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Notes from the Lecture Hall: The trouble with postmodernism

If I ever have the pleasure of making your acquaintance, you will find that I tend to poke fun at postmodernism (all in good fun). I believe in objective truth. The sort of truth that makes it universally unacceptable to murder, cheat, tail-gate, and cheer for the Calgary Flames (or their farm team…).

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by Sean D. Evans (Blogger)

Email: onlineeditor at ufvcascade dot ca

If I ever have the pleasure of making your acquaintance, you will find that I tend to poke fun at postmodernism (all in good fun). I believe in objective truth. The sort of truth that makes it universally unacceptable to murder, cheat, tail-gate, and cheer for the Calgary Flames (or their farm team…).

The problem with this, I’ve found, is that some do not buy into this concept of objective truth.

Which is okay. 

Wait. Does that make me postmodern? No. It could make me tolerant, whatever that means. Regardless, it certainly doesn’t make us both right. If you think it does, please don’t bother arguing against my position (according to you, my postmodern friend, I am right in my own ‘special’ way)

 The thing is, I get annoyed when you (my postmodern peers), say things to me like: “Hey, don’t be a hater. What’s true for you is true for you, and what is true for me is true for me. Justin Beiber is a stud.”

I have a hard time understanding this. How is it that the only acceptable objective “truth” is that there is no objective truth. It seems to me like postmodernism has just shot itself in the foot, if anything.

Forgive me if I am over-simplifying the issue, but when a worldview cannot even withstand its own conditions, something has gone awry

Am I wrong?

Feel free to answer that, just don’t say I am wrong on account of everyone having their own ‘special’ truth.

Anyway, enough of my late-night ranting. Here is a thoughtful comment on the matter from Stanley J. Grenz in A Primer on Postmodernism (p 42-43)

Our globalized, pluralistic situation has subverted the Enlightenment vision. Postmoderns contend we can no longer reasonably hold out the prospect of discovering the one, universal symbolic world that unites humanity at a level deeper than that of our apparent differences. Indeed, they say, we must come to grips with the realization that we inhabit a globe consisting of “multiple realities.” Different groups of people construct different “stories” about the world they encounter. These different languages, in turn, facilitate different ways of experiencing life. As a result, people do not merely espouse different political opinions and religious beliefs; they actually live in different worlds with respect to basic matters of personal identity, time, and space. 

Grenz brings it home by saying:

The postmodern understanding of knowledge, therefore, is built on two foundational assumptions: (1) postmoderns view all explanations of reality as constructions that are useful but not objectively true, and (2) postmoderns deny that we have the ability to step outside our constructions of reality.

Thoughts?

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Rachel Standcumbe

    March 9, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Belief doesn’t create truth.
    Disbelief doesn’t destroy truth.

    Personally, I have to agree with you here. The post-modern perspective on truth is seriously flawed! When there is no such thing as truth, there is no such thing as right or wrong. This is a very wonderful belief if you want to remove responsibility for your actions. One can accomplish all kinds of things when they remove ultimate truth from their way of thinking. I’m going to say that those who chose this system of thinking are either lazy & cowardly, or completely evil.
    Lazy because it is a very easy system of thinking to adopt and involves little to no contemplation.
    Cowardly because it refuses to address any evil, since evil is only an idea that varies person to person.
    Evil, well, clearly if I had done something ‘wrong’ it would be much easier to claim that it was right, according to my own special truth and way of thinking.

  2. Sean Evans

    March 11, 2011 at 10:03 am

    I am glad you agree. it is interesting to note the moral implications of the loss of an ultimate standard of truth. It is often difficult to get those who argue that truth is subjective to live by their own standards–just try stealing their wallet and watch their reaction.
    The question is, then, where does this lead our society?

  3. Rachel Standcumbe

    March 14, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    well, it’s not much of a question…
    invalidating moral codes don’t make them go away. This will cause more problems then it ‘solves’ because people won’t accept each others standards. Consider how many people have been killed due to a lack of a moral code (ex. the holocaust). I’m sure that in Hitler’s personal reality he was doing the right thing.

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