Skip to comments.The crisis of the postmodern world view
Posted on 12/10/2004 9:25:38 AM PST by kjvail
The Postmodern World View is schizophrenic. It is split in two and the two parts contradict one another. Francis Shaeffer taught us to think of it as a house with an upper story and a lower story. There is no stairway to connect the two stories. The upper story and the lower story are walled off from one another.
In the lower story is scientific materialism which dogmatically asserts that the world is be a closed system which consists of nothing but matter and energy which is subject to the laws of cause and effect. A second dogmatic assertion follows hard upon the first the only thing we can know with assurance is derived from empirical scientific methods working in the lower story. Everything else is mere opinion, bias, subjective preference and illusion, or so we are told. The third assertion is that man is a machine governed by blind laws of heredity and environment. Therefore, free will, reason and moral conscience are illusions, or thus decrees the little man in the lower story.
There are no windows or doors in the lower story. The thought is cramped and blinkered. The feel of the place is claustrophobic like being trapped in a tomb. Pride and ignorance rules in these dark caverns. Pride comes from inflated presumption that only empirical science working in the lower story has the capacity for certain knowledge. The reputed "knowledge" is self assured and brutally dogmatic. Ignorance comes from rooting out of all other forms of knowledge and leaving a few bare bones in the darkness. The meaning of those dry bones is largely misconstrued by the sweeping generalities and vain speculations of scientists. These speculations are exempt from authentic criticism because it is "science." Only specially certified men of science who share the same three brutal assumptions may review and criticize the speculations in special journals. The extreme dogmatism of our prestigious science establishment. about these narrow assertions has made this a great age of inhuman dogmatism, prejudice and ignorance. No bigot of the Jim Crow era can come close to the sheer narrowness of mind, arrogance of presumption, or prejudice towards dissenters of our vaunted establishment science.
Intelligent Postmodernists sometimes admit that no one can live their private lives in the lower story. This was a major premise of Francis Schaeffer. No one can function in the real world thinking they are merely a cog in a machine. No automaton can have reason, will, value, purpose, conscience, or self-consciousness. One must vault up into the upper story to furnish a place to live. No stairways of reason connects the two stories so one must make a leap into the dark. No laws of science or nature can be allowed to intrude into the upper story where a refuge of absolute freedom is to be established. Likewise, no universal moral law or cultural norm can be allowed to intrude and limit potential choices. Personal feelings, values and choices, yes. Universal and timeless truth, no. No God of design may enter these chambers. A new "god" of haughty Self has taken up residence in the upper story with his own contingent designs and momentary agendas.
Each Postmodern individual invents his own private upper story world, his own self, his own values and his own preferences or so we are told. It is a personally invented world. One makes it up on the fly as he goes along. And it is to be air tight and exempt from criticism, social norms and moral laws. The upper story is just as insulated from moral criticism as the lower story is insulated from rational criticism. The standard defense of the upper story anarchy will be "I have values." But this is a half-lie. The upper story mind has transitory preferences. The strong preference are presumed to be "values." In the sense of "I value it because I chose it and because it pleases me," I suppose these are values of a sort. In the sense of enduing truths and moral laws, these are not real Values. The Postmodernist will insist that the universal moral laws of the Christian are roughly the same thing. The Postmodernist presumes that the Christian arbitrarily selects concepts from an old tradition and subjectively decides to "value" them. Therefore, the Postmodernist will tell another half-lie: "My values are just as good as your values." His inevitable conclusion is that "No one should impose their values on others." This would be true if all values are only feelings, arbitrary preferences, opinions, tastes, and choices. But this is nonsense, of course. The universal moral law has objective existence, and universal applicability whether one values it or dreads it or denies it. We receive the moral law from a Higher Authority, we understand it by reason and we are subject to the judgement by that Authority.
Postmodernists are "antinomian" (against law) and deny that any such law or higher authority exists. The thoroughgoing Postmodernist believes that "good" and "evil" are arbitrary labels assigned subjectively to relative and equivocal situations. The Postmodernist is the very prototype of an unprincipled man, a man without any fixed principles which cannot be rigged in his favor. He may give temporary allegiance to a "value" if it helps his agenda of the moment. Scoundrels have always been with us but the Postmodern carries the arts of dishonesty to new levels. He can be an unrestrained and unreformed malefactor and yet demand the right to be free from moral accountability except for those selective "values" he can bend to work for him. A perfect example is the profoundly corrupt but unshakably self-righteous Kofi Annan.
On the political stage, wherever we see the rationalization of evil and the harsh criticism of good, we see Postmodernism at work. The postmodern art of moral equivalence follows the formula, good = evil. For example, Michael Moore's movie tries to prove that Saddam Hussein's Iraq is just as good as America or maybe better. Half of the Democratic Party leaders attended the movie and praised it. They were blind to the fallacy of good = evil. They are also blind as to why their party is in decline.
"Woe unto them who call evil, good, and good, evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!' Isaiah 5:20
In the lower story of the Postmodern schism, there is bondage to a random and meaningly world of brutal deterministic forces. In the upper story, there is a formless chaos of narcissistic fantasies and impulses in perpetual flux. It is a fun house world of warped mirrors, dissolving perspectives and false turnings. One escapes the claustrophobic machine in the lower story to enter a surreal world of madness in the upper story. The mood, flux, and fantasy of the upper story is captured by some of the surreal paintings of Salvador Dali. He depicts a weird and dismal landscape with perverse and discordant images in the foreground and a monotonous perspective of a flat waste land receding to an infinite horizon. An infinite horizon is impossible on a round planet. Ships sink below the horizon at three miles out when the observer stands with his feet touching the water. Dali's impossibly infinite desert horizon is both monotonous and alarming. Dali evokes what Sartre called "condemned to be free." One of the plays of Sartre was titled "No Exit." Absolute nihilistic freedom is a bondage from which there is no escape. The Romantic landscape painters used to use horizons to give one the delicious feeling of being set free. Dali's oppressive horizons gives one the sense of a hellish freedom of futility and doom. This is the difference between living in the real world which God has made and living in a narcissistic world of one's own invention.
The Great Hypocrisy
The Liberal Postmodernist is the ultimate hypocrite. While he demands absolute freedom from moral restraints in his private upper story world, he is sees nothing wrong with the most brutal and mindless group think and the most controlling and oppressive codes of political correctness. He is blind to the anarchy/bondage contradiction.
In the upper story, the postmodernist is a god creating his own world. He is a jealous god which frets lest the Christian God gets a foothold in his surreal domain. But he is a cog in a machine in his lower story world which gives him the lowest possible view of man. He accepts no moral responsibility for his acts because his machine lower story informs him that all his ideas and actions are predetermined by cause and effect. Thus, the machine-like lower story is an enabler and rationalizer of his lawless upper story. He thinks all the events of the world of men are governed by "root causes" in a closed system of cause and effect. Group think and strictly enforced codes of correct speech seem natural to him because his lower story world dogmatically imparts an extremely low view of man, and a mechanistic view of group dynamics. But his own lower story is blind to the surreal despair or demented orgy in his wild upper story. Thick ceilings and bricked off staircases prevent any intrusion from the lumbering machinery of analysis and judgement to enter the unrestrained party upstairs. This explains his blindness to his own hypocrisy.
If a Postmoderm liberal has real political power he will tend to be self-indulgent and unruly in his private life but dictatorial with others, and be perfectly blind to this contradiction. He will be what the Bible calls an evil ruler. Postmodern liberals yearn for executive power because of their itch to control, but are constitutionally unfitted for the responsible use of power. While Bill Clinton was secretly partying with pretty young interns (exhibiting upper story anarchy) Hillary was trying to bring socialism to medicine (exhibiting a lower story urge to control.) If we ever have a postmodern dictator, the country will be turned into a prison while wild orgies are going on in the capital. Shades of Nero, Caligula, Sejanus, and Commodus.
The only stable features in the postmodern upper story is the supremacy of the arbitrary godlike will, the value of pampering and pandering to unrestrained feelings, and a narcissistic obsession with self. Just as the upper story is cut off from the lower story, it is also cut off from reality. By definition, the illusions of narcissism cannot exist unless they are sheltered from the light of reality.
The Nature of the Postmodern Crisis
The lower zone assumptions about the world is in constant contradiction with reality. This is one reason why liberals cluster together in group think communities in academia, government bureaucracies, the news media, entertainment and the arts community. They get constant reinforcement of their deterministic and politically correct views from their self-enclosed ant colony. The self-reinforcing group insulates them from reality.
The perpetual flux of the upper story Postmodernism reveals an obvious instability. The narcissistic fantasies of their upper story life are severely endangered by exposure to stable human life lived in a wholesome and healthy manner. That is why they are reflexively anti-family. It also explains why the insecure narcissistic gays demand public recognition of their perverse life style through the legal recognition of gay marriage. Their explosive wrath against any mention of the divine law is rooted in terror. Narcissistic fantasies are always on the verge of collapse and cannot endure a hint of criticism. One reason for the politically correct speech codes is to prevent any dissent which carries with it a hint of criticism.
If Postmodernism is entirely help up by artificial props, one wonders why it has not long since collapsed. Two inner reward mechanisms keeps this deeply pathologic and malformed world view in operation. Pandering to the godlike illusions of the upper story gives one the reward of pride in the self-deity which creates itself, and, of course the gratification of the self-indulgent whims of hedonism. Asserting the superior knowledge of the automaton who lives in the lower story enables one to assert superiority over lesser mortals on the outside. A self-contained Postmodern can be astonishingly arrogant and smug.
Although Postmoderns enjoy an internally self-reinforcing system, there is an inner war which undercuts their confidence at every turn. Postmoderns can be the most insecure and terrified of men.
The lower story message radically contradicts the upper story message. One cannot be both a god who creates and a cog in a machine. One cannot live in a world of infinitely receding perspective and be closed in a machine. A narcissistic self concept radically contradicts how all one's fellows view one. They don't think that the narcissist is a god, even if they are narcissist god-pretenders themselves. Within the tight little group think cult, there is a tremendous secret contempt and alienation. When a Postmodern breaks out of one group-think circle and joins another one, he will be eager to tell the second group how rotten the first group was. Finally, the dogmatic assertions of the lower story are contradicted by all the lessons of experience life has to teach.
Why does not the world of Postmodernism instantly fall like a house of cards? It is held up by two kinds of energy. The soulish energy of narcissism and an affiliated satanic energy. The diabolical realm is the great ally of narcissism. Sheer blindness prevents any self examination or any awareness of the utter dishonesty and the gigantic contradictions and hypocrisies. Ignorance is bliss for the postmodern. But the postmodern life is not a real life. It substitutes cruel illusions for life. The Postmodern world is not and cannot be sustainable over the long haul. One day, God will blow upon it and the house of cards will collapse. Our job is to see to it that the civilization does not collapse with it. As they follow the ways of destruction let us be busy at work rebuilding the ravaged culture.
"Ye see the distress we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and its gates are burned with fire; come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach." Nehemiah 2:17
Why does not the world of Post-modernism instantly fall like a house of cards? It is held up by two kinds of energy. The soulish energy of narcissism and an affiliated satanic energy.
Rather than use the paradigm of "post-modernism," I think it would be easier to call a spade a spade.
There are the anti-God forces and the God forces.
The anti-God forces are comprised of the secular humanists, hedonists, narcissists, faithful Muslims (Allah is most certainly Satanic), the ACLU, the sex-addicted, the greedy, communists and the extreme left, the parties of hate (Nazi's, Fascists), and...
Postmodernism is a complicated academic concept. But everyone needs to understand at least the basics of what it represents, because what began in the academy has spread into the world.
This article touches on only a few elements of the full story, but it does get at the gist of the problem.
To understand how far the poison has spread, just take a look at the famous, totally vacuous statement in the Supreme Court's Casey decision, that each person has an unlimited right to define his or her own version of reality.
As this article says, in the lower story science insists that nothing is real but matter in motion. But in the upper story, we get to define reality however we like--including a reality that says it's our right to kill babies if we choose to for any reason.
The crisis of the postmodern world view
is its postmodern lawyers.......and Judges' rulings?
I'd be interested to see the arguments for the position you take. I'm all for informed opinion but it seems as if most of these declarations have been made without some serious thought or reading. I've been reading several books on the concept of free will, rationality, and free choice and most authors present the issue in a much more complex manner without a clearcut declaration that "free will" does not exist in a rational world. In addition, the fact that you can make an argument and communicate to another individual indicates that to a certain extent society is built on necessary fictions (i.e. we both assume the words we use mean the same thing to both of us). If it's necessary to have certain fictions for all people to communicate then it seems that the whole world is a "house of cards." How can you reasonably distinguish what "groups" are clearly going to collapse? Finally, you yourself are being hypocritical by attempting make an argument about denying rationality that must make use of logic to convey its point. To a certain extent rationality is an absolute necessity to exist in a society. If you are not interested in society, then don't post. Am interested in a logical response and information about your sources.
ANYONE with a repeatable experiment is free to dislodge even the most widely accepted scientific theories. In fact, the scientific method is designed that way.
There is some severe hypocrisy coming from the author in that sentence. How well does faith accept criticism and change?
When was postmodernism the 'in' thing?
All IMHO and subject to vigorous debate, I can tell ya...
Not exactly...But I can see how a non-believer might think so.
You mean that heavenly rewards have nothing to do with a believer's moral decisions?
I know that most mothers and fathers would sacrifice anything for their children...endure any amount of suffering, if it could prevent their children from being separated from God after death.
Not all physicists are post-modernists but the scientific establishment as a whole is dedictated to the principle of proving that God does not exist. They do this in a thousands different ways - some blatant, some not so obvious. For instance if you are surfing the Discovery-Times channel in the next couple of weeks you will stumble across a documentary about the death of the son of Ramses the Great. The crux of the documentary is to "prove" the child which the book of Exodus claims was killed by the wrath of God was actually killed by "natural causes". As if proving one (assuming it had any credibility) would automatically disprove the other.
Postmodern science dogmatically adheres to severly flawed "natural selection" theories - to the point they don't even admit it's still just a theory (and one with HUGE holes) but promote it as a dogmatic truth. Another good example of this conflict between theological truth and science, or perhaps better phrased between morals and science is of course embroyonic stem cell research. Moral theology rejects the idea that if one can do a thing, one should do a thing. But of course you have the post-modernists on TV everyday saying we are "replacing science with religion". Nonsense, we are trying to tell science where it cannot licitly go
I'd say that suggests The Scientific Method works pretty well.
I'm not saying it doesn't, when it confines itself to appropriate inquiry. It's a tool for understanding the physical world - it's not a pancea for understanding the human condition. Purely empirical science cannot measure the soul of a man. For instance science can describe the workings of the human eye, the optic nerve, even the brain (someday perhaps) but it can't explain beauty or love. For that you need philsophy and ultimately theology. A purely empirical approach reduces man to an animal and if man believes himself to be an animal, he will behave like an animal.
On the flip side, fundamentalist promote the idea that the Earth was created in 6 days, exactly as the Bible tells and that the Earth is some 6,000 years old. Nonsense of course, the book of Genesis was not written to teach science or cosmology or evolutionary biology - it is a theological treatsie on Man and his relationship to his God and each other. So fundamentalists are trying to use theology to explain science, the reverse error. Science and theology are complementary - they ask fundamentally different questions.
Researchers are getting a handle on some the genetic origins of human behaviors but I don't think any are suggesting we are utter slaves to our Biology. I'd like to see some sources cited here - that'd help me a lot.
Well it's ancedotal admittedly but I'm a source here. I hold a degree in Psychology and work in the field. The current focus of research in every university I am acquainted with is purely biological. Most clinicians these days assume a purely deterministic approach. I'm in the only area of psychology that continues to use any type of metaphysics - substance abuse.
That is because postmodernism is just a new word for paganism. If man is no longer sure about God, then he can be sure of nothing that is not measurable with a tool of some sort. Of course the previous poster tells us even the physical sciences are succumbing to nominalism - the philsophy that says nothing we percieve is real - a decent from Decrates statment "I think therefore I am".
web site/blog. He is all over this sort of thing.
Ok, pouring myself a "Tullamore Dew" and rolling up my sleeves...
My degree is in English and History but I love science (just didn't have the head for the math). I saw that same documentary on Ramses as you. We know that around 1200 b.c. there was a huge crisis in the ancient world and most major civilizations collapsed. The Egyptians were the only group to survive culturally intact and blamed the whole thing on a group of folk they called "The Sea People". The Greeks (then Myceneans) later blamed the Trojan War. Jews spoke of "The Exodus". Whatever happened - it was SERIOUS! The Greeks, for example, lost everything - literacy, farming, and became essentially a stone-age people who didn't recover for 500 years.
So yeah, Scientists tend to look to "rational" explanations for ancient historical events. that's what they do - they look to reason over faith. Is that odd? I don't think so. They're SCIENTISTS.
It works against them at times too: for centuries smug historians considered Homer's "Troy" as simply a myth. In the late 1800's German amateur archaeologist Heinrich Schleimann did something unthinkable: he followed the directions to Troy as put down in ancient writings and started digging where they said to. Guess what? He found TROY!
The 17th century represented a huge schism: the proto scientists of The Enlightenment were forced to confront the fact that in order to learn things about the real world they had to abandon theologies based on Aristotelian models and risk the wrath of a vairiety of theologicians, both Catholic and Protestant. Add to this nasty mix the fact that many of these early scientists were devoutly religious men and you have the makings of a major ulcer.
How did they deal with it? Compartmentalism.
You're a shrink - you know the word.
They set aside their faith and set aside their reason. They split the two. Faith was faith and reason is reason.
I think our next dialogue should be about "Postmodernism" itself. WHAT THE HELL IS IT?
Seriously, in 1920 everybody knew what "Modern" meant. In 1670 everybody knew what "Enlightenment" meant. In 178 "The Romantics" knew who they were too. Now we are all "PostModern" and we have no clue what that means! It's a great metaphor for the debased nature of our culture.
Personally, I think it's time to get rid of "Postmodernism". I propose we start at the beginning with a "New Enightenment". We should bring reason back to the arts and sciences.
But that's just me and I have had a glass of fine irish whiskey to serve as inspiration.
Oh by the way "Its Just a theory" doesn't work. Other "just" theories:
Theory of Microbial Infection
Theory of Gravity
Theory of General Relativity
Yeah, they're all "just" theories but they also happen to be true.
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