Why Is Postmodernism So Scary?

It’s not!

Stanley Fish nails it again.

  • Tom Hein

    Did you read the comments to the article? What a hoot! And, most of them are better written than Fish’s piece. He used hundreds of words to say what could have been said in a couple of paragraphs.

  • http://pantheon.yale.edu/~kd47 Keith

    Not scary. Just silly.

  • michaeloneillburns

    and more importantly…

    why do christians find the word ‘postmodernism’ so hip and fascinating when almost everyone in the actual academic world has stopped using that word years ago?

  • NRWeiss

    Christians tend to buy stuff after the expiration date.

    I bet they even eat rotten vegetables.

  • http://www.holyskinandbone.blogspot.com Kevin

    Tony,

    I luv ya man, but please, honestly, agree with me that there is not a coherent thought expressed in the gobbelygook of these two paragraphs from Fish’s article:

    Instead (and this is the killer), both the “I” or the knower, and the world that is to be known, are themselves not themselves, but the unstable products of mediation, of the very discursive, linguistic forms that in the rationalist tradition are regarded as merely secondary and instrumental. The “I” or subject, rather than being the free-standing originator and master of its own thoughts and perceptions, is a space traversed and constituted — given a transitory, ever-shifting shape — by ideas, vocabularies, schemes, models, distinctions that precede it, fill it and give it (textual) being.

    The Cartesian trick of starting from the beginning and thinking things down to the ground can’t be managed because the engine of thought, consciousness itself, is inscribed (written) by discursive forms which “it” (in quotation marks because consciousness absent inscription is empty and therefore non-existent) did not originate and cannot step to the side of no matter how minimalist it goes. In short (and this is the kind of formulation that drives the enemies of French theory crazy), what we think with thinks us.

    That’s quite literally nonsense, isn’t it?

  • Tony Arens

    Thanks Kevin -
    Nonsense doesn’t even describe it! Reminds me of what Paul said:

    1 Corinthians 1:20
    Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?

    However, I ain’t real smart. I’m usually told that “I’m over my head” when I get involved in the conversation…so I guess I’m left clinging to Paul and his words to his friends in Corinth:

    21For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.

  • http://www.thecruciformreader.blogspot.com Headerkel

    Thanks for sharing this, Tony. I think Fish does an excellent job of introducing postmodernism or “French theory” and its abuse in America, but I agree with one of the commentators that Fish’s argument is essentially along the same lines as “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people.” For me, postmodernism is scary for the same reason that guns are scary. They both lend themselves to mishandling by irresponsible users. French theory makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of texts, but to say that it is politically neutral is a bit naive. Political neutrality is impossible.


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