The Theory Of Postmodernism Cultural Studies Essay

In the early 20th century the classical manner of thought of modernism changed to non-classical, and at the terminal of the century to post-non-classical. To repair the mental specificity of the new epoch that was radically different from the old, a new term was required. The current province of scientific discipline, civilization and society in general in the 1970-ies was characterized by J.-F. Lyotard as postmodern province. The beginning of the postmodernism took topographic point in the 1960 – 70-ies ; it is connected and logically follows from the procedures of modernism epoch as a reaction to the crisis of its thoughts, every bit good as to the alleged decease of ace foundations: God ( Nietzsche ) , writer ( Barthes ) , human ( human-centered ) .

The term appears in the World War I in “ The Crisis of European Culture ” by R. Pannwitz ( 1914 ) . In 1934, in his book “ The Anthology of Spanish and Hispano- American Poetry ” , a literary critic F. de Onis uses it to depict the reaction to modernism. In 1947, Arnold Toynbee in his book “ A Survey of History ” gives the postmodernism a culturological significance: postmodernism symbolizes the terminal of western laterality in faith and civilization.

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The proclaimed beginning of the theory of postmodernism is considered the article “ Cross the Border – Near the Gap ” by Leslie Fiedler ( 1969 ) , rebelliously published in Playboy magazine. However, the term “ postmodernism ” acquired popularity due to Charles Jencks. In his book “ The Language of Postmodern Architecture ” , he pointed out that although this word was used in American literary unfavorable judgment of 60-70-ies to place ultramodern literary experiments, the writer gave it a wholly different significance. Postmodernism means the forsaking of extremism and nihilism of neo-avant-garde, a partial return to tradition, the accent on the communicative function.

It can be argued that postmodernism absorbed the post-structuralism, structural depth psychology, neo-Marxism, the doctrine of Heidegger, traditions of post-scientific thought and poetic thought, every bit good as the traditions of semiologies and structural linguistics, and in its ulterior versions, the doctrine of duologue, the theory of linguistic communication games. That is, the influence of non-classical doctrine is more noticeable. A characteristic characteristic of postmodernism is that holding emerged as the antithesis of both modernism and classicalism, it was chiefly the consequence of the negation as such. For this ground, the characteristic characteristics of postmodernism are, first of all, pluralism and eclectic method. Further we ‘ll concentrate on the chief thoughts and constructs of postmodernism theory, every bit good on its bound and practical deductions.

Definitions of constructs and relationships among them

Jurgen Habermas, Daniel Bell and Zygmunt Bauman dainty postmodernism as a consequence of political relations and political orientation of neoconservatism, which is characterized by aesthetic eclectic method, fetishization of trade goods and other typical characteristics of postindustrial society.

Emerged as the antithesis of modernism opened for apprehension by few merely, postmodernism ( seting everything in the game signifier ) eliminates the distance between the mass and elect consumer, pass oning the elite to the multitudes.

In the theory of postmodernism, the instrumental position on scientific methodological analysis is marked, and hence, the inquiry of the legitimacy of the pick of different scientific paradigms is put. The doctrine of postmodernism believes in impossibleness of legalizing one individual manner of depicting a scientific image of the universe, for the ground that the universe can be described by an infinite figure of ways, none of which can be legitimized without traveling beyond the scientific or philosophical methodological analysis. Postmodernism theory by and large includes the mechanisms of deconstruction of ideological poles, taking to a rethinking of the historical state of affairs.

Deconstruction is cardinal construct in postmodernism theoretizing, intending the apprehension and perceptual experience, which emphasizes non the system, rule, or construction underlying the footing of the sensed, but those things which are a sort of secondary being still included into this system. Deconstruction involves altering of the significance of the perceived, a drama with this significance and possibility of allowing this significance with the different content.

As the consequence of the denial of legalizing or certain ideological paradigms, postmodern theoretical constructs suggest free dynamic design of philosophical and cultural tools in dependance from the local state of affairs. Postmodernism factually declares the doctrine that in rule denies the possibility of truth and objectiveness ( Bryson B ) . Postmodernists subject the construct of truth to deconstruction, since the same event can non be interpreted likewise by different people. In general, the image can be described as decentralized through discourses.

Discourse is the impression interpreted in the theory of postmodernism as a self-contained procedurality of verbal game patterns, where the phenomenon of “ ego ” is losing its liberty during the reading of the perceived. Discourse contributes to the multiplicity of readings of the same phenomenon, happening an infinite figure of significances in what antecedently seemed to be understood one-dimensionally. Thus, understanding is based non on the cultural dominant of significance, but on the rule of random conjectures.

Undoubtedly, the societal theory of postmodernism is improbable to claim for a purely systematic integrity of its dogmas, but besides beyond uncertainty is that its footing consists of some cardinal thoughts that are regarded as common, universally accepted. They were assimilated by postmodernism chiefly in the signifier they were given by the Gallic post-structuralism. Let us place several initial posits of the societal theory of postmodernism.

Culture as a system of marks is the first and chief thought of postmodernism. Postmodernism rejects the old belief in referential linguistic communication, that is, in linguistic communication able to truly and accurately reproduce the world, to state the truth about it. Therefore, the apprehension of the universe, possible merely in linguistic communication and through linguistic communication, harmonizing to postmodernism, is non a merchandise of “ the universe as it is ” , but the effect of the “ history texts ” .

“ The universe as text ” is one of the most well-known theses of postmodernism. In postmodernism the whole world is conceived as text, discourse, narrative. “ Narrative ” , “ textuality ” , “ intertextuality ” are the most of import constructs that are used by postmodernism to depict current world, the basic words of its linguistic communication. Harmonizing to Derrida, nil exists outside the text. Deconstruction as a general method of postmodern analysis, applicable to analysis of any cultural phenomenon and any text, necessarily turns into multi-meaningful and eternal interpretive procedure that relativizes any text, any impression, and hence deprives the sense of the job of truth. Therefore, the linguistic communication turns out to be unstable environment ; it can non straight carry the significance or truth. Hence the major thesis of postmodernism about non-self-relation of text and the breakability of cognition obtained by agencies of linguistic communication, and as a effect, about the debatable nature of the image of world, Foucault ‘s episteme, which exists in a peculiar historical era.

“ The decease of the topic ” is the 2nd, every bit of import philosophical constituent of postmodernism. The most influential is the developed by M. Foucault and P. Barth version of the construct of decease of the topic ; Jacques Derrida ‘s construct of deconstruction besides lead to the same decision. Postmodernism grounds the impossibleness of an independent single being, proves that the person is invariably and largely unconsciously conditioned in its thought by lingual constructions. This place, common to the whole postmodern manner of thought, one of the chief invariables of the general post-modernist philosophy, was called “ theoretical anti-humanism ” . Its kernel is in acknowledgment of the fact that regardless of the single consciousness and will, through him, above him and beside him some powers, phenomena and processes manifest, which he can non command, and hence the person can non be explanatory rule in the probe of any “ societal whole ” .

Decentration. Postmodernism criticizes the centrality as a basic rule of the European civilization of modern times, the rational thought of modernness, which is rejected as metaphysical. Harmonizing to Lyotard, postmodernism is characterized by two chief characteristics: the prostration of the integrity and the growing of pluralism. Postmodernists consider it impossible and pointless to seek to set up any hierarchal order, any system of precedences in cognition, civilization and life. They are against any dictatorship, particularly modern technological, informational one. Their motto is the equality of all life signifiers. Therefore natural for them is a rejection of the impression of historical advancement, from the cosmopolitan signifiers of historical development, the really thought of additive development of history, which was replaced by the construct of Michel Foucault about the disconnected alternation of epistemes, the metaphor of rootstock as an disordered, multi-directional development.

“ Postmodernist esthesia ” is one of the cardinal constructs of postmodernism. Disappointment in the ideals and values of the Renaissance and the Enlightenment with their belief in advancement, victory of ground, boundless human potency was transformed into a rejection of the full tradition of Western rationalism. This led to the formation of a “ post-modern sensitiveness ” , a specific vision of the universe, decentred, fragmented, disordered, deprived of a cause-effect relationships and values, perceived by consciousness merely in the signifier of hierarchically disordered fragments. Any effort to build a theoretical account of such universe is nonmeaningful.

Promotion of new classs by philosophers-postmodernists is non every bit much caused merely by the desire to replace the chief classs of classical aesthetics, as by an effort to explicate the alterations in art, and is preconditioned by a alteration in attitude of modern adult male.

Current position of the theory and review

Postmodernist doctrine calls itself “ post-structuralism ” and basically denies the paradigm of “ construction ” , including with regard to itself. This, nevertheless, does non intend that we can non divide back uping buildings of philosophical postmodern construction. And, harmonizing to the regulations of statement, allow ‘s get down with epistemology and reimburse an of import philosophical inquiry sing the relation of impression to being, linguistic communication to the flow of phenomena, of the signifying to the signified.

Postmodernism theory solves this issue in a pretty original manner. It abandons the inquiry of the cognitive capacity of topics, every bit good as the cardinal epistemic “ subject-object ” resistance, and posits the linguistic communication and text as the self-sufficing world, considered outside any connexion with objectiveness. Hence it logically follows the postmodernist rejection of the impression of significance as the impression provided by extra-textual world and correlating with objectiveness.

For the philosopher-postmodernist, linguistic communication has ne’er been, can non be and eventually Michigans being considered to be a impersonal depository of significance ( Atkins ) . The procedure of address and the semantics of the text are ne’er an nonsubjective procedure of the sensing of significance, but the inserting of the significance into the text, which itself has no significance ( JH Miller ) .

Therefore, postmodern idea is focused non on “ significance ” ( the relation of the signifying towards the signified ) , but on “ meaning ” ( closed in itself motion within the domain of the signifying ) . Therefore, creative activity of intending becomes the strictly subjective procedure, given to the voluntarism of the meaning topic from get downing to stop. Semantic variableness, capriciousness of reading, and the drama of relativism are, harmonizing to post-structuralism, the status of the narrative: the statement can non be determined by one voice and one significance ; the statement contains a batch of codifications, and a batch of voices, and none of them can be preferred. Postmodernism produces a certain sum of indefinitenesss or overdeterminations: this sum is factually signification ( R. Barthes ) .

It ca n’t be said that poststructural place in relation to linguistic communication and text is wholly illicit in the sense that it does non hold any epistemic roots. This place absolutizes one of the points in the relationships of object and its verbal, textual representation. Indeed, in a sense, the linguistic communication is conventional: a specific object can be named by any word. However, this does non call off the existent kernel of the topic. Thus, comparative conventionality of linguistic communication does non contradict its structuredness. Any linguistic communication reflects the ontology ; we fix the statics of an object ( noun ) , kineticss ( verb ) , qualitative finding ( adjectival ) , etc.

Denying any ontological referent of the text, poststructuralism is merely interested in labeling the topic of rating in footings of its association to a peculiar cultural tradition. But what caused this tradition if non ontology, practice? Can we state that the linguistic communication of Karafai cannibal folk of Papua New Guinea is non less enlightening than the English linguistic communication?

But even within a peculiar tradition, a subjectivist imposing of intending into the text, the post-modernists speak about, in the concluding analysis, is preconditioned by an ontological referent ( one or another involvement of a individual, group, societal community, etc. ) originating about important benefits.

The negation of ontologically set significance of logos causes devastation of the very thought of ontology by postmodern doctrine. From the position of poststructuralism, ontology is chiefly impossible.

The universe is understood as text, surrendered to the helter-skelter subjective readings. Something like the prostration of world happens. Wordss become the sounding shell deprived of significance ( E. Ionesco ) . Postmodernist pandemonium constitutes itself in the construct of “ rhizome ” : unstructural unstable organisation of unity, opposing the classical impression of organisation of unity metaphorically represented as a tree grown from a individual root.

Apparently cognizant of the built-in unacceptableness of the thought of pandemonium to consciousness, postmodern theoreticians focus on the possible creativeness and activity, embodied, in their sentiment, in such a worldview. Ontological buildings of doctrine of postmodernism ( in other words, anti-ontological devastations ) are built on a figure of modern natural scientific discipline theories and hypotheses subjectively interpreted by experts in humanistic disciplines.

But the chief drift to the theoretical footing of the ontology of pandemonium, in our sentiment, was the general socio-cultural state of affairs in the last decennaries of the twentieth – the beginning of the twenty-first century. On the one manus, it was the crisis of classical broad value casts, and, on the other manus, marginalisation and crisis of counter-systemic ideological undertakings ( dictatorship, fascism ) . Important function in the development of postmodern constructs of cultural relativism was played by the procedures of exchange and interpenetration of different civilizations, particularly actively unfolded during the manifestation of globalisation.

It has to be noted that cultural globalisation in its current signifier is non on a line of deep meaningful duologue between civilizations, but on a line of surface exchange of artefacts taken out of context-semantic field.

Cognitive futility of philosophical postmodernism can be seen on the illustration of the analysis of the fabulous composite. From the position of poststructuralism, myths of holy stepss, mountain, tree, vine, station, etc. , that exist in the civilizations of about all the states, are the same “ narrations ” which have no objectiveness behind them, and which really can be applied as a substrate for all the subjective readings.

Factually, all these myths, assorted in the cultural and familial footings, express the same original of infinite organisation, i.e. the Axis of the World. The similar state of affairs is with the originals of clip. The bing myths of cyclical clip motion from harmoniousness to entropy and a new beginning reflect the motion of a natural rhythm.

Postmodern manner of philosophising culls the articulation of certainty of non merely object but besides capable. It postulates the decease of the topic. In this theory, linguistic communication is presented as a signifier of the being of unconsciousness, but harmonizing to poststructuralists, “ I ” is determined chiefly by concepts of the general symbolic order, by connexion to “ signifier ” , that is, lingual constructions puting articulation regulations.

Based on the Freudian resistance of the domain of the unconscious to the domain of coercive power of “ superego ” ( civilization ) , postmodern philosophers come to the thesis about decenteredness of nature of the topic, which is torn between the unconscious and the symbolic ( objectified in the form ) .

Replacing the traditional apprehension of capable as rational topic, every bit good as Freudian lusting topic, the simplified postmodern type of decentered tool of representation of cultural significances ( forms ) of linguistic communication comes.

Disappearance of homo in dianoetic patterns on consciousness and determinational impact of constructions of linguistic communication logically leads postmodernism to the “ decease of adult male ” . One can see, hence, an obvious contradiction of postmodernism theory. On the one manus, many postmodernists claim that the imposing of intending into the text can non be an nonsubjective procedure. But on the other manus, postmodernists speak about the decease of the topic.

But who is so puting intending in the text? Therefore, on the one manus, they declare futility, entropy and capriciousness of text ‘s life, but on the other manus, claim the absolute regulation of lingual constructions. This contradiction, nevertheless, can be easy explained.

Postmodernism is, in some sense, the descendent ( and logical coda ) of the release line in the Western doctrine, implicitly moved by the pulsation of release from everything, what, harmonizing to postmodernists, can be the confining construction, entity, phenomenon, or force. Attempt of text ontologization, deontologization of being and disintegration of the topic is factually another idealistic bewilderment. Consideration of the text in footings of its “ self-existence ” , out of the foundation of its subject-object resistance, can be equaled to a denial of any and all cognitive standards, powerlessness of idea and factual suicide of scientific discipline.

Besides, postmodernists represent their theory as the one opening up new positions of originative activity. But in fact, the acceptance of this sort of worldview brings a adult male into a dead end of absolute religious emptiness, to the entire devaluation of ethical values and, accordingly, to passiveness and conformity.

Meanwhile, unfavorable judgment of postmodernism has a entirety character, despite the fact that postmodernism denies any entirety, and belongs to both the protagonists of modern-day tendencies and their enemies. The decease of postmodernism has already been declared several times: such flooring statements have appeared after R. Barthes, who proclaimed “ the decease of the writer ” and bit by bit go the conventional cast ) , postmodern has besides been characterized as the civilization of 2nd manus.

It is by and large accepted that postmodernism conveying nil new ( Groys ) , that it is a theory without its ain content and hence, utilizing all kinds of old accomplishments as a edifice stuff, and accordingly it is a man-made theory which is most structurally similar to the Socialistic Realism ( Epstein ) , i.e. deeply traditional.

Taking mostly justified unfavorable judgment of postmodernist attack, it is deserving observing its promising qualities. Postmodernism rehabilitates old traditions, and together with it, rehabilitates pragmatism, scholasticism, classics, actively blackguarded throughout the twentieth century.

Social communicating and media in the postmodernist vision

Harmonizing to Foucault, in every historical epoch there exists a particular, more or less incorporate system of cognition, which is formed from the dianoetic patterns of different subjects – an episteme. It is implemented as a linguistic communication codification, linguistic communication norms, unconsciously predetermining lingual behaviour, and therefore the thought of persons. Harmonizing to Foucault, episteme is ever internally subordinated to the construction of power dealingss, and serves as totalitarianizing discourse, legalizing power, so it can non be impersonal or nonsubjective. This original and chief thought of postmodernism and all the critical poignancy associated with it, giving birth to the installing of the opposition to the power of linguistic communication constructions, is impossible to understand outside of the extremist alterations of societal and cultural state of affairss that occurred in the universe, chiefly in the Western society, under the influence of a globalized media system, perplexing mass consciousness, bring forthing myths and semblances.

These alterations lead to cardinal ontological transmutation of civilization. Jean Baudrillard ‘s theory of hyperreality is the most representative in the reading of these alterations. ( Baudrillard 1981 ) . Hyperreality, harmonizing to Baudrillard, arises when the cultural beliefs and cognition are losing contact with societal and human world they must depict and go independent ( simulacra ) . Simulacrum means pseudo-thing, replacing “ agonising ” world, film overing the differentiation between existent and fanciful, a simulation, which does non hold any referents. Baudrillard claims that the relationship of imagination and world goes through several phases marked by the increasing emancipation of codifications of referents: the contemplation of nonsubjective world is replaced by its perversion, so – by the privacy of its absence, and eventually – by the loss of any connexion with world, the replacing of visibleness – simulacrum. The whole modern universe is made up of simulacra, which have no foundation in any world except their ain one ; it is a universe of self-referred symbols, i.e. a wholly unreal universe.

Therefore, the relationship with the universe is transformed in a cardinal manner. No 1 is appealing to the “ existent ” object, since in a universe where unreal theoretical accounts dominate, no differentiation is made between “ words ” and “ things ” . Subject, devoid of the object, can non compare its perceptual experiences with the object and becomes wholly dependent on hyperreality. Human life becomes airy and inauthentic, and evokes a feeling of emptiness and nonsense, pandemonium and deficiency of harmoniousness, instability and general disorganisation of the universe. Therefore, postmodernism reveals the internal mechanism of the procedure of bewilderment of societal consciousness, which occurs under the influence of the media, proves undependability, and falsehood of cognition about the universe, formed in this manner. Harmonizing to Derrida, this demystification of cognition takes the signifier of the denial of ontological boundaries, and leads to the fact that the spliting line between the universe and cognition is no longer clear.

As an illustration, M. Foucault ‘s construct of “ perfect rational ” can be used, who, being an foreigner in relation to the modern-day “ episteme ” is able to implement its “ deconstruction ” or G. Deleuze ‘s construct of “ schizophrenic in the highest sense ” , whose “ privileged ” place gives him entree to “ fragmental truths ” . Anyway, taking for granted any common position or a construct, a individual takes the way of integrating, soaking up of his head by the “ bourgeois system of values ” , one more system of meta-narrations.

In modern theories of communicating, message is treated as a cultural-semiotic concept, leting us to depict a multi-level procedure of production and broadcast of significances. Here, society is presented as a self-perpetuating construction that bears the holistic nature by virtuousness of communicating links of its members. Harmonizing to Habermas, multiple significances are structured in the procedure of cultural production and do up the “ life universe ” of communicating participants, i.e. holistic implicit cognition, which is a set of cultural samples of the reading of the universe. Therefore, communicating is a meaningful Reconstruction of society. Semantic structuring of societal systems provides the necessary connectivity, and through it, the unity of the society.

Under the laterality of written linguistic communication, texts ( text significances ) start working as societal entities in the society of people and the society of marks. The text ceases to be an independent entity ; it is constructed from old texts in the procedure of uninterrupted processing and reinterpretation. Hypertext as a new textual paradigm can be considered a manner of communicating in the society oriented to multiple, coincident watercourses of information that can non be accepted and internalized by the topic. Assimilation of the full amount of cognition becomes impossible, furthermore, the stiff structuring of such cognition is hard to accomplish. Knowledge is now organized in hypertext, a web of comparatively free messages that can unify and interrupt in the procedure of production and ingestion of cognition. An of import characteristic of hypertext, come closing it to postmodernism, is the alleged “ immanency ” , or the intergrowth of consciousness with the agencies of communicating, the ability to rapidly develop new media.

When we speak about the cardinal refusal of postmodernism from the correlativity of cultural texts with the world, we are speaking about cultural texts that are in their maps aimed at seeking for significance. Media texts, as it is known, work out other jobs, talking in a different dianoetic context. Discourse of the media today is far non the domain of free communicating of free persons, oriented at the hunt for significance and cultural “ cross-fertilisation ” . Although media-texts bear the imprint of the civilization of the age, and even move as its represetants, they still serve to a stiff domain of societal interaction of political and economic involvements of societal groups. Under these conditions, the unreported transportation of “ the refusal for correlativity with world ” to the texts of the media contributes to the intensification of their implicative burden, for quasi-real emotional perceptual experience of the world by the receiver is really one of the cognitive-psychological stipulations for the effectivity of assorted sorts of manipulative techniques in the modern-day societal communicating infinite.


By and large, postmodern discourse tends to utilize any stuff for the break of the sustained communicating between signifier and signified. On the one manus, postmodernism emphasizes the peculiar societal state of affairs – postmodernity, characterized by the prevalence of information engineerings and consumer patterns. On the other manus, it provides a description of the societal position through a row of provocative names, like “ disorganised ” , “ dead ” , “ fluid ” , “ decentered ” , etc. Postmodernist topic of analysis is the non-community of non-organized non-institutions, an intertextual, rhizome world saturated by weakly coordinated procedures. Alternatively of categories and groups, the theory offers impermanent communities of independent persons, and simulation and isolation alternatively of structural unity. Chase awaying the conceptual set of the authoritative attack besides involves its polar impression – the society, doing it a no impression or a construct of the absence. As a consequence, for the postmodern adult male, a speedy switch of Television channels is “ reading ” .

In postmodernism, everyone can go a sender of information, utilizing the latest engineerings, such as Web 2.0. The figure of such centres of information is turning exponentially, and most of the information produced is practically useless, which is caused by its hapless quality and uncertainness. Changeless enlargement of the information field is a major obstruction to work outing the job of information overload.


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