Geez do we still exist?
September 18, 2008

by pegleghippie

Sorry for not writing anything in forever. I get ideas and concepts and then i get tired and fall asleep. Don’t ask me what Mekhami’s excuse is for not posting.

But not tonight! Ok just a quickie, but i’m going to do a few different posts on post-modernism, and why you shouldn’t hate it (i’m looking at you Bing). So here’s my first thought:

The postmodern critique has largely been accepted and integrated by different fields. By postmodern critique i mean the old idea that we can’t ever really be sure of anything, and that input from our senses is no guarantee of truth. Pomo goes one step farther by positing that it’s unlikely that our senses work the same was as anyone else’s senses, so what seems absolutely right and true to one just doesn’t add up to another.

Scientists has accepted this by saying that empirical observation never proves anything, and that questions of any notion of ‘truth’ cannot be resolved by the scientific method. Rather, science categorizes and analyzes observation, nominally to make use of those observations.

Mathematicians have accepted the same critique by viewing math as a system, rather than as a picture of reality, the way Pythagorus did when he claimed that everything was numbers.

Engineers have accepted it by, well

It’s similar for artists:

So what’s the resistance? If everyone is pretty much ok with nothing being for sure, then why is there a problem with postmodernism? I have an answer.

Pomo goes a bit beyond just demanding that everyone admit they aren’t sure about reality. Pomo asks that we act based on values that deal with that uncertainty. In other words, because we don’t know if we are right or not (nor, in the case of pomo, do we really care), we have to be humble and accepting when we encounter views different from our own. It isn’t really fair to call someone an idiot anymore, since there’s no definite standard to judge idiocy by.

So take science. Science is often associated with enlightenment values (humanism, individualism, secularism, and of course, respect for the scientific method as a means of making decisions) and someone with a scientific view of the world is likely to hold these values. So when a scientist meets, say, a fundamentalist christian (who at best only partly holds a few of these values), the scientist is going to see the christian failing at living up to all these values (particularly the last one about the scientific method) and is going to dismiss the fundie as a moron.

So it only makes sense that when a postmodernist comes along and says to the scientist, “be hospitable! Try to see where the fundie is coming from, and look for common ground so that you can be useful to each other!” the scientist is going to get a little pissed. After all, it takes a lot of work by a lot of committed people to build the scientific body of knowledge, this fundie doesn’t recognize any of it, and on top of that this philosopher is telling him/her they have to give a rats ass about this person?  “I’m right and I’m the only one who has any proof!” he/she might say.  

I’m sorry, but technically, you don’t have proof.  You can’t.  What you can do is try to navigate the absurd, ambiguous web of human relationships in a non-inflammatory way, by recognizing your own limits.  Now is that so objectionable?

Of course, if the fundie doesn’t reciprocate with similar open-mindedness, that’s a whole different issue.   Maybe i’ll do conflict in another post, but what it boils down to is, “winning the conflict doesn’t make you any more right than anything else. Please try not to kill anybody, but do what you think you gotta do anyway.”

So that’s it for tonight: POMO in terms of action-values.  I’ve been cooking something up regarding democracy, should be exciting.