SEARCH FOR TRUE TRUTH IN CYBERSPACE
"Postmodernism offers a revolutionary approach to the study of society. In questioning the validity of modern science and the notion of objective knowledge, this movement discards history, rejects humanism and resists any truth claims." (Pauline Marie Rosenau, Postmodernism and The Social Sciences—Insights. Inroads, and Intrusions (Princeton University Press, 1992) from the back of the paperback edition.) Rosenau is neither hostile to the movement nor an apologists for it is but a guide through the maze of Postmodern irrationalism.
Epistemology and Methodology are concerned with foundational matters. But since Postmodernism entails the rejection of all forms of Foundationalism, it becomes the most crucial challenge to Christianity in the last decade of the 20th century (see my papers "The Demise of Foundational Explanatory Modes" and "Resurgent Neo-Gnosticism, Anti Language, Logic and History"); also Douglas Groothius, The Soul in Cyberspace (Baker. 1997).
Postmodernism answers to the classical question of how we know what we know, how we go about producing knowledge, and what constitutes knowledge itself are very different from those of classical versions of knowledge claims. Postmoderns reject modern views of science, epistemology, methodology, history and language. They have no faith in reason and they disavow classical criteria for evaluating knowledge. The irrational affirmatives do not reject "modern perspectives" on these categories, but they do propose drastic revisions to all the categories. Whether postmoderns are dealing with science or legal studies, their deconstructive modes cannot possibly plan without reason and rationality. This is the central weakness of their deconstructive postmodernism, regardless of the area of the study.
Modern social science was inspired by the physical sciences which propose hypothesis and counter hypothesis (see my paper "Thomas Kuhn's Concept of Paradigm" and "The Development of the Behavioral Sciences") assuming an "objective reality" and requiring that theory be "tested." By what procedure? By contrast, Postmodernists organize knowledge around "personal," "Intuitive," and epistemological concern (see my paper "From Epistemology (Truth) to Hermeneutics (Relevance to Seeker Audience)" Deep Postmodernism practices "epistemological impossibility or a "pervasive sense of radical unsurpassable uncertainty, a sort of epistemological nihilism." (See John W. Murphy, "Computerization, Postmodern Epistemology and Reading in the Postmodern Era" Educational Theory (Spring 1988, vol. 38, no.2, pp. 175-182)
While Moderns searched for ultimate reality, Postmoderns hold that there is no adequate means for representing the external world, (e.g. Wittgenstein's "Language Games" —all "Truth Claims" are epistemologically and culturally in bondage. There is no escape. The end of language is the end of reality.) Even the historians of science, such as Thomas Kuhn, imply that external reality can be understood only within paradigmatic assumptions subject to change from time to time. All Postmodernists deny any view of reality that assumes the independence of individual mental processes and intersubjective communication. This is purely Freudian Narcissism—Nietzsche's "mad man." Some postmoderns refuse to discuss the nature of reality, or argue that if it does it is "the consequence rather than the cause of scientific activity." (Bruno Latour and Steven Woolgar, Laboratory Life (Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 1979): 183-236; and Latour's, The Pasteurization of France (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987): 159). "It must be clear that it is our business not to supply reality but to invent allusions to the conceivable which cannot be presented." (Jean Francois Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report On Knowledge (E.T. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press, 1984):81) The very notion of reality construction implies that some versions are "valid and others not" (Murray Edelman, Constructing the Political Spectacle (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988): 6). Bandrillard provides the extreme scepticism of Postmodernism in his travel log of America (America (London: Verso, 1989) that there is no real world. Disneyland is authentic because it does not purport to be real; everything outside of Disneyland, what is reputed to be real, is exclusively images, "simulacra." For the sceptical Postmodern, signs are not representative of reality; rather they produce reality (Michael Ryan, "Postmodern Politics" in Theory,Culture and Society 5 (2-3): 559-576, esp. 565-566). They work "creatively and anarchically and irresponsibly." The Postmodern sign subverts the modern and overcomes the "controlled system of meaning," by extension "the socially controlled system of every kinds." (Richard Harland, Superstructuralism: The Philosophy of Structuralism and Post Structuralism (London: Mathuen, 1987): 124) There is no escape from Kantian constructivism's theory of reality by taking the postmodern path. They dismiss the distraction between mental sates and the outside world as pure illusion. "To the extent that the mind furnishes the categories of understanding, there is no real world objects of study other than those inherent within the mental makeup of persons." (K.J. Gergen, "Correspondence versus Autonomy in The Language of Understanding Human Actions," in Metatheory in Social Science. ed. D.W. Fiske, R.A. Sheveder (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986): 141)
The physical world is the dream. When one "awakens from the dream of the physical world," one realizes that the dreamer is "the cause of the events and the relationship. The out-of-consciousness collective/universal mind is the creator of the world, the individual mind experiences." We spend most of our lives in this "reality dream" (e.g.. Virtual Reality). There is no reality to any event apart from the meanings attributed by those who perceive them (Murray
Edleman. Constructing the Political Spectacle (University of Chicago Press. 1099: "2) Humans are "co-creations" (with god), of the universe (Willis Harman, "The Postmodern Heresy: Consciousness as Causal" in The Re-enchantment of Science: Postmodern Proposals (Ed. D.R. Griflfen, Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988): 125-126) Contextualist theory has been inspired by modern ethnomethodologists and extended to the intellectual arena by postmoderns such as Stanley Fish (Doing What Comes Naturally (Durham: NC: Duke University Press, 1989): 34) and argue it to a position of importance that all knowledge claims (all facts, truth, validity) are "intelligible and debatable" only within their context paradigm, or "community." Even if this were true, how could Fish make this knowledge/truth claim? They are merely the result of agreement among professional communities. Reality is the reality of social processes accepted as normal in a specific context (Fish, ibid.) The extreme sceptical postmoderns also advance a theory of reality; they see it as "linguistic convention" (Terry Engleton, Literary Theory (University of Minnesota 1983): 105; see also "Capitalism, Modernism of Postmodernism" New Left Review, no. 152 (July-August): 60-73). If language itself is relative and even arbitrary, and if language is the only reality we know, then reality is, at most, a linguistic habit (John Murphy, "Computerization, Postmodern Epistemology and Readings in The Postmodern Era", Educational Theory 1988) 38(2): 175-82; also Jane Flax, Thinking Fragments: Psychoanalysis. Feminism and Postmodernism in the Contemporary West (Berkley: University of California Press, 1990):35).
"There are no independently identifiable real world referents to which the language of social disruption is cemented" (K.J. Gergen, ibid. 1986): 143). Even natural science in a postmodern era "is a discursive field with presuppositions that are themselves problematic" (Stanley Aronowitz, "The Production of Scientific Knowledge: Science, Ideology and Marxism," in Marxism and The Interpretation of Culture, ed. Carl Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1988):432).
It is merely a universe of discourse, a rhetoric based on action that is itself only discourse (Bruno Latour, Science in Action (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987):37). "This discourse takes the form of a power game, a struggle, a war with verbal negations, pressure, lobbying and other elements designed to gain support... in the end assures an intellectual monopoly for the product." (Latour, ibid, pp. 182-184) No external reality actually exists as the ultimate "arbitrator." (Bruno Latour, Science in Action (Harvard University Press, 1987):37) The affirmative Postmodernists, preferring the contextual and constructive versions of reality that are most consistent with their epistemological conceptions, disagree with strict linguistic relativism. Social science (and the physical sciences) must be more than just a "linguistic habit" if it is to be worth the effort (David R. Griffen ed., The Re enchantment of Science: Postmodern Proposals (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988):20-30). Postmodern social science is "soft" provisional and emotional, some would say philosophically idealist, relative, and subjective, rather than positivist or philosophical materialists or objective (Richard Harland, Superstructuralism: The Philosophy of Structuralism and Post Structuralism (London: Methuen, 1987): 177).
Postmodern views of reality seek to escape from the modern view of reality because of violence, terror and degradation prevalent in modern society. They point to the brutal presence of an "obviously existing reality" that solidifies around poverty, starvation, Aids, drugs and gang warfare. Only living in our present cultural/personal chaos could we have a postmodern conception of reality, not entirely a mental constrict. But surely postmodern epistemology is hardly the ground to positively respond to our cultural maze. The modern positivistic interpretation of reality trivialized and marginalized God, and our present social condition is the result. As long as the modern positivistic/naturalistic explanatory schema prevailed—God is Dead, Man is Dead, Culture is Dead, Science is Dead, History is Dead, and Meaning is Dead. God is dead and man has been reduced to genetic environmental determinism—a low grade computer!! The Person has been murdered by his own creative, scientific, technological hand. Since there is no foundational reality, only "Virtual Reality" remains. In the world of virtual reality, only private reality has any status in the universe of discourse. Man has produced not Utopia but a cosmic loony bin! Man has and still searches for order in wealth, fame, science, knowledge, sex, and drugs for meaning. He has found that all of this is vanity (Ecclesiastes, "All is meaningless" for Generation X in our Postmodern insane asylum.
Postmodernists deny the "world machine" of cause and effect in the materialistic philosophical view. If the world is a machine and man is a product of a macro-machine, then, of course, man is a micro machine. (Bruno Latour, Science in Action (Harvard University Press, 1987) Even many Postmodernists see intertextuality as relational rather than entirely chaotic. Theological explanation is intended to reintroduce unconscious processes back into social science. (Willis Harmon, "The Postmodern Heresy: Consciousness as Causal" The Re enchantment of Science (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1988). Postmodern methodology rejects all forms of positivistic social science that assumes prediction and precise probability statements. The new gurus turn to "systems analysis" (eg. Frank Capra, The Turning Point (New York: Simon and Schuster 1982; his systems analysis is New Age Pantheism) as structural analysis where "inter textuality" is the rule (see especially James Click, Chaos (New York: Viking, 1987); O. V. Holden, ed., Chaos (Princeton University Press, 1989); Ilya Prigogine and Isabelle Stenger, Order Out of Chaos (New York: Bantam Books, 1984) and predictive models are secondary. This intellectual malaise separates continental European Postmodernists and North America's and British Postmodernists at the point of the rational significance of their relativism. Definition dichotomies imply hierarchy and superiority of one element of each pair. Some Postmodernists assert a purposeful goal oriented human outcomes, directed toward a telos permitting consideration of unconscious processes "deep structures," more "holistic" than those of modern social and science (see ibid. Griffin and Harman, 1988: 20-30). Postmodern hermeneutics vainly attempts to escape relativism by arbitrarily utilizing "intertextuality." But the nature of Postmodernism precludes any rational bridges over the troubled waters of non contradictory systems of intertextuality. But how can there be a knowledge claim of contradiction beyond the Wittgensteinian "Language Game." Contradiction can obtain only within the context of a received "game." This situation precludes any cross-intertextuality communication.
Relativism versus Objectivity: The Role of Values and
The Normative in The Universe of Discourse
Postmodernists agree that values, normative questions, feelings, and emotions are all part of human intellectual production. The extreme view of this stance entails that no particular value system can be assumed superior to another. Ethical choices cannot be normative of a "normal person." This is solipcistic Narcissism. If ethical choices are simply a linguistic category, a construct, then there can be no community of consensus for any moral judgment (see the ultimate moral chaos of Paul de Mann, Allegories of Reading (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979). If all values are equal, then what is the point of moral inquiry? Thus no privilege can be attributed to any particular point of view—either individual or institutional. Therefore, there can be no institutional consensus. Why should there be? Who could/would even raise the problem for discussion? Both are futile!! Both the problem and the discussion are illusionary. What could "cause" this ubiquitous illusion? How can a plurality of legitimate value systems escape ethical relativism? What is the rational ground for preferring one over another alternative? Facts, meaning and values cannot be considered independently of one another, but alternative systems provide contradictory solutions to the proposed question in each area of discourse. Which of the values are to be fused in postmodern social science? What is the criteria of selection? What is its epistemological status? Marcuse proposes "two dimensional men;" Riesenans "other directed man;" T.S. Elliot "dislocation of sensibilities; Lasch "Narcissist." Postmodern societies are forever expanding and corrigible for this reason. The knowledge they hold is not available for the underpinning of social organization (see especially Ernest Gellner, Plough, Sword and Book (Chicago, 1988, p. 68).
While modern social science strives for objectivity and shuns relativism, Postmodernists are anti objectivists and some embrace relativism. No dubious call for the "return of the human mind" into the epistemological register such as proposed by Stanley Aronowitz in his work "The Production of Scientific Knowledge: Science, Ideology and Marxism" in Marxism and The Interpretation of Culture, ed. Gary Nelson and Lawrence Grossberg (University of Illinois Press, 1988):535).
Some extreme Postmodern gurus argue that to abandon objectivity is itself a sign of maturity and tolerance (Murray Edelman, The Constructing The Political Spectacle (University of Chicago Press, 1988): 5). If reality is merely a linguistic convention, then meaning and knowing can only be relative (Marc Wortman, "Book Review of The Postmodern Aura," Telos 71 (Spring): 171, 1987). Surely Postmodernism is "the consolidation of relativism." (Agnes Heller, "Mouvements culturels et changements des modeles de lie quatidienne depuis la denxieme guerre," in La redicalite du quotidien. ed. Andre Cortes and Maie Blanche Tahon (Montreal, 1987). Postmodern anthropologists argue that relativism is a welcome relief (G.E. Marcus and Michael Fischer, Anthropology as Cultural Critique—An Experimental Moment in The Human Sciences (University of Chicago Press, 1986) because it recognizes that in their field "no cultural tradition can analytically encompass the discourse of another cultural tradition." (Stephen Tyler, "The Poetic Turn in Postmodern Anthropology—The Poetry of Paul Friedrich," American Anthropologist 1984 (86):328-36).
As was the case with norms and values, the affirmatives are uncomfortable with the extreme of objectivity or relativism. The "inherently contradictory" position is applicable only to Wittgenstein's "Language Game," i.e., contradiction is possible only within a given "language convention." Thus, there can be no universal-necessary-cross paradigm contradictions. The paradigm shift from Aristotle, Newton, Einstein, non-linear physicists, etc., is more than adequate refutation of contradiction only within "Language Convention" or paradigm structure. Feminists and ecological postmodernists are ambivalent about postmodern relativism and anti objectivism, especially when discussion turns to their own "language game." Everything is politically correct—except the Christian paradigm. Feminists applaud postmodernists' criticism of modern social science and its denial of a privileged status for male opinion. But they denounce postmodernism for not giving special authority to women's voices; they argue that, in the case of rape, domestic violence and sexual harassment, there is a different act and "figuration." Why? and How can there be? The victim's account of their experiences is "not simply an arbitrary imposition of a purely fictive meaning on an otherwise meaningless reality," and they warn postmodernists against the "total repudiation of either external reality. . . or rational judgment." (Mary Hawkesworth, "Knowers, Knowing, Known and Feminist Theory and Claims of Truth" Signs. 14 (3):533-549, especially 555.) Postmodern feminists face a possible inconsistency between embracing a relativist form of a postmodern philosophy and combining it with a very real commitment to challenge an objective reality. Postmodernists in this field suggest that modern approaches "silence" all those who would challenge them by imposing unspoken assumptions on foundational questions and normative matters. (C. Edward Arrington and J.R. Francis, "Letting the Cat Out of the Bag: Deconstruction, Privilege and Accounting Research," Accounting Organizations and Society 14 (1/2), 1989): 1-28.) They are content that their field is "indeterminate" rather than "scientific or objective," and they call for a total and complete reconsideration of disciplinary "commitments." (Arrington. ibid.:l) Critics argue that if all norms and values are equal, as many postmodernists claim, then it is impossible to prioritize or compare values to make choices between moral alternatives. It follows that postmodernism does nothing to prohibit "the ruthless pursuit of wealth and power." (Norman Contor, Twentieth Century Culture: Modernism to Deconstructionism (New York: Peter Lang, 1989)
Postmodernists are "unable to provide grounds for their normative judgments which can serve as the basis for discourse with those who do not already share their orientation." (Craig Calhoun, "The Infrastructure of Modernity: Indirect Social Relationships, Information, Technology and Social Integration," in Social Change and Modernization, ed. Neil Smelser and Hans Haberkamp (Berkeley: University of California Press, 199?); "Culture, History and The Problem of Specificity in Social Theory," in Postmodernism and General Social Theory, ed. S. Seidman and D. Wagner (New York: Blackwell).
Relativism and Value Equivalency lie at the heart of Postmodernism. There can be no rational defense of moral neutrality. The ultimate absurdity of postmodernism is in the premise that moral choices are impossible, that no choice can be made between bipolar oppositions such as good and bad. Critics argue, it is one thing to acknowledge relativism and subjectivity as inevitable, but quite another to cultivate them as virtues, as is the case with sceptical postmodernists.
Postmoderns use "strategies" or "struggles" rather than "method." By "Methodology" we must mean how one goes about studying whatever is of interest; it relates to the process of inquiry but it does not tell us what to expect to find. Postmodern Method is not synonymous with rules and procedures of "modern science." Postmodernism is a critique of the Pluralism of alternatives they offer, for the "old past is closed" conventional methods provide little help in understanding postmodern social critique. Modem social science is guided by general rules of method that direct the conduct of research. Classical scientific method assumed that there is but a single method, a self-correcting scientific method that is "universal in its application across disciplines." (Herbert Feigel, "The Scientific Outlook: Naturalism and Humanism" in Readings in The Philosophy of Science, ed. Feigel, Grumbaum and Brodbick (NY: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1953:382-384). Also "Unity of Science and Unitary Science" in the same work; and D. Nackmias and C. Nachmias, Research Methods in The Social Sciences fNY: St. Martins Press. 1976).
The scientific method seeks to test thought against reality in a disciplined manner with each step in the process made explicit (Kenneth Hoover, The Elements of Social Scientific Thinking (NY: St. Martins Press, 1980:30; note also Feigel and Brodbeck, ibid.. 1953; K. Popper, 1959; Markzski, 1983). Note that this is totally politically incorrect in postmodern cultural studies. Most postmoderns contend there are no rules of procedure, no methods, to which they must conform, only the anti rules, the sceptical rigor of their postmodernism logic of scientific discovery. (Edmund Markzski, Philosophy of Science and Sociology (London: Routledge, 1984. Christopher Norris, Deconstruction: Theory and Practice (NY: Methuen, 1982:57); also Richard Rorty, Philosophy and The Mirror of Nature (Princeton University Press, 1979): 318). Only logocentric systems that claim to be externally valid, that seek "transcendent truth," they argue, are preoccupied by method. (Stanley Fish, "Dennis Martinez and The Uses of Theory" Yale University Review 96: 1773-1800)
By rejecting these rules, post modernists declare that, as far as method is concerned, "anything goes." (P. Feyerabend, Against Method: Outline of An Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge (London: New Left Books, 1975). Postmodernism is directed toward methods that apply to a broad range of phenomena focus on the margin, which highlights uniqueness, concentrates on the enigmatic and appreciates the unrepeatable. This stance is pure irrational narcissism. All its methods relinquish any attempt to create new knowledge in the modern sense of the word. This maze is a direct attack on the new knowledge developments that produced postmodernism. Surely postmodernism did not blossom full grown from atheism’s head. Surely postmodernism has a "history."
Postmodern social science presumes methods that multiply paradox, inventing ever more elaborate repertoires of question, each of which encourages an infinity of answers, rather than methods that settle on solutions. The infinite regress of postmodernism is hardly new or constructive. Pluralistic tolerance of "openness" is hardly more than a irrational maze. Postmodernism nominalism that precludes measured values to be assigned to the variables that represent them (see especially Carl Hempel, "On To Cognitive Status and The Rationale of Scientific Methodology" Poetics. 1988(7):5-26). When results repeated contradicted a theory, the theory was either abandoned or it withered away gradually with the proliferation of competing theories on "research programs." (I. Lakatos, "Falsification and Methodology of Scientific Research." in Criticism and The Growth of Knowledge, ed. A. Musgrove and I. Lakatos (Cambridge University Press, 1970); also Hempel, ibid.. 1970; also 1988) The idea of progress remains, and this implies the accumulation of research results, "better and better testable theories." (K. Popper, The Logic of Scientific Discovery (NY: Basic Books, 1959):356). The knowledge produced by the scientific method is assumed superior to that resulting from speculation, reflection, feelings, and intuition. Postmodernists would disagree. Postmodern methodology is part positivist or anti positivist (Nancy Fraser, "The French Derrideans Politicizing Deconstruction or Deconstructing The Political." New German Critique (No. 33) 1984): 127-55). As substitutes for "scientific methods," the affirmative postmoderns look to feeling (Axel O. Hirschman, "The Search for Paradigms as a Hinderance to Understanding,." in Interpretive Social Sciences: A Second Look, ed. Paul Rabinow and Wm. Sullivan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1987) personal experience, empathy, emotion, intuition, subjective judgment, imagination as well as diverse forms of creativity and play (T. Todorox and Mikhael Bakhtin, The Dialogical Principle: Special Number Theory and History of Literature, vol. 13 (Minnesota Press, 1984: Jane Tompkins, "The Reader in History," In Reader Response Criticism From Formalism to Post Structuralism, ed. by Jane Thompkin, Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980).
The actual content of these terms are vague and difficult to communicate to others. They are gnostic solipsists! Extreme postmodernism would deny even access to our feelings and emotions. Note how play and creativity do not claim to substantiate knowledge!!! All postmodern interpretation is introspective and anti objective, a form of individualized or private understanding. It expresses the demise of the distinction between self and other, fact and value. It centers on "listening to" and "talking with" the other. This phenomena appears in both anthropology and psychology.
Postmodernists espouse that an infinite number of interpretations (meanings) of any text are possible because, for the sceptical postmodern, one can never say what one intends with language. Ultimately all textual meaning, all interpretation is undecidable (Jacque Derrida, Writing and Difference (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978):292). Because there is no final meaning for any particular sign, no interpretation can be regarded as superior to any other (note how crucial this is for biblically based preaching, evangelism, missions); see Michel Foucault, "How We Believe" Vanity Fair. November 62 (1983); Hubert Dreyfus and Paul Rabinow, Michael Foucault. Beyond Structuralism and Hermeneutics (2nd edition, University of Chicago Press, 1983): 106; for explanation of Foucault's concept; Bruno Latour, The Pasteurization of France (Harvard University Press, 1988): 182-183). In its world of plural construction, postmodernism refers to the privilege of one statement over another; all interpretations are of equal interest. (Hillis J. Miller, "Tradition and Difference" Diacritic 4 (2):6-13; 1972; and his "The Critic As Host" Critical Inquiry 3(3):439-447).
Every interpretation is equally false and true. Every understanding is misunderstanding. "Every reading of a text will always be to some extent a misreading, a version that selects certain details,.. . excluding some details which could just a swell have figured in the critic's account." (Christopher Norris. Deconstruction and The Interest of Theory (London: Pinter. 1988): 129). All efforts to escape methodological relativism in postmodern interpretation is futile. The Declaration of Independence, the Communist Manifesto, our Lord's Final Commission have both been shaped by and in turn molded human events. None of these documents tell us how to play baseball, do heart surgery, build and fly airplanes, produce computers or balance the budget. Postmodern interpretation has failed to answer attacks concerning methodological relativism. There is no escape from "the infinite regress of deconstructionism, where nothing is better than anything else." These postmodernists respond: deconstruction also means that one is drawn into "infinite expansion" where one is freed from "the intellectual myopia of hyper-determined research projects and their formulaic write up—normal science." (Laurel Richardson, "The Collective Story: Postmodernism and The Writing of Sociology" Sociological Focus. 1988, 21(3): 199-207, esp. p. 200) In spite of this preceding denial, postmodern methodology is not without order or rigor. Any distillation of the deconstructive principle suggests an underlying logic. As a matter of fact, deconstructionism is as logocentric in its assumptions as the systems of thought it attempts to unravel. Any discussion of "contradictions" "inconsistencies" "things that are left out" and concealed" imply fundamental postmodern presuppositions. Either there are criterias of "consistency", etc., and "intersubjectivly" valid ways of ascertaining what is "left out, or such sentences are themselves merely "texts," the meaning of which is up for grabs (Harry C. Bredemeir, "Correspondence" August 7, 1988). Even the postmodernists' "anything goes" must be abandoned. Postmodern criticism of science merely replaces "identity", structure or subjects with unavailable trivia. Derridaean language precludes asking what the text means. Much or most of postmodern criticism is "bamboozling by rhetorical devices." Modern science purports to do the same, i.e., caution in attributing meaning. If this is all that postmodernism proposes, then it is neither new nor important.
Surely it is clear that deconstructionism makes no positive methodological contribution. It is destructive; it does not construct knowledge (Jurgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity (Boston: MIT Press, 1987): 161). If postmodernism is "based" in "interpretations being equally interesting" and the arbitrary character of language which precludes judgment about the adequacy of any given interpretation, then all these interpretations dependent on social science fields are in jeopardy. Postmodern activity is designed to show these fields to be "mere fictions." The Postmodern revision from within aims openly to fragment these disciplines altogether, to make room for interpretive attempts (George E. Marcuse and Michel Fischer, Anthropology As Cultural Critique: An Experimental Moment in The Human Sciences (University of Chicago Press, 1986):26).
Even psychoanalysis is qualified rather than rigorously quantifiable, but it is pure myth without any methodological protection within postmodern perspective (Paul Kugler, "From Modernism to Postmodernism: Some Implications for Department of Psychology of Dreams" Psychiatric Journal (University of Ottawa (13(2):60-65) Postmodern deconstruction denies privilege to any particular point of view, yet affirmative postmodernists claim the superiority of specific value perspectives and particular political positions such as feminism, environmentalism, peace, ecology, and religion (David R. Griffin, God and Religion in The Postmodern World: Essays in Postmodern Theology (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989). Surely postmodernism in all of its forms are ready to move to a new "master narrative." Post modem logic is not "well adopted to productive, original thinking but rather to creating its illusion" (John Ellis, Against Deconstructionism (Princeton University Press, 1989): 144, chp 6).
In what way does the replacement of modern social science by postmodern methods of interpretation constitute any improvement in the social sciences? Postmodernism leaves both the hard sciences and the social sciences with no basis for knowledge claims and no rationale for choosing between conflicting interpretations. If knowledge claims are possible only within "conflicting interpretations" then there can be no "meta" standing place for transcendent critique or/and interpretation. What is the logical status of "conflicting interpretations? What is the origin of the awareness of "conflict?" Only in an irrational global village can we tolerate mutually exclusive interpretation. Then what is the logic value/status of tolerance? Why tolerance? What is the logical status of tolerance? What is the nature of "mind" that can recognize "exclusive interpretations?"
When postmodern destructionism is applied to Legal Studies, then some irrational results are visible. How do we mediate Legal Sociology of Law and/or The Constitution, International relations, Organizational Theory and Sociology (Ben Agger, Socio Ontology (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1989); also, The Decline of Discourse: Reading. Writings and Resistence in Postmodern Capitalism (NY: Falmer Press, 1990). If there is no "objectivity" and/or "neutral" philosophy of entrepreneurship and organizational management, then the interests of the "enterprise over those of everyone else" is the results. Why, without "metatheory" does anyone propose "relief of unequivocally identifiable suffering?" (P. Carter and N. Jackson, "Management, Myth, and Metatheory--From Scarcity to Postscarcity" International Studies of Management and Organization (1987 (17(3):64-89).
Classical legal philosophy assumed that adjudication could and should be factual, analytical, free of bias, neutral, objective, self contained rules, independent of arbitrary and compromising, political, economic, and social factors (Christopher Norris, Deconstruction and The Interest of Theory (London: Pinter, 1988), esp. chapter 1). Postmodernism invents this
interpretation and declares that there is no definitive meaning in law and questions the very possibility of any such claim based on reason in the field of law (Norris, ibid.. 1/27). The disagreements within the critical studies movement are inevitable, especially with the Marxists (cf. our Supreme Courts' interpretation of the first, fourth and fourteenth amendments are based in postmodern Sociology of Law).
Meaning is imposed and every reading of a legal text is said to necessarily be a misreading, ^/w^iyimsreaofeg, den if is pointless to debate whether it is good, better, or best: (1) To interpret laws according to the original author's intentions or (2) To reinterpret laws so that they remain relevant for the postmodern period. Postmodern Legal Theories have interpreted all literature as subjective and deny any difference between two types of texts. (Fish, op.cit chp 13-Minow, 1987:79); especially "Symposium: Law and Literature" in Texas Law Review 60 (March) 1982 and "Interpretation Symposium" in Southern California Law Review 58 (January, 1985) Legal texts are said to be self-referential; their meaning, just as with literary texts, is simply indefinite, linguistically relative, subject to numerous interpretations, none of which is privileged. If, as Davenport holds, all legal texts are also "undecidable" or "incoherent" because legal language, as with all language, either has no final meaning for postmodernists or merely supplies a function of power relations (Michael Foucault, E.T. Discipline and Punishment (Paris, 1975). (See Edward Davenport, "Literature is Thought Experiment on Aiding and Abetting the Muse." Philosophy of The Social Sciences (1983) 13:279-306; and his "Scientific Method as Literary Criticism" Et Cetera (Winter, 1985):331-50); David C. Hoy "Interpreting the Law: Hermeneutical and Poststructuralism Perspectives," Southern California Law Review. 1985; 58(1): 135-76, esp. 166; his "Jacques Derrida," in The Return of Grand Theory in The Human Sciences, ed. Quentin Skinner (Boston: Cambridge University Press, 1985); his "Splitting The Difference: Habermas’Critique of Derrida" Praxis International. 1989, 8 (4):447-64)
All Postmodernists deny that origins (Genetic Fallacy) historical or biographical, are accepted grounds for establishing meaning; thus they refuse to interpret laws according to origins (note the significance for the Bible, Christianity, Christ, Gospel, The Search for The Historical Jesus, the Restoration Heritage, or Recovery of the Reformation, etc.) They reject the view that there is but one true interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and that its framers set it down once and for all. Postmodernists also disagree with the aforementioned modem view that a text means what its author intends it to mean. (E.D. Hirsch, The Aims of Interpretation (University of Chicago Press, 1967); and his book, The Validity of Interpretation (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1973); Walter B. Michaels, "Is There a Politics of Interpretation?" in The Politics of Interpretation. 1983, ed. W.J. Michel (University of Chicago Press)
Posmodernists discard both literary author and author of law based in the conventionalist presuppositions. They question the authority of the author and legal authority and suggest that judicial decisions are arbitrary. The debate between "intention and interpretation" goes on unabated (Annabel Patterson, "Intention" in Critical Terms for Library Study, ed. Frank Lentricchia, 1990 and Thomas McLaughlin (University of Chicago Press): 136-28; classical legal theorists label postmodern critics "nihilists" (Owen Fiss, "Objectivity and Interpretation" Stanford Law Review 198; 34(4):739-773).
If legal communities are constructivist and rhetorical, how can there be definitive meaning? Only if the legal conventions are constrained by rules that derive their authority from an interpretative community is sufficient to make truth claims. Can there be a postmodern law? Postmodernists seek to uncover "the latest or suppressed forms of legality in which more insidious and damaging forms of social and personal oppression frequently occurs." (Bonaventura Santos, "Law: A Map of Misreading" Journal of Law and Society. 1987 14(3):279-302) Postmodernists often claim that by deconstructing the legal structure can many
be emancipated. This suggestion is state oriented (eg. note the influence of Nietzsche, Rorty, Harold Bloom).
Broad confidence in reason and rationality are assumed by most versions of modern science, epistemology and methodology, though this seems to be eroding not just in the social sciences but throughout society. Postmodernism is part of a very erosive trend. In literature, postmodern novels, such as Umberto Eco's, The Name of The Rose, illustrates the futility of analytic reason and the naiveté of causal explanation. Postmodern architecture revels in constructing buildings that at first glance cannot "reasonably" be expected to stand. Buildings must respect the laws of science relating to gravity in order to be viable. Postmodern architects take pride in knowing nothing about the physics of building. (John Seabrook, "The David Lynch of Architecture" Vanity Fair. January. 1991) :74-79, 125-29) Qualifications to both reason and rationality have long been required in the social sciences by Popper's "falsifiability", by Kuhn's "paradigmatic view", Latatos’ competing "research programmes," and Thomas Brante's "rational reconstruction."
The postmodern challenge to reason is even more thorough going, however, and this is more threatening to conventional social science. The internal debate among postmodernists about reason can best be "overcome," but most sceptics call for a "definitive farewell" to modern reason. Surely the debate is between reason and the irrational. What would or could such a debate entail? Does reasoned argument yield preference rather than privileged insight because reason is "a matter of taste and feeling, know-how and connoisseurship within this understanding of reason. Modern science has no unique or special logic. Religions, cults and witchcraft are elevated to the status of "rationalities" equal to science. Logic and reason are "on the same footing" as myth and magic.
What motives account for postmodern attack on reason? (1) Modern reason assumes universalism, unifying, integration the view that the same rules apply everywhere. Reason's argument is assumed to be basically the same from country to country, culture to culture and across historical periods. Postmodernism, on the contrary, argues that each situation is different and calls for special understanding. Postmodernists assume that the "foundations change from one episteme to another." (Richard Harland, Superstructuralism: The Philosophy of Structuralism and Post Structuralism (London: Methuen, 1987).
There is no place for universal reason in a postmodern world where all paradigms are equal because each has its own logic. So if there is such a thing as postmodern reason, it is "scattered abroad and disseminated into heterogeneous forms," "logic beyond any form of reason
whatever." (Calvin Schrag, "Liberal Learning in The Postmodern World" The Key Reporter 54(1): 1-4 1988) and Harland, ibid. 1987): 140) Modem reason and rationality are said to be specific to situations, cultural artifices, internal to each system of thought and never examined critically. Reason is criticized for allowing "little room for cultural and personal idiosyncrasies." (2) The Product of The Enlightenment, modern science and western society, and as such for the postmodernist. It is guilty of association of all errors attributed to them. Reason, like modern science, is understood to be dominating, oppressive and totalitarian. (Richard Bernstein, "The Rage Against Reason" Philosophy and Literature 10(2): 186-210, 1986) Assuming a "best answer" or a "unique solution," this precludes diversity and tolerance (Toulmin, Cosmopolis. 1990V199-200) "Its reasonable ways are provisional and always brutally unfair to someone or other. In this sense irrationality is less mad than reason and order." (William Corlett, Community Without Unity: A Politics of Derridaian Extravagance (Durham: Duke University Press, 1989):215)
The postmodernist focus on how reason and rationality are employed as legitimating devices to defend modern bureaucracy, law, economics, and politics. Reason "reduces the domain of indeterminacy, contingency, and democracy for reason of efficiency, domination and power." (Michael Ryan, "Postmodern Politics" Theory. Culture and Society. 1988 5(2-3):559-576, esp. 565) Abandoning reason means, for the postmodernist, liberation from modernists, preoccupation with authority, efficiency, hierarchy, power, technology, commerce (the business ethic), administration, social engineering (Ryan, ibid. pp. 563-565). It means release from modern science's concern for order, consistency, predictability, "institutionalized procedures dictated by the authority of an accepted paradigm" (Calvin Schrag, "Liberal Learning in The Postmodern World" The Kev Report. 1988, 54)1): 1-4).
Thus reason is resisted because it leads to objectivity in science and power to the military and the government. They in turn, are associated with violence, suffering and alienation in the twentieth century, be it the Holocaust, world wars, Vietnam, Stalin's Gulag, or computer record keeping of information or individuals. As a product of the Enlightenment, reason is infused with the idea of progress and humanism. But reason, the postmodernist's argue, has neither improved the human condition nor solved the problem of the homeless, women, blacks, and other oppressed groups (Alain Touraine, "Retour du sujet", lecture at Montreal, Quebec, Oct. 25, 1988). Even though good "reasons" have been given for every imaginable action, "the consequences have all too often been experienced as disastrous, immoral or the fruit of inexcusable stupidity." (Murray Eldelman, Constructing the Political Spectacle (University of Chicago Press, 1988): 109).
(3) "Reason and rationality are inconsistent with postmodern confidence in emotion, feeling, introspection and intuition, autonomy, creativity, imagination, fantasy and contemplation. Postmodernists point out that to abandon their basic priorities and to countenance reason is to "favor the head over the heart, the mechanical over the spiritual, the natural over the unique individual, the disassociated anomic individual over the organic collective, the dead tradition over the living experiment, the past tribalist experiment over the living tradition, the static product over the dynamic process, the monotony of linear time over the timeless recurrence of myth; dull sterile order over dynamic disorder, chaotic entropic disorder over primordial order, the force of death over the forces of life." (Gerald Graff, Literature Against Itself (University of Chicago Press, 1979):25 Despite the intellectual incentives to abandon reason and rationality, affirmative postmodernists are more cautious concerning the radical consequences of the sceptical postmodernists. Some accord almost absolute confidence to reason. (Christopher Norris, Deconstructionism and The Interest of Theory (London: Pinter, 1988): 188)
Some call for "contextual consideration of what is "reasoned." (Ryan, 1988:564) They suggest that there are many different kinds of reason; some of them postmodernism should retain and others it must reject. In this pluralistic maze there is little agreement about the preferred order of reason. The only agreement is that it should call modern science into question. The Frankfurt school's support for ethical substantive reason; its emancipatory character and its support for human rights, equity, and social justice is closer to post Marxists than postmodernists. Postmodern planning and organization theory must either merely critique or compromise with modernity (Robert Cooper and Robert Burrell, "Modernism, Postmodernism and Organizational Analysis" Organization Studies. (9(1):91-112, esp. 105-110). Postmodern planning advocates the absence of a plan altogether or a situation where no plan is permitted to claim superiority. They reject absolutist deconstructive relativism; they call not for the absolution of theory but for its re-formation. Ryran, a postmodernist with a post Marxist orientation, while probably not accepting sceptical postmodernism, while rejecting the "modern conventional views of the field (Ryran, 1982: 124-26). Ryran's postmodernist planning seeks to displace abstract formation from the center of planning. (Ryran 1982: 188) Ryran would reject a centralized efficiency map.
It is "absolute impossible" to exaggerate the gravity for the social sciences of sceptical postmodernism denial of reason and the affirmative postmodernist ambivalence about it. Does postmodernist concern for tolerance, pluralism rationally entail its repudiation of reason and the vagueness of its standards of judgment? Any form of postmodernism surely includes questionable allies. New Age Pantheism and anti-science movement are part of the social fabric of postmodernism. When the sceptics abandon reason and employ methods that reduce knowledge and meaning to "a rubble of signifiers," they also "produce a condition of nihilism." (Vattino, 1988; Hawkesworth, 1989:557), a state that may prepare "the ground for the re-emergence of a charismatic politics and even more simplistic propositions than those which were deconstructed." (David Harvey, The Conditions of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change (Cambridge: Blackwell, 1989:350; and Consciousness and The Urban Experience (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press)
The Postmodernist ambivalence about reason "tends also toward mystics" and "begins to veer into nihilism." (Ryran, 1988:565) In some cases, it attracts individuals whose concern with religion, the transcendental, and the hermetic may invite intolerance and even prejudice (Ryran, 1988:565).
Postmodernists' rejection of "logical norms" and "scientific methodology" seems to leave them unable to evaluate intellectual production. (Lyotard, 1984:81) Inspired by Heidegger's Being and Time (E.T. Harper/Row, 1962); also his On Time and Being (E.T. Harper/Row, 1972) Postmodernists answer that there are no longer any rules or norms to guide inquiry, no overall validity, no universal, unequivocal basis for truth or taste (Zygmun & Bauman, Legislators and Interpretation: Modernity. Postmodernitv and Intellectuals (Cornell University Press. 1987:197}. If the basis of such judgments is well established for those who subscribe to modern social science, then this is not the case for all versions of postmodern social science, which may lack guidelines for choosing between discrepant theories or evaluating the overall finality of knowledge claims. Often a simple comparison of outcomes are utilized to select the empirically and normatively preferable alternative (Eugene Meehan, Ethics for Polity Making (Westpoint, CT: Greenwood Press, 1990): 78; see esp. Carl Hempel, "On the Cognitive Status and The Rationale of Scientific Methodology" Poetics 9 (l):5-26, esp. 26). Tightly reasoned, rational, logical conclusions are given priority over contradictory, irrational, and illogical statements ((Kenneth Hoover. The Elements of Social ScientificThinking (NY: St. Martins Press, 1980):9-10).
Postmodernist (especially the Sceptical mode) argue that the very strict evaluative standard goes against the philosophy of postmodernism (H. Kariel, The Desperate Politics of Postmodernism (University of Massachusetts Press, 1989): 128). This rejects and/or disparages modern social science standards and its criteria for evaluating knowledge and all "accepted," conventional means to judge the results of intellectual inquiry in any form, study, research and writing. They take aim at coherence because "false or otherwise wrong versions can hold together as well as right ones." (Nelson Goodman, Of Minds and Other Matters (Harvard University Press, 1984) They reject consistency as a criterion, calling for "a proliferation of inconsistent theories" rather than a weeding out of the bad from the good theories (P. Feyerabend, Against Methods: Outline of An Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge (London: New Left Books, 1975)
Nothing can be proven; nothing can be falsified (Luc Ferry, Alain Renaut, Heidegger et les modernes' (Paris: Grosset, 1988): 175-190). They dismiss the possibility of evaluating theory on the basis of data, adding that if theory exists at all it must be obliterated from data and observation (K. J. Gergen "Introduction: Toward Metapsychology" in The Analysis of Psychological Theory (Washington. D.C.: Hemisphere Pub., 1987:12).
Standards are not needed if one gives up the idea of truth as a matter of matching-up facts to theory and reconceptualizes it as a question of "discovering the range and scope of the interpretive standpoints that have won a place (Stephen Toulmin, "The Construal of Reality: Critics in Modern and Postmodern Science" in Modern and Postmodern Science (Ed. Chicago University of Chicago Press, 1983): 113). Postmodernists suggest a paradigmatic revolution that such as performativity are inappropriate (Jean F. Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition, ibid.. 1984). (See my papers, "Whatever Happened to True Truth in Light of the Self-Referential Fallacy (egs. Quine, Derrida, Rorty, Bernstein, Baudrillard, Lyotard, Eco, et.al.)"; (compare Kuhn's "Paradigm" and Popper's "Falsification Theory."); also "Terrorism of Truth;" and "Truth and Theory in Postmodern Epistemology."
Postmodern inquiry sets out to change "the meaning of the word knowledge. ... It produces not the known, but the unknown (Lyotard, ibid.):60). If tentativeness and uncertainty result, then these simply have to be accepted. Postmodernists seek not to dispense knowledge, but raher to provide a basis for people to decide for themselves because truth outside the individual, independent of language, is impossible (Albert Jacquard, Eloge de la difference: la genetique et les hommes (Paris: Editions du Senil, 1982): 195).
Postmodernists do not argue that "the postmodern mode constitutes an advance over the modern one." To do so would be to re-establish the idea of progress (Z. Bauman, Legislators and Interpreters (Cornell University Press, 1987):6). Is there any 'real reason' to try to establish criteria for evaluating this kind of postmodern knowledge? Postmodernists strive to avoid extrinsic objectives. This supposedly is one without "ulterior motives." Is there anything that qualifies as knowledge "out there" anyway? Or if all postmodernists offer as knowledge claims are simply" paralogy," as Lyotard expresses it, and if paralogy is according to our dictionary, false or erroneous reasoning, then of what use are standards? Lyotard emphatically denies "rules and categories" that work "itself is looking for." (p. 81) Can postmodernists "work projects" hope to succeed? If not, why work? This is emphatic solipsism. Postmodernists deny that there is "alternative ground" upon which knowledge claim might be established (Richard Ashley "What is Fukuyama Saying?" New York Times Magazine (Oct. 22,28, 1989):278). This is clearly postmodernists epistemology, i.e., reality is what we make of it, neither independent nor objective. This stance provides no basis for definitively assessing the superiority of one theory
over another. Lacking any confidence in reason, rationality provides no help to postmodernists in determining the comparative excellence of varying perspectives. A denial of universal truth follows logically. Even postmodern denial of explicit criteria of judgment, the case remains that they do indirectly, unintentionally, or by innuendo express implicit guidelines as they develop their own ideas and criticize those of others. How can postmodernists criticize modern science for being "contradictory" or "Fraudulent," for avoiding counter evidence, for the logical fallacy of argument, for questionable definitions of concepts; are they not evincing a respect, if not a preference, for the contrary? There is no escape from the "criteria of evaluation" even for postmoderns. But postmodernist epistemology has no "room" for "criteria of evaluation" that is anything more than solipsistic narcissistic privilege—which is insanity of a private world, of Dostoyevski's "Idiot." There can be no universal criteria for adjudicating between alternative perspectives within postmodernist epistemology. Their irrational advice "to listen to learn and put into practice all the unfolding possibilities hitherto denied." (Richard Ashley/ R.B.J. Walker, "Reading Descendants: Writing The Disciple," International Studies Quarterly 34(3):259-268; esp. 395, 396,414).
How can Derrida contend that the written form is superior to oral voice? What does a text tell us in terms of our own personal experience and discrimination? How can affirmative postmodernists employ terms such as oppression, exploitation, domination, liberation, freedom, insubordination and resistance all of which imply judgment or at least a normative frame of reference in which some definitive preferences are expressed. Why is studying the marginal, excluded superiority examining what is at the center? It is a rational cop-out to look to criteria in community standards for determining values and assessing quality. Postmodernist epistemology is hardly the foundation of any form of community as community entails consensus of individuals concerning "received norms." Postmodernists fail to provide "any rational" alternative to modern social science. So what is all the discussion about in the first place?
Postmodernists "abandon the communal sense of a shared inquiry in which individual perceptions are expected to be tested and shifted by others." (John Ellis, Against Deconstruction (Princeton University Press, 1989): 1159). Without any standard or criteria of evaluations postmodern inquiry becomes a futile, perhaps even a worthless, enterprise. What is the source of postmodern influence in our cultural wars? If there is no "True Truth" why all the conflict?
The Paradigm of modern social science permits only one of two contradictory theories to be considered "correct" in the long run (Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolution (Chicago, 1970). Kuhn's concept of paradigm offers the possibility of arbitrating on the basis of evidence between diametrically opposed views. If one respects its rules of evidence, one must accept the verdict, crushing as it may be at times, that one is simply mistaken. Postmodern social science for its part has the opposite problem. It rejects the Kuhnian model of science as a series
of successive paradigms and announces the end of all paradigms. "Only an absence of knowledge claims, an affirmation of multiple realities, and an acceptance of divergent interpretations remain. We can convince those who agree with us, but we have no basis for convincing those who dissent and no criteria to employ in arguing for the superiority of any particular view. Those who disagree with us can always argue that different interpretations must be accepted and that in a postmodern world one interpretation is as good as another. Postmodernists have little interest in convincing others that theirs is best—the most just, appropriate, or true. In the end the problem with postmodern social science is that you can say anything you want, but so can everyone else. Some of what is said will be interesting and fascinating, but some will also be ridiculous and absurd. Postmodernism provides no means to distinguish between the two." (Pauline M. Rosenau, Postmodernism and The Social Sciences—Insight. Inroads and Intrusions (Princeton University Press, 1997) The same epistemological conflict is present in all forms of Postmodern hermeneutical procedures; Science, History, Language, Christianity, etc. The criticism of Dr. Rosenau is also appropriate to our entire postmodern agenda (see my paper, "Anti Science and Revisionist History;" and "Logic and Language in The Postmodern Lions' Den"). (Bryan S. Turner, ed., Theories of Modernity and Post Modernity (London: Sage Publishers, 1990).
Dr. James Strauss Lincoln Christian Seminary Lincoln, EL 62656