Postmodernism

Postmodernism

Overview
Postmodernism is a philosophical movement evolved in reaction to modernism
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

, the tendency in contemporary culture to accept only objective truth and to be inherently suspicious towards a global cultural narrative or meta-narrative
Metanarrative
A metanarrative , in critical theory and particularly postmodernism, is an abstract idea that is thought to be a comprehensive explanation of historical experience or knowledge. According to John Stephens, it "is a global or totalizing cultural narrative schema which orders and explains knowledge...

. Postmodernist thought is an intentional departure from the previously dominant modernist approaches. The term "postmodernism" comes from its critique of the "modernist" scientific mentality of objectivity
Objectivity (science)
Objectivity in science is a value that informs how science is practiced and how scientific truths are created. It is the idea that scientists, in attempting to uncover truths about the natural world, must aspire to eliminate personal biases, a priori commitments, emotional involvement, etc...

 and the progress associated with the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

.

Postmodernism postulates that many, if not all, apparent realities are only social constructs and are therefore subject to change.
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Quotations

Simplifying a great deal, one could argue that postmodernist discourses appeal primarily to the winners in the processes of globalization and fundamentalist discourses to the losers.

Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri, Empire (2000), p. 150
Encyclopedia
Postmodernism is a philosophical movement evolved in reaction to modernism
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

, the tendency in contemporary culture to accept only objective truth and to be inherently suspicious towards a global cultural narrative or meta-narrative
Metanarrative
A metanarrative , in critical theory and particularly postmodernism, is an abstract idea that is thought to be a comprehensive explanation of historical experience or knowledge. According to John Stephens, it "is a global or totalizing cultural narrative schema which orders and explains knowledge...

. Postmodernist thought is an intentional departure from the previously dominant modernist approaches. The term "postmodernism" comes from its critique of the "modernist" scientific mentality of objectivity
Objectivity (science)
Objectivity in science is a value that informs how science is practiced and how scientific truths are created. It is the idea that scientists, in attempting to uncover truths about the natural world, must aspire to eliminate personal biases, a priori commitments, emotional involvement, etc...

 and the progress associated with the Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

.

Postmodernism postulates that many, if not all, apparent realities are only social constructs and are therefore subject to change. It emphasises the role of language, power relations, and motivations in the formation of ideas and beliefs. In particular it attacks the use of sharp classifications such as male versus female, straight versus gay, white versus black, and imperial versus colonial; it holds realities to be plural and relative, and to be dependent on whom the interested parties are and of what their interests consist. It supports the belief that there is no absolute truth and that the way in which different people perceive the world is subjective. Postmodernism has influenced many cultural fields, including religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

, literary criticism
Literary criticism
Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and goals...

, sociology
Sociology
Sociology is the study of society. It is a social science—a term with which it is sometimes synonymous—which uses various methods of empirical investigation and critical analysis to develop a body of knowledge about human social activity...

, linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

, anthropology
Anthropology
Anthropology is the study of humanity. It has origins in the humanities, the natural sciences, and the social sciences. The term "anthropology" is from the Greek anthrōpos , "man", understood to mean mankind or humanity, and -logia , "discourse" or "study", and was first used in 1501 by German...

, visual arts
Visual arts
The visual arts are art forms that create works which are primarily visual in nature, such as ceramics, drawing, painting, sculpture, printmaking, design, crafts, and often modern visual arts and architecture...

, and music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

.

Modernism
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 and postmodernism are understood as a cultural stance or set of perspectives. "Postmodernism" is used in critical theory
Critical theory
Critical theory is an examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism...

 to refer to a point of departure for works of literature, drama, architecture, cinema, journalism, and design. It has also influenced marketing, business and the interpretation of law, culture, and religion in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Postmodernism, particularly as an academic movement, can be understood as a reaction to modernism
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 in the Humanities
Humanities
The humanities are academic disciplines that study the human condition, using methods that are primarily analytical, critical, or speculative, as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences....

. Whereas modernism was primarily concerned with principles such as identity, unity, authority, and certainty, postmodernism is often associated with difference, plurality, textuality, and skepticism.

Literary critic Fredric Jameson
Fredric Jameson
Fredric Jameson is an American literary critic and Marxist political theorist. He is best known for his analysis of contemporary cultural trends—he once described postmodernism as the spatialization of culture under the pressure of organized capitalism...

 describes postmodernism as the "dominant cultural logic of late capitalism." "Late capitalism
Late capitalism
"Late capitalism" is a term used by neo-Marxists to refer to capitalism from about 1945 onwards, with the implication that it is a historically limited stage rather than an eternal feature of all future human society. Postwar German sociologists needed a term to describe contemporary society...

" refers to the phase of capitalism after World War II, as described by the Marxist theorist Ernest Mandel
Ernest Mandel
Ernest Ezra Mandel, also known by various pseudonyms such as Ernest Germain, Pierre Gousset, Henri Vallin, Walter , was a revolutionary Marxist theorist.-Life:...

. The term refers to the same period described by "globalization
Globalization
Globalization refers to the increasingly global relationships of culture, people and economic activity. Most often, it refers to economics: the global distribution of the production of goods and services, through reduction of barriers to international trade such as tariffs, export fees, and import...

", "multinational capitalism", or "consumer capitalism".

History and emergence


The term "Postmodern" was first used around the 1870s. John Watkins Chapman suggested "a Postmodern style of painting" as a way to move beyond French Impressionism
Impressionism
Impressionism was a 19th-century art movement that originated with a group of Paris-based artists whose independent exhibitions brought them to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s...

. J. M. Thompson, in his 1914 article in The Hibbert Journal
The Hibbert Journal
The Hibbert Journal was a large, quarterly magazine in sorftback book format, issued since 1902 by the Hibbert Trust, best described by its subtitle; "A Quarterly Review of Religion, Theology and Philosophy"....

(a quarterly philosophical review), used it to describe changes in attitudes and beliefs in the critique of religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

: "The raison d'etre of Post-Modernism is to escape from the double-mindedness of Modernism
Modernism (Roman Catholicism)
Modernism refers to theological opinions expressed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but with influence reaching into the 21st century, which are characterized by a break with the past. Catholic modernists form an amorphous group. The term "modernist" appears in Pope Pius X's 1907...

 by being thorough in its criticism by extending it to religion as well as theology
Theology
Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary.-Definition:Augustine of Hippo...

, to Catholic feeling as well as to Catholic tradition."

In 1917, Rudolf Pannwitz
Rudolf Pannwitz
Rudolf Pannwitz was a German writer and philosopher.-Works:* 1909 - Die Erziehung* 1912 - Formenkunde der Kirche* 1919 - Die deutsche Lehre...

 used the term to describe a philosophically-oriented culture. His idea of post-modernism drew from Friedrich Nietzsche's
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

 analysis of modernity
Modernity
Modernity typically refers to a post-traditional, post-medieval historical period, one marked by the move from feudalism toward capitalism, industrialization, secularization, rationalization, the nation-state and its constituent institutions and forms of surveillance...

 and its end results of decadence
Decadence
Decadence can refer to a personal trait, or to the state of a society . Used to describe a person's lifestyle. Concise Oxford Dictionary: "a luxurious self-indulgence"...

 and nihilism
Nihilism
Nihilism is the philosophical doctrine suggesting the negation of one or more putatively meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value...

. Pannwitz's post-human would be able to overcome the predicaments of the modern human. Contrary to Nietzsche, Pannwitz also included nationalist and mythical elements in his use of the term.

In 1921 and 1925, Postmodernism had been used to describe new forms of art
Art
Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect....

 and music
Music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

. In 1942 H. R. Hays described it as a new literary form. However, as a general theory for a historical movement it was first used in 1939 by Arnold J. Toynbee
Arnold J. Toynbee
Arnold Joseph Toynbee CH was a British historian whose twelve-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations, A Study of History, 1934–1961, was a synthesis of world history, a metahistory based on universal rhythms of rise, flowering and decline, which examined history from a global...

: "Our own Post-Modern Age has been inaugurated by the general war of 1914-1918."

In 1949 the term was used to describe a dissatisfaction with modern architecture
Modern architecture
Modern architecture is generally characterized by simplification of form and creation of ornament from the structure and theme of the building. It is a term applied to an overarching movement, with its exact definition and scope varying widely...

, and led to the postmodern architecture
Postmodern architecture
Postmodern architecture began as an international style the first examples of which are generally cited as being from the 1950s, but did not become a movement until the late 1970s and continues to influence present-day architecture...

 movement, perhaps also a response to the modernist architectural movement known as the International Style
International style (architecture)
The International style is a major architectural style that emerged in the 1920s and 1930s, the formative decades of Modern architecture. The term originated from the name of a book by Henry-Russell Hitchcock and Philip Johnson, The International Style...

. Postmodernism in architecture is marked by the re-emergence of surface ornament, reference to surrounding buildings in urban architecture, historical reference in decorative forms, and non-orthogonal angles.

After that, Postmodernism was applied to a whole host of movements, many in art, music, and literature, that reacted against tendencies in the imperialist phase of capitalism called "modernism," and are typically marked by revival of historical elements and techniques. Walter Truett Anderson
Walter Truett Anderson
Walter Truett Anderson is a political scientist, social psychologist, and author of numerous nonfiction books and articles in newspapers and magazines....

 identifies Postmodernism as one of four typological world views. These four world views are the Postmodern-ironist, which sees truth as socially constructed; the scientific-rational, in which truth is found through methodical, disciplined inquiry; the social-traditional, in which truth is found in the heritage of American and Western civilization; and the neo-romantic, in which truth is found through attaining harmony with nature and/or spiritual exploration of the inner self.

Postmodernist ideas in philosophy
Philosophy
Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Philosophy is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational...

 and the analysis of culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 and society
Society
A society, or a human society, is a group of people related to each other through persistent relations, or a large social grouping sharing the same geographical or virtual territory, subject to the same political authority and dominant cultural expectations...

 expanded the importance of critical theory
Critical theory
Critical theory is an examination and critique of society and culture, drawing from knowledge across the social sciences and humanities. The term has two different meanings with different origins and histories: one originating in sociology and the other in literary criticism...

 and has been the point of departure for works of literature
Literature
Literature is the art of written works, and is not bound to published sources...

, architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, and design
Design
Design as a noun informally refers to a plan or convention for the construction of an object or a system while “to design” refers to making this plan...

, as well as being visible in marketing/business and the interpretation of history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

, law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

 and culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

, starting in the late 20th century. These developments—re-evaluation of the entire Western value system (love
Love
Love is an emotion of strong affection and personal attachment. In philosophical context, love is a virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection. Love is central to many religions, as in the Christian phrase, "God is love" or Agape in the Canonical gospels...

, marriage
Marriage
Marriage is a social union or legal contract between people that creates kinship. It is an institution in which interpersonal relationships, usually intimate and sexual, are acknowledged in a variety of ways, depending on the culture or subculture in which it is found...

, popular culture
Popular culture
Popular culture is the totality of ideas, perspectives, attitudes, memes, images and other phenomena that are deemed preferred per an informal consensus within the mainstream of a given culture, especially Western culture of the early to mid 20th century and the emerging global mainstream of the...

, shift from industrial
Industrial society
In sociology, industrial society refers to a society driven by the use of technology to enable mass production, supporting a large population with a high capacity for division of labour. Such a structure developed in the west in the period of time following the Industrial Revolution, and replaced...

 to service economy
Service economy
Service economy can refer to one or both of two recent economic developments. One is the increased importance of the service sector in industrialized economies. Services account for a higher percentage of US GDP than 20 years ago...

) that took place since the 1950s and 1960s, with a peak in the Social Revolution of 1968—are described with the term Postmodernity
Postmodernity
Postmodernity is generally used to describe the economic or cultural state or condition of society which is said to exist after modernity...

, as opposed to Postmodernism, a term referring to an opinion or movement. "Postmodernist" describes part of a movement; "Postmodern" places it in the period of time since the 1950s, making it a part of contemporary history
Contemporary history
Contemporary history describes the period timeframe that is without any intervening time closely connected to the present and is a certain perspective of modern history. The term "contemporary history" has been in use at least by the early 19th century. In the widest context of this use,...

.

Overview of ideas (see also Postmodern philosophy
Postmodern philosophy
Postmodern philosophy is a philosophical direction which is critical of the foundational assumptions and structures of philosophy. Beginning as a critique of Continental philosophy, it was heavily influenced by phenomenology, structuralism and existentialism, including writings of Georg Wilhelm...

)


Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher known for his existential and phenomenological explorations of the "question of Being."...

 
(1889–1976)
rejected the philosophical basis of the concepts of "subjectivity" and "objectivity" and asserted that similar grounding oppositions in logic ultimately refer to one another. Instead of resisting the admission of this paradox in the search for understanding, Heidegger requires that we embrace it through an active process of elucidation he called the "Hermeneutic Circle
Hermeneutic circle
-Definition and usage:The hermeneutic circle describes the process of understanding a text hermeneutically. It refers to the idea that one's understanding of the text as a whole is established by reference to the individual parts and one's understanding of each individual part by reference to the...

". He stressed the historicity and cultural construction of concepts while simultaneously advocating the necessity of an atemporal and immanent
Immanence
Immanence refers to philosophical and metaphysical theories of divine presence, in which the divine is seen to be manifested in or encompassing of the material world. It is often contrasted with theories of transcendence, in which the divine is seen to be outside the material world...

 apprehension of them. In this vein, he asserted that it was the task of contemporary philosophy to recover the original question of (or "openness to") Dasein
Dasein
Dasein is a German word famously used by Martin Heidegger in his magnum opus Being and Time, which generally translates to being in its ontological and philosophical sense Dasein is a German word famously used by Martin Heidegger in his magnum opus Being and Time, which generally translates to...

(translated as Being or Being-in-the-World) present in the Presocratic philosophers but normalized, neutered and standardized since Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

. This was to be done, in part, by tracing the record of Dasein's sublimation or forgetfulness through the history of philosophy which meant that we were to ask again what constituted the grounding conditions in ourselves and in the World for the affinity between beings and between the many usages of the term "being" in philosophy. To do this, however, a non-historical and, to a degree, self-referential engagement with whatever set of ideas, feelings or practices would permit (both the non-fixed concept and reality of) such a continuity was required - a continuity permitting the possible experience, possible existence indeed not only of beings but of all differences as they appeared and tended to develop. Such a conclusion led Heidegger to depart from the Phenomenology of his teacher Husserl
Edmund Husserl
Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl was a philosopher and mathematician and the founder of the 20th century philosophical school of phenomenology. He broke with the positivist orientation of the science and philosophy of his day, yet he elaborated critiques of historicism and of psychologism in logic...

 and prompt instead an (ironically anachronistic) return to the yet-unasked questions of Ontology
Ontology
Ontology is the philosophical study of the nature of being, existence or reality as such, as well as the basic categories of being and their relations...

, a return that in general did not acknowledge an intrinsic distinction between phenomena
Phenomenon
A phenomenon , plural phenomena, is any observable occurrence. Phenomena are often, but not always, understood as 'appearances' or 'experiences'...

 and noumena
Noumenon
The noumenon is a posited object or event that is known without the use of the senses.The term is generally used in contrast with, or in relation to "phenomenon", which refers to anything that appears to, or is an object of, the senses...

 or between things in themselves (de re) and things as they appear (see qualia
Qualia
Qualia , singular "quale" , from a Latin word meaning for "what sort" or "what kind," is a term used in philosophy to refer to subjective conscious experiences as 'raw feels'. Examples of qualia are the pain of a headache, the taste of wine, the experience of taking a recreational drug, or the...

): Being-in-the-world, or rather, the openness to the process of Dasein's/Being's becoming was to bridge the age-old gap between these two. In this latter premise, Heidegger shares an affinity with the late Romantic philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

, another principal forerunner of Post-structuralist and Postmodernist thought. Influential to thinkers associated with Postmodernism are Heidegger's critique of the subject-object or sense-knowledge division implicit in Rationalism
Rationalism
In epistemology and in its modern sense, rationalism is "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification" . In more technical terms, it is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive"...

, Empiricism
Empiricism
Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism, idealism and historicism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence,...

 and Methodological Naturalism, his repudiation of the idea that facts exist outside or separately from the process of thinking and speaking them (however, Heidegger is not specifically a Nominalist
Nominalism
Nominalism is a metaphysical view in philosophy according to which general or abstract terms and predicates exist, while universals or abstract objects, which are sometimes thought to correspond to these terms, do not exist. Thus, there are at least two main versions of nominalism...

), his related admission that the possibilities of philosophical and scientific discourse are wrapped up in the practices and expectations of a society and that concepts and fundamental constructs are the expression of a lived, historical exercise rather than simple derivations of external, apriori conditions independent from historical mind and changing experience (see Johann Gottlieb Fichte
Johann Gottlieb Fichte
Johann Gottlieb Fichte was a German philosopher. He was one of the founding figures of the philosophical movement known as German idealism, a movement that developed from the theoretical and ethical writings of Immanuel Kant...

, Heinrich von Kleist
Heinrich von Kleist
Bernd Heinrich Wilhelm von Kleist was a poet, dramatist, novelist and short story writer. The Kleist Prize, a prestigious prize for German literature, is named after him.- Life :...

, Weltanschauung
World view
A comprehensive world view is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society's knowledge and point-of-view, including natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and...

 and Social Constructionism
Social constructionism
Social constructionism and social constructivism are sociological theories of knowledge that consider how social phenomena or objects of consciousness develop in social contexts. A social construction is a concept or practice that is the construct of a particular group...

), and his Instrumentalist and Negativist notion that Being (and, by extension, reality) is an action, method, tendency, possibility and question rather than a discreet, positive, identifiable state, answer or entity (see also Process Philosophy
Process philosophy
Process philosophy identifies metaphysical reality with change and dynamism. Since the time of Plato and Aristotle, philosophers have posited true reality as "timeless", based on permanent substances, whilst processes are denied or subordinated to timeless substances...

, Dynamism
Dynamism (metaphysics)
Dynamism is a metaphysical concept conceived by Gottfried Leibniz and developed into a full system of cosmology. Dynamism in metaphysical cosmology explains the material world in terms of active, pointlike forces, with no extension but with action at a distance...

, Instrumentalism
Instrumentalism
In the philosophy of science, instrumentalism is the view that a scientific theory is a useful instrument in understanding the world. A concept or theory should be evaluated by how effectively it explains and predicts phenomena, as opposed to how accurately it describes objective...

, Pragmatism
Pragmatism
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice...

 and Vitalism
Vitalism
Vitalism, as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary, is#a doctrine that the functions of a living organism are due to a vital principle distinct from biochemical reactions...

).

Thomas Samuel Kuhn (1922–1996)
located the rapid change of the basis of scientific knowledge to a provisional consensus among scientists; coined the term "paradigm shift
Paradigm shift
A Paradigm shift is, according to Thomas Kuhn in his influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , a change in the basic assumptions, or paradigms, within the ruling theory of science...

" in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , by Thomas Kuhn, is an analysis of the history of science. Its publication was a landmark event in the history, philosophy, and sociology of scientific knowledge and it triggered an ongoing worldwide assessment and reaction in — and beyond — those scholarly...

and in general contributed to the debate over the presumed neutrality and objectivity of empirical methodology in the Natural Sciences from disciplinarian or cultural bias.

Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher, born in French Algeria. He developed the critical theory known as deconstruction and his work has been labeled as post-structuralism and associated with postmodern philosophy...

(1930–2004)
re-examined the fundamentals of writing and its consequences on philosophy in general; sought to undermine the language of 'presence' or metaphysics
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 in an analytical technique which, beginning as a point of departure from Heidegger's notion of Destruktion
Heideggerian terminology
Martin Heidegger, the 20th-century German philosopher, introduced to the world a large body of work which intended a profound change of direction for philosophy...

, came to be known as Deconstruction
Deconstruction
Deconstruction is a term introduced by French philosopher Jacques Derrida in his 1967 book Of Grammatology. Although he carefully avoided defining the term directly, he sought to apply Martin Heidegger's concept of Destruktion or Abbau, to textual reading...

. Derrida utilized, like Heidegger, references to Greek philosophical notions associated with the Skeptics
Skepticism
Skepticism has many definitions, but generally refers to any questioning attitude towards knowledge, facts, or opinions/beliefs stated as facts, or doubt regarding claims that are taken for granted elsewhere...

 and the Presocratics, such as Epoché
Epoché
Epoché is an ancient Greek term which, in its philosophical usage, describes the theoretical moment where all judgments about the existence of the external world, and consequently all action in the world, is suspended...

 and Aporia
Aporia
Aporia denotes, in philosophy, a philosophical puzzle or state of puzzlement, and, in rhetoric, a rhetorically useful expression of doubt.-Definitions:...

 to articulate his notion of implicit circularity between premises and conclusions, origins and manifestations, but - in a manner analogous in certain respects to Gilles Deleuze - presented a radical re-reading of canonical philosophical figures such as Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 and Descartes as themselves being informed by such "destabilizing" notions.

Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

(1926–1984)
introduced concepts such as 'discursive regime
Discourse
Discourse generally refers to "written or spoken communication". The following are three more specific definitions:...

', or re-invoked those of older philosophers like 'episteme
Episteme
Episteme, as distinguished from techne, is etymologically derived from the Greek word ἐπιστήμη for knowledge or science, which comes from the verb ἐπίσταμαι, "to know".- The Concept of an "Episteme" in Michel Foucault :...

' and 'genealogy' in order to explain the relationship among meaning, power, and social behavior within social orders (see The Order of Things
The Order of Things
The Order of Things is a book by Michel Foucault first published in 1966. The full title is Les Mots et les choses: Une archéologie des sciences humaines...

, The Archaeology of Knowledge
The Archaeology of Knowledge
The Archaeology of Knowledge is a book by philosopher Michel Foucault published in 1969. This volume was Foucault's main excursion into methodology, providing an anti-humanist excavation of the human sciences, particularly but not exclusively psychology and sociology...

, Discipline and Punish
Discipline and Punish
Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison is a book by philosopher Michel Foucault. Originally published in 1975 in France under the title Surveiller et punir: Naissance de la Prison, it was translated into English in 1977. It is an interrogation of the social and theoretical mechanisms behind...

and The History of Sexuality
The History of Sexuality
The History of Sexuality is a three-volume series of books by French philosopher and historian Michel Foucault written between 1976 and 1984...

). In direct contradiction to what have been typified as Modernist perspectives on epistemology, Foucault asserted that rational judgment, social practice and what he called 'biopower
Biopower
Biopower was a term coined by French Social theorist and philosopher Michel Foucault it refers to the practice of modern states and their regulation of their subjects through "an explosion of numerous and diverse techniques for achieving the subjugations of bodies and the control of populations." ...

' are not only inseparable but co-determinant. While Foucault himself was deeply involved in a number of progressive political causes and maintained close personal ties with members of the far-Left, he was also controversial with Leftist thinkers of his day, including those associated with various strains of Marxism
Marxism
Marxism is an economic and sociopolitical worldview and method of socioeconomic inquiry that centers upon a materialist interpretation of history, a dialectical view of social change, and an analysis and critique of the development of capitalism. Marxism was pioneered in the early to mid 19th...

, proponents of Left libertarianism (e.g. Noam Chomsky) and Humanism
Humanism
Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, world view or practice that focuses on human values and concerns. In philosophy and social science, humanism is a perspective which affirms some notion of human nature, and is contrasted with anti-humanism....

 (e.g. Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

), for his rejection of what he deemed to be Enlightenment
Age of Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment was an elite cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe that sought to mobilize the power of reason in order to reform society and advance knowledge. It promoted intellectual interchange and opposed intolerance and abuses in church and state...

-derived concepts of freedom, liberation, self-determination and human nature. Instead, Foucault focused on the ways in which such constructs can foster cultural hegemony, violence and exclusion. In line with his rejection of such 'positive
Positivism
Positivism is a a view of scientific methods and a philosophical approach, theory, or system based on the view that, in the social as well as natural sciences, sensory experiences and their logical and mathematical treatment are together the exclusive source of all worthwhile information....

' tenets of Enlightenment-era Humanism, he was active, with Gilles Deleuze
Gilles Deleuze
Gilles Deleuze , was a French philosopher who, from the early 1960s until his death, wrote influentially on philosophy, literature, film, and fine art. His most popular works were the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus , both co-written with Félix...

 and Félix Guattari
Félix Guattari
Pierre-Félix Guattari was a French militant, an institutional psychotherapist, philosopher, and semiotician; he founded both schizoanalysis and ecosophy...

, in the Anti-Psychiatry Movement
Anti-psychiatry
Anti-psychiatry is a configuration of groups and theoretical constructs that emerged in the 1960s, and questioned the fundamental assumptions and practices of psychiatry, such as its claim that it achieves universal, scientific objectivity. Its igniting influences were Michel Foucault, R.D. Laing,...

, considering much of institutionalized psychiatry and, in particular, Freud's concept of repression
Psychological repression
Psychological repression, also psychic repression or simply repression, is the psychological attempt by an individual to repel one's own desires and impulses towards pleasurable instincts by excluding the desire from one's consciousness and holding or subduing it in the unconscious...

 central to Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis
Psychoanalysis is a psychological theory developed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Austrian neurologist Sigmund Freud. Psychoanalysis has expanded, been criticized and developed in different directions, mostly by some of Freud's former students, such as Alfred Adler and Carl Gustav...

 (which was still very influential in France during the 1960s and 70s), to be both harmful and misplaced. Foucault was known for his controversial aphorisms, such as "language is oppression", meaning that language functions in such a way as to render nonsensical, false or silent tendencies that might otherwise threaten or undermine the distributions of power backing a society's conventions - even when such distributions purport to celebrate liberation and expression or value minority groups and perspectives. His writings have had a major influence on the larger body of Postmodern academic literature.

Jean-François Lyotard
Jean-François Lyotard
Jean-François Lyotard was a French philosopher and literary theorist. He is well known for his articulation of postmodernism after the late 1970s and the analysis of the impact of postmodernity on the human condition...

(1924–1998)
identified in The Postmodern Condition
The Postmodern Condition
The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge is a short but influential philosophy book by Jean-François Lyotard in which he analyzes the epistemology of postmodern culture as the end of 'grand narratives' or metanarratives, which he considers a quintessential feature of modernity. The book was...

a crisis in the 'discourses of the Human Sciences' latent in Modernism but catapulted to the fore by the advent of the "computerized" or "telematic" era (see Information Revolution). This crisis, insofar as it pertains to academia, concerns both the motivations and justification procedures for making research claims: unstated givens or values that have validated the basic efforts of academic research since the late 18th Century might no longer be valid (particularly, in Social Science & Humanities research, though examples from Mathematics are given by Lyotard as well). As formal conjecture about real-world issues becomes inextricably linked to automated calculation, information storage and retrieval, such knowledge becomes increasingly "exteriorised" from its knowers in the form of information. Knowledge is materialized and made into a commodity exchanged between producers and consumers; it ceases to be either an idealistic end-in-itself or a tool capable of bringing about liberty or social benefit; it is stripped of its humanistic and spiritual associations, its connection with education, teaching and human development, being simply rendered as "data" - omnipresent, material, unending and without any contexts or pre-requisites. Furthermore, the 'diversity' of claims made by various disciplines begins to lack any unifying principle or intuition as objects of study become more and more specialized due to the emphasis on specificity, precision and uniformity of reference that competitive, database-oriented research implies. The value-premises upholding academic research have been maintained by what Lyotard considers to be quasi-mythological beliefs about human purpose, human reason and human progress - large, background constructs he calls "Metanarratives". These Metanarratives still remain in Western society but are now being undermined by rapid Informatization
Informatization
Informatization or informatisation refers to the extent by which a geographical area, an economy or a society is becoming information-based, i.e., increase in size of its information labor force. Usage of the term was inspired by Marc Porat’s categories of ages of human civilization: the...

 and the commercialization of the University and its functions. The shift of authority from the presence and intuition of knowers - from the good-faith of Reason to seek diverse knowledge integrated for human benefit or truth fidelity - to the automated database and the market had, in Lyotard's view, the power to unravel the very idea of 'justification' or 'legitimation' and, with it, the rationale for research altogether - esp. in disciplines pertaining to human life, society and meaning. We are now controlled not by binding extra-linguistic value paradigms defining notions of collective identity and ultimate purpose, but rather by our automatic responses to different species of "language games" (a concept Lyotard imports from JL Austin's theory of Speech Acts
Speech act
Speech Act is a technical term in linguistics and the philosophy of language. The contemporary use of the term goes back to John L. Austin's doctrine of locutionary, illocutionary, and perlocutionary acts...

). In his vision of a solution to this "vertigo," Lyotard opposes the assumptions of universality
Universality (philosophy)
In philosophy, universalism is a doctrine or school claiming universal facts can be discovered and is therefore understood as being in opposition to relativism. In certain religions, universality is the quality ascribed to an entity whose existence is consistent throughout the universe...

, consensus, and generality that he identified within the thought of Humanistic, Neo-Kantian philosophers like Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas
Jürgen Habermas is a German sociologist and philosopher in the tradition of critical theory and pragmatism. He is perhaps best known for his theory on the concepts of 'communicative rationality' and the 'public sphere'...

 and proposes a continuation of experimentation and diversity to be assessed pragmatically in the context of language games rather than via appeal to a resurrected series of transcendentals and metaphysical unities.

Richard Rorty
Richard Rorty
Richard McKay Rorty was an American philosopher. He had a long and diverse academic career, including positions as Stuart Professor of Philosophy at Princeton, Kenan Professor of Humanities at the University of Virginia, and Professor of Comparative Literature at Stanford University...

(1931–2007)
argues in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature
Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature
Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature is a famous book by American philosopher Richard Rorty. In it, Rorty attempts to dissolve so-called philosophical problems instead of solving them by exposing them as pseudo-problems that only exist in the language-game of Analytic philosophy...

that contemporary Analytic philosophy mistakenly imitates scientific methods. In addition, he denounces the traditional epistemological perspectives of Representationalism
Direct and indirect realism
The question of direct or "naïve" realism, as opposed to indirect or "representational" realism, arises in the philosophy of perception and of mind out of the debate over the nature of conscious experience; the epistemological question of whether the world we see around us is the real world itself...

 and Correspondence theory that rely upon the independence of knowers and observers from phenomena and the passivity of natural phenomena in relation to consciousness. As a proponent of anti-foundationalism
Anti-foundationalism
Anti-foundationalism as the name implies, is a term applied to any philosophy which rejects a foundationalist approach, i.e. an anti-foundationalist is one who does not believe that there is some fundamental belief or principle which is the basic ground or foundation of inquiry and knowledge...

 and anti-essentialism within a Pragmatist
Pragmatism
Pragmatism is a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of practice and theory. It describes a process where theory is extracted from practice, and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice...

 framework, he echoes Postmodern strains of Conventionalism
Conventionalism
Conventionalism is the philosophical attitude that fundamental principles of a certain kind are grounded on agreements in society, rather than on external reality...

 and Philosophical Relativism
Relativism
Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration....

, but opposes much Postmodern thinking with his commitment to Social Liberalism
Social liberalism
Social liberalism is the belief that liberalism should include social justice. It differs from classical liberalism in that it believes the legitimate role of the state includes addressing economic and social issues such as unemployment, health care, and education while simultaneously expanding...

.

Jean Baudrillard
Jean Baudrillard
Jean Baudrillard was a French sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator, and photographer. His work is frequently associated with postmodernism and post-structuralism.-Life:...

(1929–2007),
in Simulacra and Simulation
Simulacra and Simulation
Simulacra and Simulation is a philosophical treatise by Jean Baudrillard seeking to interrogate the relationship among reality, symbols, and society.-Overview:...

, introduced the concept that reality or the principle of the "real" is short-circuited by the interchangeability of signs in an era whose communicative and semantic acts are dominated by electronic media and digital technologies. Baudrillard proposes the notion that, in such a state, where subjects are detached from the outcomes of events (political, literary, artistic, personal or otherwise), events no longer hold any particular sway on the subject nor have any identifiable context; they therefore have the effect of producing widespread indifference, detachment and passivity in industrialized populations. He claimed that a constant stream of appearances and references without any direct consequences to viewers or readers could eventually render the division between appearance and object indiscernible, resulting, ironically, in the "disappearance" of mankind in what is, in effect, a virtual or holographic state, composed only of appearances.

Fredric Jameson
Fredric Jameson
Fredric Jameson is an American literary critic and Marxist political theorist. He is best known for his analysis of contemporary cultural trends—he once described postmodernism as the spatialization of culture under the pressure of organized capitalism...

(born 1934)
set forth one of the first expansive theoretical treatments of Postmodernism as a historical period, intellectual trend and social phenomenon in a series of lectures at the Whitney Museum, later expanded as Postmodernism, or The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991). Eclectic in his methodology, Jameson has continued a sustained examination of the role that Periodization
Periodization
Periodization is the attempt to categorize or divide time into named blocks. The result is a descriptive abstraction that provides a useful handle on periods of time with relatively stable characteristics...

 continues to play as a grounding assumption of critical methodologies in Humanities disciplines. He has contributed extensive effort to explicating the importance of concepts of Utopianism and Utopia as driving forces in the cultural and intellectual movements of Modernity, and outlining the political and existential uncertainties that may result from the decline or suspension of this trend in the theorized state of Postmodernity. Like Susan Sontag
Susan Sontag
Susan Sontag was an American author, literary theorist, feminist and political activist whose works include On Photography and Against Interpretation.-Life:...

, Jameson served to introduce a wide audience of American readers to key figures of the 20th Century Continental European intellectual Left, particularly those associated with the Frankfurt School
Frankfurt School
The Frankfurt School refers to a school of neo-Marxist interdisciplinary social theory, particularly associated with the Institute for Social Research at the University of Frankfurt am Main...

, Structuralism
Structuralism
Structuralism originated in the structural linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and the subsequent Prague and Moscow schools of linguistics. Just as structural linguistics was facing serious challenges from the likes of Noam Chomsky and thus fading in importance in linguistics, structuralism...

 and Post-Structuralism
Post-structuralism
Post-structuralism is a label formulated by American academics to denote the heterogeneous works of a series of French intellectuals who came to international prominence in the 1960s and '70s...

. Thus, his importance as a 'translator' of their ideas to the common vocabularies of a variety of disciplines in the Anglo-American academic complex is equally as important as his own critical engagement with them.

Contested definitions


The term "Postmodernism" is often used to refer to different, sometimes contradictory concepts. Conventional definitions include:
  • Compact Oxford English Dictionary: "a style and concept in the arts characterized by distrust of theories and ideologies and by the drawing of attention to conventions."
  • Merriam-Webster
    Merriam-Webster
    Merriam–Webster, which was originally the G. & C. Merriam Company of Springfield, Massachusetts, is an American company that publishes reference books, especially dictionaries that are descendants of Noah Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English Language .Merriam-Webster Inc. has been a...

    : Either "of, relating to, or being an era after a modern one", or "of, relating to, or being any of various movements in reaction to modernism that are typically characterized by a return to traditional materials and forms (as in architecture) or by ironic self-reference and absurdity (as in literature)", or, finally "of, relating to, or being a theory that involves a radical reappraisal of modern assumptions about culture, identity, history, or language".
  • American Heritage Dictionary: "Of or relating to art, architecture, or literature that reacts against earlier modernist principles, as by reintroducing traditional or classical elements of style or by carrying modernist styles or practices to extremes: 'It [a roadhouse] is so architecturally interesting ... with its postmodern wooden booths and sculptural clock.'"


While the term "Postmodern" and its derivatives are freely used, with some uses apparently contradicting others, those outside the academic milieu have described it as merely a buzzword
Buzzword
A buzzword is a term of art, salesmanship, politics, or technical jargon that is used in the media and wider society outside of its originally narrow technical context....

 that means nothing. Dick Hebdige, in his text ‘Hiding in the Light’, writes:


When it becomes possible for a people to describe as ‘postmodern’ the décor of a room, the design of a building, the diegesis of a film, the construction of a record, or a ‘scratch’ video, a television commercial, or an arts documentary, or the ‘intertextual’ relations between them, the layout of a page in a fashion magazine or critical journal, an anti-teleological tendency within epistemology, the attack on the ‘metaphysics of presence’, a general attenuation of feeling, the collective chagrin and morbid projections of a post-War generation of baby boomers confronting disillusioned middle-age, the ‘predicament’ of reflexivity, a group of rhetorical tropes, a proliferation of surfaces, a new phase in commodity fetishism
Commodity fetishism
In Marx's critique of political economy, commodity fetishism denotes the mystification of human relations said to arise out of the growth of market trade, when social relationships between people are expressed as, mediated by and transformed into, objectified relationships between things .The...

, a fascination for images, codes and styles, a process of cultural, political or existential fragmentation and/or crisis, the ‘de-centring’ of the subject, an ‘incredulity towards metanarratives’, the replacement of unitary power axes by a plurality of power/discourse formations, the ‘implosion of meaning’, the collapse of cultural hierarchies, the dread engendered by the threat of nuclear self-destruction, the decline of the university, the functioning and effects of the new miniaturised technologies, broad societal and economic shifts into a ‘media’, ‘consumer’ or ‘multinational’ phase, a sense (depending on who you read) of ‘placelessness’ or the abandonment of placelessness (‘critical regionalism’) or (even) a generalised substitution of spatial for temporal coordinates - when it becomes possible to describe all these things as ‘Postmodern’ (or more simply using a current abbreviation as ‘post’ or ‘very post’) then it’s clear we are in the presence of a buzzword.


British historian Perry Anderson
Perry Anderson
Perry Anderson is a British Leftist intellectual, historian, and political essayist. He is often identified with the post-1956 Western Marxism of the New Left in Europe. He is Professor of History and Sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles and an editor of the New Left Review. He...

's history of the term and its understanding, 'The Origins of Postmodernity', explains these apparent contradictions, and demonstrates the importance of "Postmodernism" as a category and a phenomenon in the analysis of contemporary culture.

Architecture




The movement of Postmodernism began with architecture
Architecture
Architecture is both the process and product of planning, designing and construction. Architectural works, in the material form of buildings, are often perceived as cultural and political symbols and as works of art...

, as a response to the perceived blandness, hostility, and Utopianism of the Modern movement. Modern Architecture
Modern architecture
Modern architecture is generally characterized by simplification of form and creation of ornament from the structure and theme of the building. It is a term applied to an overarching movement, with its exact definition and scope varying widely...

, as established and developed by people such as Walter Gropius
Walter Gropius
Walter Adolph Georg Gropius was a German architect and founder of the Bauhaus School who, along with Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier, is widely regarded as one of the pioneering masters of modern architecture....

, Le Corbusier
Le Corbusier
Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, better known as Le Corbusier , was a Swiss-born French architect, designer, urbanist, writer and painter, famous for being one of the pioneers of what now is called modern architecture. He was born in Switzerland and became a French citizen in 1930...

, and Philip Johnson
Philip Johnson
Philip Cortelyou Johnson was an influential American architect.In 1930, he founded the Department of Architecture and Design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and later , as a trustee, he was awarded an American Institute of Architects Gold Medal and the first Pritzker Architecture...

, was focused on the pursuit of a perceived ideal perfection, and attempted harmony of form and function, and dismissal of "frivolous ornament." Critics of modernism argued that the attributes of perfection and minimalism themselves were subjective, and pointed out anachronism
Anachronism
An anachronism—from the Greek ανά and χρόνος — is an inconsistency in some chronological arrangement, especially a chronological misplacing of persons, events, objects, or customs in regard to each other...

s in modern thought and questioned the benefits of its philosophy. Definitive postmodern architecture such as the work of Michael Graves
Michael Graves
Michael Graves is an American architect. Identified as one of The New York Five, Graves has become a household name with his designs for domestic products sold at Target stores in the United States....

 and Robert Venturi
Robert Venturi
Robert Charles Venturi, Jr. is an American architect, founding principal of the firm Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates, and one of the major figures in the architecture of the twentieth century...

 reject the notion of a 'pure' form or 'perfect' architectonic detail, instead conspicuously drawing from all methods, materials, forms and colors available to architects.

Modernist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe was a German architect. He is commonly referred to and addressed as Mies, his surname....

 is associated with the phrase "less is more"; in contrast Venturi famously said, "Less is a bore." Postmodernist architecture was one of the first aesthetic movements to openly challenge Modernism as antiquated and "totalitarian", favoring personal preferences and variety over objective, ultimate truths or principles. It is this atmosphere of criticism, skepticism, and emphasis on difference over and against unity that distinguishes the postmodernism aesthetic.

Literature


Literary postmodernism was officially inaugurated in the United States with the first issue of boundary 2
Boundary 2
boundary 2 is an academic journal of postmodern cultural studies, theory, libertarian politics and literary criticism. In the 1970s and 1980s it was one of the primary venues for poststructuralist literary theory in the United States. It is edited primarily at the University of Pittsburgh and...

, subtitled "Journal of Postmodern Literature and Culture", which appeared in 1972. David Antin
David Antin
David Antin is a United States poet and critic. In the late 1960s, Antin began performing extemporaneously, improvising "talk poems" at readings and exhibitions...

, Charles Olson
Charles Olson
Charles Olson , was a second generation American modernist poet who was a link between earlier figures such as Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams and the New American poets, which includes the New York School, the Black Mountain School, the Beat poets, and the San Francisco Renaissance...

, John Cage
John Cage
John Milton Cage Jr. was an American composer, music theorist, writer, philosopher and artist. A pioneer of indeterminacy in music, electroacoustic music, and non-standard use of musical instruments, Cage was one of the leading figures of the post-war avant-garde...

, and the Black Mountain College
Black Mountain College
Black Mountain College, a school founded in 1933 in Black Mountain, North Carolina, was a new kind of college in the United States in which the study of art was seen to be central to a liberal arts education, and in which John Dewey's principles of education played a major role...

 school of poetry and the arts were integral figures in the intellectual and artistic exposition of postmodernism at the time. boundary 2 remains an influential journal in postmodernist circles today.

Although Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Francisco Isidoro Luis Borges Acevedo , known as Jorge Luis Borges , was an Argentine writer, essayist, poet and translator born in Buenos Aires. In 1914 his family moved to Switzerland where he attended school, receiving his baccalauréat from the Collège de Genève in 1918. The family...

 and Samuel Beckett
Samuel Beckett
Samuel Barclay Beckett was an Irish avant-garde novelist, playwright, theatre director, and poet. He wrote both in English and French. His work offers a bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, often coupled with black comedy and gallows humour.Beckett is widely regarded as among the most...

 are sometimes seen as important influences, novelists who are commonly counted to postmodern literature include Vladimir Nabokov
Vladimir Nabokov
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov was a multilingual Russian novelist and short story writer. Nabokov wrote his first nine novels in Russian, then rose to international prominence as a master English prose stylist...

, William Gaddis
William Gaddis
William Thomas Gaddis, Jr. was an American novelist. He wrote five novels, two of which won National Book Awards and one of which, The Recognitions , was chosen as one of TIME magazine's 100 best novels from 1923 to 2005...

, John Hawkes, William Burroughs, Giannina Braschi
Giannina Braschi
Giannina Braschi is a Puerto Rican writer. She is credited with writing the first Spanglish novel YO-YO BOING! and the poetry trilogy Empire of Dreams , which chronicles the Latin American immigrant's experiences in the United States...

, Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. was a 20th century American writer. His works such as Cat's Cradle , Slaughterhouse-Five and Breakfast of Champions blend satire, gallows humor and science fiction. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.-Early...

, John Barth
John Barth
John Simmons Barth is an American novelist and short-story writer, known for the postmodernist and metafictive quality of his work.-Life:...

, Donald Barthelme
Donald Barthelme
Donald Barthelme was an American author known for his playful, postmodernist style of short fiction. Barthelme also worked as a newspaper reporter for the Houston Post, managing editor of Location magazine, director of the Contemporary Arts Museum in Houston , co-founder of Fiction Donald...

, E.L. Doctorow, Jerzy Kosinski
Jerzy Kosinski
Jerzy Kosiński , born Józef Lewinkopf, was an award-winning Polish American novelist, and two-time President of the American Chapter of P.E.N.He was known for various novels, among them The Painted Bird and Being There...

, Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo
Don DeLillo is an American author, playwright, and occasional essayist whose work paints a detailed portrait of American life in the late 20th and early 21st centuries...

, Thomas Pynchon
Thomas Pynchon
Thomas Ruggles Pynchon, Jr. is an American novelist. For his most praised novel, Gravity's Rainbow, Pynchon received the National Book Award, and is regularly cited as a contender for the Nobel Prize in Literature...

, Ishmael Reed
Ishmael Reed
Ishmael Scott Reed is an American poet, essayist, and novelist. A prominent African-American literary figure, Reed is known for his satirical works challenging American political culture, and highlighting political and cultural oppression.Reed has been described as one of the most controversial...

, Kathy Acker
Kathy Acker
Kathy Acker was an American experimental novelist, punk poet, playwright, essayist, postmodernist and sex-positive feminist writer. She was strongly influenced by the Black Mountain School, William S...

, Ana Lydia Vega
Ana Lydia Vega
Ana Lydia Vega is a celebrated Puerto Rican female writer. She has received the Premio Juan Rulfo and the Premio Casa de las Américas . Vega was a professor of French literature and Caribbean studies at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras...

, and Paul Auster
Paul Auster
Paul Benjamin Auster is an American author known for works blending absurdism, existentialism, crime fiction and the search for identity and personal meaning in works such as The New York Trilogy , Moon Palace , The Music of Chance , The Book of Illusions and The Brooklyn Follies...

.

In 1971, the Arab-American scholar Ihab Hassan
Ihab Hassan
Ihab H. Hassan is an American literary theorist and writer born in Egypt.-Biography:He was born in Cairo Egypt, and emigrated to the United States in 1946. Currently he is Emeritus Vilas Research Professor at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee...

 published The Dismemberment of Orpheus: Toward a Postmodern Literature, an early work of literary criticism from a postmodern perspective, in which the author traces the development of what he calls "literature of silence" through Marquis de Sade
Marquis de Sade
Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade was a French aristocrat, revolutionary politician, philosopher, and writer famous for his libertine sexuality and lifestyle...

, Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka was a culturally influential German-language author of short stories and novels. Contemporary critics and academics, including Vladimir Nabokov, regard Kafka as one of the best writers of the 20th century...

, Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Miller Hemingway was an American author and journalist. His economic and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image influenced later generations. Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the...

, Beckett, and many others, including developments such as the Theatre of the Absurd
Theatre of the Absurd
The Theatre of the Absurd is a designation for particular plays of absurdist fiction, written by a number of primarily European playwrights in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, as well as to the style of theatre which has evolved from their work...

 and the nouveau roman
Nouveau roman
The nouveau roman is a type of 1950s French novel that diverged from classical literary genres. Émile Henriot coined the title in an article in the popular French newspaper Le Monde on May 22, 1957 to describe certain writers who experimented with style in each novel, creating an essentially new...

. In 'Postmodernist Fiction' (1987), Brian McHale
Brian McHale
Brian G. McHale is an American literary theorist who writes on a range of fiction and poetics, mainly those relating to postmodernism and narrative theory.-Career:...

 details the shift from modernism to postmodernism, arguing that the former is characterized by an epistemological dominant, and that postmodern works have developed out of modernism and are primarily concerned with questions of ontology. In Constructing Postmodernism (1992), McHale's second book, he provides readings of postmodern fiction and of some of the contemporary writers who go under the label of cyberpunk
Cyberpunk
Cyberpunk is a postmodern and science fiction genre noted for its focus on "high tech and low life." The name is a portmanteau of cybernetics and punk, and was originally coined by Bruce Bethke as the title of his short story "Cyberpunk," published in 1983...

. McHale's "What Was Postmodernism?" (2007)http://www.electronicbookreview.com/thread/fictionspresent/tense, follows Raymond Federman
Raymond Federman
Raymond Federman was a French–American novelist and academic, known also for poetry, essays, translations, and criticism. He held positions at the University at Buffalo from 1973 to 1999, when he was appointed Distinguished Emeritus Professor. Federman was a writer in the experimental style, one...

's lead in now using the past tense when discussing postmodernism.

Music


Postmodern music
Postmodern music
Postmodern music is either simply music of the postmodern era, or music that follows aesthetical and philosophical trends of postmodernism. As the name suggests, the postmodernist movement formed partly in reaction to modernism...

 is either music of the postmodern era, or music that follows aesthetic and philosophical trends of postmodernism. As the name suggests, the postmodernist movement formed partly in reaction to the ideals of the modernist
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

. Because of this, Postmodern music
Postmodern music
Postmodern music is either simply music of the postmodern era, or music that follows aesthetical and philosophical trends of postmodernism. As the name suggests, the postmodernist movement formed partly in reaction to modernism...

 is mostly defined in opposition to modernist music
Modernism (music)
Modernism in music is characterized by a desire for or belief in progress and science, surrealism, anti-romanticism, political advocacy, general intellectualism, and/or a breaking with the past or common practice.- Defining musical modernism :...

, and a work can either be modernist
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

, or postmodern, but not both. Jonathan Kramer
Jonathan Kramer
Jonathan Donald Kramer , was a U.S. composer and music theorist.- Biography :...

 posits the idea (following Umberto Eco
Umberto Eco
Umberto Eco Knight Grand Cross is an Italian semiotician, essayist, philosopher, literary critic, and novelist, best known for his novel The Name of the Rose , an intellectual mystery combining semiotics in fiction, biblical analysis, medieval studies and literary theory...

 and Jean-François Lyotard
Jean-François Lyotard
Jean-François Lyotard was a French philosopher and literary theorist. He is well known for his articulation of postmodernism after the late 1970s and the analysis of the impact of postmodernity on the human condition...

) that postmodernism (including musical postmodernism) is less a surface style or historical period (i.e., condition) than an attitude.

The postmodern impulse in classical music arose in the 1970s with the advent of musical minimalism
Minimalism
Minimalism describes movements in various forms of art and design, especially visual art and music, where the work is set out to expose the essence, essentials or identity of a subject through eliminating all non-essential forms, features or concepts...

. Composers such as Terry Riley
Terry Riley
Terrence Mitchell Riley, is an American composer intrinsically associated with the minimalist school of Western classical music and was a pioneer of the movement...

, Henryk Górecki
Henryk Górecki
Henryk Mikołaj Górecki was a composer of contemporary classical music. He studied at the State Higher School of Music in Katowice between 1955 and 1960. In 1968, he joined the faculty and rose to provost before resigning in 1979. Górecki became a leading figure of the Polish avant-garde during...

, Bradley Joseph
Bradley Joseph
Bradley Joseph is an American composer, arranger, and producer of contemporary instrumental music. His compositions include works for orchestra, quartet, and solo piano, while his musical style ranges from "quietly pensive mood music to a rich orchestration of classical depth and breadth".Active...

, John Adams, Steve Reich
Steve Reich
Stephen Michael "Steve" Reich is an American composer who together with La Monte Young, Terry Riley, and Philip Glass is a pioneering composer of minimal music...

, Phillip Glass, Michael Nyman
Michael Nyman
Michael Laurence Nyman, CBE is an English composer of minimalist music, pianist, librettist and musicologist, known for the many film scores he wrote during his lengthy collaboration with the filmmaker Peter Greenaway, and his multi-platinum soundtrack album to Jane Campion's The Piano...

, and Lou Harrison
Lou Harrison
Lou Silver Harrison was an American composer. He was a student of Henry Cowell, Arnold Schoenberg, and K. P. H. Notoprojo Lou Silver Harrison (May 14, 1917 – February 2, 2003) was an American composer. He was a student of Henry Cowell, Arnold Schoenberg, and K. P. H. Notoprojo Lou Silver Harrison...

 reacted to the perceived elitism and dissonant sound of atonal academic modernism by producing music with simple textures and relatively consonant harmonies. Some composers have been openly influenced by popular music and world ethnic musical traditions.

Postmodern Classical music as well is not a musical style, but rather refers to music of the postmodern era. It bears the same relationship to postmodernist music that postmodernity bears to postmodernism. Postmodern music, on the other hand, shares characteristics with postmodernist art
Postmodern art
Postmodern art is a term used to describe an art movement which was thought to be in contradiction to some aspect of modernism, or to have emerged or developed in its aftermath...

—that is, art that comes after and reacts against modernism
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 (see Modernism in Music
Modernism (music)
Modernism in music is characterized by a desire for or belief in progress and science, surrealism, anti-romanticism, political advocacy, general intellectualism, and/or a breaking with the past or common practice.- Defining musical modernism :...

).

Though representing a general return to certain notions of music-making that are often considered to be classical or romantic, not all postmodern composers have eschewed the experimentalist or academic tenets of modernism. The works of Dutch composer Louis Andriessen
Louis Andriessen
Louis Andriessen is a Dutch composer and pianist based in Amsterdam. He teaches composition at the Royal Conservatory of The Hague...

, for example, exhibit experimentalist preoccupation that is decidedly anti-romantic. Eclecticism and freedom of expression, in reaction to the rigidity and aesthetic limitations of modernism, are the hallmarks of the postmodern influence in musical composition.

Deconstruction



One of the most popular postmodernist tendencies within aesthetics is deconstruction. As it is currently used, "deconstruction" is a Derridean
Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher, born in French Algeria. He developed the critical theory known as deconstruction and his work has been labeled as post-structuralism and associated with postmodern philosophy...

 approach to textual analysis (typically literary critique, but variously applied). Deconstructions work entirely within the studied text to expose and undermine the frame of reference, assumptions, and ideological underpinnings of the text. Although deconstructions can be developed using different methods and techniques, the process typically involves demonstrating the multiple possible readings of a text and their resulting internal conflicts, and undermining binary oppositions (e.g. masculine/feminine, old/new). Deconstruction is fundamental to many different fields of postmodernist thought, including postcolonialism
Postcolonialism
Post-colonialism is a specifically post-modern intellectual discourse that consists of reactions to, and analysis of, the cultural legacy of colonialism...

, as demonstrated through the writings of Gayatri Spivak.

Structuralism and post-structuralism



Structuralism
Structuralism
Structuralism originated in the structural linguistics of Ferdinand de Saussure and the subsequent Prague and Moscow schools of linguistics. Just as structural linguistics was facing serious challenges from the likes of Noam Chomsky and thus fading in importance in linguistics, structuralism...

 was a broad philosophical movement that developed particularly in France in the 1950s, partly in response to French Existentialism
Existentialism
Existentialism is a term applied to a school of 19th- and 20th-century philosophers who, despite profound doctrinal differences, shared the belief that philosophical thinking begins with the human subject—not merely the thinking subject, but the acting, feeling, living human individual...

, but is considered by many to be an exponent of High-Modernism
High modernism
High modernism is a particular instance of modernism, coined towards the end of modernism. "High modernism", like similar names designating intellectual and artistic eras such as "the high Middle Ages" or "the high Baroque", presumably is meant to specify the most characteristic, developed,...

, though its categorization as either a Modernist
Modernism
Modernism, in its broadest definition, is modern thought, character, or practice. More specifically, the term describes the modernist movement, its set of cultural tendencies and array of associated cultural movements, originally arising from wide-scale and far-reaching changes to Western society...

 or Postmodernist trend is contested. Many Structuralists later moved away from the most strict interpretations and applications of "structure", and are thus called "Post-structuralists"
Post-structuralism
Post-structuralism is a label formulated by American academics to denote the heterogeneous works of a series of French intellectuals who came to international prominence in the 1960s and '70s...

 in the United States (the term is uncommon in Europe). Though many Post-structuralists were referred to as Postmodern in their lifetimes, many explicitly rejected the term. Notwithstanding, Post-structuralism in much American academic literature in the Humanities is very strongly associated with the broader and more nebulous movement of Postmodernism. Thinkers most typically linked with Structuralism include anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss
Claude Lévi-Strauss was a French anthropologist and ethnologist, and has been called, along with James George Frazer, the "father of modern anthropology"....

, linguist Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist whose ideas laid a foundation for many significant developments in linguistics in the 20th century. He is widely considered one of the fathers of 20th-century linguistics...

, Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser
Louis Althusser
Louis Pierre Althusser was a French Marxist philosopher. He was born in Algeria and studied at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, where he eventually became Professor of Philosophy....

, the early writings of psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan
Jacques Lacan
Jacques Marie Émile Lacan was a French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist who made prominent contributions to psychoanalysis and philosophy, and has been called "the most controversial psycho-analyst since Freud". Giving yearly seminars in Paris from 1953 to 1981, Lacan influenced France's...

, the early writings of literary theorist Roland Barthes
Roland Barthes
Roland Gérard Barthes was a French literary theorist, philosopher, critic, and semiotician. Barthes' ideas explored a diverse range of fields and he influenced the development of schools of theory including structuralism, semiotics, existentialism, social theory, Marxism, anthropology and...

, and the semiotician Algirdas Greimas
Algirdas Julien Greimas
Algirdas Julien Greimas , known among other things for the Greimas Square, is considered, along with Roland Barthes, the most prominent of the French semioticians. With his training in linguistics, he added to the theory of signification and laid the foundations for the Paris School of Semiotics...

. Philosophers commonly referred to as Post-structuralists include Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

, Roland Barthes
Roland Barthes
Roland Gérard Barthes was a French literary theorist, philosopher, critic, and semiotician. Barthes' ideas explored a diverse range of fields and he influenced the development of schools of theory including structuralism, semiotics, existentialism, social theory, Marxism, anthropology and...

, Jean Baudrillard
Jean Baudrillard
Jean Baudrillard was a French sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator, and photographer. His work is frequently associated with postmodernism and post-structuralism.-Life:...

, Gilles Deleuze
Gilles Deleuze
Gilles Deleuze , was a French philosopher who, from the early 1960s until his death, wrote influentially on philosophy, literature, film, and fine art. His most popular works were the two volumes of Capitalism and Schizophrenia: Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus , both co-written with Félix...

 (all of whom began their careers within a Structuralist framework), Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida
Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher, born in French Algeria. He developed the critical theory known as deconstruction and his work has been labeled as post-structuralism and associated with postmodern philosophy...

, Pierre Bourdieu
Pierre Bourdieu
Pierre Bourdieu was a French sociologist, anthropologist, and philosopher.Starting from the role of economic capital for social positioning, Bourdieu pioneered investigative frameworks and terminologies such as cultural, social, and symbolic capital, and the concepts of habitus, field or location,...

, Jean-François Lyotard
Jean-François Lyotard
Jean-François Lyotard was a French philosopher and literary theorist. He is well known for his articulation of postmodernism after the late 1970s and the analysis of the impact of postmodernity on the human condition...

, Julia Kristeva
Julia Kristeva
Julia Kristeva is a Bulgarian-French philosopher, literary critic, psychoanalyst, sociologist, feminist, and, most recently, novelist, who has lived in France since the mid-1960s. She is now a Professor at the University Paris Diderot...

, Hélène Cixous
Hélène Cixous
Hélène Cixous is a professor, French feminist writer, poet, playwright, philosopher, literary critic and rhetorician. She holds honorary degrees from Queen's University and the University of Alberta in Canada; University College Dublin in Ireland; the University of York and University College...

, Luce Irigaray
Luce Irigaray
Luce Irigaray is a Belgian feminist, philosopher, linguist, psychoanalyst, sociologist and cultural theorist. She is best known for her works Speculum of the Other Woman and This Sex Which Is Not One .-Biography:...

 and, sometimes, the American cultural theorists, critics and intellectuals they influenced (e.g. Judith Butler
Judith Butler
Judith Butler is an American post-structuralist philosopher, who has contributed to the fields of feminism, queer theory, political philosophy, and ethics. She is a professor in the Rhetoric and Comparative Literature departments at the University of California, Berkeley.Butler received her Ph.D...

, Jonathan Crary, John Fiske
John Fiske (media studies)
John Fiske is a media scholar who has taught around the world, most notably as Professor of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. His areas of interest include popular culture, mass culture, and television studies...

, Rosalind Krauss, Hayden White
Hayden White
Hayden White is a historian in the tradition of literary criticism, perhaps most famous for his work Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe...

).

Though by no means a unified movement with a set of shared axioms or methodologies, Post-structuralism emphasizes the ways in which different aspects of a cultural order, from its most banal material details to its most abstract theoretical exponents, determine one another (rather than espousing a series of strict, uni-directional, cause and effect relationships – see Reductionism
Reductionism
Reductionism can mean either an approach to understanding the nature of complex things by reducing them to the interactions of their parts, or to simpler or more fundamental things or a philosophical position that a complex system is nothing but the sum of its parts, and that an account of it can...

 – or resorting to Epiphenomenalism
Epiphenomenalism
In philosophy of mind, epiphenomenalism, also known as Type-E Dualism, is a view that "mental" states do not have any influence on "physical" states.-Background:...

). Like Structuralism, it places particular focus on the determination of identities, values and economies in relation to one another, rather than assuming intrinsic properties or essences of signs or components as starting points. In this limited sense, there is a nascent Relativism
Relativism
Relativism is the concept that points of view have no absolute truth or validity, having only relative, subjective value according to differences in perception and consideration....

 and Constructionism
Constructionism
Constructionism may refer to* Social constructionism* Strict constructionism — a term referring to a conservative type of legal or constitutional interpretation* Constructionist learning — an educational philosophy developed by Seymour Papert...

 within the French Structuralists that was consciously addressed by them but never examined to the point of dismantling their reductionist tendencies. Unlike Structuralists, however, the Post-structuralists questioned the division between relation and component and, correspondingly, did not attempt to reduce the subjects of their study to an essential set of relations that could be portrayed with abstract, functional schemes or mathematical symbols (as in Claude Lévi-Strauss's algebraic formulation of mythological transformation in "The Structural Study of Myth").

Post-Structuralists tended to reject such formulations of “essential relations” in primitive cultures, languages or descriptions of psychological phenomena as subtle forms of Aristotelianism
Aristotelianism
Aristotelianism is a tradition of philosophy that takes its defining inspiration from the work of Aristotle. The works of Aristotle were initially defended by the members of the Peripatetic school, and, later on, by the Neoplatonists, who produced many commentaries on Aristotle's writings...

, Rationalism
Rationalism
In epistemology and in its modern sense, rationalism is "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification" . In more technical terms, it is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive"...

 or Idealism
Idealism
In philosophy, idealism is the family of views which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally mental, mentally constructed, or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically, idealism manifests as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing...

, all philosophies they rejected. Another common trend among thinkers associated with the Post-Structural movement is the criticism of the absolutist, quasi-scientific claims of Structuralist theorists as more reflective of the mechanistic bias inspired by bureaucratization and industrialization than of the inner-workings of actual primitive cultures, languages or psyches. Generally, Post-structuralists emphasized the inter-determination and contingency of social and historical phenomena with each other and with the cultural values and biases of perspective. Such realities were not to be dissected, in the manner of some Structuralists, as a system of facts that could exist independently from values and paradigms (either those of the analysts or the subjects themselves), but to be understood as both causes and effects of each other. For this reason, most Post-structuralists held a more open-ended view of function within systems than did Structuralists and were sometimes accused of circularity and ambiguity. Post-structuralists countered that, when closely examined, all formalized claims describing phenomena, reality or truth, rely on some form or circular reasoning and self-referential logic that is often paradoxical in nature. Thus, it was important to uncover the hidden patterns of circularity, self-reference and paradox within a given set of statements rather that feign objectivity, as such an investigation might allow new perspectives to have influence and new practices to be sanctioned or adopted. In this latter respect, Post-structuralists were, as a group, continuing the philosophical project initiated by Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher known for his existential and phenomenological explorations of the "question of Being."...

, who saw himself as extending the implications of Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Nietzsche
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche was a 19th-century German philosopher, poet, composer and classical philologist...

's work.

As would be expected, Post-structuralist writing tends to connect observations and references from many, widely varying disciplines into a synthetic view of knowledge and its relationship to experience, the body, society and economy - a synthesis in which it sees itself as participating. Stucturalists, while also somewhat inter-disciplinary, were more comfortable within departmental boundaries and often maintained the autonomy of their analytical methods over the objects they analyzed. Post-structuralists, unlike Structuralists, did not privilege a system of (abstract) "relations" over the specifics to which such relations were applied, but tended to see the notion of “the relation” or of systemization itself as part-and-parcel of any stated conclusion rather than a reflection of reality as an independent, self-contained state or object. If anything, if a part of objective reality, theorization and systemization to Post-structuralists was an exponent of larger, more nebulous patterns of control in social orders – patterns that could not be encapsulated in theory without simultaneously conditioning it. For this reason, certain Post-structural thinkers were also criticized by more Realist, Naturalist or Essentialist thinkers of anti-intellectualism or anti-Philosophy. In short, Post-structuralists, unlike Structuralists, tended to place a great deal of skepticism on the independence of theoretical premises from collective bias and the influence of power, and rejected the notion of a "pure" or "scientific" methodology in social analysis, semiotics or philosophical speculation. No theory, they said – especially when concerning human society or psychology – was capable of reducing phenomena to elemental systems or abstract patterns, nor could abstract systems be dismissed as secondary derivatives of a fundamental nature: systemization, phenomena and values were part of each other.

While many of the so-called Post-structuralists vehemently disagreed on the specifics of such fundamental categories as "the real", "society", "totality", "desire" and "history", many also shared, in contrast to their so-called Structuralist predecessors, the traits mentioned. Furthermore, a good number of them engaged in a re-assessment (positive or negative) of the philosophical traditions associated with Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud. Because of its general skepticism of analytical objectivity and mutually exclusive oppositions in logic, its emphasis on the social production of knowledge and of knowledge paradigms, and its portrayal of the sometimes ambiguous inter-determination of material culture, values, physical practices and socio-economic life, Post-structuralism is often linked to Postmodernism.

Post-postmodernism



Recently the notion of the "death of postmodernism" has been increasingly widely debated: in 2007 Andrew Hoborek noted in his introduction to a special issue of the journal Twentieth Century Literature titled "After Postmodernism" that "declarations of postmodernism's demise have become a critical commonplace". A small group of critics has put forth a range of theories that aim to describe culture and/or society in the alleged aftermath of postmodernism, most notably Raoul Eshelman (performatism), Gilles Lipovetsky
Gilles Lipovetsky
Gilles Lipovetsky is a French philosopher, writer and sociologist, professor at the University of Grenoble....

 (hypermodernity), Nicolas Bourriaud
Nicolas Bourriaud
Nicolas Bourriaud is a French curator and art critic. He co-founded, and from 1999 to 2006 was co-director of the Palais de Tokyo, Paris together with Jerôme Sans. He was also founder and director of the contemporary art magazine Documents sur l'art , and correspondent in Paris for Flash Art from...

 (Altermodern
Altermodern
Altermodern, a portmanteau word defined by Nicolas Bourriaud, is an attempt at contextualizing art made in today's global context as a reaction against standardisation and commercialism...

), and Alan Kirby
Alan Kirby (writer)
Alan Kirby is the author of The Death of Postmodernism and Beyond and of Digimodernism: How New Technologies Dismantle the Postmodern and Reconfigure Our Culture, a book-length study of the same subject. Along with Nicolas Bourriaud, Gilles Lipovetsky, Raoul Eshelman, Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin...

 (digimodernism, formerly called pseudo-modernism). None of these new theories and labels has so far gained widespread acceptance.

Criticisms



Formal, academic critiques of postmodernism can be found in works such as Beyond the Hoax
Beyond the Hoax
Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy, and Culture is a book by Alan Sokal detailing the history of the Sokal affair in which he submitted an article full of "nonsense" to Social Text, a critical theory journal, and was able to get it published....

and Fashionable Nonsense
Fashionable Nonsense
Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science is a book by professors Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont...

.

The term postmodernism, when used pejoratively, describes tendencies perceived as relativist, counter-enlightenment
Counter-Enlightenment
"Counter-Enlightenment" is a term used to refer to a movement that arose in the late-18th and early-19th centuries in opposition to the 18th century Enlightenment...

 or antimodern, particularly in relation to critiques of rationalism
Rationalism
In epistemology and in its modern sense, rationalism is "any view appealing to reason as a source of knowledge or justification" . In more technical terms, it is a method or a theory "in which the criterion of the truth is not sensory but intellectual and deductive"...

, universalism
Universality (philosophy)
In philosophy, universalism is a doctrine or school claiming universal facts can be discovered and is therefore understood as being in opposition to relativism. In certain religions, universality is the quality ascribed to an entity whose existence is consistent throughout the universe...

 or science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

. It is also sometimes used to describe tendencies in a society that are held to be antithetical to traditional systems of morality
Morality
Morality is the differentiation among intentions, decisions, and actions between those that are good and bad . A moral code is a system of morality and a moral is any one practice or teaching within a moral code...

.

See also


Theory
  • Transmodernism
    Transmodernism
    Transmodernism is a philosophical and cultural movement which was founded by Argentinian-Mexican philosopher Enrique Dussel, a critic of postmodernism who instead refers to himself as a transmodernist and wrote a series of essays criticising the postmodern theory and advocating a transmodern way of...

  • Critical race theory
    Critical race theory
    Critical Race Theory is an academic discipline focused upon the intersection of race, law and power.Although no set of canonical doctrines or methodologies defines CRT, the movement is loosely unified by two common areas of inquiry...

  • Dystopia
    Dystopia
    A dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian, as characterized in books like Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four...

  • Low-carbon economy
    Low-carbon economy
    A Low-Carbon Economy or Low-Fossil-Fuel Economy is an economy that has a minimal output of greenhouse gas emissions into the environment biosphere, but specifically refers to the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide...

  • Hypermodernity
    Hypermodernity
    Hypermodernity is a type, mode, or stage of society that reflects a deepening or intensification of modernity. Characteristics include a deep faith in humanity's ability to understand, control, and manipulate every aspect of human experience...

  • Media studies
    Media studies
    Media studies is an academic discipline and field of study that deals with the content, history and effects of various media; in particular, the 'mass media'. Media studies may draw on traditions from both the social sciences and the humanities, but mostly from its core disciplines of mass...

  • Post scarcity
    Post scarcity
    Post scarcity is a hypothetical form of economy or society, in which things such as goods, services and information are free, or practically free...

  • Recursion
    Recursion
    Recursion is the process of repeating items in a self-similar way. For instance, when the surfaces of two mirrors are exactly parallel with each other the nested images that occur are a form of infinite recursion. The term has a variety of meanings specific to a variety of disciplines ranging from...

    ism
  • Science fiction
    Science fiction
    Science fiction is a genre of fiction dealing with imaginary but more or less plausible content such as future settings, futuristic science and technology, space travel, aliens, and paranormal abilities...

  • Integral Theory
    Integral Theory
    Integral Theory is a philosophy posited by Ken Wilber that seeks a synthesis of the best of pre-modern, modern, and postmodern reality. It claims to be a "theory of everything," and offers an approach "to draw together an already existing number of separate paradigms into an interrelated network of...



Culture and politics
  • Decentralization
    Decentralization
    __FORCETOC__Decentralization or decentralisation is the process of dispersing decision-making governance closer to the people and/or citizens. It includes the dispersal of administration or governance in sectors or areas like engineering, management science, political science, political economy,...

  • Defamiliarization
    Defamiliarization
    Defamiliarization or ostranenie is the artistic technique of forcing the audience to see common things in an unfamiliar or strange way, in order to enhance perception of the familiar...

  • Remodernism
    Remodernism
    Remodernism revives aspects of modernism, particularly in its early form, and follows postmodernism, to which it contrasts. Adherents of remodernism advocate it as a forward and radical, not reactionary, impetus....

  • Syncretism
    Syncretism
    Syncretism is the combining of different beliefs, often while melding practices of various schools of thought. The term means "combining", but see below for the origin of the word...

  • Sokal Affair
    Sokal Affair
    The Sokal affair, also known as the Sokal hoax, was a publishing hoax perpetrated by Alan Sokal, a physics professor at New York University. In 1996, Sokal submitted an article to Social Text, an academic journal of postmodern cultural studies...



Law
  • Critical legal studies
    Critical legal studies
    Critical legal studies is a movement in legal thought that applied methods similar to those of critical theory to law. The abbreviations "CLS" and "Crit" are sometimes used to refer to the movement and its adherents....



Philosophy
  • Ontological pluralism
  • Physical ontology
  • Postmaterialism


Politics
  • Post-realism
    Post-realism
    Post-realism is a theoretical perspective on international relations. According to post-realism, global actors are joined in a global network of thoughts, actions, and talk. Post-realism focuses particularly on the talk, on discourse and debate in the conduct and study of international relations...



Psychology
  • Postmodern psychology
    Postmodern psychology
    Postmodern psychology is an approach to psychology that questions whether an ultimate or singular version of truth is actually possible within the field of psychology. This type of psychological approach relies on using a range of different methodologies rather than a singular approach...



Religion
  • Postmodern Religion
    Postmodern religion
    Postmodern religion can be defined as any type of religion that is influenced, interpreted or shaped by postmodernism and postmodern philosophies. Examples of religions that may be interpreted using postmodern philosophy include Postmodern Christianity, Postmodern Neopaganism, and Postmodern Buddhism...



Opposed by
  • Altermodern
    Altermodern
    Altermodern, a portmanteau word defined by Nicolas Bourriaud, is an attempt at contextualizing art made in today's global context as a reaction against standardisation and commercialism...

  • Remodernism
    Remodernism
    Remodernism revives aspects of modernism, particularly in its early form, and follows postmodernism, to which it contrasts. Adherents of remodernism advocate it as a forward and radical, not reactionary, impetus....

  • Remodernist film
    Remodernist Film
    Remodernist film developed in the United States and the United Kingdom in the early 21st century with ideas related to those of the international art movement Stuckism and its manifesto, Remodernism...

  • Stuckism
    Stuckism
    Stuckism is an international art movement founded in 1999 by Billy Childish and Charles Thomson to promote figurative painting in opposition to conceptual art...


Further reading


  • Powell, Jim (1998). "Postmodernism For Beginners" (ISBN 978-1-934389-09-6)
  • Alexie, Sherman (2000). "The Toughest Indian in the World" (ISBN 0-8021-3800-4)
  • Anderson, Walter Truett. The Truth about the Truth (New Consciousness Reader). New York: Tarcher. (1995) (ISBN 0-87477-801-8)
  • Anderson, Perry. The origins of postmodernity. London: Verso, 1998.
  • Ashley, Richard and Walker, R. B. J. (1990) “Speaking the Language of Exile.” International Studies Quarterly v 34, no 3 259-68.
  • Bauman, Zygmunt
    Zygmunt Bauman
    Zygmunt Bauman is a Polish sociologist who, since 1971, has resided in England after being driven out of Poland by an anti-Semitic campaign, engineered by the Communist government which he had previously supported...

     (2000) Liquid Modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Beck, Ulrich
    Ulrich Beck
    Ulrich Beck is a German sociologist who holds a professorship at Munich University and at the London School of Economics.-Life:...

     (1986) Risk Society: Towards a New Modernity.
  • Benhabib, Seyla (1995) 'Feminism and Postmodernism' in (ed. Nicholson) Feminism Contentions: A Philosophical Exchange. New York: Routledge.
  • Berman, Marshall (1982) All That Is Solid Melts Into Air: The Experience of Modernity (ISBN 0-14-010962-5).
  • Bertens, Hans (1995) The Idea of the Postmodern: A History. London: Routledge. (ISBN 0-145-06012-5).
  • Best, Steven Best and Douglas Kellner. Postmodern Theory (1991) excerpt and text search
  • Best, Steven Best and Douglas Kellner. The Postmodern Turn (1997) excerpt and text search
  • Bielskis, Andrius (2005) Towards a Postmodern Understanding of the Political: From Genealogy to Hermeneutics (Palgrave Macmillan, 2005).
  • Braschi, Giannina (1994), Empire of Dreams, introduction by Alicia Ostriker, Yale University Press, New Haven, London.
  • Brass, Tom, Peasants, Populism and Postmodernism (London: Cass, 2000).
  • Butler, Judith
    Judith Butler
    Judith Butler is an American post-structuralist philosopher, who has contributed to the fields of feminism, queer theory, political philosophy, and ethics. She is a professor in the Rhetoric and Comparative Literature departments at the University of California, Berkeley.Butler received her Ph.D...

     (1995) 'Contingent Foundations' in (ed. Nicholson) Feminist Contentions: A Philosophical Exchange. New Yotk: Routledge.
  • Callinicos, Alex
    Alex Callinicos
    Alexander Theodore Callinicos is a Trotskyist political theorist, a member of the Central Committee of the Socialist Workers Party and its International Secretary, and is Director of the Centre for European Studies at King's College London...

    , Against Postmodernism: A Marxist Critique (Cambridge: Polity, 1999).
  • Drabble, M. The Oxford Companion to English Literature, 6 ed., article "Postmodernism".
  • Farrell, John. "Paranoia and Postmodernism," the epilogue to Paranoia and Modernity: Cervantes to Rousseau (Cornell UP, 2006), 309-327.
  • Featherstone, M. (1991) Consumer culture and postmodernism, London; Newbury Park, Calif., Sage Publications.
  • Goulimari, Pelagia (ed.) (2007) Postmodernism. What Moment? Manchester: Manchester University Press (ISBN 978-0-7190-7308-3)
  • Giddens, Anthony
    Anthony Giddens
    Anthony Giddens, Baron Giddens is a British sociologist who is known for his theory of structuration and his holistic view of modern societies. He is considered to be one of the most prominent modern contributors in the field of sociology, the author of at least 34 books, published in at least 29...

     (1991) Modernity and Self Identity, Cambridge: Polity Press.
  • Grebowicz, Margaret (ed.), Gender After Lyotard. NY: Suny Press, 2007. (ISBN 978-0-7914-6956-9)
  • Greer, Robert C. Mapping Postmodernism. IL: Intervarsity Press, 2003. (ISBN 0-8308-2733-1)
  • Groothuis, Douglas. Truth Decay. Downers Grove, Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2000.
  • Harvey, David (1989) The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change (ISBN 0-631-16294-1)
  • Hicks, Stephen R. C. (2004) Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault (ISBN 1-59247-646-5)
  • Honderich, T.
    Ted Honderich
    Ted Honderich is a Canadian-born British philosopher, Grote Professor Emeritus of the Philosophy of Mind and Logic, University College London and Visiting Professor, University of Bath...

    , The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, article "Postmodernism".
  • Hutcheon, Linda. The Politics of Postmodernism. (2002) online edition]
  • Jameson, Fredric (1991) Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism
    Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism
    Postmodernism, or, the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism is a 1991 book by Fredric Jameson offering a critique of modernism and postmodernism from a Marxist perspective. The book started its life as a 1984 article in the New Left Review....

    (ISBN 0-8223-1090-2)
  • Kirby, Alan (2009) Digimodernism. New York: Continuum.
  • Lash, S. (1990) The sociology of postmodernism London, Routledge.
  • Lyotard, Jean-François (1984) The Postmodern Condition
    The Postmodern Condition
    The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge is a short but influential philosophy book by Jean-François Lyotard in which he analyzes the epistemology of postmodern culture as the end of 'grand narratives' or metanarratives, which he considers a quintessential feature of modernity. The book was...

    : A Report on Knowledge
    (ISBN 0-8166-1173-4)
  • --- (1988). The Postmodern Explained: Correspondence 1982-1985. Ed. Julian Pefanis and Morgan Thomas. (ISBN 0-8166-2211-6)
  • --- (1993), "Scriptures: Diffracted Traces." In: Theory, Culture and Society, Vol. 21(1), 2004.
  • --- (1995), "Anamnesis: Of the Visible." In: Theory, Culture and Society, Vol. 21(1), 2004.
  • McHale,Brian, (1987) Postmodernist Fiction. London: Routledge.
  • --- (1992), Constructing Postmodernism. NY & London: Routledge.
  • --- (2008), "1966 Nervous Breakdown, or, When Did Postmodernism Begin?" Modern Language Quarterly 69, 3:391-413.
  • --- (2007), "What Was Postmodernism?" electronic book review, http://www.electronicbookreview.com/thread/fictionspresent/tense
  • MacIntyre, Alasdair, After Virtue
    After Virtue
    After Virtue is a book on moral philosophy by Alasdair MacIntyre. MacIntyre provides a bleak view of the state of modern moral discourse, regarding it as failing to be rational, and failing to admit to being irrational. He claims that older forms of moral discourse were in better shape,...

    : A Study in Moral Theory (University of Notre Dame Press, 1984, 2nd edn.).
  • Magliola, Robert
    Robert Magliola
    Roberto Rino Magliola is an Italian-American academic specializing in European hermeneutics and deconstruction, in comparative philosophy, and in inter-religious dialogue...

    , Derrida on the Mend (Lafayette: Purdue University Press, 1984; 1986; pbk. 2000, ISBN I-55753-205-2).
  • ---, On Deconstructing Life-Worlds: Buddhism, Christianity, Culture (Atlanta: Scholars Press of American Academy of Religion, 1997; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000; ISBN 0-7885-0295-6, cloth, ISBN 0-7885-0296-4, pbk).
  • Manuel, Peter. "Music as Symbol, Music as Simulacrum: Pre-Modern, Modern, and Postmodern Aesthetics in Subcultural Musics," Popular Music 1/2, 1995, pp. 227–239.
  • Murphy, Nancey, Anglo-American Postmodernity: Philosophical Perspectives on Science, Religion, and Ethics (Westview Press, 1997).
  • Natoli, Joseph (1997) A Primer to Postmodernity (ISBN 1-57718-061-5)
  • Norris, Christopher (1990) What's Wrong with Postmodernism: Critical Theory and the Ends of Philosophy (ISBN 0-8018-4137-2)
  • Pangle, Thomas L., The Ennobling of Democracy: The Challenge of the Postmodern Age, Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991 ISBN 0-8018-4635-8
  • Park, Jin Y., ed., Buddhisms and Deconstructions (Lanham: Rowland & Littlefield, 2006, ISBN 978-0-7425-3418-6; ISBN 0-7425-3418-9.
  • Sim, Stuart. (1999). "The Routledge critical dictionary of postmodern thought" (ISBN 0415923530)
  • Sokal, Alan and Jean Bricmont (1998) Fashionable Nonsense
    Fashionable Nonsense
    Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science is a book by professors Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont...

    : Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science
    (ISBN 0-312-20407-8)
  • Vattimo, Gianni (1989). The Transparent Society (ISBN 0-8018-4528-9)
  • Veith Jr., Gene Edward (1994) Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture (ISBN 0-89107-768-5)
  • Windshuttle, Keith (1996) The Killing of History: How Literary Critics and Social Theorists are Murdering our Past. New York: The Free Press.
  • Woods, Tim, Beginning Postmodernism, Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1999,(Reprinted 2002)(ISBN 0-7190-5210-6 Hardback,ISBN 0-7190-5211-4 Paperback) .


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