Describe || Postmodernism

Hello Netizens,

Postmodernism is a movement that erupted mid to late 20th century. It is not only limited to arts, but it has spread through philosophy, architecture and criticism. The premise behind it is removing the rules and limitations and allowing for a challenging and/or new set of thoughts.

It brought with it a sceptic or ironic attitude and challenged social norms. It includes with is critical views of art, literature, culture, philosophy, economics, linguistics, history, feminist theory, criticism, fiction and architecture.  Postmodernism is also associated with sets of thoughts such as post-structuralism and deconstruction, along with philosophers, like; Fredric Jameson and Jean-Francois Lyotard.

Believe Anything by Barbara Kruger at Hirshhorn, Washington, DC.

According to Oxford dictionary postmodernism is, "A late 20th-century style and concept in the arts, architecture, and criticism, which represents a departure from modernism and is characterised by the self-conscious use of earlier styles and conventions, a mixing of different artistic styles and media, and a general distrust of theories."

How It Began 

In 1880s, the term 'Postmoderism' was first used. It begun when John Watkins Chapman proposed a "Postmodern style of painting", to get away from the french impressionism style of painting. Postmodernism has also been used to describe changes in the attitude and beliefs to criticise religion, as a way to escape from modernism and its double-mindedness. Later on, in 1921 and 1925, postmodernism has been used to describe rising forms or art and music, and in 1942 H. R. Hays used it to describe new form of literature. 

Later on, in 1949, the term was used after the dissatisfaction with modern architecture grew, and led to the postmodern architecture movement.

Walter Truett Anderson simplified or categorised postmodernism as belonging to one of these world views: 
  1. Postmodern-ironist (sees the truth as a social constructed) 
  2. Scientific Rational (set his beliefs on science)
  3. Social Traditional (sees truth in through his heritage) 
  4. Neo-Romantic (Sees truth through finding harmony with nature, spiritual)
Theorist often use the term Postmodernism to highlight a new cultural era in Western society. According philosopher Jean-Francois Lyotard, the Postmodern state was explained as “incredulity towards metanarratives”, and a great example of that is, Marxism. 

Postmodernist theory

Postmodern theory processes reality as what we as individuals make it seem to be and not what society tells us it is. Moreover, it is a broad and an ambiguous system of belief that is linked with cultural and philosophical responses to Modernism.

According to the reference I am using [3] there are ten major categories of Postmodern theory, and each one of them is vast. They are as follows: 
  • Atheism
Postmodern Atheism is a softer or a lighter version of Modern Atheism. According to Kevin J. Vanhoozer, “Postmodernists agree with Nietzsche that ‘God’—which is to say, the supreme being of classical theism—has become unbelievable, as have the autonomous self and the meaning of history.”
  • Anti-realism 
The belief that truth is subjective and a social construct. Richard Rorty defines it as, “We...[should] give up the correspondence theory of truth, and start treating moral and scientific beliefs as tools for achieving greater human happiness, rather than as representations of the intrinsic nature of reality.” 

Postmodernist believe that universal truth do not exist and that there are only particular truths that are only true toward particular groups or societies. Truth is subjective.
  • Cultural Relativism
It is not based on any ethical or moral code, such as; Religion. Adam Phillips believes that, “[U]niversal moral principles must be eradicated and reverence for individual and cultural uniqueness inculcated.” 
  • Punctuated Evolution 
Although Postmodernism is anti religion, that doesn't mean they are believers of science. In fact, Postmodernists are anti-science and are strong believers of chaos and unpredictability.
  • Socially-Constructed Selves
According to Walter Truett Anderson, “All ideas about human reality are social constructions.” Political movements, such as: Feminism, are strong advocates of this messages due to their believe that discrimination is a result of toxic social constructs.
  • Sexual Egalitarianism 
Postmodernists consider marriage the greatest of evils and they contempt Christian views love, sex, and marriage. 
  • Critical Legal Studies 
Postmodernists believe foundational religious believes are disappearing not only from the minds of philosophers but, "the minds of lawmakers, judges, lawyers, law teachers...[and] from the consciousness of the vast majority of citizens....The law is becoming fragmented, more subjective, geared more to expediency and less to morality, concerned more with immediate consequences and less with consistency or continuity. Thus the historical soil of the Western legal tradition is being washed away in the twentieth century, and the tradition itself is threatened with collapse.” 
  • Leftism 
A progressive political thinking that strives to give power to individuals who aren't white straight cis males, as they have always been in power. It is associated with movements such as: Feminism, Black Lives Matter and the LGBTQ+ community. 
  • Interventionism
According to the Postmodern economists Ruccio and Amariglio, “The Postmodern condition opens up a very different research agenda for economic scientists should they choose to disown (what many regard as a necessary fiction) the unified self and move, instead to a fiction supposedly more in tune with contemporary reality, the decentered self.”
  • Historicism
Postmodernists see no value in history, and believe it should be left to our imagination. Michel Foucault  says, “I am well aware that I have never written anything but fictions. I do not mean to say, however, that truth is therefore absent. It seems to me that the possibility exists for fiction to function in truth. One ‘fictions’ history on the basis of a political reality that makes it true, one ‘fictions’ a politics not yet in existence on the basis of a historical truth.”


From reading about Postmodernism I can see how it is evident in the 21st century, especially in political theories. It pushes individual to be them for their full capabilities, In the other hand, it is seems to be perpetuating for an extreme set of beliefs. 



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