Postmodern realism

Albert Borgmann ( Crossing the Postmodern Divide ) writes, somewhat surprisingly, of “postmodernism realism” as an alternative to modernism and hypermodernism.

It is only surprising, he argues, because we misconstrue the character of modernism’s toxic triple mix of Bacon, Descartes, and Locke, of domination, method, and individualism. Not postmodernism but modernism was the assault on reality, and the postmodern critique was an effort to recover reality that had been laid waste by modernism. “What has really fallen victim to the [postmodern] critique,” he points out, “is not reality but the aggressive and methological assault on it.” Modernism “either destroys or misses reality” so that “reality at length vanishes or becomes invisible” (p. 117).

Postmodernism is flawed insofar as it stops at attacking the arrogance of modernism and “accepts naively the legacy of that arrogance, namely, the disappearance of reality.” As much as modernism, it fails to attent to the “possibility of eloquent things.” Postmodernism is flawed when it remains modern. Having attacked and discredited various modern isms, postmodernists “have failed to see their own anthropocentrism.” Why, he concludes “reject a priori the very possibility that things may speak to us in their own right?”


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