Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault (Expanded Edition)

Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault (Expanded Edition)

Stephen R. C. Hicks

Language: English

Pages: 278

ISBN: 0983258406

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Tracing postmodernism from its roots in Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Immanuel Kant to their development in thinkers such as Michel Foucault and Richard Rorty, philosopher Stephen Hicks provides a provocative account of why postmodernism has been the most vigorous intellectual movement of the late 20th century. Why do skeptical and relativistic arguments have such power in the contemporary intellectual world? Why do they have that power in the humanities but not in the sciences? Why has a significant portion of the political Left - the same Left that traditionally promoted reason, science, equality for all, and optimism - now switched to themes of anti-reason, anti-science, double standards, and cynicism? Explaining Postmodernism is intellectual history with a polemical twist, providing fresh insights into the debates underlying the furor over political correctness, multiculturalism, and the future of liberal democracy. This expanded edition includes two additional essays by Stephen Hicks, *Free Speech and Postmodernism* and *From Modern to Postmodern Art: Why Art Became Ugly*.


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choice is confined to the kitchen. Beyond the kitchen’s door she must not attempt to exercise choice. Within the kitchen, however, she has a whole feast of choices—whether to cook or clean, whether to cook rice or potatoes, whether to decorate in blue or yellow. She is sovereign and autonomous. And the mark of a good woman is a well-organized and tidy kitchen.” No one would mistake such a thinker for an advocate of woman’s freedom. Anyone would point out that there is a whole world beyond the

of the 1930s, as both the collectivist Right and the Left had hoped, the liberal capitalist countries had recovered after World War II and by the 1950s were enjoying peace, liberty, and new levels of prosperity. World War II had wiped out the collectivist Right—the National Socialists and the Fascists—leaving the Left alone in the field against a triumphant and full-of-itself liberal capitalism. Yet while the liberal West’s recovery and its rising political and economic prominence were

a prominent and damning consequence of civilization. Such inequalities are damning because all inequalities “such as being richer, more honored, more powerful” are “privileges enjoyed by some at the expense of others.”15 Civilization, accordingly, became a zero-sum game along many social dimensions, the winners gaining and enjoying more and more while the losers suffered and were left increasingly far behind. But civilization’s pathologies became even worse, for the reason that made

is a state matter (whether to promote or suppress it), the view that education is a process of socialization, ambivalence about science and technology, and strong themes of group conflict, violence, and war. Left and Right have often divided bitterly over which themes have priority and over how they should be applied. Yet for all of their differences, both the collectivist Left and the The Climate of Collectivism 105 collectivist Right have consistently recognized a common enemy: liberal

awhile, so the first things to be mass-produced in the new factories were cheap goods for the masses: soap, cotton clothes and linens, shoes, Wedgwood china, iron pots, and so on. Science applied to the understanding of human beings yields medicine. The new approaches to understanding the human being as a naturalistic organism drew upon new studies, begun in the Renaissance, of human physiology and anatomy. Supernaturalistic and other pre-modern accounts of human ailments were swept aside as, by

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