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Andrew Colgan, Pocket Guide to Postmodernism

Week 1

Andrew Colgan, Pocket Guide to Postmodernism

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Week 1

Executive Summary

Dr. Andrew Colgan is a philosopher of education who teaches in Canada. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario and has published in academic journals. In this Pocket Guide he summarizes the Stephen R. C. Hicks’s Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau

1. Much recent civil unrest comes from the sprawling post-modern movement, which rejects both the modern world’s reason-science-individualism Enlightenment philosophy and pre-modern religion-faith-authority philosophy (9-10). 

2. Counter-Enlightenment skepticism about reason became basic for postmoderns: “Generally, they declare that science and reason are ungrounded in their claims toward building a single ‘Truth,’ and as a result, they are merely claims to what we might call a truth imperialism, or simply power, for ‘reason and power are one and the same’” (11). 

3. Both recent Continental (29) and Anglo-American philosophy (31) contributed to the formation of postmodernism’s core tenets: “metaphysics – anti-realism, epistemology, subjectivity, and values sourced in feelings ”(34). 

4. The rise of collectivism (39) in both Left and Right forms undermined the individualism of modern Enlightenment social philosophy. Major thinker including Rousseau (44), Hegel (47), and Marx’s (40) contributed key elements.

5. By the 20th century, most intellectuals on far Left and far Right were hostile to liberal capitalism, blaming it for the Great Depression and believing that only “collectivists on the Left and Right would finally set things right” (52). 

6. The first generation postmodernists—Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Jean François Lyotard, and Richard Rorty—then came of age in an intellectual climate dominated by anti-reason and anti-capitalism. 

7. At the same time, far-left socialist thinking was reaching a crisis due to the exposure of the economic and humanitarian disasters in communist Russia (56) and the failure of Marx’s predictions to come true (58).

8. Consequently, a new strategy was needed (63): postmodernism. “Thesis: The failure of epistemology made  postmodernism possible, and the failure of socialism  made postmodernism necessary.” 

Find The Pocket Guide to Postmodernism here. Summary by Stephen Hicks, 2020.

See Next:

  1. Stephen Hicks, Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault
  2. Executive Summary of TAS CyberSeminar on Foucault's The History of Sexuality
  3. Executive Summary of TAS CyberSeminar on Richard Rorty's "Solidarity or Objectivity?" and "The Contingency of Language"
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