Re: Foucault a postmodernist?

Ah, Karen, you opened Pandora's box...

The term "post-modernist" is not a badge of self-identification, as in "I am
a person of the left" or even "I am a deconstructionist." It is more a
classificatory term employed by those who, for various reasons, look for
commonality of perspective among many different intellectual trends, from
philosophy and literary criticism to social and political theory. Such terms
(like structuralist, as much in vogue fifteen years ago as post-modernist is
today) are notorious difficult to pin down, with everything having their own

My own view is that the best way to understand post-modernism (and to
understand why some are so disturbed by the trends it represents) as that it
attacks the foundations, the premises of much hegemonic intellectual
(modernist) theory and practice. Where the modernist started from the
premises of the sovereign individual subject, the post-modernist opens up to
question such terms as author and subject (which is why many literary critics
get so perturbed by it); where the modernist roots himself in Reason, the
post-modernist sees intrinsic limits to human knowledge (which is why many
philosophers are disturbed); where the modernist sees order and identity, the
post-modernist finds arbitrariness and difference (which is why many
political and social theorists find it unsettling.) Another way of describing
post-modernism, therefore, would be as anti-foundationalist.


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