Mittwoch, Juli 04, 2007

Postmodernism, Dishonesty and Its Effects...

This is a very interesting article on the effects of postmodernism on history. The arguments therein are underscored by this commentary.

What really struck me is that postmodernism, which in this case clearly has become dishonest and unscholarly in its apparently deliberate misrepresentation of the past to fit its preconcieved notions of what must have happened, rather than what actually, empirically, happened, is the cause of much of the culture of deception that we see today (search on my blog for what I mean by that...).

You see, this is, for me, the telling quote:

I'll start with the postmodernist view of historical truth and quote one of its advocates, the Manning Clark Professor of History at the Australian National University, Anne Curthoys, who has written:

Many academics in the humanities and social sciences … now reject … the notion that one can objectively know the facts. The processes of knowing, and the production of an object that is known, are seen as intertwined. Many take this even further, and argue that knowledge is entirely an effect of power, that we can no longer have any concept of truth at all.

This is from the first link ut supra.

This boils post-modernism down to its fundamentals: that there is no longer any truth. I learned in my first semester of philosophy how fallacious this is, that the statement itself, if true, contradicts what it states, making it false. It is the result, at best, of wanting to avoid making students actually learn how to think, and, at worst (and it usually is at worst), it is a deliberate relativism out of intellectual dishonesty.

Now let's step away for a moment, and understand what at least one of the effects is. If we say, collectively as the West, that there are no truths, that everything is relative, then we are also saying that we have no beliefs, that our beliefs are not per se any better than any one else's. That is all very noble and high-minded, but it is also an intellectual attempt at dodging the bullet of doing the hard work and making judgements about others, be it societies, economic systems or belief structures. This is the sort of relativism, relativism perversely in the name of academic objectivity, that led during the cold war many to believe, truly believe, that the economic system of Communism was just as good as that of the West in meeting the needs of the population and that if it wasn't working, then it was because of external factors.

It is the same kind of thinking that sets the West up for being targeted by terrorists.

In one perverse sense, the West is responsible for the kind of terrorism that we have seen over the last years: we invite it, as it were, by failing to make it clear that we are not even capable of judging between right and wrong, and that if someone attacks us, it is because of something we did.

Which, when you place yourself, as Gedankenexperiment, in the mind of someone who fervently believes in what he or she does, then for someone to say that what they believe is no better or worse than what others believe is an invitation to force those to change their beliefs. After all, under the conditions of post-modernism, being a Muslim is no different, fundamentally, than being an Anglican or being a Catholic. Hence a radical Islamicist cannot be blamed for thinking that Europe, for instance, is a overly ripe fruit, there for the plucking, and that since the Europeans don't "believe" in anything, that they can damn well better become Muslims. All it should take is a little bit of violence, much like the tenet of Islam that if a wife becomes uppity, the husband is perfectly justified in slapping or beating her to bring her back to her place in society: I think that this is a decent metaphor for how the Islamicists view the West, as something that properly belongs to them, that shows no beliefs of its own, that should serve their interests and subjugate its own to those of the Islamicists.

Now do you see the absurdity of post-modernist thought, its fundamental dishonesty and its effects?

Post-modernist thought should be thoroughly debunked and disgraced. Post-modernist history, at least in Australia, has been shown to be fundamentally dishonest, falsifying the historical record or simply making it up. It can only be hoped that this can be changed and that the discipline can regain its objectivity, its historical accuracy.

Were that the effects could be so simply changed as well.


Anonym hat gesagt…

My German is pretty rusty, so I'll say this, auf English. (Saw your post over at DrSanity, btw, and thought I would check it out.)

Sie haben gesacht, "I learned in my first semester of philosophy how fallacious this is, that the statement itself, if true, contradicts what it states, making it false."

Now, meine Frage ist, did they teach you that, or did you learn it in spite of them? It's an important distinction, because if you learned if from them that means there are still honest Philosophy depts around. I didn't think that was likely since post-modernism is (I think) the dominent school of thought today?

Of course, if you learned it yourself, in spite of them, that speeks well for you. Well, either way it's to your credit, but it's just that it's a lot harder to buck the system than to go along with it.

And that first part raises another question in my mind, and that is, how on earth would a philosophy dept., teach one to determine truth and then justify ignoring it? I mean, one has to learn logic when studuing philosophy, no? And that would inevitably lead one to realize that post modernism is screwed up. So how do those who teach it get around that little problem?

Viele Dank!

John F. Opie hat gesagt…

Hi -

They actually taught me that: Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, a notorious hotbed of phenomenology back when I was there.

Phenomenology, especially hermeneutical phenomenology, is all about analyzing perception and forms the basis for a "new" science, one that is free of the positivist crisis that the world of modern science is still going through: how do we know that we really know something?

Unfortunately, the answer to that is, as usual, a life-long process.

Thanks for the comment!

kid mongo hat gesagt…

"This boils post-modernism down to its fundamentals: that there is no longer any truth. I learned in my first semester of philosophy how fallacious this is, that the statement itself, if true, contradicts what it states, making it false."

No, your understanding of the fundamentals of postmodernism misses one salient point. Perhaps Neitszche said it best: "There are no facts, only interpretations." And what has this world always been but an organism of competing interpretations? Is that perspective really "dishonest?" Really? For me, understanding that culture and language programs a being to exist within the parameters of that program is common sense, "not dishonesty."

John F. Opie hat gesagt…

Hi -

Kid Mongo, put simply: Nietzsche was wrong.

Analyze his statement and you can see the contradiction: he is trying to state as a fact that there are no facts. This itself is a fact, negating his statement.

There are facts out there: this is what we learn from Descartes and from the phenomenological epoche.