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Negotiating Postmodernism

Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 220
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  • Book Info
    Negotiating Postmodernism
    Book Description:

    Joining the modern-postmodern debate as it arrives at a critical juncture, this book suggests that the polarizing polemics of the radical postmodernists who once dominated the discussion have given way to a new "critical postmodernism" characterized by dialogue, accommodation, and synthesis. A comprehensive survey, Negotiating Postmodernism also marks the arrival of a powerful, critical presence on the scene, one that advances the idea of a late modern-postmodern social and cultural transition.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8840-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. Introduction: The Nature of Our Present
    (pp. xvii-xxvi)

    What is the nature of our present? When French philosopher Michel Foucault posed this question during an interview in 1983, he was rephrasing the question posed two hundred years ago by German philosopher Immanuel Kant: What is enlightenment?¹ Both thinkers pondered what it meant to be modern. When Kant posed his question, modernity was a dynamic idea bound up with the rationalist and progressive spirit of the eighteenth-century European Enlightenment. When Foucault posed his question, modernity had become a contested idea under critical scrutiny. In raising this question, Foucault situated himself within a discourse that ignited and consumed the intellectual...

  6. Part I

    • 1 The Modern-Postmodern Debate and Its Legacy
      (pp. 3-16)

      The modern-postmodern debate took as its main point of reference the fate of the modern Enlightenment project, the eighteenth-century European vision of transforming the world in the name of rational progress. The Enlightenment was the high point of modernity, an era encompassing the Renaissance, the Protestant Reformation, and the Scientific Revolution through the American and French Revolutions to the flowering of socialism. It crystallized the modernist belief in human perfectibility through rationality. The Enlightenment ideal of the free rational individual living in a free rational society reflected an optimistic view of human nature and the prospects of human emancipation.¹


    • 2 A Society in Transition
      (pp. 17-40)

      Postmodernity and late modernity are as much social and historical categories as they are philosophical concepts. As stated from the outset, if the nature of our present is to be properly understood, it must be assessed first and foremost as a social condition. Only by identifying and explaining the social-structural and cultural developments of our time can we fully understand the concepts of postmodernity and late modernity as philosophical ideas and political projects. Therefore we begin by comparing two different sociological accounts of the current condition of affluent Western societies.

      The current state of social theory can be defined in...

  7. Part II

    • 3 The Idea of Critical Postmodernism
      (pp. 43-65)

      Critical postmodernism is a theoretical and ideological response to our current late modern/postmodern transition. It is an intellectual construct designed to serve three main purposes. It evokes aphilosophical ethosor attitude that has taken shape in the wake of the modern-postmodern debate. It is also aninterpretive matrixthrough which analytic frameworks (social and political theories) can be constructed to examine our present condition. Furthermore, it is apractical toolto be used in the political negotiation of our current social and cultural condition. The task of critical postmodernism is to give meaning to the nature of our present...

    • 4 Foucault’s Presence
      (pp. 66-92)

      When Michel Foucault died in Paris on the afternoon of June 25, 1984, he was the world’s most famous intellectual, France’s most important philosopher, and a cult figure in America. His intellectual work had a multidisciplinary influence on the humanities and social sciences from history, philosophy, and literary criticism, to sociology, cultural studies, and political science. InThe Passion of Michel Foucault(1993), James Miller describes a Foucault driven by the tragic, neo-Nietzschean quest for transgressive intensity.¹ In the more balancedThe Lives of Michel Foucault(1993), David Macey portrays Foucault as a more complex, multidimensional person who “lived many...

  8. Part III

    • 5 Complexity, Governmentality, and the Fate of Democracy
      (pp. 95-121)

      Today when political theorists talk and write about politics, they often refer to the idea of “the political.” Thus we encounter phrases such as “the return of the political,” “rethinking the political,” “the fate of the political,” and “contesting the boundaries of the political.”¹ Yet what do they mean? French philosopher and political theorist Claude Lefort contends that the distinction between “politics” (la politique) and “the political” (le politique) is crucial to understanding both the nature of political inquiry and democracy.² For while politics is about the specific behaviors, strategies, and policies of political actors and institutions, the political is...

    • 6 Postmodern Strategies and Democratic Politics
      (pp. 122-143)

      Democracy is most often defined as a specific mode of governance in which political power is exercised by citizens through direct and mediated means of participation in collective decision-making and policy implementation processes. Democracy is based on the principle of political equality and designates that all citizens have the right to exercise political power. Oligarchy is a mode of governance in which an elite minority controls most of the governing decisions. Authoritarian and autocratic modes of governance recognize few or no formal limits on government.

      Modern governments have always been a mixture of oligarchic, democratic, and bureaucratic features. Today, while...

  9. Conclusion: Negotiating the Late Modern/Postmodern Transition
    (pp. 144-148)

    Marx’s analysis of modernity inThe Communist Manifesto,which uses the metaphor “all that is solid melts into air,” still rings true today.¹ Ours is a time of ever accelerating high-tech innovations, information accumulation, global time-space compression, cultural effervescence, ecological foreboding, and millenarian temptations. It is a time that offers diverse opportunities for adventure, travel, life stylization, civic involvement, and self-reflection. It is also a time of capitalist creative destruction, neotribalism, terrorism, overpopulation, unprecedented human migration, imploding selves, environmental risks, and instantaneous bread and circuses. It is a time whose mood is both heavy and light. Whether one characterizes this...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 149-180)
  11. Index
    (pp. 181-192)
  12. Back Matter
    (pp. 193-193)