A Criticism/Defense of My Kantian Interpretation of “Postmodernism”

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I’ve made many mistakes in my philosophical endeavors.

The biggest one was my defense of postmodernism in regards to the discussion with Jordan Peterson and Ben Shapiro (that you can read here). This was a post I wrote in February. I accused the two guys of misunderstanding the concept, although I didn’t understand it myself, and I did a piss poor job of explaining what I thought it was.

My assertion was that postmodernism isn’t a “state of affairs”, but is a method of criticism for a current state of affairs. The intellectually lazy, like Shapiro and Peterson (who are just  peddling the same Western Judeo-Christian bullshit that the Right has always done) didn’t quite grasp that.

I don’t know if my criticism still stands. But I felt that it was irresponsible for me to make those assertions…even though those guys are douchebags.

But mocking postmodernism is HOT right now, on both the Left and Right. That caused me to review all previous writings regarding the topic.

I invoke Kant quite a bit. In hindsight that was a bit pedestrian and sophomoric of me. Outside of Kant, the only “postmodern” stuff I’ve read is Foucault and Zizek. And I don’t know those guys nearly as intimately as I do Kant. Although I cringe whenever I read the name “Kant”, or “things-in-themselves”, I don’t think I was completely wrong.

Unfortunately, there’s just not enough research out there that compares Kant to later postmodern thinkers. Well, let me clarify…I’m sure that there’s A LOT of research regarding that. But I need stuff that’s easily accessible. If I have to do more than 45 seconds worth of searching to find it, it’s just not worth it. Ya know? So the only guy that I could EASILY find is a professor named Stephen Hicks, whose apparently an Ayn Rand devotee which is pretty indefensible. (Thankfully Rand has fallen out of favor in most circles as a writer and thinker. But a day will come when she will be embraced again. That will be MY fault. That will be YOUR fault. We failed to create a better world.) But, Hicks has a Ph.D. so….what are you going to do?

The work that I’m drawing upon can be read here, which will redirect you to Hicks’ site.

Kant is, of course, known for his “Copernican Revolution” which set the mind as the basis for all knowledge and not external reality. We are, in a sense, cut off from the noumenal world that’s independent of human perception. Reality, as perceived, is shaped by the internal processes of the mind (like reason) thus making the mind an active material rather than a passive one as proposed by previous thinkers. Consequently, the external world, or things as they exist independent of human perception do not matter in Kantian thought. Therefore, we are trapped within our perceptions and that has troubled philosophers ever since.

Hicks maintains that, if true, then:

“…our minds are in principle disconnected from reality, then to speak of truth as an external relationship between mind and reality is nonsense. Truth must be solely an internal relationship of consistency.”

Therefore we are living in Jordan Peterson’s nightmare of chaos: truth based entirely on “internal relationship of consistency.” AKA the postmodern hellhole.

I don’t know if Hicks is correct in his assessment of Kant. I don’t know if Kant’s philosophy is entirely serviceable. In the past, I’ve felt that philosophers attacking Kantian thought were simply expressing personal problems rather than proposing any intellectual concern worth addressing. To me, it was obvious that we were trapped within our heads. Did we really think that we were experiencing reality is as it genuinely is? Although I was running against the wind, I wanted to deny truth altogether. That was the rebel within me. That’s why I took Kantian philosophy to its extremes.

Of course that’s ridiculous. There has to be something OUT THERE in order to be experiencing something IN HERE. The question becomes, how does the mind form the perception and how deep do these perceptions go?

Because we know that there’s at least a partial connection to the outside world, we know that truth, as commonly conceived, is accessible. BUT a degree of skepticism is warranted until scientific, ethical, and philosophical investigation can attest to its validity.

Which Shapiro and Peterson were (or are) unprepared or unwilling to do. They already have a religious/political “answer” and are reverse engineering their thought to fit within those confines. That’s not philosophy.

 

 

 

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