Friday, July 18, 2008

Postmodern or Hyper-modern?

"The idea that we live in a postmodern culture is a myth. In fact, a postmodern culture is an impossibility; it would be utterly unlivable. People are not relativistic when it comes to matters of science, engineering, and technology; rather, they are relativistic and pluralistic in matters of religion and ethics. But, of course, that's not postmodernism; that's modernism! That's just old-line verificationism, which held that anything you can't prove with your five senses is a matter of personal taste. We live in a culture that remains deeply modernist."

William Lane Craig, Christianity Today, July 2008

Good word, Mr. Craig.


Bradley said...

i thought being postmodern did not entail rejecting everything modern anymore than becoming evangelical didn't necessarily entail rejecting everything about fundamentalism, but rather, meant that one was trying to get "beyond," not reject wholesale. Thus, my understanding of postmodernism is simply that which is attempting to get "beyond" the more negative trappings, limitations, blind spots, etc., of modernism ... i get this idea from Roger Olson's discussion of "postconservative theology" in "Reformed and Always Reforming." He says, "Postliberalism is an attempt to move beyond the confines of liberal theology without rejecting everything about it. Postconservatism is an attempt to move beyond the limitations of conservative theology without rejecting everything about it" (Olson, 16).

Of course that still leaves open the question about the local of these "negative" aspects of modernism. But i find this way thinking about the prefix "post" very helpful.

e.g. Postreformational Theology = not the rejection of everything about the theology of the Reformation, but an attempt to get "beyond" it by rejecting certain aspects of it.

Bradley said...

oops, i misspelled "locale"

Gerald said...


I think it depends on whose saying what. In the broader philosophical community, the term "postmodern" is largely a way of saying that modernism (with its emphasis on rationalism, empiricism, scientific verificationsim, etc.) has largely failed as a workable epistemic system.

Of course, no one wants to be (or can be) truly postmodern in the ultimate sense. The rejection of all things modern would lead an unworkable way of life. But I think for most philosophers, the term "postmodern" is more antagonistic toward modernity than Olson's "postconservative" is toward conservative.

Gerald said...

But having said that, I think that your use of "post" is appropriate and helpful. I guess all I was saying is that I'm not sure everyone else is using it that way when they speak of "postmodernity". But then maybe you already knew that. in which case you can forget just about everything I've said above.

Bradley said...

Thanks Gerald, that's helpful; i find the discussion of postmodernity and just about "post" anything to be confusing because so many people use the terms in so many ways (it seems); i'm starting to wonder if it's not just best to become postlabalic (jk).