Postmodernism – what is it? You may have heard the term before, but what exactly does it mean, and how can you use it to your advantage in activism work? This post will define this philosophical movement and then discuss its implications for activist work.
Postmodernism emerged as a critique of modernity.
It arose in reaction to the idea that history has an objective truth value. In other words, we cannot be sure whether our understanding of reality truly reflects what’s happening “out there.” One way postmodernists responded was by establishing their own conventions about meaning and truth. This meant presenting narratives or stories that were not considered true according to convention or authority but instead told from one person’s point of view.
Postmodernism is a broad term that means different things to different people. In the words of philosopher Jean-François Lyotard, “the postmodern condition is characterized by incredulity toward metanarratives.” This philosophy has been used in many ways over the years, and it can be difficult for us to agree on what exactly constitutes postmodernism. To put some context around this subject, we will explore what you need to know about Postmodern philosophy.
Postmodernism In Simple Terms
Postmodernism refers to the idea that objective facts may not exist. Postmodernism is a construct because all meaning and reality depend on who experiences them due to our different perspectives.
This philosophy observes that there is no truth. Each individual has their own reality and point of view. For instance, when I eat a dish, it tastes different depending on who prepared it or what ingredients were used. In the same way, if something happens in the future, each person will have their own opinion about how things should turn out.
History and Development of Postmodernism
When is the modern era? It started in the 18th century. The time period started because the major revolutions were happening: America’s Revolution and Great Britain’s Industrial Revolution. Famous postmodernists include Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes and Gilles Deleuze.
Postmodernism, aka the vehicle driving the “my truth” movement. We all know that there can be nothing wrong with any belief system, but when these truths become more important than reality, it becomes a problem. So let’s talk about why postmodernism is flawed.
Postmodernists value subjective findings, but sometimes their own truth can contradict itself. Their subjectivity must derive from its unprovability.
On Being a Winner or a Loser
The postmodern movement is a reaction to the modernist ideas and philosophies of the mid-twentieth century. Modernism was a time marked by self-reflection, experimentation, and innovation in literature, art, architecture, and philosophy. Postmodernism came about as a rejection of these ideals: it values pluralism over-unity, surface over depth, multiplicity over singularity.
Nobody gets a win automatically. That’s not how the world works. Though most people don’t rig the game, as long as they are practiced enough to take advantage of subtleties in a fix without being obvious about it, other players will never know what hit them.
I don’t care if postmodernists think we are all winners or nobody is a winner as long they have an incentive to play.
I say keep the trophy because postmodernism doesn’t let anyone win. Unless you become a sports mega-star. Postmodernists do allow mega-stars to win, but they don’t give other people the victory. So for whoever wins through someone else, it’s not really their own victory – it was won on behalf of another person by taking away their opportunity at winning and giving that chance instead to the mega-star whom all others must rely upon if anyone is to be crowned champion.
Do feelings Belong In Debate?
“Postmodernism” is a cultural and political movement that started in the 1940s, and its focus can be seen through postmodern art (e.g., performance art). Postmodernists tried to forget about traditional values because they felt reality was subjective. Truth doesn’t matter anymore — what matters is how something makes you feel; this idea is called “reverie.”
A postmodernist cannot approach anything as a zero-sum game. They must always leave room for objectivity and know their score is never negative.
This is what zero-sum games are. The only way the net result of a game is zero, with one side having negative points. Factor in that such an uneven advantage leaves open not just opportunities but dangers: discord, scapegoating, and demagoguery. Here are a couple of noteworthy books on the subject of postmodernism
- The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge by Jean-François Lyotard
- Beyond Historicism: Against Narrativity in the Human Sciences by José Casanova
- The Postmodern Turn (2011) by Patricia Clough
We all have truths, but we need to compromise for the greater good. We want more freedom and security in our lives. It’s better when you can see both sides of an argument so that you can judge objectively. People with less power should be chosen to lead public discussions because they make it easier for everyone to see what needs changing and understand how society members feel.
We need to be aware that we are not living through each other when postmodernism leads us into a feedback loop.