Postmodernity

Topics: Postmodernism, Postmodernity, Jean-François Lyotard Pages: 6 (2382 words) Published: April 22, 2014
How does Postmodernity differ to Modernity? Compare through using the ideas of identity and culture. Evaluate the idea that postmodern ideas have superseded the structural theories of Functionalism and Marxism. A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in their calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metaphysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those would manipulate and control it.” (Huxley.1958) The term "early modern" was devised by academics of European history to label the four centuries from approximately 1400 to 1800, the period from the Renaissance to the French Revolution. The original meaning is possessed by authority (e.g. The Catholic Church). The individual is dominated by tradition. The dating of the period implies a time of transition, a development from the “pre-modern” medieval age to modernity, predominantly experienced by Europeans. The early modern, early 20th-century intellectuals defined modernity as a progressive age totally different from what followed it, characterized by individualism, secularism, democratic sentiment, and the advent of technological change at exceptional speed. (Rosenzweig.2004) Modernity is a dismissal of mysticism in favour of materialism, of superstition in favour of science, of rulership by ecclesiastically supported divine right in favour of a government based on contractual legal principles, of human inspiration and originality in favour of method and repeatability, of moral agency in favour of reflex and conditioning as the determinants of behaviour. (Connelly.2008) The break-up of the old order was a result of the development of modern science; ‘The greatest invention of the nineteenth century was the invention of the method of invention’ Professor Whitehead’. (Habgood. 1964. Pg.88) This revolutionary period was marked by unsettlement, fear and controversy. “Universal happiness keeps the wheels steadily turning, truth and beauty can't.” (Huxley.1958) ‘The earth was made of a lower kind of stuff than heaven. It was corruptible; it could be changed; it had been spoilt by sin. Nevertheless, it had been made by God to be the place where man should dwell; hence, it all made sense; there was a plan behind it…man felt at home in a relatively small universe…’ (Habgood. 1964. Pg.22) The Christian analysis of creation owed a great deal to Aristotle and his ideas of plan and purpose. But man’s disregard to authority led to diminish of tradition, Aristotle’s hand lay like a dead weight on all attempts to think freshly about the structure of nature. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) claimed that all science needs to do in order to advance, would be to collect and classify facts, and arrive at general principles, by this method, science would infallibly progress, shattering traditions and the whole structure of nature would be laid bare. (Habgood. 1964. Pg.22-23) According to Nietzsche (1844-1900) the absence of god meant the absence of any ultimate truth. He assumed we can have no knowledge of reality, everything is ultimately meaningless, our reality is a creation conditioned by our needs, and we try to make sense of the world in an attempt to find stability and order. ‘If god is dead (Killed by Nietzsche) and truth does not exist, man becomes responsible for all that is’. (Habgood.1964.pg.84) It could be argued that postmodern thinking originated during this period, with Nietzsche’s assertions regarding truth, language and society, which opened the door for all later postmodern and late modern critiques about the foundations of knowledge. (Salberg et al. 2009) According to Kuznar (2008), postmodernists trace this scepticism about truth and the resulting relativism it creates from Nietzsche to Max Weber and Sigmund Freud, and finally to Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault and other contemporary postmodernists. (Salberg et al. 2009)...

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