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Post-Modernism: Calling The Kettle Black

    "Postmodernism" is a misleading concept. It does identify something real: ideologies that fully reject the idea of an objective reality and, consequently, the ideas of truth, morality, reason, etc. However, it also differentiates things that aren't essentially different.

    A "postmodern thinker" is one who takes Kant's or Hume's ideas to the extreme - like Foucault or Derrida - fully rejecting knowledge. The essential issue in the context of philosophy, however, isn't whether or not one takes someone like Kant to the extreme, but whether one considers Kant's ideas to be valid at all - specifically, his separation between "reality as it is" and "reality as perceived by the senses".

    Take Jurgen Habermas as an example. He is considered a critic of postmodernism, as his pragmatism and materialism do not result in an open rejection of objective reality and truth. However, he still takes Kant's dichotomy to be true, and redefines truth as a "rational consensus" among people - disregarding the very nature of truth as something independent of a majority's opinion.

    The same is true of Neopositivists like Karl Popper and Thomas Kuhn, with their idea of "truth" as a belief on which you can act somewhat successfully. The same is true of Analytic philosophers like Ludwig Wittgenstein and Bertrand Russel, who killed logic by redefining it as linguistics. The same is true of the Phenomenologists like Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, who take "studying reality" to be the same as "studying consciousness". The list goes on and on.

    The point I'm trying to make is quite straight-forward. A few centuries ago, Hume and Kant tried to kill reason, by claiming there is an unbridgeable gap between "what is" and "what is perceived". A philosopher can either reject this idea in its entirety, like Ayn Rand, and formulate a rational way of thinking - or they can accept it in one form or another, and be wrong. There is no essential difference between someone who claims you can't know things, but you should act like you can, and someone who claims you can't know things, and should act like it.

    The essential is the adoption of Kant and Hume's dichotomy, not how wholeheartedly one adopts it. To denounce postmodernism, one must denounce Kantianism and Humeanism as a whole. To do otherwise, which is what the idea of "postmodernism" enables, is simply a fancy way of being a pot, yet calling the kettle black.

  -  March 12th, 2020