Saturday, February 27, 2010

A Note on Postmodernism

If all linguistic utterances are power plays, then that utterance itself is a power play and no more likely to be proper than any other. It prejudices all discourse. If all discourse is equally prejudiced, there is no reason to use one rather than another. If personal freedom to intensify pleasure is the primary value, this is falsified by the reduction of all values to power itself. If all discourse is a masked power play, then that statement itself is merely a masked power play. It denies in fact what it affirms in theory. If we are only products of blind forces of nature and society, then so is that view that we are merely the product of blind forces of nature and society.

The question, "Is postmodernism true?" raises criterial questions that postmodernism itself simply cannot handle without resorting to the same dismissiveness for which it has condemned modern philosophy.

Furthermore, the rejection of all metanarratives is itself a metanarrative. The idea that we have no access to reality---that there are no facts, no truths-of-the-matter---and that we can only tell stories about reality, cannot account for itself as an idea, because that idea itself tells us something that, by it's own account, we cannot know.

These are all statements that implicitly claim to be true, but that on their own accounts, cannot be true.

Deconstruction's view that language is indeterminate, that any text can be read in multiple ways including contradictory ways, raised the question of how the deconstructionist's own statements are to be understood. This is using language to claim that language cannot make unambiguous claims.

Postmodernists naively treat their own discourse as if it is outside the philosophical situation they are describing. In this way they avoid the question of whether one can accept their own account of intellectual activity and yet still continue to practice it.

Adapted from The Universe Next Door, by James Sire