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
Ping to self for later pingout.
This symptom has been very ably described by Chantal Delsol Icarus Fallen, published by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute isi.org. She points out how the prevaling ethos leaves the common person awash, being told to create their own ethic, prohibited from universalizing it.
bump and save
"For the last two centuries, in order to escape from the labyrinth of mediocrity, we have believed ourselves capable of radically transforming man and society. The philosophy of Progress has promised us since Condorcet to eliminate war, disease, and need, and various ideologies have announced a radiant future. We have just come to the realization via the revelation of human disasters in the East, and here through the reappearance of poverty, illiteracy, war, and epidemics that these hopes were in vain. We have fallen back down to earth where we must re-appropriate our human condition. But along the way we have lost the key of understanding, and we no longer recognize this mediocre world, nor do we know its meaning."
I sincerely hope her conclusion is correct as well
The man described by Kierkegaard, who builds a sumptuous castle and then lives in the gatekeepers quarters, or even in the doghouse, will some day gather about himself all that remains of his clairvoyance, and will draw up the plans for a house of truly human proportions. The children of Icarus will no longer demand bread, as they did two centuries ago, nor dreams, as they did a century later, but rather truth, which represents the only foundation upon which an ethics no one can do without can be built. For no one can seek the good without defining it. All hope is built upon knowledge. And no society can respect a man of whose particularities it is ignorant. Our main exigence is today to meditate about anthropology.
Toward the end of her dissection she concludes that we ought to be watchful. Vigilance from moment to moment to always choose the good.
That should not be assumed. It's only good for a working start. Words are a representation of reality. There is nothing fictitious about them when they represent and convey the essence of the reality to be represented.
I think your post was intended for kjvail, not the Freeper "Poster". "kjvail" should go in the "TO:" box. That's done automatically when you click "reply" on any post.
Post 5 sounds like nominalism to me
"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"
Perhaps I'm misreading it but this sounds like you believe nothing has any reality beyond our perception of them. (if a tree falls in the forest, does it make a sound - no)I would have to disagree.
I subscribe to the school of realism - I have not yet entirely settled myself between Platonic ultra-realism and Aristolean moderate realism
I'm not really able to make much sense out of the rest of your post, perhaps you could clarify.
I agree, but I think he is, if anything, too limited in his view of postmodernism. A lot of postmodern theory actually attacks the enlightenment view of science as a path to emperical truth. Everything is discourse, including science.
And I agree whole heartedly with his analysis, that's why I'm a monarchist.
There is tension between equality and freedom in democracies
Equality and liberty are opposites, it is an a priori truth that men are not equal therefore the only way to achieve equality is thru coercion and social engineering. It is radical egalitarianism that afflicts our society.
"it suffices to say the artificial establishment of equality is as little compatible with liberty as the enforcement of unjust laws of discrimination.(It is obviously just to discriminate -within limits- between the innocent and the criminal, the adult and the infant, the combatant and the civilian, and so I on.) Whereas greed, pride and arrogance are at the base of unjust discrimination, the driving motor of the egalitarian and identitarian trends is envy, jealousy and fear. Nature( i.e., the absence of human intervention) is anything but egalitarian; if we want to establish a complete plain we have to blast the mountains away and fill the valleys; equality, thus presupposes the continuous intervention of force which, as a principle, is opposed to freedom.
Liberty and equality are in essence contradictory.
"The effective distinction between democracy and liberty, which has occupied much of the authors thoughts, cannot be too strongly drawn. Slavery has been so often associated with democracy, that a very able writer pronounced it long ago essential to a democratic state; and the philosophers of the Southern Confederation have urged the theory with extreme favour. For slavery operates like a restricted franchise, attaches power to property- and hinders socialism, the infirmity that attends mature democracies
Lord Acton, The Histoy, of Freedom and Other Essays
You sound as though you just might be ready to dive in here, read this:
Liberty or Equality by Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn (1952)
Just got finished reading it. 'Ole Jack just demolishes the post-modernists - almost before they even got started.
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