Postmodernism, History and Philosophy: How is the Past Reconstructed or Deconstructed?

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JackDaydream
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Postmodernism, History and Philosophy: How is the Past Reconstructed or Deconstructed?

Post by JackDaydream »

The nature of postmodernism has been apparent in a thread discussing 'What is a woman?' and the nature of gender. However, I am wishing to shift the primary focus away from the controversial area and consider it in the wider framework in relation to history and cultural values. I apologise for creating another thread but it felt important to do so.

A particularly important aspect is the idea of deconstruction, which was developed by Jacques Derrida and looks towards understanding of the relative perspective of those writing it. Christopher Butler (2002) in his introductory text on postmodernism observes,
'Derrida and his followers seem committed to one fairly clear historical proposition: that philosophy and literature in the Western tradition had far too long supposed that the relationship between Western tradition had far too long supposed that that the relationship between language and the world was...well founded and reliable.'

One particular area of postmodernist analysis has been in the understanding of history and how it is based on reconstruction narratives. Keith Jenkins(ed), in , 'The Postmodern History Reader' (1997), says,
'The vast bulk of the literature about postmodernism and history talks of the way it undercuts the upper case. In our social formation, where lower case history represents the "normal" way of finding out about knowing the past, lower case mainstream academic historians consider that the collapse of the upper case (of ideological histories) does not affect their practices, not registering that their histories are every bit as ideological as those of the upper case. Here, he is pointing to the way in which postmodernism gives rise to an awareness of the way in which values are a key ingredient of the interpretation and, how postmodernist themselves are coming from a set of values. Is it possible to think objectively, or in any way which is value free.

I am opening this discussion for anyone who is interested in the discussion of postmodernist theory, especially in relation to history. Baudrillard's 'end of history', as well as the emergence of cultural relativism, have been important offshoots from postmodernism, in addition to gender deconstruction and a new approach to aesthetics in the arts.

In the twentieth first century to it can be asked, to what extent is postmodernism applicable and useful in philosophy? Is its core approach one which should remain central for thinking about values, or should it be criticised as a basis for a culture of 'post-truth'? How may history (and the future) be considered in the aftermath of postmodernism? What is the difference between philosophy and ideologies, and where does political power fit into this discourse?
Angelo Cannata
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Re: Postmodernism, History and Philosophy: How is the Past Reconstructed or Deconstructed?

Post by Angelo Cannata »

I consider myself a postmodern mind, I value postmodernism very much, but I think that postmodern philosophers make a stupid error, that many philosophers make, although philosophy should be the best at managing this: they don't apply their criticism to themselves. This way, an operation like deconstruction sounds like some sort of purifying, revealing the flaws, but they fail to realize that every purifying implies the introduction of some adulteration. The same way, Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God, failing to realize that this way he just introduced other different gods.
I think the solution to this is just to admit: admit our limits, our preconceptions, our inability to be pure, free from biases.
Sunday66
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Re: Postmodernism, History and Philosophy: How is the Past Reconstructed or Deconstructed?

Post by Sunday66 »

Angelo Cannata wrote: July 15th, 2022, 1:19 pm I consider myself a postmodern mind, I value postmodernism very much, but I think that postmodern philosophers make a stupid error, that many philosophers make, although philosophy should be the best at managing this: they don't apply their criticism to themselves. This way, an operation like deconstruction sounds like some sort of purifying, revealing the flaws, but they fail to realize that every purifying implies the introduction of some adulteration. The same way, Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God, failing to realize that this way he just introduced other different gods.
I think the solution to this is just to admit: admit our limits, our preconceptions, our inability to be pure, free from biases.
What are the "other different gods" Nietzsche introduced?
Angelo Cannata
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Re: Postmodernism, History and Philosophy: How is the Past Reconstructed or Deconstructed?

Post by Angelo Cannata »

Nietzsche talked about the "Übermensch", a kind of man who is "beyond": whatever it means, it puts the human being as the reference point of all values. Nietzsche's criticism of traditional values would have been impossible without his mentality and thought and this means that his mentality and thought, as well as the "Übermensch" become actually the new god. The same way, it would have been impossible to say that God died without a context of ideas that makes possible the idea of God died. This context of ideas become automatically the replacement of God, the new god. Even when he says that there isn't anymore any orientation and we wander here and there, the idea of being without orientation replace the supposed lack of orientation. In other words, however you kill God or you kill anything other reference point, it is something impossible to do without automatically replacing it with another god or another reference point.
Sunday66
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Re: Postmodernism, History and Philosophy: How is the Past Reconstructed or Deconstructed?

Post by Sunday66 »

Angelo Cannata wrote: July 15th, 2022, 4:06 pm Nietzsche talked about the "Übermensch", a kind of man who is "beyond": whatever it means, it puts the human being as the reference point of all values. Nietzsche's criticism of traditional values would have been impossible without his mentality and thought and this means that his mentality and thought, as well as the "Übermensch" become actually the new god. The same way, it would have been impossible to say that God died without a context of ideas that makes possible the idea of God died. This context of ideas become automatically the replacement of God, the new god. Even when he says that there isn't anymore any orientation and we wander here and there, the idea of being without orientation replace the supposed lack of orientation. In other words, however you kill God or you kill anything other reference point, it is something impossible to do without automatically replacing it with another god or another reference point.
'Overman' is not a god.
Angelo Cannata
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Re: Postmodernism, History and Philosophy: How is the Past Reconstructed or Deconstructed?

Post by Angelo Cannata »

I know that it is not a god. I know that Nietche’s thought is not a god. But it is possible to criticize them and to accuse them of becoming the new god, because they become the absolute reference point of everything.
Whenever you criticize anything, your criticism becomes the new reference point, the replacement.
Sunday66
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Re: Postmodernism, History and Philosophy: How is the Past Reconstructed or Deconstructed?

Post by Sunday66 »

Angelo Cannata wrote: July 15th, 2022, 4:31 pm I know that it is not a god. I know that Nietche’s thought is not a god. But it is possible to criticize them and to accuse them of becoming the new god, because they become the absolute reference point of everything.
Whenever you criticize anything, your criticism becomes the new reference point, the replacement.
No. You should actually read Nietzsche.
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Re: Postmodernism, History and Philosophy: How is the Past Reconstructed or Deconstructed?

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I have read Nietzsche.
Sunday66
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Re: Postmodernism, History and Philosophy: How is the Past Reconstructed or Deconstructed?

Post by Sunday66 »

Angelo Cannata wrote: July 15th, 2022, 4:34 pm I have read Nietzsche.
Then you know the overman is not supposed to be a god or a replacement for god. It is really just the Greek idea of arate, or excellence.
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Re: Postmodernism, History and Philosophy: How is the Past Reconstructed or Deconstructed?

Post by Angelo Cannata »

It is not supposed by Nietzsche to be a god, of course. But Nietzsche’s mind and perspective are not the only mind and perspective existing in the world: there are other minds, other perspectives, other interpretations.
Sunday66
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Re: Postmodernism, History and Philosophy: How is the Past Reconstructed or Deconstructed?

Post by Sunday66 »

Angelo Cannata wrote: July 15th, 2022, 4:41 pm It is not supposed by Nietzsche to be a god, of course. But Nietzsche’s mind and perspective are not the only mind and perspective existing in the world: there are other minds, other perspectives, other interpretations.
Right. Are you trying to make a point? What is it?
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JackDaydream
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Re: Postmodernism, History and Philosophy: How is the Past Reconstructed or Deconstructed?

Post by JackDaydream »

Angelo Cannata wrote: July 15th, 2022, 1:19 pm I consider myself a postmodern mind, I value postmodernism very much, but I think that postmodern philosophers make a stupid error, that many philosophers make, although philosophy should be the best at managing this: they don't apply their criticism to themselves. This way, an operation like deconstruction sounds like some sort of purifying, revealing the flaws, but they fail to realize that every purifying implies the introduction of some adulteration. The same way, Nietzsche proclaimed the death of God, failing to realize that this way he just introduced other different gods.
I think the solution to this is just to admit: admit our limits, our preconceptions, our inability to be pure, free from biases.
Do you not criticize and deconstruct yourself? I often sit at the end of my bed, thinking and deconstructed, for a long time, and I end up too tired to get ready for bed. When I speak of deconstructing, I am probably talking about analysing my various thoughts and their sources. I do think about the way in which various factors have influenced me, including what people I have known and the various social roles I play.

From what you have said about your own spiritual background in another thread I would imagine that was a deconstruction in itself. I would say that my own experience of examining my own Catholic background was a major part of my own quest for authenticity.

I did also find reading and thinking about postmodernism and sociology, did help me to see how so much of social life is a construction. The one writer who I haven't read much about but would like to read is Lacan. I did try reading his writing at one point but I don't think that it was the right time. It almost seems that the various thinkers seem relevant at different points in the whole process of demystification.
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Re: Postmodernism, History and Philosophy: How is the Past Reconstructed or Deconstructed?

Post by Angelo Cannata »

JackDaydream wrote: July 15th, 2022, 5:03 pm Do you not criticize and deconstruct yourself? I often sit at the end of my bed, thinking and deconstructed, for a long time, and I end up too tired to get ready for bed.
I continuously try to do my best to criticize and deconstruct myself. After what I sad, I know that whenever I criticize myself I am automatically introducing alternative criterions that need to be criticized in turn. This doesn’t tire me, because I try to practice a real complete criticism. If you criticize maths with maths, it is not a good criticism, because you are keeping yourself inside the same frame and maths can never be so aggressive towards maths, because they belong to the same system. Fortunately, we are not just maths: we are also emotions, experiences, actions: these are realms that are able to oppose a real strong criticism against the criticism built just by reasoning. This makes you a complete, a whole person, because you continuously try to listen as much as possible the whole of yourself. This way you practice true criticism that is not tiring.
In this context, the anecdote of Diogenes, who started walking to criticize Zeno’s paradoxes against movement, get a new value: the action of walking can be interpreted as showing that jumping to a level different from just reasoning enables us to make a real radical criticism.
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JackDaydream
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Re: Postmodernism, History and Philosophy: How is the Past Reconstructed or Deconstructed?

Post by JackDaydream »

Angelo Cannata wrote: July 15th, 2022, 4:06 pm Nietzsche talked about the "Übermensch", a kind of man who is "beyond": whatever it means, it puts the human being as the reference point of all values. Nietzsche's criticism of traditional values would have been impossible without his mentality and thought and this means that his mentality and thought, as well as the "Übermensch" become actually the new god. The same way, it would have been impossible to say that God died without a context of ideas that makes possible the idea of God died. This context of ideas become automatically the replacement of God, the new god. Even when he says that there isn't anymore any orientation and we wander here and there, the idea of being without orientation replace the supposed lack of orientation. In other words, however you kill God or you kill anything other reference point, it is something impossible to do without automatically replacing it with another god or another reference point.
It is interesting that you bring Nietzsche into the discussion because even though he is not a postmodernist he was an important forerunner. There had been plenty of reconstructions prior to postmodernism, including modernism. Nietzsche's ideas are part of the movement of romanticism and existentialism.

The whole group of Existentialists, including Sartre were important in deconstructing metaphysics and of the move towards secular philosophy. Apart from the death of God, Nietzsche's whole critique of tradition morals and good and evil was a basis for rethinking. The idea of 'superman' was a construct for thinking of how the person could develop to the highest possibility of potential. His whole approach was about the analysis of values itself.
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JackDaydream
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Re: Postmodernism, History and Philosophy: How is the Past Reconstructed or Deconstructed?

Post by JackDaydream »

Angelo Cannata wrote: July 15th, 2022, 5:23 pm
JackDaydream wrote: July 15th, 2022, 5:03 pm Do you not criticize and deconstruct yourself? I often sit at the end of my bed, thinking and deconstructed, for a long time, and I end up too tired to get ready for bed.
I continuously try to do my best to criticize and deconstruct myself. After what I sad, I know that whenever I criticize myself I am automatically introducing alternative criterions that need to be criticized in turn. This doesn’t tire me, because I try to practice a real complete criticism. If you criticize maths with maths, it is not a good criticism, because you are keeping yourself inside the same frame and maths can never be so aggressive towards maths, because they belong to the same system. Fortunately, we are not just maths: we are also emotions, experiences, actions: these are realms that are able to oppose a real strong criticism against the criticism built just by reasoning. This makes you a complete, a whole person, because you continuously try to listen as much as possible the whole of yourself. This way you practice true criticism that is not tiring.
In this context, the anecdote of Diogenes, who started walking to criticize Zeno’s paradoxes against movement, get a new value: the action of walking can be interpreted as showing that jumping to a level different from just reasoning enables us to make a real radical criticism.
I do agree about the introduction of alternative criterions that need to be introduced in turn', and I can live with that because I am accustomed to it. I think that some people I interact with me get a bit irritated with me for the way I look from so many angles about issues. But, it is the way one learns to think. I know that my studies contributed to the way I analyse so much. Also, education may have become more aware of cultural diversity and relativism.

I know that my parents and many other people I know were brought up in a different educational era, so don't question in the way which I do. I remember telling my mother a year ago about the thread on this forum over whether atheism was illogical. She said that she had never realised that philosophy discusses religion. Also, I can remember one of my classmates in sixth form telling the religious studies teacher that he would like to learn about other religions. It was a Catholic school and the teacher said, ' It is more important to understand your own one. Within Catholicism there is an ecumenical movement but it is focused on other Christians groups. However, as an adult I have lived and worked in a multicultural society, so I am aware of cultural relativism at most times. The background one grows up and move into through life have a big influence, even though these two can be a source of conflict for some.
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