Monday, June 24, 2019

Postmodernism's Grand Narrative?

Implicit in the words of Lawrence E. Klein, as written in "Enlightenment as Conversation" (What's Left of Enlightenment?: A Postmodern Question, edited by Keith Michael Baker and Peter Hanns Reill), postmodernism has a grand narrative, albeit one grounded in Modernism (and, if I might add, in all previous grand narratives):
The [Modernist] posture [of the distanced observer seeking mastery over what he sees] is marked by the distance between observer and observed, who are separated by a kind of ontological gap; a hierarchical relation that privileges the political and intellectual authority of the observer; and the disembodied and decontextualized position of the observer, which gives rise to the claim to provide objective knowledge of universal validity. This scientistic posture is the signal comportment of the Enlightenment in postmodernism's grand narrative, as well as the signal legacy of the Enlightenment targeted by the postmodern critique.
Ontological gap? Anyway, this passage seems to say that Postmodernism critiques Enlightenment reason as a kind of scientism. But what is Postmodernism's own grand narrative? It doesn't have one? Hah! Don't make me laugh. I've long thought of its grand narrative as that ramshackle mash-up of all prior grand narratives, thereby telling the biggest grand-damn story of them all.



At 9:51 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

Yes: PoMo's own "totalizing metanarrative" is that there are no totalizing metanarratives. You have my sympathies for having to deal with people who are so brainwashed. In the previous post, I saw PoMo buzzwords from your critic like "acultural," "ahistorical," and "universal"—all swear words in the PoMo lexicon. Sad to see the man (I assume it's a man... on June 20, you referred to him as a "he") so hypnotized by a moribund ideology.

Does this critic stand in the way of your paper's being published? Is he the only critic?

At 10:23 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Actually, that version of my paper was far too short, so the critic was right in criticizing it for saying too little. However, I was mostly annoyed at the critic's supercilious attitude.

My reason for analyzing and debunking the critique in detail was to give me something to blog on and to give me opportunity to understand PoMo more deeply.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 10:39 AM, Blogger Kevin Kim said...

Postmodernists tend to write in a deliberately obfuscatory mode, but my buddy Dr. Steve doCarmo wrote up a simple summary of PoMo many, many moons ago (for undergrads), and it has proven very useful to me over the years. I finally tracked his document down.

At 6:38 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...


Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 4:32 AM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...

One of my professors suggested I look up what the historians have to say about the "Enlightenment." I went to the main writers on 18th century history, and they had very little to say about the "Enlightenment." There really wasn't much of a movement there, and more crucial factors were advancements in statecraft, European power politics, competing trade empires, and so on. It might be suggested the phrase "Enlightenment" has been reified by the postmodernists into a straw man they can hurl invective at.

The "real" enlightenment was talk and writing circulating around Paris, and beyond those salons and a scattering of royal courts in the countryside, beyond the publications of encyclopedias, the career of Voltaire's enthusiasms and disappointments, or Jefferson's admiration for a few French discussions(and maybe Republican haircuts), was there really much to it? Apparently, the answer is, "no." The "Enlightenment" was no Glorious Revolution or Good Old Cause. The "Enlightenment was no American Revolution. And so on.

Did the Enlightenment end in the French Revolution? And was the French Revolution the Enlightenment's apotheosis, or its antithesis? An so on...

Did Kant originally coin the phrase in his essay "What is Enlightenment?"

At 4:39 AM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...

Prof. doCarmo's notes are interesting.

At 7:10 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Historians like to label eras. Some labels are obviously not coined during the eras that they label, e.g., "The Middle Ages."

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

At 3:20 AM, Blogger Carter Kaplan said...

My point was that "The Enlightenment" isn't used by historians. It is a phrase that is used by people in Philosophy and English, and I suppose Social Sciences. That is, by people who don't know anything about history.

The historians of European history call it the "Age of Absolutism," which is marked (like "The Enlightenment") by 1688 and 1789. That is, by the Glorious Revolution and the publication of Locke and Newton's books, at one end, and, at the other end, the French Revolution.

After the period of the French Revolution, the next period is described as the Age of Nationalism, I believe.

In the Norton series on European History, Leonard Krieger's book on the period (1688-1789) is titled Kings and Philosophers, and it over-emphasizes the influence of philosophy upon history, at least according to the professor who was teaching the course. My professor felt Krieger was rather "German" in his approach to the subject, a point which the professor underscored by pointing out the long-winded and convoluted structure of Krieger's prose (criticisms reflected in the Amazon reviews of the book, incidentally).

At 8:41 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks for the clarification. I certainly missed your point.

Jeffery Hodges

* * *


Post a Comment

<< Home