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Postmodernism

• Given the correctness of Kant’s analysis of perception and the failure of his Transcendental Deduction, we must concede that the Protagorians could have been right all those thousands of years ago. It’s possible that each human being lives in his/her own world, a world of his/her own making.

Solomon. much less a guarantee. Nietzsche. that there is only one reality or one world. followed Kant replaced his notion of ‘constitution’ with the more exciting notion of ‘creation. building our worlds. . Introducing Philosophy. they announced. We are all artists. Notice the words ‘realities’ and ‘worlds.• “[T]he German Romantic Philosophers [Fichte.] who .’ We create our realities.” Robert C. p.’ there is no longer confidence. 218 . Goethe. . et al.

it does not take off until the last quarter of the Twentieth Century. although Post-Modernism has its roots in Nineteenth Century German Romanticism. rather than discover. reality is the key tenet of what has come to be called Post-Modernism. Grenz has pointed out that. .• The notion that humans create. • Stanley J.

potentially. . • Rather. • There is. an infinite set of “valid” interpretations of a text.– Deconstructionism: • Texts do not contain an inherent structure that is the same for all cultures and by which human experience is interpreted by all people. each reader of a text imputes his/her own meaning to it. • Alternatively. the meaning arises from the interaction between reader and text. therefore.

This means that there is no one meaning of the world. no transcendent center to reality as a whole.• Post-Modern philosophers apply the deconstructionist claims about texts to reality as a whole. so.” Stanley J. also. reality can be ‘read’ differently depending on the perspectives of the knowing selves that encounter it. – “Just as the meaning of a text depends upon the reader. Grenz. “Star Trek and the Next Generation” .

– The Post-Modernist view follows quite naturally when you accept Kant’s analysis of perception but reject his Transcendental Deduction. – If the world in itself (the noumenal world) is unknowable and individual human minds do not structure the world of perception (the phenomenal world) in the same way. then the Post-Modernists are right. .

Although this view is very much au courant and with-it. it has consequences that are peculiar. not to say preposterous. . For example. . in the contemporary intellectual world. most of us think that the Chinese authorities did something monstrous in murdering . .– Postmodernist Moral Relativism • “One widely popular version of relativism is [the postmodernist] notion that truth is what my peers will let me get away with saying .

this is an uncharitable misunderstanding. however. in denying that they had murdered those students. What the authorities were really doing. was something wholly praiseworthy: They were trying to bring it about that the alleged massacre never happened. . On [the postmodernist] view.• “those hundreds of young people in Tiananmen Square. and then compounded their wickedness by denying that they had done it.

they were trying to make it true that it never happened.• “For they were trying to see to it that their peers would let them get away with saying that the massacre never happened. . they are only trying to see to it that such a terrible thing never happened. and who can fault them for that? The same goes for those contemporary neoNazis who claim that there was no holocaust. and what could be more commendable than that . ? . . that is. from a [postmodernist] view.

thus bringing it about that your peers will let you get away with saying that you didn't do it.• “At a more personal level.” Alvin Plantinga. then it will be true both that you didn't do it. as an added bonus. “The Twin Pillars of Christian Scholarship” . if you have done something wrong. and. it is not too late: Lie about it. that you didn't even lie about it.

political oppression and lying are not usually liable to “keep the conversation going. objections to these practices. e. it might be best to tolerate these practices.” » Nevertheless.g. the most postmodernists can offer are pragmatic.» In fairness to postmodernists. maintaining world peace. » Under certain conditions. . not principled.

is a power grab. . does violence to the named.• The Radical Post-Modernism of Michel Foucault – All attempts to put forth an interpretation of reality. therefore. – All institutions do violence by attempting to impose their understandings on the flux of experience. – Merely naming something is an act of power and. by whatever means.

the United States imposes its view of reality on the world. . therefore. • By means of the global economy. • Terrorism against the United States is.– This sort of Foucaultian Post-Modernism is the basis for much of the radical intellectual left’s criticisms of the United States. “justified” because it’s merely the victims’ striking back.

e. the attacks on the Taliban and Iraq. • Most of those who opposed the war against Iraq and the USA’ continued presence there probably find the radical left’s criticism of the United States absurd.g. . • The only “legitimate” response is for the USA to admit its sins against the world and dismantle the global economy. the recent “anti-war” protests around the world.• Any response to terrorism by the United States. is merely another act of American tyranny over the rest of the world. though this is the view of the organizers of. but not necessarily of all the participants in.

• Final thoughts – If one accepts Kant’s view of perception. however unedifying it might be. some form of Post-Modernism. is unavoidable. but rejects his Transcendental Deduction. – But then. – The only way to avoid Post-Modernism is to reject Kant’s view of perception. how does one avoid what’s just as bad as Post-Modernism – Hume’s radical skepticism? .

Thomas Aquinas. John Locke.– To avoid both Hume’s radical skepticism and its Post-Modern alternative. . “common sense” understanding of human knowledge. one must go back to the very beginning of modern empiricism and the fundamental mistakes its founder. made. in the first part of his Summa Theologica (1265). anticipated the mistakes Locke would make and provided a better. St. – Over 400 years before Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding.