each one of those realities became simulations, that is, signs with none referent, because the important and therefore the imaginary are absorbed into the symbolic.

Postmodern Hermeneutics

Hermeneutics, the science of textual interpretation, also plays a task in postmodern philosophy. Unlike deconstruction, which focuses upon the functional structures of a text, hermeneutics seeks to reach an agreement or consensus on what the text means, or is about. Gianni Vattimo formulates a postmodern hermeneutics within the End of Modernity (1985, in English 1988 [1985]), where he distinguishes himself from his Parisian counterparts by posing the question of post-modernity as a matter for ontological hermeneutics. rather than calling for experimentation with counter-strategies and functional structures, he sees the heterogeneity and variety in our experience of the planet as a hermeneutical problem to be solved by developing a way continuity between this and therefore the past. Postmodernism Political Theory, This continuity is to be a unity of meaning instead of the repetition of a functional structure, and therefore the meaning is ontological. during this respect, Vattimo's project is an extension of Heidegger's inquiries into the meaning of being. However, where Heidegger situates Nietzsche within the bounds of metaphysics, Vattimo joins Heidegger's ontological hermeneutics with Nietzsche's plan to think beyond nihilism and historicism together with his concept of eternal return. The result, says Vattimo, may be a certain distortion of Heidegger's reading of Nietzsche, allowing Heidegger and Nietzsche to be interpreted through each other (Vattimo 1988 [1985], 176). this is often a big point of difference between Vattimo and therefore the French postmodernists, who read Nietzsche against Heidegger, and like Nietzsche's textual strategies over Heidegger's pursuit of the meaning of being.

Postmodern Rhetoric and Aesthetics

Rhetoric and aesthetics pertain to the sharing of experience through activities of participation and imitation. within the postmodern sense, such activities involve sharing or participating in differences that have opened between the old and therefore the new, the natural and therefore the artificial, or maybe between life and death. The leading exponent of this line of postmodern thought is Mario Perniola.

Like Vattimo, Perniola insists that postmodern philosophy must not separate the legacies of modernity in science and politics. Postmodernism Political Theory, As he says in Enigmas, “the relationship between thought and reality that the Enlightenment, idealism, and Marxism have embodied must not be broken” (Perniola 1995, 43). However, he doesn't base this continuity upon an indoor essence, spirit, or meaning, but upon the continuing effects of modernity within the world.

One such effect, visible in art and within the relation between art and society, is that the collapse of the past and future into this , which he characterizes as “Egyptian” or “baroque” in nature.

Habermas's Critique

The most prominent and comprehensive critic of philosophical postmodernism is Jürgen Habermas. within the Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (Habermas 1987 [1985]), he confronts postmodernism at the extent of society and “communicative action.” He doesn't defend the concept of the topic , conceived as consciousness or an autonomous self, against postmodernists' attacks, but defends argumentative reason in inter-subjective communication against their experimental, avant-garde strategies.

Postmodernism Political Theory, for instance , he claims that Nietzsche, Heidegger, Derrida and Foucault commit a performative contradiction in their critiques of modernism by employing concepts and methods that only modern reason can provide.

He criticizes Nietzsche's Dionysianism as a compensatory gesture toward the loss of unity in Western culture that, in pre-modern times, was provided by religion. Nietzsche's sense of a replacement Dionysus in modern art, moreover, is predicated upon an aesthetic modernism during which art acquires its experimental power by separating itself from the values of science and morality, a separation accomplished by the fashionable Enlightenment, leading to the loss of organic unity Nietzsche seeks to revive via art itself (see Habermas 1987 [1985], 81-105).

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