Post-modernism - hijacked by fools
Posted by aogFriday, 03 January 2003 at 19:45 TrackBack Ping URL
Post-modernism is rightly ridiculed by people with a clue. But like many things, it is a parody of what was once a reasonable and insightful set of ideas. One of them is a derivative of nominalism, which is the belief that words are just sounds and the concepts that they name are just social constructs. One of the early bits of post modernism was work in hermeneutics which was broadened to mean the study of the meaning of words. Since words have no fundamental existence, how do they have meaning? The essence of this is that physical reality applies only to physical instances (e.g. Orin's blog, my blog, Tim Blair's blog) but the concept is purely a social construct (e.g. "blog"). Note that I can link to the instances, but there's no place where "blog" exists. It has meaning only because we all agree (more or less) on what it means (and we don't always agree). I don't view any of that as controversial. The problem lies elsewhere.

The left has always had a tendency toward "logo-realism", mistaking the word for the thing. We can see this in much of their efforts to get people to use different words, as if that would change the underlying reality (the failure of this demonstrates the fundamental correctness of hermeneutics as described above - the instances exist regardless of what word is attached to the set of them). However, crossing this with hermeneutics leads directly to the idea that nothing is real, that all reality is a social construct, because if the words are socially constructed, and reality is controlled by words, then social constructs control reality. This is not at all what hermeneutics is about, but that's never stopped the kind of people who advocate racial preferences as a solution to racial preferences.