Re: Poststructualism, ethics and values


It sounds like an interesting book, highly indicitive of a common
poltical-theoretical mood these days. My initial reaction to some of the
passages, however, that it hasn't "worked-through" poststructuralism, but
has attempted to circumvent it to a degree. I interpose accordingly.

On Sun, 21 Jan 1996, Bryan Palmer wrote:

If all
> beliefs/outcomes are equally valid/invalid, then no action(s) can be argued
> for (other than self interest?). Thus postmodernism can lead to political
> paralysis.

I want to turn to my initial interjection into this thread and say again,
that relativism hasn't in fact lead to anything resembling political
paralysis. From some perspectives, (an old line Leninist, for instance)
lots of the politics of post-s might not seem like "real" politics--but
that's part of the argument and position of post-s. Indeed, post-s is in
some way associated very intimately with the so-called "politicization of
the humanities."

> Arguing against absolute realitivity, and avoiding the slippery slope of
> nihilism,

I would suggest Gianni Vattimo's THE END OF MODERNITY in which he shows
how nihlism can be politically useful. He posits a sort of nihlistic
self-overcoming (or perhaps "undercoming" for nihlism is not transcended)

the contributors share the desire to retain both the critical
> strengths of postmodernism and the strength of a "principled position".
> However, their approaches to this probelm are varied. I will discuss a
> couple which interested me, there are half a dozen others in the book.
> One contibutor argues that if we adopt the weak form of postmodernism, we
> can argue without contradiction for social justice, democratic pluralism,
> and a qualified humanism. While these values have a history, they are not
> argued for on the basis of that history, but because of the desirable ends
> that they might achieve: the enhancement of life chances and the
> maximisation of human freedom.

Poststructuralism as the royal road to Pragmatism?? (A sincere question)

> Another approach is to look to the communities in which, and the processes
> by which, values are socially constructed. While values are not absolute,
> within a community there is the possiblity of a vocabulary of values in
> which we can all share. "The extent to which these vocabularies are shared,
> the degree of inclusion and commonality, thus becomes crusical in the
> construction of ethical, aesthetic and epistemological criteria"(p7).
> Within a community, "The creation of radical pluralism will involve
> embracing solidarity and difference, a shift away from the concern with
> equality and sameness towards justice and difference. We can accept that
> cohesive communities are impossible ideals, abondon hope of a perfect
> consensus and accept that dissent is inevitable, and yet also demand a
> grammar of conduct - a minimum shared sense of belonging as a basis for
> political co-existence"(p8).
> _______________________________________________________________
> Bryan Palmer
> bpalmer@xxxxxxxxxxx
> Canberra - Australia's National Capital

Erik D. Lindberg
Dept. of English and Comparative Lit.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
Milwaukee, WI 53211
email: edl@xxxxxxxxxxx


Partial thread listing: