On Modernism and Postmodernism

Another week, another 15 Minute Insight video; this time on modernism and postmodernism.

Today’s topic is the first of four related videos I’ll be doing: following this, in two weeks, I’ll be posting a video on the meaning of “truth”; the week after, on the meaning of “objective”, and finally, the week after that, a video explaining semiotics.  The order was dictated by a Twitter poll, but there is a kind of providence at work, I think, because the topics neatly align into a coherent order.  That is, there are some deep confusions about what “postmodernism” is, or ought to be, and while I’ll try to clear away some of the misunderstandings today, it will take discussions of “truth” and “objectivity” in order to explain semiotics—which is the doorway to a true postmodernism.

So, let’s begin by asking: what is postmodernism?  In one way, it seems rather related to the topic of last week’s video; that is, the common usage of postmodernism seems to indicate a movement committed to the radical abdication of belief in intelligible meaning.  James Lindsay, for instance—who attained some fame through his work with Peter Boghossian and Helen Pluckrose in exposing the absurdity in a lot of academia—will frequently refer to quote-unquote an “applied postmodernism”, which is identified with social justice activism.  By this is meant: the truth about things is less important…

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