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What is postmodernism wearing?
Posted: 10 October 2007 10:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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dougsmith - 09 October 2007 02:30 PM

Could you explain what all that verbiage actually means?

Avoid:
dialectics of Spirit = God talk
hermeneutics of meaning = theological justification
emancipation of the rational or working subject = prohibiting rationality
creation of wealth = economic bias

dougsmith - 09 October 2007 02:30 PM

Well, I don’t see how that can be if (as Derrida believes) every text is subject to deconstruction. This would mean that there is no particular way to interpret any scientific text, a fortiori no reason to see it as any more epistemically reliable than any other sort of text. And since as we already know from Derrida that everything is text, there is no privileged way to read the evidence, reality or nature. If the Discovery Institute wants to read the evidence as showing that creationism is true and biologists want to read it as showing that evolution is true, well, that’s just two incompatible and equally valid “modes of signifying”, as the phrase goes.

I’d also suggest taking a look at Gross and Levitt’s Higher Superstition, where you see more of this stuff outlined in some detail.

Upon further review of Lyotards writings I have noted that he is not the accredited philosopher I was lead to believe.  His Post Modern Condition resembles more a stream of consciousness than an actual research based finding.

[quote author=“Wikipedia”]The Postmodern Condition was written as a report on the influence of technology on the notion of knowledge in exact sciences, commissioned by the Québec government. It is the ‘odd one out’ in Lyotards bibliography, because it does not touch on his two major themes: arts and politics. Lyotard later admitted that he had a ‘less than limited’ knowledge of the science he was to write about, and to compensate for this knowledge, he ‘made stories up’ and referred to a number of books that he hadn’t actually read. In retrospect, he called it ‘a parody’ and ‘simply the worst of all my books’.[3] Despite this, and much to Lyotard’s regret, it came to be seen as his most important piece of writing.

Lyotard was an artist masquerading as a philosopher.  He lured respect through tactics that more resemble a magician than a researcher.  These tactics position his work as a parody on human biases.  It is not to be taken at face value, I think, but as a splash of cold water in the face.  Postmodernism isn’t naked, it’s wearing a knockoff sweater.  If you want, pull this thread as it walks away.  cool hmm

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Posted: 10 October 2007 10:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Yes, you’ll find this problem with these postmodernist icons ... lots of sound and fury signifying nothing. The problem with getting into arguments about them is that their unclarity and evasiveness means that they eventually end up taking nearly every possible position on a topic, at least at some point. And their use of nonsense jargon means that you have the additional problem of actually interpreting what the hell they are saying before you can take issue with it. And then when you do take issue with it, their supporters just redefine the terminology. It’s a hopeless task, and I’d only suggest leaving those authors aside.

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Posted: 11 October 2007 03:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Before I say anything else I just want to let you guys know that I am scared to death of talking about postmodernism.  My brain has trouble processing most works of literature, let alone most of the lit that falls under this heading.  (translation:  PLEASE feel free to correct and question me on this subject!!)  But, I too am really curious about it.  I don’t “believe in it”. (I thought it was a critical theory, not a positivist one?)  I guess I believe in it as much as I believe in the conditions that it arose out of, and I understand why it arose but not necessarily the cultural forces which further shaped most of the literature, which indeed seemed to be more along the lines of works of art in several cases.

I came to like Baudrillard because most of what I know about postmodernism came from my coming to grips with my own “hyperrealistic” existence.  When I bought a clue about the media saturated culture in which I’d been raised and brainwashed, naturally I ended up finding the book Simulacra and Simulation and reading it.  But, in coming to understand this hyperrealistic culture, I then looked at postmodernism, realizing it was just a part of the big picture, and wondering if it could qualify as a hyperreality to those who take it too seriously?  I don’t mean that as a jab by any means, but it was an honest curiosity.

Now that everyone has witnessed my limited knowledge of postmodern literature if anyone could point me in the direction of a good comprehensive introduction I’d most appreciate it!

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Posted: 11 October 2007 07:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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I will just say this. Insofar as you are trying to get clear on anything, without self-contradiction and using unnecessary jargon, and with a genuine interest in the truth, you aren’t doing postmodernism IMHO. At least not the “bad” stuff. The “bad” stuff is what Harry Frankfurt would call “bullshit”.

So, the first question I would ask is this. What is “hyperrealistic”? I don’t understand the term.

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Posted: 11 October 2007 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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My new definition of postmodernism is incomplete avant-garde thought expressed with smoke & mirrors.  Once you deconstruct a postmodern expression, it is patchy and inconsistent at best.  If it were a solid new idea, defensible with thorough scientific precision, it wouldn’t need to be masked in ambiguity.  vampire

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Posted: 12 October 2007 08:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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dougsmith - 11 October 2007 07:52 AM

So, the first question I would ask is this. What is “hyperrealistic”? I don’t understand the term.

It’s the one part of postmodern philosophy that has the most relationship to my own experience, and I’ll explain it using the example of the blatantly useless media system we have in this [beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep] country…

When the evening news talks about politics and our choices (or lack therof) of candidates, the people take the points they make on the news shows, and if they have no urge to look up facts on the candidates on their own or explore the possibility of OTHER candidates than the ones they show on the evening news, they’ll spew these facts to their friends, who spew back facts or factoids or factish pieces of information they heard on other news shows.  The resulting argument is “hyperrealistic” in nature, which means that they are walking terrain which they have not seen with their own eyes, but have only witnessed on the badly drawn map of the [beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep] American media.  The media, sadly, creates the facts in this country WAY too much.  (Just look at [beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep] Fox News with their so called fair and balanced bullshit, which people take at face value for fair and balanced.) 

One principle (THE principle?) of hyperreality is the map that precedes the actual terrain.  (It was once that terrains were drawn as maps after “real” locations, but in todays world it has become the other way around… terrains are fashioned after the maps no matter how poorly drawn they may be.)  Whether this is necessarily a part of modern life I’m not quite sure of.  I know that if I had not had the experiences I have had up to this point in my life, I would not be able to look at the mountains around where I live and say that they are so beautiful.  But, is my mind creating the “beautiful” terrain at that point?  Or is my values system rightly prizing that wonderful view?  I would like to think the latter.  But the media, on the other hand, draws such a bad and useless map of our existence today, and so many people take it at face value, that their values system and their view of reality has a profound impact on the world!  What people see in the [beeeeeeep, sorry really nasty thoughts running through my head!] media is actually reflected in the ignorant choices that people make (such as buying hummers when virtually ALL scientists agree on global warning, but they watched the news which reports the opinions as being much more divided) in their every day lives.

Is the map drawing the terrain?  Well, in a way it isn’t, because if there was no global warming we’d be better off.  In fact, it may be the opposite!  The terrain is becoming a chaotic world that is in stark contrast to the great American/capitalist society we see on the news, and what we see on the terrain is only a reflection of peoples ignorance and desire for simple answers. 

Another aspect of this, is while people are able to access much more information today, they are much less -knowledgable-, and in contrast think they are smarter because of all the information they pack into their brain every day.  They have no way to sort through it and put a worthwhile value on it though, well a lot of people…  Another point is that just because we have, hopefully, more Holocaust believers than deniers out there these days, it is faulty to believe that a Holocaust will not happen again, even though we are told this erroneously by some of our educators growing up (at least I was).  But enough people believe because we have Holocaust units in our schools another one will not happen, so that opinion seems to paint a kind of falsely safe social terrain for those who believe it.  I think it’s like believing in Santa Clause, personally.  It’s good to know about the Holocaust, no doubt, but people like to put the fanciful spin on talking about it, like they are protecting the world from another one just by talking about it.  No, if you want to protect the world from another one, one thing to do in addition to talk about the Holocaust would be to talk about the Milgram experiments, and then don’t think you’ve done the trick there either! 

The fanciful notions of many religions are another type of hyperreality!

The point is that hyperreality is the world as seen from a map… and a lot of people don’t stop and look at the actual terrain they are standing on. 

If I’ve misrepresented any of Baudrillard’s ideas, if there are any Baudrillard experts out there who want to show me the actual terrain, feel free!

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Posted: 12 October 2007 08:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Oh yeah, another hyperrealistic notion is the idea that To Catch A Predator actually makes children safer, and that Dateline is doing “such a good job” with that segment.  Baloney.  They’re doing it for ratings, it is entrapment (even if the guys are f-ed up as all hell), and child predators in the real world come in more versions than you find on internet chatrooms.  Many are friends of the families, sadly.  Many are family members!  But, people will believe anything…

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Posted: 12 October 2007 10:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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So GBGC, it sounds then like “hyperrealistic” means “not realistic at all”, if I’m understanding you correctly. That’s pretty maddening.

“Hyperrealism” means the fake world of the ideologue.

Again, my problem with this terminology is that it is VERY misleading. We already have terms in the language that express all that needs to be said here. We don’t need to coin neologisms with prefixes like “hyper-” to do it.

Yes, there is a lot of media fakery around, ideologically based. IMO it occurs both on the right and on the left, although at the present time the right has significantly more power and money to fund their fakery. Fox News is a virtual writer’s paradise of fakery.

But having said that, we should be aware that some of what passes for fakery is honest mistake, and some of what is presented even on Fox may be accurate. One should not jump to knee-jerk conclusions without some outside evidence.

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Posted: 13 October 2007 12:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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I wonder if what GBGC is talking about is more like Chomsky’s idea from Manufacturing Consent? In other words, the media presentation of the world, which owes as much to the economics that underlie it as to anything in the actual world, becomes the foundation on which people build their understanding of how the world actually is, since most don’t go to the effort of getting more and better information from a variety of sources, integrating it with their own experiences, etc. So then the media image in some sense becomes real as people take it onboard and then act on it. I agree the postmodernist jargo obsfuscates the undelrying ideas, but I do wonder if there isn’t some truth to the idea that we create our models of reality based on the sources of information we have available, and we seldom challenge them activley after they are established. So if these sources are misrepresenting the world, we take in a flawed model, act on it, and then create the conditions for the model to become the real world. A bit theoretical a worry, I suppose, but if it’s not what GBGC meant, at least it’s the notion that his comments brought to mind. I never cease to be amazed by my own ignorance, and yhet I find myself surprisingly well-informed compared to most people I meet, so I have to wonder what effect widespread, deep iognorance of history, politics, and philosophy has on how we act and thus ont he world we make for ourselves.

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Posted: 13 October 2007 02:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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McKinzie, I am pretty sure the taking of a flawed model and acting on it, and the mistakes that followed were the factors in the beginning of postmodernism. Basically it was the death of the modernist utopia ideal (the structuralist ideal, which failed in Communism in Russia and in Fascist countries in Europe during the time of WWII), and that’s why it (postmodernism) probably seems so damn obscure.  Umberto Eco is more clear than most writers where describing this hyperreal landscape is concerned.  There is more to Baudrillard’s picture including Disneyland and cinema, I just chose the media because I grew up watching that garbage! (Nothing will mess you up growing up like watching Dateline!)  But the media aspect sure does bear resemblence to Chomsky!

Doug, the weirdness of the hyperreality, is that it is a functioning reality, in a sense.  It is kind of like the 2000 election, where ALL of the stations seemed to function in this other world when Fox made the Florida call.  It is a system of simulacra which function separately of reality, but works to support itself just the same.

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Posted: 13 October 2007 11:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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godblessgeorgecarlin - 13 October 2007 02:18 AM

Doug, the weirdness of the hyperreality, is that it is a functioning reality, in a sense.  It is kind of like the 2000 election, where ALL of the stations seemed to function in this other world when Fox made the Florida call.  It is a system of simulacra which function separately of reality, but works to support itself just the same.

I’d discourage the description of fakery as “functioning reality”. That just confuses things. There is reality, and there is fakery. Even if everyone believes the fakery, or Hitler’s “Big Lie”, it’s still fakery, and should be described as such.

I’m very big on accuracy and simplicity of language. Jargon should only be used where it is absolutely necessary, otherwise it can mask what you are trying to say.

Re. Chomsky, I haven’t read his book so can’t speak to his specific cases, but I do think that a lot of people on the political edges sometimes are too quick to label centrist thinking as biased or manufactured. Some of it is, for sure, but much of it is not. We’ve gotten into plenty of arguments on this forum about similar topics. I will repeat what I said before: I dislike Fox News with a passion. But that said, one cannot simply say that because XYZ was on Fox News that therefore it is “manufactured”. Sometimes the right wing gets things right. Not often, to be sure, but we should not become knee-jerk “debunkers” (in the bad sense) of everything published or uttered in right wing media. Each claim should stand or fall on its own.

Or to take another example, yes, advertising does help to sell soda. But it’s also the case that soda sells because people like to drink soda. When people don’t want to drink something (e.g. New Coke), the largest advertising budget in the world is of no help. Selling is a two-way street.

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Posted: 13 October 2007 12:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Doug, Well, I wouldn’t say there is no reality behind the media model, but I think people are far too uncritical and ill-informed to separate the reality from the BS, and in this sense if they can’t tell the difference then their actions are based on a faulty understanding of reality. I think the swings of public opinion on the Iraq issue are a great example. Plenty of people described fairly accurately what would happen ahead of time (quick decisive military victory, lack of overwhelming welcome from the people, ethnic strife and intractable insurgency, etc), but most people went along fairly passively with the image presented by the administration and not vigorously challenged by the emdia far longer than I would have thought possible given how obviously inconsistent these models were with reality. Again, I wouldn’t fall into the postmodernist pit of assuming there is no reality only narrative, but I think the far greater danger for most people is the uncritical and irrational acceptance of slogans, bogus logic, pseudoscience and the like, and I choose to push suspicion of the media presentation because I think this is the greater danger right now. We are always less likely to accurately recognize the extent to which we are manipulated. The recent topics on how inaccurate beliefs are acquired and maintain are, I think, excellent evidence that we trust our own judgement too much, so I push for skepticism of our own notions because I think we’d benefit from more of it.

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Posted: 13 October 2007 12:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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mckenzievmd - 13 October 2007 12:24 PM

Doug, Well, I wouldn’t say there is no reality behind the media model, but I think people are far too uncritical and ill-informed to separate the reality from the BS, and in this sense if they can’t tell the difference then their actions are based on a faulty understanding of reality. I think the swings of public opinion on the Iraq issue are a great example. Plenty of people described fairly accurately what would happen ahead of time (quick decisive military victory, lack of overwhelming welcome from the people, ethnic strife and intractable insurgency, etc), but most people went along fairly passively with the image presented by the administration and not vigorously challenged by the emdia far longer than I would have thought possible given how obviously inconsistent these models were with reality. Again, I wouldn’t fall into the postmodernist pit of assuming there is no reality only narrative, but I think the far greater danger for most people is the uncritical and irrational acceptance of slogans, bogus logic, pseudoscience and the like, and I choose to push suspicion of the media presentation because I think this is the greater danger right now. We are always less likely to accurately recognize the extent to which we are manipulated. The recent topics on how inaccurate beliefs are acquired and maintain are, I think, excellent evidence that we trust our own judgement too much, so I push for skepticism of our own notions because I think we’d benefit from more of it.

Agree with you 100%, Brennen.

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Posted: 13 October 2007 07:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Back when I was in high school, taking a class in physical science we got to do the ‘black box experiment’.  This is where the students are provided a sealed box (ours were about shoebox size) that have objects insides.  The task is to use the scientific method to discover the contents of the box.  We were restricted in that we could not physically penetrate the box or open it.  We spent the day doing weighing and measuring.  Some tried to build an x-ray machine.  Some just used the guessing the Christmas package approach.  At the end of the day, all of our results were put up on the blackboard and the class came to a consensus (with some holdouts).  Then the truly educational part happened: the teacher collected up the boxes and we never found out what was actually in the boxes. 

I don’t know what the words ‘absolute reality’ mean really.  I envision it as being able to open up reality and actually ‘see’ what is inside that cosmic black box.  But just as the rules of that class didn’t allow you to open the box, the rules of this reality prevent us from pealing back the surface of reality. 

The points made by the Post-modernists, (when they speak clearly enough to actually make an understandable point) may or may not be true in relation to Art (paintings, music, dance, literature, etc.) because these are indeed modes of expression that heavily influenced by the culture that produces them. Even so, I know that some artists strive to create in their art a statement (a feeling) that they hope would be universal - that would transcend culture and society. 

However, with respect to science, pomo gets a little bit correct but misses the target big time at the bottom.  That miss is based on one simple fact they ignore the power of testing theory against reality.  I may not be able to open the box but I can ‘prove’ that it does not contain a live elephant.  There is simply no way that a narrative about that box as a real object that includes a live elephant is on par with a narrative that is based solely on the observations. 

The criticism that ‘facts’ are theory laden, is a red herring.  Much of our measurements are tools that are built based on theory.  In fact, it can be reasonably argued that science has really only advanced only when the tools were invented that would allow the measurements to be made that could test the theories that made building the tool possible.  But this ‘flaw’ is overcome by the fact that science is self-correcting.  Theories are tressed to the breaking point and when it fails it fails.  Consider the story of N-rays - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N_ray

It seems to me that the pomo with respect to science would be true only if our beliefs actually changed reality.  And reality is what can kill you if you don’t pay attention.  Consider the shaman that was trying to sell a bullet protection talisman to a guy.  The shaman put on the talisman and told the guy to shoot at him.  The guy did and the shaman died.  The shaman obviously believed in the narrative about the talisman but that didn’t change reality.

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Posted: 14 October 2007 05:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Now that is a science class LOL

What I left out, conveniently, above was Baudrillard’s perspective towards striving for that kind of absolute knowledge you referred to.  He actually criticized it as being deceptive for reasons I’ll have to go back and read about.  By no means were you wrong to have wanted to do everything you could to figure out what was in the box, though.  I remember high school being so much extraneous work, at least they could have let you have -that- satisfaction for some of it!  I want to say all of this amounts to the majority of people not just freaking being humble and honest about what they can and can’t know at any point in time.

Hah, I’m a great example of that!  I’m surprised no scholar here has shown up and trashed everything I said above!

[ Edited: 14 October 2007 05:17 AM by godblessgeorgecarlin ]
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