Postmodern Doubt

Postmodernism is not easy to define.  It is after the modern period attributed to typically marked by Descartes’s doubt and the cogito. The critiques tend to have something to defend as the as it would appear from the scathing attack by Thomas Nagel (See page 698-699). Indeed there are some who take the postmodern doubt or skepticism to absurd levels. This is not the point. Derrida‘s concern is with logocentrism, which according to Derrida, is the attitude that logos (the Greek term for speech, thought, law, or reason) is the central principle of language and philosophy.  Jacques Derrida (1930–2004) Postmodernism is a subjectivist skeptical infection. A subjectivist virus infecting all languages. Perhaps it after the modern period if we can tell when the modern period ended.  Deconstruction is difference and deferral. presence logocentrism: Since Plato Logocentrism is the view that speech, and not writing, is central to language, the metaphysics of being, that is, “the determination of being as presence in all the senses of this word.”  speaking writing privileged access binary opposition:  In this contrast between speech and writing we have one of a number of binary oppositions that Derrida thinks have dominated the Western philosophical tradition.*  *Others are presence/absence, soul/body, form/ matter, one/many, reality/appearance, literal/metaphorical, nature/culture, male/female, light/darkness, good/evil. Such binary oppositions are among the main things that deconstruction aims to deconstruct. signifIer-see the text signified-see the text Language forms a system of differences. Its signs are not linked directly to immediately present objects—or even to meanings but mean what they do because of the way they are related to and differ from other signs. Let us speak of a term like “goat” as a signifier. Then we can call both the meaning of that term (the concept) and an actual goat (the referent) the signified. Because language is constituted by a system of differences rather than by direct signification of meanings or objects,  the signified concept is never present in and of itself, in a sufficient presence that would refer only to itself. Essentially and lawfully, every concept is inscribed in a chain or in a system within which it differences-see the text refers to the other, to concepts, by means of the systematic play of differences. (D, 11) (pg. 701-702). traces:  A word is its traced relationships.  absence:  Différance/“difference”: Difference/Deferral is space and time.—see the text  It signifies (1) to differ (to be other than) and (2) to defer (to post-pone, to put off). Différance accounts for the fact that a word means what it does in virtue of differing from other words; différance also separates a word from its meaning, assures its difference from that very meaning. Moreover, what a word means is never absolutely present at the time of its use, so its meaning is deferred, delayed, put off to an interpretation—to a different set of words that, of course, don’t present its meaning either. If you long to find what Plato calls “traveller’s rest” and “journey’s end” (see p. 159), you are bound to be disappointed. There is no point at which “the eye of the soul” can stop and behold truth, or beauty, or Being. Every sign is merely the sign of another sign; every sign is a detour on the way to presence. For the “unveiling of truth,” différance substitutes “incessant deciphering” (D, 18). (See the text pg. 703-704) As we move forward to examine the language games of philosophy, we shall see the meaning of consciousness, reality, knowledge, truth, certainty, and other key terms of our history of philosophy investigation reveal that “what a word means is never absolutely present at the time of its use.”  The trace, the difference shows deferral/difference and the meanings. Each use is part of a different language game with different contexts creating a deferral and difference. There is no absolute meaning there is difference. dissemination  margins Prepare fifteen six-word sentences to explain what Différance/“difference” identifies. Also, comment on the SWS posted by at least two students. Michel Foucault (1926–1984) meta-narratives historical a priori archaeological method Madness escaped from the arbitrary only in order to enter a kind of endless trial for which the asylum furnished simultaneously police, magistrates, and torturers; a trial whereby any transgression in life, by a virtue proper to life in the asylum, becomes a social crime, observed, condemned, and punished. . . . The asylum . . . is not a free realm of observation, diagnosis, and therapeutics; it is a juridical space where one is accused, judged, and condemned, and from which one is never released except by the version of this trial in psychological depth—that is, by remorse. . . . For a long time to come, and until our own day at least, [madness] is imprisoned in a moral world. (M&C, 269) (708) genealogy: “The task of genealogy “is to expose a body totally imprinted by history” (NGH, 83) (pg. 709) interpretation “…doesn’t just float free in the speculations of the intellectuals. It structures life” (pg. 709) technology of the body delinquent discipline normalization the examination  carceral society  Prepare fifteen six-word sentences to explain what Foucault has to say about madness. Also, comment on the SWS posted by at least two students. Rorty (1931-2007) No matter whether the tool is a hammer or a gun or a belief or a statement, tool-using is part of the interaction of the organism with its environment. To see the employment of words as the use of tools to deal with the environment, rather than as an attempt to represent the intrinsic nature of that environment, is to repudiate the question of whether human minds are in touch with reality— the question asked by the epistemological sceptic. No organism, human or non-human, is ever more or less in touch with reality than any other organism. The very idea of “being out of touch with reality” presupposes the un-Darwinian, Cartesian picture of a mind which somehow swings free of the causal forces exerted on the body. The Cartesian mind is an entity whose relations with the rest of the universe are representational rather than causal. So to rid our thinking of the vestiges of Cartesianism, to become fully Darwin-ian in our thinking, we need to stop thinking of words as representations and to start thinking of them as nodes in the causal network which binds the organism together with its environment. (PSH, xxiii) (pg. 714) — divinizing contingency “… our language, our conscience, our community—as a product of time and chance” (CIS, 22). It is this determination to see everything about us as subject to this contingency” (pg.723). mind as a mirror Final Vocabulary: Each of us speaks with what Rorty calls a “final vocabulary,” meaning those terms that are basic for us, foundational for the way we look at the world. But if we now understand the language we speak in terms of “time and chance,” it seems radically contingent that we should have just the final vocabulary that we have. (Pg. 714) ironist: An ironist understands three things regrading her final vocabulary, resulting language game, and her view of reality: (1) She has radical and continuing doubts about the final vocabulary she currently uses, because she has been impressed by other vocabularies, vocabularies taken as final by people or books she has encountered; (2) she realizes that argument phrased in her present vocabulary can neither underwrite nor dissolve these doubts; (3) insofar as she philosophizes about her situation, she does not think that her vocabulary is closer to reality than others, that it is in touch with a power not herself.  .  .  . I call people of this sort “ironists” because their realization that anything can be made to look good or bad by being redescribed, and their renunciation of the attempt to formulate criteria of choice between final vocabularies, puts them in the position which Sartre called “metastable”: never quite able to take themselves seriously because always aware that the terms in which they describe themselves are subject to change, always aware of the contingency and fragility of their final vocabularies and thus of their selves. (CIS, 73, 74) (pg. 714-715). liberal hope private/public morality solidarity Relativism  ethnocentrism  Prepare fifteen six-word sentences to explain what Rorty means by liberal ironist concerning consciousness, final vocabulary, language games, and reality. Also, comment on the SWS posted by at least two students.

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