Postmodern Philosophy and the Problem of Reality

QUESTION: Postmodern Philosophy – The Problem of Reality

ANSWER:

Postmodernists have difficulty living with their view of reality. They claim that “reality” is constructed by language. On one level we can agree that the statement “The train is coming” may convey a multitude of interpretations to different people. To some it may even simulate a train. But we contend that if people fail to get off the tracks, the result of their interpretation could prove fatal. There are indeed objective, non-verbal referents to words and texts. Real life, however, is not open to infinite interpretations. At any particular moment in time, either a train is coming down the track or a train is not coming down the track. This real-world fact is not a matter of our personal interpretation. Regardless of the word games Postmodernists play there is a reality. Postmodernists have a hard time escaping the correspondence theory of truth.

Postmodern Philosophy – Subjective Truth, Deconstruction, and Anti-Realism
Consider also the Postmodern phrase, “That’s just your interpretation.” As D. A. Carson points out, this view is problematic. Carson says he has never met a deconstructionist who would be pleased if a reviewer misinterpreted his work. He notes, “...in practice deconstructionists implicitly link their own texts with their own intentions.”1 In other words, deconstructionists believe in authorial intent when they are the authors, but deny authorial intent when it comes to works by anyone else.

Likewise, we recognize a dilemma with the well-worn Postmodern slogan, “That may be true for you, but not for me.” If the person making that statement means that it applies only to him, then who cares what he says—he is only talking to himself. On the other hand, if the person means to apply his statement also to you, then you can properly respond, “I get the impression that you think I should believe what you just said. If that is the case, why are you trying to impose your concept of what is true on me?” Either way, the Postmodernist has made a statement he cannot live with himself. It is a position that is self-defeating and ultimately absurd. If you try to apply the Postmodernist view of truth in day-to-day life, the result is a total breakdown of your ability to communicate.

Notes:

Rendered with permission from the book, Understanding the Times: The Collision of Today’s Competing Worldviews (Rev. 2nd ed), David Noebel, Summit Press, 2006. Compliments of John Stonestreet, David Noebel, and the Christian Worldview Ministry at Summit Ministries. All rights reserved in the original.

1 D.A. Carson, The Gagging of God: Christianity Confronts Pluralism (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1996), 103.

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