Postmodernism Is Stupid, But At The Same Time It's Not

As I've mentioned before in my articles, I have a profound interest in philosophy. Ever since my freshman year of college, I have immersed myself in existential, political, and scientific philosophy. It has been a blessing and a curse. I have been able to learn much more than I ever intended when I went to school, but I have also spent many hours lying awake trying to piece together the most profound mysteries of the universe and losing sleep doing so.

No other lens of philosophy has given me grief like that of postmodernism. First, a little background on the philosophy.

Postmodernism developed in the early 20th century from the minds of thinkers like Martin Heidegger and Edmund Husserl in the form of phenomenology: the study of subjective being and experience. This is the most milquetoast form of postmodernism that has, in and of itself, no fundamental conflict with modernist empiricism. However, thinkers like Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Michel Foucault developed much more radical forms of thought, leading to Absurdism, French Existentialism, and the power based studies of Foucault himself.

Don't get me wrong, though. These later thinkers have contributed valuable ideas to the field of philosophy and have given us pause to really consider our existence, our purpose, and our shortcomings. My problem with postmodernism is in the fringe areas of the philosophy.

I dabble a little bit in it and take a lot of inspiration from phenomenology and thinkers like Husserl and Heidegger, and I generally agree with the skepticism implicit within postmodernism, but that's as far as I go with the school. Skepticism in and of itself is also implicit within modernism, though, so attributing that generally to postmodernism is a mistake.

Foucault's skepticism towards those in power is valuable in small doses in that it helps us ask things like "Who is dispensing information? Are they trustworthy? Are they honest?" These are important questions in the pursuit of science and truth, but they can easily lead to a slippery slope of a postmodern soup of identity politics and sociological jargon.

Now I move towards the main point in this article: postmodernism, that which is dispensed by what you might call radical leftists in today's world, is a dangerous endeavor. Drawing attention to things like the race or gender or nationality of those giving us information is a mistaken practice, in my experience. Pointing things out like "These scientists are all white men! We need more diverse teams of scientists to get the most accurate picture of information!" These are the wrong propositions we are making.

We should instead be asking the questions above like "Are these people trustworthy? Are they honest?" No regard to race or any other superfluous factors should be given when we ask who is giving us information. This is the trap that radical leftists fall into.

They take postmodernism too far to ends that are quite absurd in their intention and ask questions and object to things that ultimately hold no water in them.

This is not to say that anything pointed out by people with this perspective is wrong, though. It is perfectly acceptable to examine the knowledge of those studying other people in the social sciences, for example. You would want someone well versed in the culture of Egypt to conduct a study in Egypt! However, anyone can be well versed in the culture of Egypt and conduct research in this way.

In addition, postmodernism can be taken to be skeptical of things in natural science. Although rare, there is a danger of being skeptical of things like gravity due to the positions of those who study physics. There are those who assert that our understanding of the universe is affected by our social experience.

This is true in the phenomenological sense, but in no way does it have any major impact that yields a false perception of nature or the studied object or subject.

It is quite dubious to inquire ethnic or religious or national factors of scientists and scholars in matters of natural science or in inappropriate places in the social sciences. Postmodernism is a nice tool to use to polish our theories and philosophy but taken too far and it can grind our theories and other tools to dust, eliminating their value and truth in favor of misguided ambition.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

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