Does Stopping Postmodernism Take Us Where We Want to Go?
The urgency to stop Postmodernism is quite a widespread phenomena, as can be seen in hundreds if not thousands of online videos, books, etc. Jordan Peterson's Youtube video, Jorden Peterson We Need To Stop Postmodernism Now!, is an example of this.
Peterson begins this video by recommending Stephen Hicks' book "Explaining Postmodernism," which is described at offering information essential to Postmodernism. Peterson's exhortation is "its absolutely crucial to understand this," the ideas that make up Postmodernism, are a part of defeating Postmodernism. The claims is that Postmodernists "completely reject the structure of Western civilization." Postmodernists "don't believe in the individual." Don't "believe in logic."
Of course my reaction at this point may be oddly uncommon since I do not recognize or accept that the things that are being described as a sign of Postmodernists are inherent a part of Postmodernism. This is true even if the bulk of Postmodern acolytes are so inclined to believe in those things, such as a socialist form of social construction. It is important to note that while Postmodern ideas are made up, as Peterson says, from ideas from dead philosophers, the same is also true of all that had gone on before Postmodernism and even now the ideas that are adverse to Postmodernism. Modernism is filled with those philosophies too. The consequence of this recognition, if it is true (or even true in a limited sense), ought to open up into the realm of possibility that the same kind of critical analysis this is applied to Postmodernism can equally be applied to Modernism, also "medieval-ism," and "ancient-ism." It makes sense that if you find those ancient historical philosophies flawed, certainly even if it is only because we live in a world rich in access to cultures and ideas far outside the West, we can recognize that we might end up in a similar situation (though not identical) to what Postmodernists have said if we include information from the broadest resources that created its historical precursor, Modernism.
Postmodernism in its purest form represents what is wrong with Modernism. That means that as bad as Postmodernism is now, and no matter how it has evolved and been distorted over time, Postmodernism grew out of a real (and philosophically valid) legitimate concerns. The utter weakness of truth claims (how truth is known) even if the truth claims themselves prove to be correct and undeniable needs to be recognized in Modernism.. The problems of Postmodernism attempts to reveal might be valid, or exist within the possibility of validity, even if the social, political, and economic solutions that are asserted by later Postmodernist that are proven to be totally flawed, are all present in Modernism (and thus from the philosophical historical precursors).
Anyone who would criticize Postmodernism now (in today's philosophical market place) ought recognize there were individuals throughout the history of Western ideas who found those ideas problematic. An example is certainly during the Enlightenment when man in the Enlightenment thought the same ideas that become Postmodernism were flawed. We ought not forget that Marxism, for example, as a social conception began during Modernism and thus emerged at a time prior to Postmodernism. The pervasive Utopian ideology that has been manifested in modern communistic experiments derive from ideas far earlier than Postmodernism that exist within Postmodernism. Indeed, one might suggest that some kind of utopianism is a perennial weakness of many human beings.
The freedom of Democracy that we have now grew out of a long competition of ideas prior to and during the historical time period classified as Modernism. The concept of "reason" is a flaw in both Modernism and Postmodernism, because it begin much much earlier, makes the adversity between these ideas in many ways really false. They are both guilty of the same philosophical flaws and became committed to ideas that are in opposition to each other because of other reasons.
Now I fully accept there are many problems with the most common concept of Postmodernism, politically and morally. I accept that there are many beliefs that are pervasive among those who consider themselves proponents of Postmodernism. I have no intention to defend each and every idea that has been attached to Postmodernism, as if it itself was an ideology worthy of any struggle. But I challenge the parameters that generate this warning, philosophical, historical, cultural, and theological, since the history that created Postmodernism is really a goof if looked at that the ideas present in Modernism are the source of Postmodernism. Postmodernism in a sense has very limited reason for existing. That is, my challenge is not just about Postmodernism but about everything that came before. The same reasons that Postmodernism is weak are present in Modernism that came before it.
This is not a defense of the morally and intellectually barren form of Postmodernism that Jordan (and so many others) have criticized. It is not as if I do not understand the consequences of the form of Postmodernism that Jordan refers. I do. My assertion is that the philosophical problems that are in Postmodernism that are also present in Modernism. My point is that Modernism cannot legitimately epistemologically defend itself even if many Modernist position have proven themselves true on a common sense and utilitarian facts. Such as, certain form of government have proven to be better than other forms of government by sustainability and evidence of success for its members. That is, Modernism is not a philosophically valid solution to the flaws found in Postmodernism since Modernism in an accumulation from ideas medieval and ancient sources even if certain ideas can be established by other measures as 100% true.
Postmodernism has found the epistemological claims of Western history to be flawed (which is a correct assessment) but has failed to realize that this does not mean all epistemological claims of truth, objectivity, and reality are inherently flawed in and of themself. One of the major problems has to do with the concept of reason. What is most problematic is the idea that reason is a thing, a faculty that exist within human being and acts as a epistemological filter for the senses. The filter provides the objectivity beyond the necessary subjective performance of the individual human. The very existence of Postmodernism proves that wrong. One cannot validly convince someone that Postmodernism is wrong by weight of evidence since that presupposes that subjective choices are a matter of "believing" the right ideas. It is a mistake to conclude by Modernist can do that by correcting Postmodernism. The claim is self-refuting. The problem is that in such a concept there is no subjective participation since that would taint (as both Plato and Aristotle claimed) objective knowledge. The goal is to create and epistemology that whose knowledge of the objective world is not tainted by subjectivity. This is the position of Plato, with the ideal forms functioning ante rem (outside the thing) and Aristotle's connection between the subject and object functioning through the senses in rebus (inside the thing) the "thing" is the metaphysical property that provides the solution to the epistemological problem. This is the flaw used to described as reason as a thing.
By contrast to advance a theory of "reasoning," the education of which is set in motion when infants begin attempting to discover the world overcomes this problem. Philosophy claims for itself a knowledge that it cannot have. While the ability to discern between true and false, right and wrong, is necessary it is not a given but is acquired through the course of basic human life. Thinking, speaking, writing, reading, walking, running, dodging, yes or no (or maybe), as are the ability to make distinction between desirable action and undesirable actions, are all learned skills.
Therefore, when in the video included video that John Ankerberg says (at 4:54) that Postmodernism is like "all stop lights are green" is itself invalid. The problem facing this situation is that the capacity to function epistemologically (in terms of knowledge) is not inherent in human beings. All functional knowledge is an outgrowth of of basic learning while the infant is learning such things as how to walk. Language itself, the medium that Philosophy is used to communicate, is an acquired skilled. What precedes knowledge of read lights and green lights is a long process of learning the concept of what it means to fall or not fall, thus the ability to make any distinction, which eventually (and ideally) begins to further develop into the capacity to use basic logic. All this is acquired by taking part in the most mundane (but at the same time) most crucial tasks.
The ability to determine anything, including the colors and meaning of the lights, is something that is beyond what infant human beings can do. The infantile mind cannot even determine what a stop light is. The capacity to have the knowledge is require do anything is acquired through the basic human development process. Philosophy's weakness through its whole history back beyond Plato and Aristotle is that it functions after human beings exist as functional adult human beings. Therefore, while the ability to make distinctions between go or stop, red or green is necessary for basic functioning of life the proof of it is learned and set aside years before the adulthood where philosophy claims to function.
I suggest that we need to go on to something like Post-Postmodernism. It is that thing which will arise after the negativity that has become attached to Postmodernism is dissipated without returning to the epistemological beliefs inherent in Modernism. A certain kind of Postmodernism does need to be defeated. The insights given by Postmodernism need to be applied where they fit.
By the way I am a Postmodernist as I have described it.