Firstly, i'm not an advocate of either one of the schools of thought in philosophy. However, I have a keen interest in it because of the changes that have occured to change the thinking of philosophers. Perhaps it is more accurately termed as the emergence of the types of thinking in philosophers rather than the change to a new thinking by the former philosophers. Thus, i have decided to do a review of the various schools of thought as a muse for further readings.
Postmodernism is a very recent school of thought in philosophy that emerged with the invent of computers and the digital age. Unlike modernism that has a very vague time of beginning, which is still in debate by scholars, postmodernism is seen to have started with the beginning of computers and how they reshape how the individual perceives reality and information.
However, if merely defining postmodernism as how an individual perceives reality, it would be equal to providing the definition of philosophy itself. Thus, perhaps the easiest and most understandable way to contemplate postmodernism is through examination of the differences of it and it's predominator, which is modernism.
An example of modernism put short would be defining it as a thinking of how to create order from chaos. According to Mary Klages (2003), Standford places text of modern philosophy starting from 1750. However, the starting point of modernism is still under debate. Initially, modernism was said to have risen from the era of the Enlightenment thought there is still much to be discovered from text before that era. In light of modernist thought, postmodernist would be placing more emphasis who is to create order and not the process itself. Although, this is not instigating that order should not be created or maintained, but merely that the importance is of the creator of order.
Yet another example of the turning tides in philosophical thought is the critique of structuralism (Lemke, 1994). Structuralism could be refered to as the last bastion of modernist thought. Postmodernism brought constructionism. Sturcturalism and constructionism are both attempts to define the human thought process and other related items, yet they are opponents in the same arena. An example of structuralism at work is Piaget's theory of cognitive development. Piaget proposed that cognitive development lead towards the same end results and also that exploration of the environment could be defined in a single pathway. The rigidity of the theory suggests the structuralist views of it. Rigidity in this sense would be in that the cognitive development of human beings go through the same discourse. In this manner, constructionism would still agree that cognitive development is a discourse, but it disagrees that everyone goes through the exact same process. Construtionism goes by the motto that people make their own reality. Reality is something very abstract and human perception is a very fluid concept. Combining those two elements together, would make the perfect example of the constructionist's formula towards it's views. Postmodernism in many ways is similar to constructionism. The difference between the two lies within the immensity of it. Constructionism would be seen as another emerging school of thought of the cultural phenomenon of postmodernism itself. Thus making constructionism a subset of postmodernism.
Another important aspect of postmodernism is reveal through the examination of "grand narratives" and "master narratives" (Klages, 2003). Philosophy is commanded or rather directed, in a large part, these ideologies within cultures. This is because one philosophy is a study of thought. Thus, it is not only philosophy commanding the thoughts of people but also the thoughts of people commanding philosophy. In modernism, the concept was that perception was commandeered by these narratives. This might seem a logical projection of trying to create order in the chaos. Narratives could be seen as social standards or in a way laws of order to follow. Thus any sense of disorder within society was to be purged. This way, society would be tending to create "disorder" to maintain a sense of order. This is because without a negative there is no positive. I looked upon through the an altruistic lense, modernism might be in a way a "disorder" itself. To maintain order, there must first be disorder. Therefore, modernism is in a very subtle way, a protaganist of disorder because it labels items as a disorder, and then destroys it to maintain order. The problem with this concept would be the concern whether it is actually creating disorder when there is none at all.
From this perspective, postmodernism's point of view is much more individualistic. (Author's note: this reminds me of a post i wrote some time ago...Click here) Postmodernism refutes the idea of grand narratives and promotes the idea of individual narratives. In other words, it means that narratives are actually there for a simplified and orderly explanation of reality, and that reality consists of the chaotic, ambivalent perceptions of human beings (who build their own reality) all added up into a jumble. Having heard of the Chaos Theory, I personally have an inkling of how postmodernist thought might be linked to it.
Klages, M. (2003, April). Postmodernism. Retrieved June 12, 2007, from the University Colorado Web site: http://www.colorado.edu/English/courses/ENGL2012Klages/pomo.html.
Lemke, J. L. (1994). Semiotics and the Deconstruction of Conceptual Learning: What is Postmodernism, and Why is it Saying all these Terrible things?. J. Soc. for Accelerative Learning and Teaching [Electronic Version]. Retrieved June 12, 2007, from the University Brooklyn Web site: http://academic.brooklyn.cuny.edu/education/jlemke/papers/jsalt.htm.
The author is writing a review of philosophy in as an unbiased fashion as possible. If there are any objections to this view, constructive comments are always welcome. If there are any inaccuracies found by readers in this post, please point it out and provide a correct explanation. The author concors with the fact that he/she is a mere human being and is viable to mistakes/inaccuracies/misinterpretations.
To be continued...
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