of the Enlightenment – liberalism, capitalism, socialism, communism,
populism, psychoanalysis and democracy – have in reality, it is argued, provided
the epistemological foundations for more oppression, terrorism and violence
(Bauman, 1992; Irving, 1994, 1999; Lyotard, 1991). Rooted in absolute notions
of truth, logic, rationality and belief, these meta-narratives demanded a
universal consensus that resulted in a fascist-like obedience to their creeds.
Consequentially these discourses wreaked as much havoc in the name of
individual and social change as they had emerged to combat (Bauman, 1992;
Irving, 1994). This should not be a big surprise, argues Bauman (1992), for
under the surface of modern life there (always?) exists a whirlpool of disorder,
destruction, alienation and despair, rather than logic, reason and rational
thought. As evidence, the atrocities already listed – such as the continual threat
of nuclear destruction and widespread ethnic cleansings – are cited, as well as
the lingering effects of two world wars and many smaller confrontations, death
camps and the Holocaust, which have left the world devastated and fragmented
(Bauman, 1992; Irving, 1994; Lyotard, 1991). Life is experienced as endangered
life; the search for truth and perfection is experienced as imperfection and less
certain, especially in view of the increasing complexities of knowledges
emerging since the seventeenth century (Luhmann, 2002).
Responding to this crisis in modernity’s project, new epistemological paradigms
such as post industrialization, post structuralism and postmodernism are
assuming an importance in theoretical debates. All are, in one way or another,
engaging in a general celebration of the neutralization of meaning and the
possibilities of ontological redefinitions emerging from the demise of rational
thought as new paradigms of understanding the world. Giving support... [continues]
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