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. Criticism of postmodernism is usually not a comprehensive attack on the various diverse movements labelled postmodern.

Criticism often refers to specific branches of postmodernism which may vary greatly such as postmodern philosophy, postmodern architecture and postmodern literature. It may also be limited to certain tendencies in postmodern thought such as post-structuralism, cultural relativism and “theory”. For example, a philosopher may criticize French postmodern thought yet still appreciate postmodernist film. Conversely Ashbee criticises most creative postmodern works (works of art, books, films etc.) without broadly attacking the entire inventory of varied postmodern projects.

Thus, criticism of postmodernism, as a whole, is subject to equivocation on the definition of what it in fact is.

Linguist Noam Chomsky has argued that postmodernism is meaningless because it adds nothing to analytical or empirical knowledge. He asks why postmodernist intellectuals won’t respond like people in other fields when asked:

Seriously, what are the principles of their theories, on what evidence are they based, what do they explain that wasn’t already obvious, etc? These are fair requests for anyone to make. If they can’t be met, then I’d suggest recourse to Hume’s advice in similar circumstances: to the flames.

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.” Hitchens also criticized a postmodernist volume, “The Johns Hopkins Guide to Literary Theory and Criticism”: “The French, as it happens, once evolved an expression for this sort of prose: la langue de bois, the wooden tongue, in which nothing useful or enlightening can be said, but in which various excuses for the arbitrary and the dishonest can be offered. (This book) is a pointer to the abysmal state of mind that prevails in so many of our universities.”

In a similar vein, Richard Dawkins writes in a favorable review of Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont’s Intellectual Impostures:

Suppose you are an intellectual impostor with nothing to say, but with strong ambitions to succeed in academic life, collect a coterie of reverent disciples and have students around the world anoint your pages with respectful yellow highlighter. What kind of literary style would you cultivate? Not a lucid one, surely, for clarity would expose your lack of content.

Dawkins then uses a quotation from Félix Guattari as an example of this “lack of content”.

It has been suggested that the term “postmodernism” is a mere buzzword that means nothing. For example, Dick Hebdige, in 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, 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.

Postmodernists or postmodern-friendly intellectuals such as the British historian Perry Anderson defend the existence of the varied meanings assigned to the term “postmodernism”, claiming they only contradict one another on the surface and that a postmodernist analysis can offer insight into contemporary culture. Kaya Yılmaz defends the lack of clarity and consistency in the term’s definition. Yılmaz points out that because the theory itself is “anti-essentialist and anti-foundationalist” it is fitting that the term cannot have any essential or fundamental meaning. Sokal has critiqued similar defenses of postmodernism by noting that replies like this only demonstrate the original point that postmodernist critics are making: that a clear and meaningful answer is always missing and wanting.

Moral relativism
Some critics, such as Noam Chomsky, have interpreted postmodern society to be synonymous with moral relativism and contributing to deviant behavior. Culturally conservative writers, such as Charles Colson, are characterized as tending to look askance at the postmodernist era as ideologically agnostic and replete with moral relativism or situation ethics. Josh McDowell and Bob Hostetler offer the following definition of postmodernism: “A worldview characterized by the belief that truth doesn’t exist in any objective sense but is created rather than discovered…. [Truth is] created by the specific culture and exists only in that culture. Therefore, any system or statement that tries to communicate truth is a power play, an effort to dominate other cultures.”

Many philosophical movements reject both modernity and postmodernity as healthy states of being. Some of these are associated with cultural and religious conservatism that views postmodernity as a rejection of basic spiritual or natural truths and in its emphasis on material and physical pleasure an explicit rejection of inner balance and spirituality. Many of these critiques attack specifically the tendency to the “abandonment of objective truth” as the crucial unacceptable feature of the postmodern condition and often aim to offer a meta-narrative that provides this truth.

Marxian criticisms
Alex Callinicos attacks notable postmodern thinkers such as Baudrillard and Lyotard, arguing postmodernism “reflects the disappointed revolutionary generation of 1968, (particularly those of May 1968 in France) 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.”

Art historian John Molyneux, also of the Socialist Workers’ Party, accuses postmodernists for “singing an old song long intoned by bourgeois historians of various persuasions”.

Fredric Jameson, American literary critic and Marxist political theorist, attacks postmodernism (or poststructuralism), what he claims is “the cultural logic of late capitalism”, for its refusal to critically engage with the metanarratives of capitalization and globalization. The refusal renders postmodernist philosophy complicit with the prevailing relations of domination and exploitation.

Criticism in socialist terms
Alex Callinicos is postmodernism is ” 68 Revolution a spirit that was reflected in the thoughts of disappointed revolutionaries at the time of generation, are mixed revolutionaries of yesteryear absorbed in professional, managerial middle class. Postmodernism is understood as a specific symptom of political frustration and social movement. It can not be regarded as an important intellectual and cultural phenomenon in itself. “He attacked famous postmodern thinkers such as Baudrillard and Lyotar. Like Carlicos, the social worker, art historian John Molyneux, has accused postmodernists of singing “all sorts of persuasive songs that bourgeois historians have been singing all along.”

Frederic Jameson, an American literary critic and Marxist political theorist, asserted that postmodernism (or poststructuralism) does not want to be tied to the grand discourse of capitalization and globalization as “the cultural logic of late capitalism.” According to Jameson’s argument, postmodernism is not tied to this grand discourse, and postmodern philosophy becomes a co-conspirator in a society where relations of domination and exploitation are prevailing. The US International Socialist organization of leading members of Sherry Wolf in 2009 authored “sex and socialism” (Sexuality and Socialism) in the theory of post-modernism has ignored its value does not help the gay liberation movement. Slovenian critic theorist Slaboye Žižek criticized postmodern deconstructionism as the dismantling of the subjectivity so that even the subject itself disappeared and the dangers of social resistance disappeared.

Alan Sokal, a professor of physics at New York University who was a leftist scholar in the field of science in Nicaragua under the Sandinistan regime, thought postmodernism was nothing more than a pun on the standpoint of scholars, and in political terms, postmodernist ” Was attacked by midway and right-wing forces, fearing that damage would come back to the orthodox left-wing camp including himself. He cried out that he could not know how “intellectual deconstructionism could liberate the working class.” And the so- cal will cause a so-called arc event.

Criticism in terms of science
Scientists who pursue objective truth, and who must be ‘accountable’ to their own theories, have found no advantage in postmodernism, claiming that everything is relative, immaterial, and can not know anything. Postmodernists have not only been ignorant of science, but have also shown a destructive attitude. They accepted scientific truth as a provisional one, science was only one of many ways of knowing, and they regarded it as the exclusive property of white and white men. Scientists were also angry when postmodernists used scientific terms in the wrong sense to justify their philosophy.

During the publication of the ” superstition myth ” and subsequent scientific events such as the SoCal event and the resulting scientific warfare, scientists saturate the postmodernist misuse of scientific knowledge and the vagueness of its ideas and animism. ” The Selfish Gene ” to other large public science to writing the document was a flurry of fame, Richard Dawkins is the best scientific journal ” Nature ” (Nature Day line acrimony in the article that the (“Postmodernism disrobed”) published in) He said.

Dawkins said, “The erection It corresponds to… “It is equivalent to -1 of the perfume that the erectionist restores,” he said, referring to post-structuralist psychoanalytical scholar Jacques Lacan, who wrote an article on the misuse of the term and the distinction. “To convince the writer of this article that he is a fraud, There is no need to ask the opinions of mathematical experts, ” ” mass-energy equivalence formula {\ displaystyle ;Because of the speed of light, giving a privilege, “he said feminist philosopher, holds a meaning of sexuality in the rwiseu come-ray,,” the male penis, solid mechanics because this stiff erection is male-dominated and women labia in because of the advent of menstrual blood and vaginal fluid mechanics women-centered because the solid mechanics “have the privilege of” more fluid mechanics, “said commentator on wolf ray wrote Catherine Hale’s say cut ppunyirago not argue too darn, chaos theory paste bring the “accelerated movement shop and put an end to linearity and bikkyeona turbulent history arises from accelerated movement to its destination point,” one Baudrillard posts chonpyeong was called “the provisionally much worse nonsense.”

In addition to the postmodernists that would have confused the theory of relativity and relativism, Kurt Gödel ‘s incompleteness theorem and quantum theory, chaos theory, everyone is a misuse of such was the target of criticism, can not be understood as a mixture of scientific terms and pseudoscience The ambiguous attitudes of difficulty in writing sentences and the abuse of uncontextual terms all became criticisms. Alan Sokal is ” intellectual fraud ” (Intellectual Impostures) in the post-modernism “of the tawdry end of the veneer was inside kicked the board what remains whether jamot doubtful” and technology, Nobel laureate theoretical physicist Steven Weinberg is ” dreams of a final theory “(dreams of amperes final theory), “Postmodernists criticized that ‘linear’ is a bad thing and it is only necessary to attach ‘nonlinear’.” Dawkins suggests that if postmodernism is “just a pun, should not play be fun at least? But why are their writings so surprisingly boring? ” These evaluations show the position and perspective of scientists critical of postmodernism.

Art Bollocks
Art Bollocks is an article written by Brian Ashbee which appeared in the magazine Art Review in April 1999. Ashbee points out the importance given to language in “post-modern” art. The post-modern art forms mentioned by Ashbee are: “installation art, photography, conceptual art video”. The term bollocks in the title of course relates to nonsense.

Sokal affair
Alan Sokal, a physics professor at New York University, formulated the Sokal affair, a hoax in which he wrote a deliberately nonsensical article in a style similar to postmodernist articles. The article was accepted for publication by the journal Social Text. This was followed up with his book Fashionable Nonsense which was an in-depth critique of the practices of postmodern academia.

Mumbo Jumbo
Francis Wheen’s book How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World broadly critiques a variety of non-critical paradigms with a significant critique of cultural relativism and the use of postmodern tropes to explain all modern geo-political phenomena. According to Wheen, postmodern scholars tend to critique unfair power structures in the west including issues of race, class, patriarchy, the effect of radical capitalism and political oppression. Where he finds fault in these tropes is when the theories go beyond evidence-based critical thinking and use vague terminology to support obscurantist theories. An example is Luce Irigaray’s assertion, cited by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont in their book Fashionable Nonsense, that the equation “E=mc2” is a “sexed equation”, because “it privileges the speed of light over other speeds that are vitally necessary to us”. Relativism, according to Wheen becomes a sort of wall which shields non western cultures from the same sustained critiques. While inherent sexism in North America is open to hostile critique (as it should be according to Wheen), according to postmodern thought it is taboo to critique honour killings and female genital mutilation in North Africa and the Middle East. Relativism will defend such taboos by claiming such cultures are out of the sphere of shared Western values and that we cannot judge other cultures by our own standards or it is defended through diminishing the severity of sexism by either denying its prominence (as Western propaganda/misunderstanding) or blaming it on menacing western factors (imperialism, globalization, western hegemony, resource exploitation and Western interference in general). Wheen admits that, while some of this may have merit, its case is highly exaggerated by relativism. Wheen reserves his strongest critique for those who defend even the most appalling systemic mistreatment of women, even in countries where Western contact and influence is minimal.

Source from Wikipedia