Postmodern culture, he argued, was first theorized by neo-Marxists to refer to what they saw as a new phase of capitalism, characterized by heightened skepticism and a preoccupation with subjectivity. However, one need not adopt Marxist social theory in order to agree with the basic point that the social conditions which characterize twenty-first century liberal democracies make it difficult to take our beliefs for granted. The unprecedented degree of cultural and religious pluralism on offer in developed nations today undoubtedly has an impact on what we can take to be certain….
Charles Taylor in his masterpiece A Secular Age called this process “fragilization,” the basic idea of which is that it is more difficult to believe in something wholeheartedly when that belief is not shared by the people one is surrounded by (indeed, we might call this sociology of knowledge 101). So, there is a real sense in which we do in fact live in a post- (or what I would prefer to call “late”) modern culture, whereby our awareness of the existence of “other options”—made especially acute as a result of recent digital technologies—fragilizes our beliefs, leaving us without firm epistemic anchors….
This speaker applied a hermeneutics of suspicion with great skill to these discourses, identifying how they were not only socially constructed, but also how they served the nefarious ends of their various proponents. It was a well-argued paper that left me impressed but also puzzled. The speaker had deconstructed all of these accounts but supplied no alternative account. After the session ended I approached him to inquire about this. But he just stared at me blankly, as if I had just asked him how to tie my own shoelaces. This was not his job, he told me. He seemed to believe an alternative account to be unnecessary. I wanted to know what underlying values and beliefs were motivating his critique so I asked him to describe his worldview. He responded, “I have no worldview.”…
postmodernism is popular—especially among academics—not merely because of the social and cultural conditions of late modernity, but because it is immensely powerful as a tool or strategy of argument. For how can you possibly refute a person’s position when they deny even having one? In turn, arguing with someone who subscribes to postmodern thought is like fighting someone who has nothing to lose. There is no winning….
By feigning a position of critical neutrality, the postmodern critic can stand back and deconstruct everyone else’s discourses, as if they occupy an archimedean point….
the postmodern critic has entered into a Faustian bargain: they have traded in their humanity.”…
much of what we see being advanced under the banner of “postmodernism” is simply hypocrisy in disguise….