Wednesday, April 14, 2010


I've been thinking for a while about why postmodernism might be a tempting intellectual position. There are certain logically sound logical arguments that support particular assertions associated with postmodernism, as well as certain practical issues which might make it tempting. I will try to illustrate my position against postmodernism by giving the best arguments I can muster for it-- the intention is to show why we can get this far, but no further.

I won't be too surprised if someone reads this and says "but postmodernism doesn't try to go any further than that with the argument,"or further, "that's not what postmodernism is at all;" these arguments are based on my impression of postmodernist thought, not based on a formal education in the subject.

Since this thing would be tl/dr (or worse, tl/dw) if I did it as one post, I'll just post an outline for now; the points below will become links as I write individual posts. (I may also come back and add/delete/edit points, of course.)

Practical Reasons

-making room for others to doubt your beliefs
-the intellectual proliferation of hypotheticals
-Flexibility of language and definitions; anti-prescriptivism
-disagreements are often based on matters of language (differing definitions) rather than matters of fact
-such things as tables, chairs, etc don't exist (strictly speaking)
-Scientific theories are approximations

Logical Reasons

-loeb's theorem
-algorithmic complexity is relative
-We can always "interpret" talk in any logical system or system of axioms as just hypothetical first-order talk (by throwing out the naturalness constraint on interpretations)

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