Explaining Postmodernism by Stephen Hicks

Pashalis

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Anthony said:
Windmill knight said:
Yesterday as I was thinking about all this postmodernism thing I got an idea. It started with remembering what a lecturer from my university once said. He had been to some conference on the topic in France and while speaking with his French colleagues, he was told that English speakers miss a lot from Foucault and Derrida because they very often use humour and irony in their writings, and all that is then lost in translation and taken the wrong way.

So my idea was: What if these type of postmodernists viewed themselves as some sort of intellectual satirists, mocking traditional philosophy, science and rationality, and didn't even take all they said that seriously anyway? What if a lot of what they said they really didn't mean - not literally anyway - but was deliberate provocation? So you could have Foucault saying things like 'truth is constructed by power', more or less as a rhetorical exaggeration of the fact that quite often power makes use of language and presents it as 'truth' for its own agenda. Or Derrida saying 'all is language and text, and it's oppressive'. Later, maybe, these postmodern guys would see they had no option but to fully play the role they had set up for themselves, and would end up believing their own rhetoric. Of course, they liked being considered radical, as they wouldn't be half as famous if they had measured their claims with a healthy dose of rationality and clarity. That would also explain why they loved writing so obscurely - you can't let people see through the game! And notice how Jordan Peterson called Derrida "one of the major tricksters"; maybe he was more right than he knew.

The problem is that if they were being rhetorical or 'funny', it was completely lost in entire generations of students and academics, some of whom went ahead and produced new theories based on that, and that is partly the reason why we have this gender-bender mess and SJW's fighting for nonsensical causes, as well as other ills such as the prevalence of irrelevant materials produced in the fields of humanities. For example, in political science I've read entire books about current American foreign policy that go on and on about the American national mithology and don't ever once mention that foreign policy is predicated on lies. Because the truth doesn't matter; just the narrative.
I'm not sure and I've read some of Foucault and Derrida. It was years ago, but they never came across as attempting to be satirical, especially not Foucault.
Have you read it in french? As I understand it, if that possibility is there, it might be lost in the translations since the fine details of humor and sarcasm of a language are often hard to translate to another language (if that's the case there of course). The time those writings were made and the socioeconomic circumstances of the region might also play into the correct interpretation of those writings. I can't read french, so I really can't say one way or the other. In the end though, even if some it, or even all, was intended as a sarcastic criticism of the current philosophy, the end result is still that most of it has been taken at face value and implemented, as we see today.
 

Anthony

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Pashalis said:
Anthony said:
Windmill knight said:
Yesterday as I was thinking about all this postmodernism thing I got an idea. It started with remembering what a lecturer from my university once said. He had been to some conference on the topic in France and while speaking with his French colleagues, he was told that English speakers miss a lot from Foucault and Derrida because they very often use humour and irony in their writings, and all that is then lost in translation and taken the wrong way.

So my idea was: What if these type of postmodernists viewed themselves as some sort of intellectual satirists, mocking traditional philosophy, science and rationality, and didn't even take all they said that seriously anyway? What if a lot of what they said they really didn't mean - not literally anyway - but was deliberate provocation? So you could have Foucault saying things like 'truth is constructed by power', more or less as a rhetorical exaggeration of the fact that quite often power makes use of language and presents it as 'truth' for its own agenda. Or Derrida saying 'all is language and text, and it's oppressive'. Later, maybe, these postmodern guys would see they had no option but to fully play the role they had set up for themselves, and would end up believing their own rhetoric. Of course, they liked being considered radical, as they wouldn't be half as famous if they had measured their claims with a healthy dose of rationality and clarity. That would also explain why they loved writing so obscurely - you can't let people see through the game! And notice how Jordan Peterson called Derrida "one of the major tricksters"; maybe he was more right than he knew.

The problem is that if they were being rhetorical or 'funny', it was completely lost in entire generations of students and academics, some of whom went ahead and produced new theories based on that, and that is partly the reason why we have this gender-bender mess and SJW's fighting for nonsensical causes, as well as other ills such as the prevalence of irrelevant materials produced in the fields of humanities. For example, in political science I've read entire books about current American foreign policy that go on and on about the American national mithology and don't ever once mention that foreign policy is predicated on lies. Because the truth doesn't matter; just the narrative.
I'm not sure and I've read some of Foucault and Derrida. It was years ago, but they never came across as attempting to be satirical, especially not Foucault.
Have you read it in french? As I understand it, if that possibility is there, it might be lost in the translations since the fine details of humor and sarcasm of a language are often hard to translate to another language (if that's the case there of course). The time those writings were made and the socioeconomic circumstances of the region might also play into the correct interpretation of those writings. I can't read french, so I really can't say one way or the other. In the end though, even if some it, or even all, was intended as a sarcastic criticism of the current philosophy, the end result is still that most of it has been taken at face value and implemented, as we see today.
It was in English and Croatian.
 

luc

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Mr. Premise said:
mkrnhr said:
Thanks Menrva and Windmill knight. Basically the argument is weak and uses unnecessary word gymnastics to say nothing.
You should really watch the whole thing. His argument is not weak if you follow the whole thing.
I watched the whole thing and as Windmill Knight pointed out, most of it tries to 'rescue' Derrida and Foucault and tries to show that Peterson misrepresents them and is in fact a postmodern thinker himself.

I think the video is very interesting and worth watching, because he shines light on the history of postmodernism and the associated ideas from a different perspective - in fact, between his presentation and Peterson's presentation, the 'elephant in the room' becomes quite visible: ponerology and the process of ponerization that happens once pathological people are involved, i.e. the degradation of everything by twisting everything and strengthening the pathological elements.

That being said, I think Peterson's perspective and message is far more interesting and important right now than the presentation in the video. Peterson presents a 'line of force' that is present in what we might call postmodernism that is deeply pathological and dangerous, the results of which we can see today. But he doesn't leave it at that; he offers a spiritual perspective that is very nuanced and effective, and he brings together science and religion, which is so desperately needed right now.

It's important to point out as well that Peterson's thought is far more advanced IMO than the arguments in Hicks' book or your run-of-the-mill 'Enlightenment fan' or 'science preacher' or 'new atheist'. His thoughts about epistemology for example are fascinating and deep and often run counter the narrative Hicks presents.

Also, it seems to me that the author of the video presents the 'juice' of postmodernist thought, while ignoring the troubling aspects. He goes about it in an extremely intellectual manner and tries to detach postmodern thought from the various SJW movements and all the troubling consequences. I think that's a mistake - postmodern thought and these horrendous consequences are deeply related as far as I can see, and the fact that you can find things in Foucault's and Derrida's works that contradict the SJW ideology is not enough to dispute this link. We know how revolutions can 'eat their fathers' quickly, but they are still the fathers in many ways.

To put it in political terms: I think part of the explanation for the postmodern project, as the video also implies, lies in the Nazi experience, the atomic bomb, modern warfare and later vietnam, i.e. "if the Enlightenment and science and rationality brought us this, it can't be good and we need something different for this postmodern age". Kind of like "the Enlightenment killed religion because of the horrors it brought, now we need to kill the Enlightenment for the same reason". This is partly understandable, but the answers were wrong and got easily twisted by pathological influences.

Peterson's project strikes me as the right answer: we don't need to kill more things, instead, we need to resurrect our tradition - true science and true reason, including and perhaps most importantly: positive spiritual/religious ideas.

Playing word games and redefining postmodernism as something that is compatible with Peterson's ideas is interesting and shows valid thoughts by some of those associated with postmodernism, but ultimately doesn't really help in the current situation.

Just some current thoughts - need to think more about this.
 

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Mr. Premise said:
mkrnhr said:
Thanks Menrva and Windmill knight. Basically the argument is weak and uses unnecessary word gymnastics to say nothing.
You should really watch the whole thing. His argument is not weak if you follow the whole thing.
I think that mkrnhr was pointing out that reading the transcript without the emotional triggers that can come with an oral presentation, makes one better able to rationally assess the material. This is very often true and why I prefer to read and examine closely what is said rather than to watch/listen at the risk of being emotionally triggered or having something anchored in me by NLP or something like that - whether it is being done intentionally or not.
 

Approaching Infinity

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Something to keep in mind about philosophy and the way philosophers critique other philosophers: One of the defenses of postmodernism seems to be that the main authors didn't really say what the critics say they said. But that misses the point. To take an example from theology, when a theologian critiques another theologian's theology, they often highlight the assumptions and preconceived notions that go into the philosophy. The theologian on the receiving end of the criticism is often blind to the logical implications of those assumptions, and even the assumptions themselves. And often, those assumptions discredit the theology in question because they lead to logical contradictions.

So, a theologian may have a grand theory about God being good. But then a critic comes along and says, "But if you have this assumption, then that implies that by your own premises, God is actually evil." Nowhere does the original theologian actually state, or even believe, that God is evil, but that is the logical implication of his or her own "theologizing". This is what David Ray Griffin does, for example, by criticizing the vast majority of Christian theologies.

The same goes for philosophy of science. By their own premises, materialist scientists trap themselves in a dead end, because they cannot justify the existence of truth or rationality. Therefore they cannot logically defend their own claim to be speaking of "true" things and "facts". Sure, they think the are engaging in the pursuit of truth, but their own philosophical principles cannot justify their own actions.

The same goes for postmodernism. The key, often unstated or implied, premises lead to a self-contradictory philosophy mired in subjectivism and relativism. That is what Gellner is so good at pointing out. And even he admits that postmodern philosophers have some valid things to say, but those things get lost in the deliberate obscurity of their language, and it has gotten to the point where postmodernists write complete nonsense. Which just proves his point: that result is predictable based on a clear-headed analysis of postmodernism's implicit assumptions and basic principles.

Also, it's possible that there something to say about the "type" of people that come up with writings like those of the postmodernists. These people are obviously intelligent on some level, but is it possible there's a pathology that drives their verbosity, and their blindness to common-sense principles? I think that's very possible, even probable. And knowing what we know about schizoids, and how their philosophies develop and get even further pathologized, postmodernism seems to be a textbook example.
 

mkrnhr

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Laura said:
Mr. Premise said:
mkrnhr said:
Thanks Menrva and Windmill knight. Basically the argument is weak and uses unnecessary word gymnastics to say nothing.
You should really watch the whole thing. His argument is not weak if you follow the whole thing.
I think that mkrnhr was pointing out that reading the transcript without the emotional triggers that can come with an oral presentation, makes one better able to rationally assess the material. This is very often true and why I prefer to read and examine closely what is said rather than to watch/listen at the risk of being emotionally triggered or having something anchored in me by NLP or something like that - whether it is being done intentionally or not.
It is also important I think, to be able to reformulate an argument with one's own words, meaning that after listening/reading, one has gone through the process of digesting the information (absorbing/processing nutrients and rejecting the unnecessary) and thinking about it. Taking notes, mentally or otherwise, and reformulating the essence of has been proposed, make part of the process.
 

Mr. Premise

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Laura said:
Mr. Premise said:
mkrnhr said:
Thanks Menrva and Windmill knight. Basically the argument is weak and uses unnecessary word gymnastics to say nothing.
You should really watch the whole thing. His argument is not weak if you follow the whole thing.
I think that mkrnhr was pointing out that reading the transcript without the emotional triggers that can come with an oral presentation, makes one better able to rationally assess the material. This is very often true and why I prefer to read and examine closely what is said rather than to watch/listen at the risk of being emotionally triggered or having something anchored in me by NLP or something like that - whether it is being done intentionally or not.
Yeah, I tried to find the transcript but it doesn't seem to be available yet. I know it's hard to find the time to watch an hour long video.
 

mkrnhr

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Mr. Premise said:
Yeah, I tried to find the transcript but it doesn't seem to be available yet. I know it's hard to find the time to watch an hour long video.
The link to the transcipt is https://docs.google.com/document/d/1p_3o-bTAzNLFB9xQG7R1E1THI8CcdEdPvyMTSI8Lfsg/pub

I copied the text but some highlights do not appear in the .doc file:
 

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Laura

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Mr. Premise said:
Yeah, I tried to find the transcript but it doesn't seem to be available yet. I know it's hard to find the time to watch an hour long video.
Did you miss this post?

Menrva said:
A transcript was provided with the video, though.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1p_3o-bTAzNLFB9xQG7R1E1THI8CcdEdPvyMTSI8Lfsg/pub
That may be part of your problem in sussing this whole thing out: failure to read carefully.
 

Mr. Premise

The Living Force
Approaching Infinity said:
Something to keep in mind about philosophy and the way philosophers critique other philosophers: One of the defenses of postmodernism seems to be that the main authors didn't really say what the critics say they said. But that misses the point. To take an example from theology, when a theologian critiques another theologian's theology, they often highlight the assumptions and preconceived notions that go into the philosophy. The theologian on the receiving end of the criticism is often blind to the logical implications of those assumptions, and even the assumptions themselves. And often, those assumptions discredit the theology in question because they lead to logical contradictions.

So, a theologian may have a grand theory about God being good. But then a critic comes along and says, "But if you have this assumption, then that implies that by your own premises, God is actually evil." Nowhere does the original theologian actually state, or even believe, that God is evil, but that is the logical implication of his or her own "theologizing". This is what David Ray Griffin does, for example, by criticizing the vast majority of Christian theologies.

The same goes for philosophy of science. By their own premises, materialist scientists trap themselves in a dead end, because they cannot justify the existence of truth or rationality. Therefore they cannot logically defend their own claim to be speaking of "true" things and "facts". Sure, they think the are engaging in the pursuit of truth, but their own philosophical principles cannot justify their own actions.
Interesting you mention that, because it seems like what's being done there is classic deconstruction, which was developed by Derrida a father of "postmodernism." From Wikipedia:

Jacques Derrida's 1967 work Of Grammatology introduced the majority of ideas influential within deconstruction.[13] According to Derrida and taking inspiration from the work of Ferdinand de Saussure,[14] language as a system of signs and words only has meaning because of the contrast between these signs.[15][16][17] As Rorty contends, "words have meaning only because of contrast-effects with other words...no word can acquire meaning in the way in which philosophers from Aristotle to Bertrand Russell have hoped it might—by being the unmediated expression of something non-linguistic (e.g., an emotion, a sense-datum, a physical object, an idea, a Platonic Form)".[18] As a consequence meaning is never present, but rather is deferred to other signs. Derrida refers to the — in this view, mistaken — belief that there is a self-sufficient, non-deferred meaning as metaphysics of presence. A concept then must be understood in the context of its opposite, such as being/nothingness, normal/abnormal, speech/writing, etc.[19][20]

Further, Derrida contends that "in a classical philosophical opposition we are not dealing with the peaceful coexistence of a vis-a-vis, but rather with a violent hierarchy. One of the two terms governs the other (axiologically, logically, etc.), or has the upper hand": signified over signifier; intelligible over sensible; speech over writing; activity over passivity, etc. The first task of deconstruction would be to find and overturn these oppositions inside a text or a corpus of texts. But the final objective of deconstruction is not to surpass all oppositions, because it is assumed they are structurally necessary to produce sense. They simply cannot be suspended once and for all. The hierarchy of dual oppositions always reestablishes itself. Deconstruction only points to the necessity of an unending analysis that can make explicit the decisions and arbitrary violence intrinsic to all texts.[21]

Finally, Derrida argues that it is not enough to expose and deconstruct the way oppositions work and then stop there in a nihilistic or cynical position, "thereby preventing any means of intervening in the field effectively".[21] To be effective, deconstruction needs to create new terms, not to synthesize the concepts in opposition, but to mark their difference and eternal interplay. This explains why Derrida always proposes new terms in his deconstruction, not as a free play but as a pure necessity of analysis, to better mark the intervals. Derrida called undecidables, that is, unities of simulacrum, "false" verbal properties (nominal or semantic) that can no longer be included within philosophical (binary) opposition: but which, however, inhabit philosophical oppositions, resisting and organizing it, without ever constituting a third term, without ever leaving room for a solution in the form of Hegelian dialectics (e.g. différance, archi-writing, pharmakon, supplement, hymen, gram, spacing).[22]
The same goes for postmodernism. The key, often unstated or implied, premises lead to a self-contradictory philosophy mired in subjectivism and relativism. That is what Gellner is so good at pointing out. And even he admits that postmodern philosophers have some valid things to say, but those things get lost in the deliberate obscurity of their language, and it has gotten to the point where postmodernists write complete nonsense. Which just proves his point: that result is predictable based on a clear-headed analysis of postmodernism's implicit assumptions and basic principles.
Yes, but I think a true deconstructionist would be prepared to accept that their discourse would be subject to the same things.
Also, it's possible that there something to say about the "type" of people that come up with writings like those of the postmodernists. These people are obviously intelligent on some level, but is it possible there's a pathology that drives their verbosity, and their blindness to common-sense principles? I think that's very possible, even probable. And knowing what we know about schizoids, and how their philosophies develop and get even further pathologized, postmodernism seems to be a textbook example.
That's true, and I think something changed between the first and second generations, whether ponerization or the law of octaves or it's embeddedness in academic politics and overall politics in the culture wars. To be clear, I don't consider myself a postmodernist I just think there are some good tools to be found in Derrida for thinking with a hammer. I think overall the influence of Foucault has been greater and may have more potential for ponerization. From Wikipedia:

Foucault's theories primarily addressed the relationship between power and knowledge, and how they are used as a form of social control through societal institutions. Though often cited as a post-structuralist and postmodernist, Foucault rejected these labels, preferring to present his thought as a critical history of modernity. His thought has influenced academics, especially those working in sociology, cultural studies, literary theory and critical theory. Activist groups have also found his theories compelling.
...
Foucault's colleague Pierre Bourdieu summarised the philosopher's thought as "a long exploration of transgression, of going beyond social limits, always inseparably linked to knowledge and power."[164]

“ The theme that underlies all Foucault's work is the relationship between power and knowledge, and how the former is used to control and define the latter. What authorities claim as 'scientific knowledge' are really just means of social control. Foucault shows how, for instance, in the eighteenth century 'madness' was used to categorise and stigmatise not just the mentally ill but the poor, the sick, the homeless and, indeed, anyone whose expressions of individuality were unwelcome. ”
— Philip Stokes, Philosophy: 100 Essential Thinkers (2004)[165]

Philosopher Philip Stokes of the University of Reading noted that overall, Foucault's work was "dark and pessimistic", but that it did leave some room for optimism, in that it illustrates how the discipline of philosophy can be used to highlight areas of domination. In doing so, Stokes claimed, we are able to understand how we are being dominated and strive to build social structures that minimise this risk of domination.[165] In all of this development there had to be close attention to detail; it is the detail which eventually individualises people.[166]

Later in his life, Foucault explained that his work was less about analysing power as a phenomenon than about trying to characterise the different ways in which contemporary society has expressed the use of power to "objectivise subjects." These have taken three broad forms: one involving scientific authority to classify and 'order' knowledge about human populations. A second, and related form, has been to categorise and 'normalise' human subjects (by identifying madness, illness, physical features, and so on). The third relates to the manner in which the impulse to fashion sexual identities and train one's own body to engage in routines and practices ends up reproducing certain patterns within a given society.[167]
I think you can see the problem here with the valuation of "transgression."

So I don't think it's accurate to lump all of these people into a single group. Derrida was anything but "dark" and as that video said neither he nor Foucault were Marxists.
 

Approaching Infinity

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Mr. Premise said:
Interesting you mention that, because it seems like what's being done there is classic deconstruction, which was developed by Derrida a father of "postmodernism."
Hardly. And that description of deconstructionism just shows that it is gobbledygook. I think you're "critically correcting" here, essentially projecting something into the text that isn't there, because I see no real resemblance between "pointing out the logical errors of a line of thought" and the below description of deconstructionism:

From Wikipedia:

Jacques Derrida's 1967 work Of Grammatology introduced the majority of ideas influential within deconstruction.[13] According to Derrida and taking inspiration from the work of Ferdinand de Saussure,[14] language as a system of signs and words only has meaning because of the contrast between these signs.[15][16][17] As Rorty contends, "words have meaning only because of contrast-effects with other words...no word can acquire meaning in the way in which philosophers from Aristotle to Bertrand Russell have hoped it might—by being the unmediated expression of something non-linguistic (e.g., an emotion, a sense-datum, a physical object, an idea, a Platonic Form)".[18] As a consequence meaning is never present, but rather is deferred to other signs. Derrida refers to the — in this view, mistaken — belief that there is a self-sufficient, non-deferred meaning as metaphysics of presence. A concept then must be understood in the context of its opposite, such as being/nothingness, normal/abnormal, speech/writing, etc.[19][20]

Further, Derrida contends that "in a classical philosophical opposition we are not dealing with the peaceful coexistence of a vis-a-vis, but rather with a violent hierarchy. One of the two terms governs the other (axiologically, logically, etc.), or has the upper hand": signified over signifier; intelligible over sensible; speech over writing; activity over passivity, etc. The first task of deconstruction would be to find and overturn these oppositions inside a text or a corpus of texts. But the final objective of deconstruction is not to surpass all oppositions, because it is assumed they are structurally necessary to produce sense. They simply cannot be suspended once and for all. The hierarchy of dual oppositions always reestablishes itself. Deconstruction only points to the necessity of an unending analysis that can make explicit the decisions and arbitrary violence intrinsic to all texts.[21]

Finally, Derrida argues that it is not enough to expose and deconstruct the way oppositions work and then stop there in a nihilistic or cynical position, "thereby preventing any means of intervening in the field effectively".[21] To be effective, deconstruction needs to create new terms, not to synthesize the concepts in opposition, but to mark their difference and eternal interplay. This explains why Derrida always proposes new terms in his deconstruction, not as a free play but as a pure necessity of analysis, to better mark the intervals. Derrida called undecidables, that is, unities of simulacrum, "false" verbal properties (nominal or semantic) that can no longer be included within philosophical (binary) opposition: but which, however, inhabit philosophical oppositions, resisting and organizing it, without ever constituting a third term, without ever leaving room for a solution in the form of Hegelian dialectics (e.g. différance, archi-writing, pharmakon, supplement, hymen, gram, spacing).[22]
Derrida should win a prize for wiseacring, because this is pure mental masturbation. Unending analysis, after which nothing is clearer and we are no closer to the truth.

Since I mentioned Griffin, here's a quote from him on deconstructionism:

"[Deconstructionism, with reference to Wittgenstein, Heidegger and Derrida,] overcomes the modern worldview through an anti-worldview: it deconstructs or eliminates the ingredients necessary for a worldview, such as God, self, purpose, meaning, a real world, and truth as correspondence. While motivated in some cases by the ethical concern to forestall totalitarian systems, this type of postmodern thought issues in relativism, even nihilism. It could also be called ultramodernism, in that its eliminations result from carrying modern premises to their logical conclusions."

Yes, but I think a true deconstructionist would be prepared to accept that their discourse would be subject to the same things.
Ad infinitum. And with a bunch of nonsense words, to boot.
 

Mr. Premise

The Living Force
Laura said:
Mr. Premise said:
Yeah, I tried to find the transcript but it doesn't seem to be available yet. I know it's hard to find the time to watch an hour long video.
Did you miss this post?

Menrva said:
A transcript was provided with the video, though.
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1p_3o-bTAzNLFB9xQG7R1E1THI8CcdEdPvyMTSI8Lfsg/pub
That may be part of your problem in sussing this whole thing out: failure to read carefully.
Yeah, I missed it. Glad it's there. I was in a hurry, I've been tired from weeks of overwork and multitasking and I have to prep for a week long trip leaving 3:30 am Monday. And before leaving I have to castrate four piglets which isn't an easy job!
 

John G

The Living Force
Deconstruction is known to be anti-law of three aka it can look like a Hegelian dialectic with opposites but unlike the Hegelian dialectic it has no synthesis third option just a throw up your hands supposedly pragmatic acceptance which to me seems totally not pragmatic. The synthesis could be lots of strategic enclosure but that is still a synthesis, a very good one. Relativism is just another excuse for no synthesis; in fact it's even an excuse for not thinking about your opposites as even defining anything bad. Ark on his Polish blog nicely referenced Hegel's dialectic and Laura referenced a Paul researcher's use of Hegel's dialectic. A dialectic can look like deconstruction in the setup so I can see why the two things may look confusingly similar aka why Mr. Premise could see deconstruction in Approaching Infinity's setup. It's the third aspect, synthesis that is the huge difference.
 

luc

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Mr. Premise said:
Interesting you mention that, because it seems like what's being done there is classic deconstruction, which was developed by Derrida a father of "postmodernism." From Wikipedia:
Why do you need 'deconstructivism' and all the word salad just to point out logical flaws in a text? This is the very thing philosophers have been doing for millennia. What AI said.

Mr. Premise said:
That's true, and I think something changed between the first and second generations, whether ponerization or the law of octaves or it's embeddedness in academic politics and overall politics in the culture wars. To be clear, I don't consider myself a postmodernist I just think there are some good tools to be found in Derrida for thinking with a hammer. I think overall the influence of Foucault has been greater and may have more potential for ponerization.
Mr. Premise said:
So I don't think it's accurate to lump all of these people into a single group. Derrida was anything but "dark" and as that video said neither he nor Foucault were Marxists.
That's the same rhetoric people always use to defend their ideological heroes. "Marx was a true prophet, the later communists just distorted his genius views" / "Lenin was a true hero, Stalin only twisted his program" etc. No, these were pathological theories to boot and contained all the seeds (and more) that later led to bloodshed and mayhem. I think the same goes for postmodernism.

Mr. Premise said:
So I don't think it's accurate to lump all of these people into a single group. Derrida was anything but "dark" and as that video said neither he nor Foucault were Marxists.
These are merely word games - maybe Derrida didn't call himself a Marxist or denied that he is one, but he was heavily influenced by Marxism. He was still a leftist, no?

Mr. Premise, I have the impression you haven't really thought these things through and maybe are in some way triggered by this discussion? You started by voicing your annoyance with Peterson's "rants" (quite emotional language), then took every opportunity to save postmodernism as this discussion unfolded. Is there any reason why the left and its tradition is so important to you? What if the criticism of postmodernism and the associated movements coming from the right has been right all along, then and now?
 

Windmill knight

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Wikipedia said:
Jacques Derrida's 1967 work Of Grammatology introduced the majority of ideas influential within deconstruction.[13] According to Derrida and taking inspiration from the work of Ferdinand de Saussure,[14] language as a system of signs and words only has meaning because of the contrast between these signs.[15][16][17] As Rorty contends, "words have meaning only because of contrast-effects with other words...no word can acquire meaning in the way in which philosophers from Aristotle to Bertrand Russell have hoped it might—by being the unmediated expression of something non-linguistic (e.g., an emotion, a sense-datum, a physical object, an idea, a Platonic Form)".[18] As a consequence meaning is never present, but rather is deferred to other signs. Derrida refers to the — in this view, mistaken — belief that there is a self-sufficient, non-deferred meaning as metaphysics of presence. A concept then must be understood in the context of its opposite, such as being/nothingness, normal/abnormal, speech/writing, etc.[19][20]

Further, Derrida contends that "in a classical philosophical opposition we are not dealing with the peaceful coexistence of a vis-a-vis, but rather with a violent hierarchy. One of the two terms governs the other (axiologically, logically, etc.), or has the upper hand": signified over signifier; intelligible over sensible; speech over writing; activity over passivity, etc. The first task of deconstruction would be to find and overturn these oppositions inside a text or a corpus of texts. But the final objective of deconstruction is not to surpass all oppositions, because it is assumed they are structurally necessary to produce sense. They simply cannot be suspended once and for all. The hierarchy of dual oppositions always reestablishes itself. Deconstruction only points to the necessity of an unending analysis that can make explicit the decisions and arbitrary violence intrinsic to all texts.[21]

Finally, Derrida argues that it is not enough to expose and deconstruct the way oppositions work and then stop there in a nihilistic or cynical position, "thereby preventing any means of intervening in the field effectively".[21] To be effective, deconstruction needs to create new terms, not to synthesize the concepts in opposition, but to mark their difference and eternal interplay. This explains why Derrida always proposes new terms in his deconstruction, not as a free play but as a pure necessity of analysis, to better mark the intervals. Derrida called undecidables, that is, unities of simulacrum, "false" verbal properties (nominal or semantic) that can no longer be included within philosophical (binary) opposition: but which, however, inhabit philosophical oppositions, resisting and organizing it, without ever constituting a third term, without ever leaving room for a solution in the form of Hegelian dialectics (e.g. différance, archi-writing, pharmakon, supplement, hymen, gram, spacing).[22]
That just reminds me why I found Derrida so annoying, even more so than Foucault. At least Foucault made some sense when he stuck to history and left the abstract stuff aside. How is the above supposed to work in practical terms? What actual usefulness does it have? What does it even mean? Oh yeah, I can't ask that question, because language doesn't really have any 'meaning' appart from the opposition of terms within language itself!

Ok, so I just used the word 'annoying', and deconstruction tells me it does not really relate to my emotion but I only understand it because it contrasts with its opposite, 'pleasing' - which also does not relate to any emotion - and of these two, it is 'pleasing' which holds the higher rank in the violent hierarchy. So I recognize the opposition, but I'm not allowed to come to any sort of synthesis, nor am I allowed to leave it at that in a nihilistic position. Instead, I need to invent a new term that marks the difference. So I'll call it: the 'pleasing-annoying unsolvable hierarchy'. Then I proceed with all words in my text and I end up with a bunch of new useless terms. Done! :huh: :rolleyes:

I think Derrida was just making fun of people. And that's being kind to him, cause he could have also just found a clever way to make himself a name as a philosopher by duping people, i.e. he was a philosophical conman.
 
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