Postmodern Theory – A Broad and Ambiguous View of Reality
Postmodern theory is a broad and somewhat ambiguous belief system tied to the philosophical and cultural reaction to the convictions of Modernism (sometimes equated with Humanism). Postmodernism is the philosophical proposal that reality is ultimately inaccessible by human investigation, that knowledge is a social construction, that truth-claims are political power plays, and that the meaning of words is to be determined by readers not authors. In brief, Postmodern theory sees reality as what individuals or social groups make it to be.
Postmodern Theory – The Individual Elements
Our friends at Summit Ministries have helped us explain the basics of Postmodern theory across ten major categories. For comprehensive coverage of each concept, please click on READ MORE at the end of each paragraph.
Postmodern Theology– Atheism
Postmodernists are not atheists in the same sense that Secular Humanists and Marxist-Leninists are. They may look the same superficially, but the motivation for denying the existence of God has nothing to do with the lack of scientific evidence. Rather, they would assert that, as Nietzsche said, “God is dead” because He’s unbelievable, not because He’s unprovable. READ MORE
Postmodern Philosophy – Anti-Realism
The belief in an objective reality is rejected by Postmodernists. Rather, they assert that reality is the subjective construction of human thought. As a consequence, they also deny universal truth, rejecting anything that smacks of a metanarrative, which is an explanation that purports to unify the world in a broad, over-arching story. READ MORE
Postmodern Ethics – Cultural Relativism
If philosophical truth (what we can know about reality) resides in the local community, it follows that moral truth (how we should behave) resides in the same community. Since, as the Postmodernist suggests, there is no “grand narrative” telling us what is real and how to behave, each community develops its own “little narratives” to fulfill those needs. READ MORE
Postmodern Science – Punctuated Evolution
The Postmodernists are not comfortable with the traditional theory of evolution because of the metanarrative aspect of it, they feel the most comfortable with punctuated evolutionary theory because of the aspects of chance and discontinuity. READ MORE
Postmodern Psychology – Socially-Constructed Selves
Within Postmodern theory, there’s neither a clear-cut nor a single answer to the question “Who am I?” According to Postmodern psychologists, there is no single, separate, unified self. Rather, we are made up of many selves. The way that we come to this multiplicity is through the collective influences of various social factors, including language, geography, family, education, government, etc. Therefore, rather than having a static nature, we are a social construction. READ MORE
Postmodern Sociology – Sexual Egalitarianism
The Postmodern sociology seeks to even the playing field by emphasizing the value of those typically considered on the cultural fringe, such as the poor and oppressed. Unfortunately this emphasis often turns into a demonization of those who have traditionally enjoyed positions of power, such as white males. READ MORE
Postmodern Law – Critical Legal Studies
From a Postmodern theoretical perspective, the source of knowledge and justice within the Western paradigm is the root of the problem. Postmodernists insist that Western law, which grew out of Christianity and the Enlightenment, reflects white male bias. For this reason, Postmodernists are intent on eliminating religious roots and transcendent qualities from Western law, desiring more fragmentation and subjectivity, and less objective morality than the Judeo-Christian tradition demands. In the end, Postmodernists are intent on creating and using their own brand of social justice merely for their own political purposes. Critical legal studies, then, becomes the means to discover the subjective and biased intent of the law. READ MORE
Postmodern Politics – Leftism
Many Postmodernists believe that white males from Western culture have been the only ones to enjoy power in the past few centuries. As such, many Postmodernists seek to empower the powerless, that is, women, minorities, and homosexuals, through methods of social justice and identity politics. READ MORE
Postmodern Economics – Interventionism
Postmodern theory sees economics as the way to alleviate human suffering. Postmodernists seek this goal through some form of government intervention within a free market environment. READ MORE
Postmodern History – Historicism
Because Postmoderns believe that historical facts are inaccessible, they believe that historians are simply left to their own imagination and ideological bent to reconstruct what happened in the past. Thus, history is closer to what we think of as fiction rather than conclusions reached as a result of an objective, scientific process. Because of their emphasis on the subjective, Postmodernists have adopted historicism as their approach to history, which is to say that all historical questions must be settled within the cultural and social context in which they are raised. READ MORE
Postmodern Theory – Conclusion
The impact of Postmodern theory is clearly seen in cultural perceptions regarding truth and morality. According to George Barna, 72% of Americans agree, "There is no such thing as absolute truth; two people could define truth in totally conflicting ways, but both could still be correct."1 71% of Americans agree, "There are no absolute standards that apply to everybody in all situations."2 53% of those who claim there is no such thing as absolute truth identify themselves as born-again Christians.3 42% of those who identify themselves as evangelical Christians agree, "There is no such thing as absolute truth; two people could define truth in totally conflicting ways but both could still be correct."4 Indeed, Postmodern theory has saturated the mainstream and religious culture of the 21st century.
1 George Barna, Virtual America (Ventura, CA: Regal, 1994), pp. 83, 283.
2 Ibid., pp. 85, 230.
3 Ibid., p. 83.
4 Ibid., p. 83.
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