The term 'postmodernism' is a somewhat elusive one for it does not constitute an ideology, such as Marxism or liberalism, nor, as Callum Brown argues, is it a 'state of government or economy?[or even] a coherent set of beliefs' . However, instead it has been suggested that postmodernism is in fact a theory enabling ideologies to exist in the, albeit questionably, postmodern period. This 'postmodern condition' is the embodiment of a rejection of empiricist values and philosophies (not methods however), where 'old fashioned certainty over knowledge and morality has been undermined' and instead replaced with a theoretical agenda based on opposition to authoritative voices. This essay will expand on these points describing what Post-Modernism refers too. At its core, postmodernism holds one major fundamental principle; the denial of 'the possibility of true knowledge?[and] in more extreme versions [the denial of] a reality independent of language' .
[...] The first suggests ‘discursivity of culture prescribes the choice of human actions' resulting in the fact that, as all cultures are inevitably composed of discourses, human action is thus limited and socially constructed, restricting what an individual can do to change history. Coupled with the textuality of all knowledge, causing continuous the intertexual lending of ideas, originality is deemed incapable of being attained. However, according to many theorists, in a Lancanian sense, ‘each individual has to negotiate through discourse within the context of their body and material environment'. [...]
[...] The Marxist critique however rejects the whole of the founding principles of postmodernism, by developing a tradition of linguistics to oppose the dominant Saussurian approach, a noteworthy example being Volosinov's Marxism and the Philosophy of Language (1929), which: ‘viewed language primarily as a form of social interaction, as dialogues that could not be separated from the temporal-spatial and socio- economic context in which individuals speak or write.' Yet, irrespective of these criticisms (which do raise valid points), it is unavoidable to say that postmodernism has not raised significant issues within not only the discipline of history, but in almost all aspects of society and culture itself. [...]
[...] What confuses many who try to learn postmodernist theory is that in fact the physical object (known as the referent) is not actually part of the sign system, but is known as to being exterior to it. Although Saussure initially argued that the signified had priority over the signifier, by the late 1970's (when poststructuralism had taken over from structuralism) this process was reversed, and thus signifiers over structures were prioritised, for example the word over a concept or language over a structure). [...]
[...] The process postmodernists use to derive meanings from texts is known as deconstruction, and implements several key ideas that were developed during the French cultural revolution in the 1960's and 70's. Contemporary postmodernists have managed to narrow down the key ideas into six main areas; sign, discourse, text, self, morality, and representation. The concept of sign and semiotic theory in postmodernism was dominated by Saussure, who objected to the traditional method of studying languages by looking at the evolution of words. [...]
[...] Origins of suck ideas date back to the 1940's with Gramsci arguing that it is imperative to ‘know thyself as a product of historical processes'. Thus historians require acknowledgement in their narrative of (mainly political) issue brought to the text, otherwise known as reflexivity, and evidently shows ideological, cultural, and sexual biases in texts, along with a banishment of neutrality. Somewhat controversially, postmodernism argues that morality is unable to, and therefore shouldn't be, founded upon empiricist methods. It is as much the public opinion now as it was the academic opinion during the earlier stages of the twentieth century that through history it is possible to understand ethical and moral issues. [...]
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