What Comes After Post-Modernism

In our last seminar together, we discussed the ideas of postmodernism and how it began as a reaction against the tenants of the modernist philosophy, namely of the belief of grand narratives, or metanarratives about universal or absolute truths such democracy, progress, science and the belief that these narratives are leading up to some as-yet-unknown great destination. It encouraged an attitude of incredulity and skepticism of everything and the acceptance that there are no single truth but an enormous plurality of competing narratives each containing different aspects of the truth.

In recent years however, a growing number of critics – including such acclaimed scholars as Noam Chomsky, Daniel Dennett, and our very own Jacob Clark, have began to question the usefulness and the longevity of the postmodern condition.  They argue that merely reacting against metanarratives is not enough if they do not offer a suitable alternative in its place. They say it is far too vague just to say there are countless numbers of localized narratives in the world and that such ways of thinking does not offer much more insight than is already immediately apparent (i.e., certain systems of thought is advance by certain power structures and therefore is not always reliable). They argue perhaps the approach ironically examining and deconstructing existing metanarratives, which may indeed have severed an useful purpose at the time of its conception, has run its course.

Some critics argue that new sensibilities has already begun to evolve. One such proposed alternative is  metamodernism, that is a way of combining both modernist and postmodernist sensibilities. Dutch philosophers Timotheus Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker says that metamodernism “can be conceived of as a kind of informed naivety, a pragmatic idealism” an acceptance that “grand narratives are as necessary as they are problematic, hope is not simply something to distrust, love not necessarily something to be ridiculed.” They recognize that while there may be no universal, absolutely unchanging Truth out there in the Platonic sense, it is not futile to try and find pursue some approximation to it to the best of our collective abilities. If we wish to move forward, a balance must be struck between ironic detachment and sincere, passionate engagement, one must “embrace doubt, as well as hope and melancholy, sincerity and irony, affect and apathy, the personal and the political, and technology and techne”.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Leave a Reply