Explaining Postmodernism by Stephen Hicks

Arwenn

The Living Force
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Joe said:
I watched this and the guy says pretty much nothing. It's like someone trying to nitpick someone else's argument that unicorns don't exist, while admitting that, "yeah, they don't exist, but ya know, the people you criticize for saying unicorns exist didn't actually say they exist, they just said that that if you deconstruct the word unicorn you realize that it can only exist in the context of an anti-unicorn."
I had the very same sentiments watching this guy go up against JBP. It just seemed like semantic nitpicking, there was really no weight to his argument at all. I am reading Hick's book at the moment and I am gob-smacked at what some of these so called philosophers were proposing- subjectivism, moral relativism, and a rejection of truth, logic, reason and dialogue. And you only have to read some of the so called 'peer reviewed' papers published by the humanities departments to know just truly how off the rails they are. Here is an article on one for example:

Liberal scholar creates new theory of quantum physics because Newton was too 'oppressive'

A progressive scholar has invented a new theory of quantum physics because the methods developed by Isaac Newton were just too “oppressive.” The new theory is being presented by Whitney Stark, a culture and gender studies researcher with ties to the University of Arizona’s Institute for LGBT Studies. She is also on staff at Utrecht University in the Netherlands as a researcher in culture and gender studies.

Stark argued in a paper for The Minnesota Review that “combining intersectionality and quantum physics” will help in understanding “marginalized people” and create “safer spaces” for them. Thus, she created “intersectional quantum physics.” Intersectionality explores the interconnectedness of categories like race, sex, class, and sexual orientation. Intersectional feminist theory is centered on understanding the various levels of discrimination women face in each of those categorizations.

Newton’s theory, Stark wrote, was oppressive because it “separated beings” based on their “binary and absolute differences,” which she described as both “hierarchical and exploitative.” Ultimately, the feminist scholar concluded that Newton’s theories are “part of the apparatus that enables oppression,” according to the National Review, because the 17th-century scientist’s laws of motion established scientific binaries and absolutes, reinforcing classifications like male and female and living and non-living.

Here’s how Stark explained it:
This structural thinking of individualized separatism with binary and absolute differences as the basis for how the universe works seeped into/poured over/ is embedded in many structures of classification, which understand similarity and difference in the world, imposed in many hierarchical and exploitative organizational structures, whether through gender, life/nonlife, national borders, and so on.
In order to overcome the oppression, Stark suggested combining intersectional feminist theory and quantum physics.

Later in the paper, Stark gave a real-life example of how absolutes and binaries, which were propped up by Newtonian theories, hurt minority groups. She wrote that the tendency within scientific study to classify people has hurt marginalized groups because dominant activist groups have “overshadowed” the work of minority groups.

“For instance,” she wrote, “in many ‘official’ feminist histories of the United States, black/African American women’s organizing and writing are completely unaccounted for before the 1973 creation of the middle-class, professional National Black Feminist Organization.” Stark argued that the struggles of black feminists were absorbed into the broader category of feminism, which, in her mind, denied legitimacy to them as a separate group because established binaries favor white women over minority women. It should be noted that Stark doesn’t appear to detail how exactly the actual study of physics might change as a result of her criticism.

In addition to her new “intersectional quantum physics,” Stark urged privileged people to “deprioritize” themselves in order to establish “safer spaces” for minority people. “For instance, I, being white, should not be in all spaces, positions of authority, or meetings,” she wrote, according to Heat Street. She said her presence could “stall” the forward movement of feminist causes. In the end, Stark wrote that she hopes the marriage between scientific theory and intersectionality can “enact ways of valuing [people] differently.”
_https://aroadtoindividuation.wordpress.com/2017/06/11/explaining-postmodernism-by-stephen-hicks-summary/

As I read somewhere in response to this paper and quantum intersectional feminists- we have discovered Schrodinger's feminist- both alive and brain dead at the same time! :P
 

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Shijing said:
I just ran across this interview with Stephen Hicks -- I'm a bit more than half way through it, and it's been interesting so far:

[...]
I listened to the video and some more, before I found Explaining Postermodernism as an audiobook on Youtube, read by the author:

https://youtu.be/qQcNjHNXnEE
 

Hello H2O

Jedi Council Member
FOTCM Member
Shijing said:
I just ran across this interview with Stephen Hicks -- I'm a bit more than half way through it, and it's been interesting so far:


https://youtu.be/sTKE00OQTpE
Interesting interview with Hicks.

He said something in the interview that I found to be true. He said that when you study the different disciplines of philosophy, you of course have to immerse yourself in it, and it can be difficult getting back to reality afterward. It is one thing to read about it and study it, it is another thing to remain grounded in the process, so that you aren't taken away or led away by it.

I think it is very easy for those not grounded in reality to be swept up in it. Follow the pied piper, as it were.
 

thorbiorn

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Having listened to the audio version of Explaining Postmodernism, read by himself. I appreciate the amount of quotes from thinkers of the past that the author has in his book. Many of the philosophers are also analyzed in the book by Collingwoods, although for different reasons, but they are commented on rather than quoted, which is understandable as the book of Collingwood would otherwise have become more extensive than any publisher would agree to.

The objection I have to the book is that some of the analysis of society done by some of the philosophers, whose thought helped to give rise to postmodernism, do not seem to me to be objectively wrong. If Lenin said that the revolution did not occur in the West because the workers were too well off and that the exploitation moved elsewhere to poorer countries, implying a pyramid scheme, then my impression is the whole statement gets washed out by Stephen Hicks without taking into consideration how the US and its military and intelligence services went about creating this situation, nor for instance the complicity of Western forces in bringing about the kind of communism that ruled the Soviet Union, where he places all the blame on communists and Russia, or the way the US middle class has developed in recent years, or the controls that have been put in place or thes illegal wars etc.

Therefore, it is great he has done this very revealing analysis of the roots of post modernism, but if I take the intonation of his reading and some of his hasty conclusions, based on overlooking important aspects of modern history, into consideration, then I'm left wondering if his arguments could not in places have been presented with more nuances rather than resembling a manifesto.
 

Laura

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thorbiorn said:
Having listened to the audio version of Explaining Postmodernism, read by himself. I appreciate the amount of quotes from thinkers of the past that the author has in his book. Many of the philosophers are also analyzed in the book by Collingwoods, although for different reasons, but they are commented on rather than quoted, which is understandable as the book of Collingwood would otherwise have become more extensive than any publisher would agree to.

The objection I have to the book is that some of the analysis of society done by some of the philosophers, whose thought helped to give rise to postmodernism, do not seem to me to be objectively wrong. If Lenin said that the revolution did not occur in the West because the workers were too well off and that the exploitation moved elsewhere to poorer countries, implying a pyramid scheme, then my impression is the whole statement gets washed out by Stephen Hicks without taking into consideration how the US and its military and intelligence services went about creating this situation, nor for instance the complicity of Western forces in bringing about the kind of communism that ruled the Soviet Union, where he places all the blame on communists and Russia, or the way the US middle class has developed in recent years, or the controls that have been put in place or thes illegal wars etc.

Therefore, it is great he has done this very revealing analysis of the roots of post modernism, but if I take the intonation of his reading and some of his hasty conclusions, based on overlooking important aspects of modern history, into consideration, then I'm left wondering if his arguments could not in places have been presented with more nuances rather than resembling a manifesto.
Yes, that's a problem I find over and over again with historians: they don't take the conspiracies of history into account. They are also hampered by lack of knowledge of psychopathy and REALLY made helpless up by a failure to factor in cosmic stuff. I get so tired of reading endless theories about the collapse of the Bronze Age or the fall of Rome that do not take cometary bombardment, earthquakes, etc into account. Amos Nur wrote a very good book about the role of earthquakes in the destruction of ancient cities but archaeologists and historians do not want to go there.

So, the same types of restrictions operate on the more human aspects of history: failure to take into account psychopathology and the effects of the environment on social processes.

So, just do what I do: correct in your head to how you think they would have written it if they had not be brainwashed!!!
 

luc

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thorbiorn said:
Therefore, it is great he has done this very revealing analysis of the roots of post modernism, but if I take the intonation of his reading and some of his hasty conclusions, based on overlooking important aspects of modern history, into consideration, then I'm left wondering if his arguments could not in places have been presented with more nuances rather than resembling a manifesto.
In addition to what Laura said, I think you can still salvage many insightful and important things from the book regarding communism, the development of the left etc., because most of these "players" were and are ignorant of the larger conspiracies involved. In fact, I think it's good training to read a book like this and trying not to get triggered by certain conclusions such as the bad picture Hicks paints of communism and the related ideologies. Because these are a mess, and one important to understand! The fact that Western powers had their hand in many of these things (psychos in power) and that they themselves are worse than most communist regimes doesn't take away the dangerous insanity that is communist utopia and how it messes with peoples' minds.

I think Laura's suggestion is actually great to ask questions like "what exactly would the author change if he knew this or that? What would still hold true? Where does the knowledge he doesn't have really matter and where not? Quite a difficult exercise!
 

whitecoast

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I think it's not an unreasonable argument, because indeed such Kantian skepticism can be abused to justify nihilism and relativism. But Hicks makes it sound as if on the one corner, you have the noble, rational Enlightenment philosophers (like Locke and Mill) and on the other corner you have the religious, anti-rational fanatics (aka Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger and all the other Germans) who paved the way for postmodernism. I think this is way too simplistic. Many of those German philosophers had very interesting things to say and their skepticism of 'pure reason' was quite on point, given what we now know about psychology, self-deception, how evolution shaped our perception etc. Also, the religious/theological component can't just be dismissed so easily; ironically, this is another reason why postmodernism is so ugly and destructive - its total rejection of any theological truth. Here, the author apparently falls into the trap that many of those worshiping the Enlightenment today fall: the emphasis on the individual absolutely needs to go hand in hand with the divine and the potential of the individual to act according to its own 'divine spark' so to speak. Otherwise, you end up with individualistic nihilism where your 'will' aka. whims reign supreme - exactly what we're seeing in the West today.
I'm just getting through the section on 17th and 19th century philosophy and I have to agree with you. It sounds very much like the Cliff Notes version of western philosophy, written by Ayn Rand. His understanding of Kant, Hegel, Kierkegaard, and Nietzsche are just so, so poor that it's really killing my expectations for the 20th century philosophers, which is the core of what the book is supposed to be about. The fact is, these philosophers he denigrates are much more sophisticated thinkers than he (and Rand) are. He worships the Scientific viewpoint judging by his love of the enlightenment period but sees all thought following it as regression, rather than as a maturation towards the Historical viewpoint. Kant very much is viewed as an enlightenment figure, and even wrote a large essay tackling the question of What is Enlightenment? Hicks could benefit tremendously by reading The Idea of History and Speculum Mentis by Collingwood.

Thing is, I don't know enough about the ideas of those 20th century postmodern thinkers (except Foucault) to really feel I'll be able to triangulate reality from Hick's 2-dimensional views by using my own understanding the way I can with someone like Kant or Nietzsche. I'm going to do more reading elsewhere before I come back to this I think.
 

SlipNet

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I've just found this interview with Stephen Hicks by Stefan Molyneux. I'm just catching up with this thread and will offer some questions when I'm done, because there's sure to be things I don't understand.:-/

 

Laura

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Thing is, I don't know enough about the ideas of those 20th century postmodern thinkers (except Foucault) to really feel I'll be able to triangulate reality from Hick's 2-dimensional views by using my own understanding the way I can with someone like Kant or Nietzsche. I'm going to do more reading elsewhere before I come back to this I think.
Read "Challenging Postmodernism" by David Detmer. He's got enough direct quotes from the main "thinkers" (seem to be schizoid, all of them) to give you a very good background.
 

whitecoast

The Living Force
FOTCM Member
Read "Challenging Postmodernism" by David Detmer.
Yes I already have, and I quite enjoyed it. ;-) Detmer refutes the main points of "PoMo" quite soundly, so I'm not sure it would be worth spending time on "Explaining Postmodernism" in light of other recommended reading that seems more pressing (Dopaminergic Mind, Strange Order of Things, etc).
 

Laura

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Yes I already have, and I quite enjoyed it. ;-) Detmer refutes the main points of "PoMo" quite soundly, so I'm not sure it would be worth spending time on "Explaining Postmodernism" in light of other recommended reading that seems more pressing (Dopaminergic Mind, Strange Order of Things, etc).
Well, you might skim through it to see if there is anything that Detmer didn't cover.
 

anothermagyar

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FOTCM Member
I was looking through the information about post-modernist philosophy and thank you all to provide that!
I just reading through the wikipedia briefly about Derrida and Foucault, find an interesting fact that both Derrida and Foucault signed a petition to change the age of consent:
In 1977, he was among the intellectuals, with Foucault and Althusser, who signed the petition against age of consent laws.
I think they were not only con artist, but a bunch of pedos too.
Jacques Derrida - WikipediaJacques Derrida - Wikipedia
 
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