Re: Of Postmodernism, Spins, and What The Hell (fwd)

Robert Parks (
Wed, 29 May 1996 17:36:26 -0400

Gary writes

>I believe I observe that Modernists are people who are unconsciously
>positional...unwittingly prejudiced so in favor of their own point of
>view in a matter that they cannot, in good faith, or at all, even
>consider that an alternate point of view could be legitimate.
.. snip...

>Postmodernists, perhaps, are not necessarily better, smarter, or nicer
>people. But they do have less 'functional fixity' regarding the
>unilateral value and importance of their own views. They honestly can
>consider the possibility that they are full of shit in a given matter,
>however unlikely it may seem to them.

The intellectual history of the modernism-postmodernism contrast is rather
complex, and I don't feel competent to trace it in detail. But I would
profer the view that the name "modernism" is now applied to a project that
attempts to TRANSCEND the prejudices of positionality/localism/prejudice
etc by creating a universalistic epistemology... a theory that posits a
transcendent observer, capable of incorporating relevant evidence and
universal perspectives. The post-modernist project (like existentialism in
the 50's, but others have said Feierabend's philosophy of science or
Derrida marked watersheds) appears to arise as a critique of the
universalistic aspirations of modernism, giving VALUE to the positionality
(for example, multiculturalism) of groups, the localism required to see
problems from the bottom up. The claim appears to be made that the
universalistic aspirations of modernists masked a hidden agenda (for
example, patriarchical values imbedded in Freudian theory). It isn't clear
to me what postmodernists would substitute, except as Lois has hinted, a
revolution of permanent deconstruction.

Hope this helps, or at least doesn't cloud the issues that are important to
you Gary..