Re: New To List

> Why is Foucault considered post-modernist?

Modernism is generally associated with the shift in the grounding of
intelligibility. In pre-modern thinking the world has its own imbedded
meaning - structure - order and we understand that order passively - simply
by reading it off the phenomena.
Kant ushered in modernism by arguing that the structure we perceive
in the world outside us is actually the structure or rationality which
exists in our minds. From his perspective there is no way to know what the
structure of the real world is like because the structure we perceive is
actually the structure we impose on the world. Kant believes that the
internal structure we employ to make the external world intelligible is
linked directly to rationality and logic. As a result, this manner of
ordering our experience is not merely a way of understanding things, it was
necessarily the only way to understand - everyone possessing rational
faculties must percieve the world in the same way -via the same mechanism.
Post- modernist reject this mandate arguing that the structure of
rationality is not immutable but rather is the product of history, culture,
learning. etc.. Kant's argument demands that the manner in which we
comprehend the world remain static. Post-modernists such as Foucault agrue
that "rationality" is a historical construction. That means, for example, it
changes over time. It can be distorted by power and other human interests.
That the present sensibility that we share is just one of many possible
The above is simplistic, but I hope it provides a point of reference.
Hagen Finley
Berkeley, CA


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