Postmodernism is a broad movement that developed in the mid- to late 20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism, marking a departure from modernism. The term has been more generally applied to the historical era following modernity and the tendencies of this era.
While encompassing a wide variety of approaches, postmodernism is generally defined by an attitude of skepticism, irony, or rejection of the meta-narratives and ideologies of modernism, often calling into question various assumptions of Enlightenment rationality. Consequently, common targets of postmodern critique include universalist notions of objective reality, morality, truth, human nature, reason, language, and social progress. Postmodern thinkers frequently call attention to the contingent or socially-conditioned nature of knowledge claims and value systems, situating them as products of particular political, historical, or cultural discourses and hierarchies. Accordingly, postmodern thought is broadly characterized by tendencies to self-referentiality, epistemological and moral relativism, pluralism, and irreverence.
Postmodern critical approaches gained purchase in the 1980s and 1990s, and have been adopted in a variety of academic and theoretical disciplines, including cultural studies, philosophy of science, economics, linguistics, architecture, feminist theory, and literary criticism, as well as art movements in fields such as literature and music. Postmodernism is often associated with schools of thought such as deconstruction and post-structuralism, as well as philosophers such as Jean-François Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, and Fredric Jameson.
Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or a mode of discourse that rejects the possibility of reliable knowledge, denies the existence of a universal, stable reality, and frames aesthetics and beauty as arbitrary and subjective. It is characterized by an attitude of skepticism, irony, or rejection toward the meta-narratives and ideologies of modernism, often denying or challenging the validity of scientific inquiry, or declaiming the arbitrariness of the aesthetics of artistic works or other artifacts of cultural production, or questioning various assumptions of Enlightenment rationality. Initially, postmodernism was a mode of discourse on literature and literary criticism, commenting on the nature of literary text, meaning, author and reader, writing and reading. Postmodernism developed in the mid- to late 20th century across philosophy, the arts, architecture, and criticism as a departure or rejection of modernism.
Postmodernism relies on critical theory, an approach that confronts the ideological, social, and historical structures that shape and constrain cultural production. Common targets of postmodernism and critical theory include universalist notions of objective reality, morality, truth, human nature, reason, language, and social progress. Postmodernist approaches have been adopted in a variety of academic and theoretical disciplines, including political science,, organization theory, cultural studies, philosophy of science, economics, linguistics, architecture, feminist theory, and literary criticism, as well as art movements in fields such as literature and music.
Postmodern thinkers frequently call attention to the contingent or socially-conditioned nature of knowledge claims and value systems, situating them as products of particular political, historical, or cultural discourses and hierarchies. Accordingly, postmodern thought is broadly characterized by tendencies to self-referentiality, epistemological and moral relativism, pluralism, and irreverence. Postmodernism is often associated with schools of thought such as deconstruction and post-structuralism, as well as philosophers such as Jean-François Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, and Fredric Jameson.
Criticisms of postmodernism are intellectually diverse, and include assertions that postmodernism promotes obscurantism, and is meaningless, adding nothing to analytical or empirical knowledge. Some philosophers, beginning with the pragmatist philosopher Jürgen Habermas, assert that those who employ postmodernist discourse are prey to a performative contradiction and a paradox of self-reference, as their critique would be impossible without the concepts and methods that modern reason provides. Conservatives Michael Oakeshott and Leo Strauss considered postmodernism to be an abandonment of the rationalist project which many conservatives consider the most important cultural product of humans and Leo Strauss sought to restore rationalism to a more skeptical Aristotelian version "embedded in the ordinary reality that humans perceived". Others have claimed that persons who are knowledgeable about postmodernism have difficulty distinguishing nonsensical postmodernist artifacts from those that are nominally genuine.
Nietzsche's thought enjoyed renewed popularity in the 1960s and his ideas have since had a profound impact on 20th and early-21st century thinkers across philosophy—especially in schools of continental philosophy such as existentialism, postmodernism and post-structuralism—as well as art, literature, psychology, politics and popular culture. He is known today as precursor to postmodernism.
The basic features of what is now called postmodernism can be found as early as the 1940s, most notably in the work of artists such as Jorge Luis Borges. However, most scholars today would agree that postmodernism began to compete with modernism in the late 1950s and gained ascendancy over it in the 1960s. Since then, postmodernism has been a powerful, though not undisputed, force in art, literature, film, music, drama, architecture, history, and continental philosophy.
Salient features of postmodernism are normally thought to include the ironic play with styles, citations and narrative levels, a metaphysical skepticism or nihilism towards a "grand narrative" of Western culture, a preference for the virtual at the expense of the Real (or more accurately, a fundamental questioning of what 'the real' constitutes).
Since the late 1990s there has been a growing feeling both in popular culture and in academia that postmodernism "has gone out of fashion". Arguing from the context of current cultural production, others contend that postmodernism is dead.
Structuralism was a philosophical movement developed by French academics in the 1950s, partly in response to French Existentialism, and often interpreted in relation to Modernism and High modernism. Thinkers who have been called structuralists include the anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, the linguist Ferdinand de Saussure, the Marxist philosopher Louis Althusser, and the semiotician Algirdas Greimas. The early writings of the psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan and the literary theorist Roland Barthes have also been called structuralists. Those who began as structuralists but became post-structuralists include Michel Foucault, Roland Barthes, Jean Baudrillard, Gilles Deleuze. Other post-structuralists include Jacques Derrida, Pierre Bourdieu, Jean-François Lyotard, Julia Kristeva, Hélène Cixous, and Luce Irigaray. The American cultural theorists, critics and intellectuals whom they influenced include Judith Butler, John Fiske, Rosalind Krauss, Avital Ronell, and Hayden White.
Like structuralists, post-structuralists start from the assumption that people's identities, values and economic conditions determine each other rather than having intrinsic properties that can be understood in isolation. Thus the French structuralists considered themselves to be espousing Relativism and Constructionism. But they nevertheless tended to explore how the subjects of their study might be described, reductively, as a set of essential relationships, schematics, or mathematical symbols. (An example is Claude Lévi-Strauss's algebraic formulation of mythological transformation in "The Structural Study of Myth").
Postmodernist ideas in philosophy and the analysis of culture and society expanded the importance of critical theory and has been the point of departure for works of literature, architecture and design, as well as being visible in marketing/business and the interpretation of history, law and culture, starting in the late 20th century. These developments—re-evaluation of the entire Western value system (love, marriage, popular culture, shift from industrial to service economy) that took place since the 1950s and 1960s, with a peak in the Social Revolution of 1968—are described with the term "postmodernity", as opposed to Postmodernism, a term referring to an opinion or movement. Post-structuralism is characterized by new ways of thinking through structuralism, contrary to the original form.
One of the most well-known postmodernist concerns is "deconstruction," a theory for philosophy, literary criticism, and textual analysis developed by Jacques Derrida. Critics have insisted that Derrida's work is rooted in a statement found in Of Grammatology: "Il n'y a pas d'hors-texte" (there is no Outside-text). Such critics misinterpret the statement as denying any reality outside of books. The statement is actually part of a critique of "inside" and "outside" metaphors when referring to text, and is corollary to the observation that there is no "inside" of a text as well. This attention to a text's unacknowledged reliance on metaphors and figures embedded within its discourse is characteristic of Derrida's approach. Derrida's method sometimes involves demonstrating that a given philosophical discourse depends on binary oppositions and/or excluded terms that the discourse itself has declared to be irrelevant or inapplicable. Derrida's philosophy inspired a postmodern movement called deconstructivism among architects, characterized by design that rejects structural "centers" and encourages decentralized play among its elements. Derrida discontinued his involvement with the movement after the publication of his collaborative project with architect Peter Eisenman in Chora L Works: Jacques Derrida and Peter Eisenman.
The connection between postmodernism, posthumanism, and cyborgism has led to a challenge of postmodernism, for which the terms "postpostmodernism" and "postpoststructuralism" were first coined in 2003:
In some sense, we may regard postmodernism, posthumanism, poststructuralism, etc., as being of the 'cyborg age' of mind over body. Deconference was an exploration in post-cyborgism (i.e. what comes after the postcorporeal era), and thus explored issues of postpostmodernism, postpoststructuralism, and the like. To understand this transition from 'pomo' (cyborgism) to 'popo' (postcyborgism) we must first understand the cyborg era itself.
More recently metamodernism, post-postmodernism and the "death of postmodernism" have been widely debated: in 2007 Andrew Hoberek 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 or society in the alleged aftermath of postmodernism, most notably Raoul Eshelman (performatism), Gilles Lipovetsky (hypermodernity), Nicolas Bourriaud (altermodern), and Alan Kirby (digimodernism, formerly called pseudo-modernism). None of these new theories and labels have so far gained very widespread acceptance. Sociocultural anthropologist Nina Müller-Schwarze offers neostructuralism as a possible direction. The exhibition Postmodernism – Style and Subversion 1970–1990 at the Victoria and Albert Museum (London, 24 September 2011 – 15 January 2012) was billed as the first show to document postmodernism as a historical movement.
The term postmodern was first used around the 1880s. John Watkins Chapman suggested "a Postmodern style of painting" as a way to depart from French Impressionism. J. M. Thompson, in his 1914 article in The Hibbert Journal (a quarterly philosophical review), used it to describe changes in attitudes and beliefs in the critique of religion, writing: "The raison d'être of Post-Modernism is to escape from the double-mindedness of Modernism by being thorough in its criticism by extending it to religion as well as theology, to Catholic feeling as well as to Catholic tradition."
In 1942 H. R. Hays described postmodernism as a new literary form.
In 1926, Bernard Iddings Bell, president of St. Stephen's College (now Bard College), published Postmodernism and Other Essays, marking the first use of the term to describe the historical period following Modernity. In it, he criticizes the lingering socio-cultural norms, attitudes and practices of the Age of Enlightenment; forecasts the major cultural shifts toward Postmodernity, and (being an Anglo-Catholic priest) offers orthodox religion as a solution. However, as a general theory for a historical movement, it was first used in 1939 by Arnold J. Toynbee: "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, and led to the postmodern architecture movement, and a response to the modernist architectural movement known as the International Style. Postmodernism in architecture was initially marked by a re-emergence of surface ornament, reference to surrounding buildings in urban settings, historical reference in decorative forms (eclecticism), and non-orthogonal angles.
Peter Drucker suggested the transformation into a post-modern world happened between 1937 and 1957 (when he was writing). He described an as yet "nameless era" which he characterized as a shift to conceptual world based on pattern, purpose, and process rather than mechanical cause, outlined by four new realities: the emergence of Educated Society, the importance of international development, the decline of the nation state, and the collapse of the viability of non-Western cultures.
In 1971, in a lecture delivered at the Institute of Contemporary Art, London, Mel Bochner described "post-modernism" in art as having started with Jasper Johns, "who first rejected sense-data and the singular point-of-view as the basis for his art, and treated art as a critical investigation".
In 1996, Walter Truett Anderson described postmodernism as belonging to one of four typological world views, which he identifies as either (a) Postmodern-ironist, which sees truth as socially constructed, (b) Scientific-rational, in which truth is found through methodical, disciplined inquiry, (c) Social-traditional, in which truth is found in the heritage of American and Western civilization, or (d) Neo-Romantic, in which truth is found through attaining harmony with nature and/or spiritual exploration of the inner self.
In the 1970s a group of poststructuralists in France developed a radical critique of modern philosophy with roots discernible in Nietzche, Kierkegaard, and Heidegger, and became known as postmodern theorists, notably including Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Jean-François Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, and others. New and challenging modes of thought and writing pushed the development of new areas and topics in philosophy. By the 1980s, this spread to America (Richard Rorty) and the world.
Jacques Derrida was a French philosopher best known for developing a form of semiotic analysis known as deconstruction, which he discussed in numerous texts, and developed in the context of phenomenology. He is one of the major figures associated with post-structuralism and postmodern philosophy.
Derrida re-examined the fundamentals of writing and its consequences on philosophy in general; sought to undermine the language of "presence" or metaphysics in an analytical technique which, beginning as a point of departure from Heidegger's notion of Destruktion, came to be known as Deconstruction.
Michel Foucault was a French philosopher, historian of ideas, social theorist, and literary critic. First associated with structuralism, Foucault created an ouevre which today is seen as belonging to post-structuralism, and to postmodern philosophy. Leading light of French theory, his work remains relatively fruitful in the English-speaking academic world, above and beyond the sub-disciplines involved. The Times Higher Education Guide described him in 2009 as the most cited author in the humanities.
Michel Foucault introduced concepts such as 'discursive regime', or re-invoked those of older philosophers like 'episteme' and 'genealogy' in order to explain the relationship between meaning, power, and social behavior within social orders (see The Order of Things, The Archaeology of Knowledge, Discipline and Punish, and The History of Sexuality).
Jean-François Lyotard is credited with being the first to use the term in a philosophical context, in his 1979 work The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge. In it, he follows Wittgenstein's language games model and speech act theory, contrasting two different language games, that of the expert, and that of the philosopher, and talks about transformation of knowledge into information in the computer age, and likens the transmission or reception of coded messages (information) to a position within a language game.
Lyotard defined philosophical postmodernism in The Postmodern Condition, writing: "Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity towards meta narratives...."  where what he means by metanarrative is something like a unified, complete, universal, and epistemically certain story about everything that is. Postmodernists reject metanarratives because they reject the concept of truth that metanarratives presuppose. Postmodernist philosophers in general argue that truth is always contingent on historical and social context rather than being absolute and universal and that truth is always partial and "at issue" rather than being complete and certain.
Richard Rorty] argues in Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature that contemporary analytic philosophy mistakenly imitates scientific methods. In addition, he denounces the traditional epistemological perspectives of representationalism and correspondence theory that rely upon the independence of knowers and observers from phenomena and the passivity of natural phenomena in relation to consciousness.
Jean Baudrillard, in Simulacra and Simulation, 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. For Baudrillard, "simulation is no longer that of a territory, a referential being or a substance. It is the generation by models of a real without origin or a reality: a hyperreal."
Fredric Jameson 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).
In Analysis of the Journey, a journal birthed from postmodernism, Douglas Kellner insists that the "assumptions and procedures of modern theory" must be forgotten. Extensively, Kellner analyzes the terms of this theory in real-life experiences and examples. Kellner used science and technology studies as a major part of his analysis; he urged that the theory is incomplete without it. The scale was larger than just postmodernism alone; it must be interpreted through cultural studies where science and technology studies play a huge role. The reality of the September 11 attacks on the United States of America is the catalyst for his explanation. This catalyst is used as a great representation due to the mere fact of the planned ambush and destruction of "symbols of globalization", insinuating the World Trade Center.
The conclusion he depicts is simple: postmodernism, as most use it today, will decide what experiences and signs in one's reality will be one's reality as they know it.
Postmodern art is a body of art movements that sought to contradict some aspects of modernism or some aspects that emerged or developed in its aftermath. Cultural production manifesting as intermedia, installation art, conceptual art, deconstructionist display, and multimedia, particularly involving video are described as postmodern.
The idea of Postmodernism in architecture began as a response to the perceived blandness and failed Utopianism of the Modern movement. Modern Architecture, as established and developed by Walter Gropius and Le Corbusier, was focused on the pursuit of a perceived ideal perfection, and attempted harmony of form and function, and dismissal of "frivolous ornament," as well as arguing for an architecture that represented the spirit of the age as depicted in cutting-edge technology, be it airplanes, cars, ocean liners or even supposedly artless grain silos. Critics of modernism argued that the attributes of perfection and minimalism themselves were subjective, and pointed out anachronisms in modern thought and questioned the benefits of its philosophy. Modernist Ludwig Mies van der Rohe is associated with the phrase "less is more"; in response Venturi famously wrote "Less is a bore" in his 1966 book Complexity and Contradiction. In that book he practically declared war on prevailing modernist thought.
The intellectual scholarship regarding postmodernism and architecture is closely linked with the writings of critic-turned-architect Charles Jencks, beginning with lectures in the early 1970s and his essay "The rise of post-modern architecture" from 1975. His magnum opus, however, is the book The Language of Post-Modern Architecture, first published in 1977, and since running to seven editions. Jencks makes the point that Post-Modernism (like Modernism) varies for each field of art, and that for architecture it is not just a reaction to Modernism but what he terms double coding: "Double Coding: the combination of Modern techniques with something else (usually traditional building) in order for architecture to communicate with the public and a concerned minority, usually other architects." In their book, "Revisiting Postmodernism", Terry Farrell and Adam Furman argue that postmodernism brought a more joyous and sensual experience to the culture, particularly in architecture.
Modernism sought to design and plan cities which followed the logic of the new model of industrial mass production; reverting to large-scale solutions, aesthetic standardisation and prefabricated design solutions. Modernism eroded urban living by its failure to recognise differences and aim towards homogenous landscapes (Simonsen 1990, 57). Jane Jacobs' 1961 book The Death and Life of Great American Cities was a sustained critique of urban planning as it had developed within Modernism and marked a transition from modernity to postmodernity in thinking about urban planning (Irving 1993, 479). However, the transition from Modernism to Postmodernism is often said to have happened at 3:32pm on 15 July in 1972, when Pruitt–Igoe; a housing development for low-income people in St. Louis designed by architect Minoru Yamasaki, which had been a prize-winning version of Le Corbusier's 'machine for modern living' was deemed uninhabitable and was torn down (Irving 1993, 480). Since then, Postmodernism has involved theories that embrace and aim to create diversity, and it exalts uncertainty, flexibility and change (Hatuka & D'Hooghe 2007) and rejects utopianism while embracing a utopian way of thinking and acting. Postmodernity of 'resistance' seeks to deconstruct Modernism and is a critique of the origins without necessarily returning to them (Irving 1993, 60). As a result of Postmodernism, planners are much less inclined to lay a firm or steady claim to there being one single 'right way' of engaging in urban planning and are more open to different styles and ideas of 'how to plan' (Irving 474).
Jorge Luis Borges' (1939) short story Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote, is often considered as predicting postmodernism and conceiving the ideal of the ultimate parody. Samuel Beckett is sometimes seen as an important precursor and influence. Novelists who are commonly connected with postmodern literature include Vladimir Nabokov, William Gaddis, Umberto Eco, John Hawkes, William S. Burroughs, Giannina Braschi, Kurt Vonnegut, John Barth, Jean Rhys, Donald Barthelme, E. L. Doctorow, Richard Kalich, Jerzy Kosiński, Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon (Pynchon's work has also been described as "high modern"), Ishmael Reed, Kathy Acker, Ana Lydia Vega, Jáchym Topol and Paul Auster.
In 1971, the Arab-American scholar Ihab Hassan 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, Franz Kafka, Ernest Hemingway, Beckett, and many others, including developments such as the Theatre of the Absurd and the nouveau roman. In 'Postmodernist Fiction' (1987), Brian McHale 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. McHale's "What Was Postmodernism?" (2007), follows Raymond Federman's lead in now using the past tense when discussing postmodernism.
Jonathan Kramer has written that avant-garde musical compositions (which some would consider modernist rather than postmodernist) “defy more than seduce the listener, and they extend by potentially unsettling means the very idea of what music is.” The postmodern impulse in classical music arose in the 1960s with the advent of musical minimalism. Composers such as Terry Riley, Henryk Górecki, Bradley Joseph, John Adams, Steve Reich, Philip Glass, Michael Nyman, and Lou Harrison reacted to the perceived elitism and dissonant sound of atonal academic modernism by producing music with simple textures and relatively consonant harmonies, whilst others, most notably John Cage challenged the prevailing narratives of beauty and objectivity common to Modernism.
Author on postmodernism, Dominic Strinati, has noted, it is also important "to include in this category the so-called 'art rock' musical innovations and mixing of styles associated with groups like Talking Heads, and performers like Laurie Anderson, together with the self-conscious 'reinvention of disco' by the Pet Shop Boys".
Early mention of postmodernism as an element of graphic design appeared in the British magazine, "Design". A characteristic of postmodern graphic design is that "retro, techno, punk, grunge, beach, parody, and pastiche were all conspicuous trends. Each had its own sites and venues, detractors and advocates".
Criticisms of postmodernism are intellectually diverse, including the assertions that postmodernism is meaningless and promotes obscurantism.
In part in reference to post-modernism, conservative English philosopher Roger Scruton wrote, “A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ‘merely relative,’ is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.” Similarly, Dick Hebdige criticized the vagueness of the term, enumerating a long list of otherwise unrelated concepts that people have designated as "postmodernism", from "the décor of a room" or "a 'scratch' video", to fear of nuclear armageddon and the "implosion of meaning", and stated that anything that could signify all of those things was "a buzzword".
The anarcho-syndicalist linguist and philosopher Noam Chomsky has argued that postmodernism is meaningless because it adds nothing to analytical or empirical knowledge. He asks why postmodernist intellectuals do not respond like people in other fields when asked, "what are the principles of their theories, on what evidence are they based, what do they explain that wasn't already obvious, etc.?...If [these requests] can't be met, then I'd suggest recourse to Hume's advice in similar circumstances: 'to the flames'."
Christian philosopher William Lane Craig has noted "The idea that we live in a postmodern culture is a myth. In fact, a postmodern culture is an impossibility; it would be utterly unliveable. 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!"
American academic and aesthete Camille Paglia has asserted "The end result of four decades of postmodernism permeating the art world is that there is very little interesting or important work being done right now in the fine arts. Irony was a bold and creative posture when Duchamp did it, but it is now an utterly banal, exhausted, and tedious strategy. Young artists have been taught to be “cool” and “hip” and thus painfully self-conscious. They are not encouraged to be enthusiastic, emotional, and visionary. They have been cut off from artistic tradition by the crippled skepticism about history that they have been taught by ignorant and solipsistic postmodernists. In short, the art world will never revive until postmodernism fades away. Postmodernism is a plague upon the mind and the heart."
German philosopher Albrecht Wellmer has asserted that "postmodernism at its best might be seen as a self-critical - a sceptical, ironic, but nevertheless unrelenting - form of modernism; a modernism beyond utopianism, scientism and foundationalism; in short a postmetaphysical modernism."
A formal, academic critique of postmodernism can be found in Beyond the Hoax and Fashionable Nonsense, written around the so-called Sokal affair. In 1996, physics professor Alan Sokal wrote a deliberately nonsensical article in a style similar to postmodernist articles, which was accepted for publication by the postmodern cultural studies journal, Social Text. On the same day of the release he published another article in a different journal explaining the Social Text article hoax. The philosopher Thomas Nagel has supported Sokal and Bricmont, describing their book Fashionable Nonsense as consisting largely of "extensive quotations of scientific gibberish from name-brand French intellectuals, together with eerily patient explanations of why it is gibberish," and agreeing that "there does seem to be something about the Parisian scene that is particularly hospitable to reckless verbosity."
The French psychotherapist and philosopher, Félix Guattari, often considered a "postmodernist", rejected its theoretical assumptions by arguing that the structuralist and postmodernist visions of the world were not flexible enough to seek explanations in psychological, social and environmental domains at the same time.
Zimbabwean-born British Marxist Alex Callinicos argues that postmodernism "reflects the disappointed revolutionary generation of '68, and the incorporation of many of its members into the professional and managerial 'new middle class'. It is best read as a symptom of political frustration and social mobility rather than as a significant intellectual or cultural phenomenon in its own right."
Christopher Hitchens in his book, Why Orwell Matters, writes, in advocating for simple, clear and direct expression of ideas, "The Postmodernists' tyranny wears people down by boredom and semi-literate prose."
Analytic philosopher Daniel Dennett declared, "Postmodernism, the school of 'thought' that proclaimed 'There are no truths, only interpretations' has largely played itself out in absurdity, but it has left behind a generation of academics in the humanities disabled by their distrust of the very idea of truth and their disrespect for evidence, settling for 'conversations' in which nobody is wrong and nothing can be confirmed, only asserted with whatever style you can muster."
American historian Richard Wolin traces the origins of postmodernism to intellectual roots in Fascism, writing "postmodernism has been nourished by the doctrines of Friedrich Nietzsche, Martin Heidegger, Maurice Blanchot, and Paul de Man—all of whom either prefigured or succumbed to the proverbial intellectual fascination with fascism."
Daniel A. Farber and Suzanna Sherry criticised Postmodernism for reducing the complexity of the modern world to an expression of power and for undermining truth and reason: "If the modern era begins with the European Enlightenment, the postmodern era that captivates the radical multiculturalists begins with its rejection. According to the new radicals, the Enlightenment-inspired ideas that have previously structured our world, especially the legal and academic parts of it, are a fraud perpetrated and perpetuated by white males to consolidate their own power. Those who disagree are not only blind but bigoted. The Enlightenment's goal of an objective and reasoned basis for knowledge, merit, truth, justice, and the like is an impossibility: "objectivity," in the sense of standards of judgment that transcend individual perspectives, does not exist. Reason is just another code word for the views of the privileged. The Enlightenment itself merely replaced one socially constructed view of reality with another, mistaking power for knowledge. There is naught but power."
Richard Caputo, William Epstein, David Stoesz & Bruce Thyer consider postmodernism to be a dead end in Social Work. They write, "Postmodernism continues to have a detrimental influence on social work, questioning the Enlightenment, criticizing established research methods, and challenging scientific authority. The promotion of postmodernism by editors of Social Work and the Journal of Social Work Education has elevated postmodernism, placing it on a par with theoretically guided and empirically based research. The inclusion of postmodernism in the 2008 Educational Policy and Accreditation Standards of the Council on Social Work Education and its 2015 sequel further erode the knowledge-building capacity of social work educators. In relation to other disciplines that have exploited empirical methods, social work’s stature will continue to ebb until postmodernism is rejected in favor of scientific methods for generating knowledge."
H. Sidky pointed out what he sees as several "inherent flaws" of a postmodern antiscience perspective, including the confusion of the authority of science (evidence) with the scientist conveying the knowledge; its self-contradictory claim that all truths are relative; and its strategic ambiguity. He sees 21st-century anti-scientific and pseudo-scientific approaches to knowledge, particularly in the United States, as rooted in a postmodernist "decades-long academic assault on science:" "Many of those indoctrinated in postmodern anti-science went on to become conservative political and religious leaders, policymakers, journalists, journal editors, judges, lawyers, and members of city councils and school boards. Sadly, they forgot the lofty ideals of their teachers, except that science is bogus."
Of or relating to an intellectual stance often marked by eclecticism and irony and tending to reject the universal validity of such principles as hierarchy, binary opposition, categorization, and stable identity.
Postmodernism is a plague upon the mind and the heart.
An art movement is a tendency or style in art with a specific common philosophy or goal, followed by a group of artists during a restricted period of time, (usually a few months, years or decades) or, at least, with the heyday of the movement defined within a number of years. Art movements were especially important in modern art, when each consecutive movement was considered as a new avant-garde.Biopunk
Biopunk (a portmanteau of "biotechnology" or "biology" and "punk") is a subgenre of science fiction that focuses on biotechnology. It is derived from cyberpunk, but focuses on the implications of biotechnology rather than information technology. Biopunk is concerned with synthetic biology. It is derived of cyberpunk involving bio-hackers, biotech mega-corporations, and oppressive government agencies that manipulate human DNA. Most often keeping with the dark atmosphere of cyberpunk, biopunk generally examines the dark side of genetic engineering and represents the low side of biotechnology.Criticism of postmodernism
Criticisms of postmodernism, while intellectually diverse, share the opinion that it lacks coherence and is hostile to the notion of absolutes, such as truth. Specifically it is held that postmodernism can be meaningless, promotes obscurantism and uses relativism (in culture, morality, knowledge) to the extent that it cripples most judgement calls.
Postmodernism is a highly diverse intellectual and artistic activity, and two branches (for example, postmodern literature and postmodern philosophy) can have little in common. Criticism of postmodernism in general is usually not a comprehensive attack on the various diverse movements labelled postmodern. Such criticism often refers to specific branches of postmodernism, frequently on intellectual theories in the humanities (philosophy, history, gender and LGBT+ studies, structuralism, cultural relativism and "theory"). Postmodern philosophy is also a frequent subject of criticism for obscurantism and resistance to reliable knowledge. For example, a philosopher may criticize French postmodern philosophy but have no problem with postmodern cinema. Conversely, philosopher Roger Scruton criticized postmodern humanities and some elements of postmodern art, yet never broadly attacked the entire inventory of varied postmodern projects. One of the very criticisms of postmodernism, as a whole, is the absence of a definition of what postmodernism in itself is and even what specific post-modern anything is.Fredric Jameson
Fredric Jameson (born April 14, 1934) is an American literary critic and Marxist political theorist. He is best known for his analysis of contemporary cultural trends, particularly his analysis of postmodernity and capitalism. Jameson's best-known books include Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism (1991) and The Political Unconscious (1981).
Jameson is currently Knut Schmidt-Nielsen Professor of Comparative Literature and Romance Studies (French) and the director of the Center for Critical Theory at Duke University. In 2012, the Modern Language Association gave Jameson its sixth Award for Lifetime Scholarly Achievement.Metamodernism
Metamodernism is a proposed set of developments in philosophy, aesthetics, and culture which are emerging from and reacting to postmodernism. One definition characterizes metamodernism as mediations between aspects of both modernism and postmodernism. Another similar term is post-postmodernism.Neo-primitivism
Neo-primitivism was a Russian art movement which took its name from the 31-page pamphlet Neo-primitivizm, by Aleksandr Shevchenko (1913). In the pamphlet Shevchenko proposes a new style of modern painting which fuses elements of Cézanne, Cubism and Futurism with traditional Russian 'folk art' conventions and motifs, notably the russian icon and the lubok.Post-postmodernism
Post-postmodernism is a wide-ranging set of developments in critical theory, philosophy, architecture, art, literature, and culture which are emerging from and reacting to postmodernism. Another similar recent term is metamodernism.Posthumanism
Posthumanism or post-humanism (meaning "after humanism" or "beyond humanism") is a term with at least seven definitions according to philosopher Francesca Ferrando:
Antihumanism: any theory that is critical of traditional humanism and traditional ideas about humanity and the human condition.
Cultural posthumanism: a branch of cultural theory critical of the foundational assumptions of humanism and its legacy that examines and questions the historical notions of "human" and "human nature", often challenging typical notions of human subjectivity and embodiment and strives to move beyond archaic concepts of "human nature" to develop ones which constantly adapt to contemporary technoscientific knowledge.
Philosophical posthumanism: a philosophical direction which draws on cultural posthumanism, the philosophical strand examines the ethical implications of expanding the circle of moral concern and extending subjectivities beyond the human species.
Posthuman condition: the deconstruction of the human condition by critical theorists.
Transhumanism: an ideology and movement which seeks to develop and make available technologies that eliminate aging and greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities, in order to achieve a "posthuman future".
AI takeover: A more pessimistic alternative to transhumanism in which humans will not be enhanced, but rather eventually replaced by artificial intelligences. Some philosophers, including Nick Land, promote the view that humans should embrace and accept their eventual demise. This is related to the view of "cosmism", which supports the building of strong artificial intelligence even if it may entail the end of humanity, as in their view it "would be a cosmic tragedy if humanity freezes evolution at the puny human level".
Voluntary Human Extinction, which seeks a "posthuman future" that in this case is a future without humans.Postmodern architecture
Postmodern architecture is a style or movement which emerged in the 1960s as a reaction against the austerity, formality, and lack of variety of modern architecture, particularly in the international style advocated by Le Corbusier and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The movement was introduced by the architect and urban planner Denise Scott Brown and architectural theorist Robert Venturi in their book Learning from Las Vegas. The style flourished from the 1980s through the 1990s, particularly in the work of Scott Brown & Venturi, Philip Johnson, Charles Moore and Michael Graves. In the late 1990s it divided into a multitude of new tendencies, including high-tech architecture, modern classicism and deconstructivism.Postmodern art
Postmodern art is a body of art movements that sought to contradict some aspects of modernism or some aspects that emerged or developed in its aftermath. In general, movements such as intermedia, installation art, conceptual art and multimedia, particularly involving video are described as postmodern.
There are several characteristics which lend art to being postmodern; these include bricolage, the use of text prominently as the central artistic element, collage, simplification, appropriation, performance art, the recycling of past styles and themes in a modern-day context, as well as the break-up of the barrier between fine and high arts and low art and popular culture.Postmodern dance
Postmodern dance is a 20th century concert dance form that came into popularity in the early 1960s. While the term "postmodern" took on a different meaning when used to describe dance, the dance form did take inspiration from the ideologies of the wider Postmodern movement, which "sought to deflate what it saw as overly pretentious and ultimately self-serving modernist views of art and the artist" and was, more generally, a departure from modernist ideals. Lacking stylistic homogeny, Postmodern dance was discerned mainly by its anti-modern dance sentiments rather than by its dance style. The dance form was a reaction to the compositional and presentational constraints of the preceding generation of modern dance, hailing the use of everyday movement as valid performance art and advocating for unconventional methods of dance composition.
Postmodern dance made the claim that all movement was dance expression and any person was a dancer regardless of training. In this, early postmodern dance was more closely aligned with the ideologies of modernism rather than the architectural, literary and design movements of postmodernism. However, the postmodern dance movement rapidly developed to embrace the more broad idea of postmodernism, which was reflected in the wide variety of dance works emerging from Judson Dance Theater, a pioneering postmodern dance collective located in New York City during the 1960s.The peak popularity of Postmodern dance as a performance art was relatively short, lasting from the early 1960s to the mid 1980s, but due to the changing definitions of postmodernism, it technically reaches the mid 1990s and beyond. The form's influence can be seen in various other dance forms, especially contemporary dance, and in postmodern choreographic processes that are utilized by choreographers in a wide range of dance works.Postmodern feminism
Postmodern feminism is a mix of post structuralism, postmodernism, and French feminism. The goal of postmodern feminism is to destabilize the patriarchal norms entrenched in society that have led to gender inequality. Postmodern feminists seek to accomplish this goal through rejecting essentialism, philosophy, and universal truths in favor of embracing the differences that exist amongst women to demonstrate that not all women are the same. These ideologies are rejected by postmodern feminists because they believe if an universal truth is applied to all woman of society, it minimizes individual experience, hence they warn women to be aware of ideas displayed as the norm in society since it may stem from masculine notions of how a women should be portrayed.Postmodern feminists seek to analyze any notions that have led to gender inequality in society. Postmodern feminists analyze these notions and attempt to promote equality of gender through critiquing logocentrism, supporting multiple discourses, deconstructing texts, and seeking to promote subjectivity. Postmodern feminists are accredited with drawing attention to dichotomies in society and demonstrating how language influences the difference in treatment of genders.The inclusion of postmodern theory into feminist theory is not readily accepted by all feminists, some believe postmodern thought undermines the attacks that feminist theory attempts to create, while other feminists are in favor of the union. For this reason, postmodernism and feminism have always had an uneasy relationship.Postmodern literature
Postmodern literature is literature characterized by reliance on narrative techniques such as fragmentation, paradox, and the unreliable narrator; and is often (though not exclusively) defined as a style or a trend which emerged in the post–World War II era. Postmodern works are seen as a response against dogmatic following of Enlightenment thinking and Modernist approaches to literature.Postmodern literature, like postmodernism as a whole, tends to resist definition or classification as a "movement". However, works considered postmodern tend to engage with various modes of critical theory, particularly reader-response and deconstructionist approaches, as well as ways of subverting the implicit contract between author, text and reader.While there is little consensus on the precise characteristics, scope, and importance of postmodern literature, as is often the case with artistic movements, postmodern literature is commonly defined in relation to a precursor. In particular, postmodern writers are seen as reacting against the precepts of modernism, and they often operate as literary "bricoleurs", parodying forms and styles associated with modernist (and other) writers and artists. Postmodern works also tend to celebrate chance over craft, and further employ metafiction to undermine the text's authority or authenticity. Another characteristic of postmodern literature is the questioning of distinctions between high and low culture through the use of pastiche, the combination of subjects and genres not previously deemed fit for literature.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. Even so, postmodern music still does not primarily define itself in opposition to modernist music; this label is applied instead by critics and theorists.
Postmodern music is not a distinct musical style, but rather refers to music of the postmodern era. The terms "postmodern", "postmodernism", "postmodernist", and "postmodernity" are exasperating terms (Bertens 1995, 3). Indeed, postmodernists question the tight definitions and categories of academic disciplines, which they regard simply as the remnants of modernity (Rosenau 1992, 6–7).Postmodern philosophy
Postmodern philosophy is a philosophical movement that arose in the second half of the 20th century as a critical response to assumptions allegedly present in modernist philosophical ideas regarding culture, identity, history, or language that were developed during the 18th-century Enlightenment. Postmodernist thinkers developed concepts like difference, repetition, trace, and hyperreality to subvert "grand narratives", univocity of being, and epistemic certainty. Postmodern philosophy questions the importance of power relationships, personalization, and discourse in the "construction" of truth and world views. Many postmodernists appear to deny that an objective reality exists, and appear to deny that there are objective moral values.Jean-François Lyotard defined philosophical postmodernism in The Postmodern Condition, writing "Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity towards meta narratives...." where what he means by metanarrative is something like a unified, complete, universal, and epistemically certain story about everything that is. Postmodernists reject metanarratives because they reject the concept of truth that metanarratives presuppose. Postmodernist philosophers in general argue that truth is always contingent on historical and social context rather than being absolute and universal and that truth is always partial and "at issue" rather than being complete and certain.Postmodern philosophy is often particularly skeptical about simple binary oppositions characteristic of structuralism, emphasizing the problem of the philosopher cleanly distinguishing knowledge from ignorance, social progress from reversion, dominance from submission, good from bad, and presence from absence. But, for the same reasons, postmodern philosophy should often be particularly skeptical about the complex spectral characteristics of things, emphasizing the problem of the philosopher again cleanly distinguishing concepts, for a concept must be understood in the context of its opposite, such as existence and nothingness, normality and abnormality, speech and writing, and the like.Postmodern philosophy also has strong relations with the substantial literature of critical theory.Postmodern theatre
Postmodern theatre is a recent phenomenon in world theatre, coming as it does out of the postmodern philosophy that originated in Europe in the middle of the twentieth century. Postmodern theatre emerged as a reaction against modernist theatre. Most postmodern productions are centered on highlighting the fallibility of definite truth, instead encouraging the audience to reach their own individual understanding. Essentially, thus, postmodern theatre raises questions rather than attempting to supply answers.Postmodernist film
Postmodernist film is a classification for works that articulate the themes and ideas of postmodernism through the medium of cinema. Postmodernist film attempts to subvert the mainstream conventions of narrative structure and characterization, and tests the audience's suspension of disbelief. Typically, such films also break down the cultural divide between high and low art and often upend typical portrayals of gender, race, class, genre, and time with the goal of creating something that does not abide by traditional narrative expression.Postmodernity
Postmodernity (post-modernity or the postmodern condition) is the economic or cultural state or condition of society which is said to exist after modernity (In this context, "modern" is not used in the sense of "contemporary", but merely as a name for a specific period in history). Some schools of thought hold that modernity ended in the late 20th century – in the 1980s or early 1990s – and that it was replaced by postmodernity, while others would extend modernity to cover the developments denoted by postmodernity, while some believe that modernity ended after World War II. The idea of the post-modern condition is sometimes characterised as a culture stripped of its capacity to function in any linear or autonomous state like regressive isolationism, as opposed to the progressive mindstate of modernism.Postmodernity can mean a personal response to a postmodern society, the conditions in a society which make it postmodern or the state of being that is associated with a postmodern society as well a historical epoch. In most contexts it should be distinguished from postmodernism, the adoption of postmodern philosophies or traits in art, literature, culture and society. In fact, today, historical perspectives on the developments of postmodern art (postmodernism) and postmodern society (postmodernity) can be best described as two umbrella terms for processes engaged in an ongoing dialectical relationship like Post-postmodernism, the result of which is the evolving culture of the contemporary world.Stephen Hicks
Stephen Ronald Craig Hicks (born August 19, 1960) is a Canadian-American philosopher. He teaches at Rockford University, where he also directs the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship.
Hicks earned his Bachelor of Arts (honours, 1981) and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Guelph, and his Doctor of Philosophy (1991) from Indiana University Bloomington. His doctoral thesis was a defense of foundationalism.Hicks is the author of four books and a documentary. Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault argues that postmodernism is best understood as a rhetorical strategy of intellectuals and academics on the far-left of the political spectrum developed in reaction to the failure of socialism and communism.Hicks' documentary and book, Nietzsche and the Nazis, is an examination of the ideological and philosophical roots of National Socialism, particularly how Friedrich Nietzsche's ideas were used, and in some cases misused, by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis to justify their beliefs and practices. This was released in 2006 as a video documentary and then in 2010 as a book.Additionally, Hicks has published articles and essays on a range of subjects, including entrepreneurism, free speech in academia, the history and development of modern art, Ayn Rand's Objectivism, business ethics and the philosophy of education, including a series of YouTube lectures.Hicks is also the co-editor, with David Kelley, of a critical thinking textbook, The Art of Reasoning: Readings for Logical Analysis (W. W. Norton & Co., second edition, 1998), and Entrepreneurial Living with Jennifer Harrolle (CEEF, 2016).