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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

I finally understand postmodernism

Shocking, yes, but true: I now have a grasp on postmodernism as a philosophy.

I already had a grasp on postmodernist art and literature as a sort of deconstruction of traditional forms (Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf is one of my favorite books) but the meaning behind postmodernism in philosophy always escaped me. 

I assumed it was a cruel joke by philosophers trying to confuse poor kiddos like me who just want to know how stuff works. My philosophy-minded friend and fellow blogger, T.X. Watson (link in the blogs I like section) has informed me that's kind of true. Postmodernism is often funny because there are variances in interpretation and oftentimes it seems like no one knows what the hell is going on.

Today I was given one key phrase that made the fog of philosophy clear a little bit.

Watson said, simply enough, that postmodernism is a rejection of meta-narrative. 

At first, this made no sense to me, because I only knew literary meta-narrative, and not philosophical meta-narrative (they use a lot of the same words with different uses and it pisses me off to no end because it infrequently bars my way to understanding things.)

Turns out the meta-narrative in philosophy is the idea that there is one underlying truth that remains constant throughout the progression of existence (give or take). French philosopher Jean-Fran├žois Lyotard coined the idea in 1984 that the post-modern condition was a mistrust of the meta-narrative.

Watson pointed out, "It's funny because one of the first obvious implications of postmodernism is that mutually incompatible definitions of postmodernism are all legitimate within their own context."

So yeah, that was easy, I just needed the right wording to understand it. 

As an atheist with a basic grasp of philosophy, I guess that makes me a postmodernist. 

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