The philosophical “postmodern” movement represents a threat to the project of philosophical modernization and enlightenment on the one hand, and to liberal democracy on the other hand. The set of ideas and values represented by this philosophy has broken the boundaries of academic circles, and gained great cultural strength in Western society that included “symptoms” of irrationality and contradictions inherent in A way of thinking that denies the existence of a stable truth or reliable knowledge, according to British researcher and writer Helen Blockroose.
In her article for the online cultural magazine Areo, which she chairs, Bloucruz defines “postmodernism” simply as an artistic and philosophical movement that began in France in the 1960s that produced puzzling art and “theorizing”, and was based on the surrealist art and ideas of the German philosophers Nietzsche And Heidegger because of their opposition to realism, and the reaction of this philosophical movement was in contradiction to the liberal humanism that characterized the modern artistic and intellectual movements.
Bloucruz considers that the postmodern movement rejected philosophy that valued morality, reason and clarity. Postmodernists attacked science and its goal of reaching objective knowledge, while the left postmodern movement was characterized by a nihilistic and revolutionary self.
Modernity and Beyond
The essence of modernity is the development of science and reason as well as universal humanism and liberalism. In contrast, postmodernists oppose this and criticize the goals of the modernist project.
If we understand modernity as the demolition of power structures, including feudalism, the church, the patriarchy and the empire, then postmodernists try to maintain it and target science, reason, humanity and liberalism in return, and thus the roots of postmodernism are political in nature, revolutionary, but destructive and deceptive, as the writer continues.
The author says that postmodernism is a philosophy that seeks to make knowledge relativistic, to abolish belief in established personal facts or convictions, or specific cultural trends, and on the other hand calls for a preference for “living experience” (personal) over empirical evidence, and there is also an attempt to promote specific opinions under the pretext of protecting diversity. Certain minority groups are granted privileges that are excluded from the consensus of scholars, as well as from “democratic morals” that are stigmatized as authoritarian and ideological.
Postmodern philosophy expresses the Western philosophical frustration with modernity, and European philosophers believe that it came as a counter-reaction to the devastation inflicted on Europe by the Second World War, fascism and massacres, as the confidence of philosophers and artists in political and economic modernity was undermined, and they denied the entire Enlightenment project and replaced certainty with skepticism, deconstruction, and even Nihilism.
The term “postmodernism” was coined by the French philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard (1924-1998) in his 1979 writing “The State of Postmodernism”. Lyotard expressed his criticism of modernity and the fall of the major ideologies or “grand narratives” as he called them, and presented his critique of the idea of the Enlightenment and of modern ideologies. Which he considered a product of the Enlightenment, considering that it had fallen and failed miserably.
Postmodern philosophy seeks to deny the existence of objective truth, and considers every reality to be a mere construction of the subjective ideas of its owner, as there is no independent universal truth in the vision of those philosophers who constantly question all major narratives, and François Lyotard contributed with each of the French philosophers Jacques Derrida, Francois Chali and Gilles Deleuze found the International Institute of Philosophy.
The work of the French philosopher Michel Foucault (1926-1984) also focused on language and relativistic concepts, although he applied this to history and culture, believing that knowledge is a direct product of power.
Moreover, people have been culturally conceived in the “postmodern” theories as “the individual, with his identity and characteristics, is the product of a power relationship exercised over bodies, desires, and powers,” which the author considered leaves no room for individualism and autonomy.
As the American Christian philosopher Christopher Butler puts it, Foucault relies on beliefs about the evil inherent in an individual’s class position, or the occupational position seen as a “discourse,” regardless of the ethics of his individual behavior. It presents medieval feudalism and modern liberal democracy as being just as oppressive, and calls for criticism and attack of institutions to expose “the political violence through which it has always so vaguely exercised itself.”
The author says that Foucault represents the most extreme expression of cultural relativism, as he reads culture through power structures in which common humanity and individualism are almost completely absent, and instead people are perceived by their stance in relation to prevailing cultural ideas as either oppressors or oppressors.
Then Derrida came
It was Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) who introduced the concept of “deconstruction”, also called for cultural and personal relativism, and focused more explicitly on language. Derrida’s most famous quote “There is no outside context”, or “there is nothing outside the text” regarding By rejecting the notion that the words refer to anything direct, instead “there are only contexts without any fixed center whatsoever.”
Therefore, the author of the text is not the reference in its meaning. Rather, the reader or the listener makes the correct meaning to the same extent, and every text “generates new contexts without limits in a way that is absolutely infinite.”
Derrida wanted to point out that meaning is constructed through the perception of differences, and specifically through contradictory oppositions, for example the word “young” is only logical in relation to the word “old”, and Derrida argued that meaning is constructed by opposing these contradictions that are described as positive and negative.
Derrida became a theorist of more cultural and cognitive relativism, and an additional justification for identity politics, especially with his emphasis on the impossibility of rejecting contradiction and contradiction, and thus rejecting the values of Enlightenment liberalism to overcome differences and focus on universal human rights and individual freedom, according to the author.
The End of Enlightenment
The author says that this intellectual group adopts a “set of concepts” that threatens to return the Western world to the pre-Enlightenment era, when “reason” was seen not only as inferior to emotion, but as a sin.
The author considers that the postmodern philosophy, which the French philosophers looked at, constitutes a response to the era of the Church’s control over intellectual life and a setback, and a return to ancient sources, the Middle Ages, pre-modernity and contemporary knowledge.
And she concludes with a remarkable saying, “Our current crisis is not a crisis of the left versus the right, but rather a crisis of consistency, reason, humility and universal freedom versus contradiction, irrationality, enthusiastic belief and tribal despotism … the future of freedom, equality and justice appears to be equally bleak, whether the postmodern left or the post-truth right wins.” In this current war, those who value free democracy and the fruits of the revolution of enlightenment, science and modernity must strive for a better choice. “