Guest / Limited Access /

Postmodernism seems to mean anything, everything, and nothing. It's today's academic Rorschach blot on which nervous modernists and others project all their fantasies, both benign and terrifying. Whatever they're most afraid of, that's what postmodernism is. On the other hand, whatever they most secretly desire, postmodernism promises. So postmodernism is not one thing. Postmodernism originally referred to specific movements in art and architecture, which reacted to a specific movement called modernism, which happened quite a while ago. Postmodernism itself is no longer as central an issue in art and architecture, and the word has been applied in a number of new ways.

For some, postmodernism refers to a renewed attention to "the other," "the marginalized." Many streams of postmodern thought are animated by the desire to do justice to the claims of those whom the dominant culture has excluded politically, economically, and (probably not least of all from the postmodern perspective) rhetorically. That is, they've simply been omitted from the discourse within Western intellectual life. So women, non-northern Europeans, gays, lesbians, and the poor all loom large in the postmodernist consciousness as hitherto unrecognized groups who deserve the same kind of historical and philosophical attention as their polar opposites, which would be wealthy, white, heterosexual men.

Second, this attention to the marginalized has led many postmodernists into a profound skepticism toward modernity's assumptions about knowledge, truth, and reason. These postmoderns question the extent to which modernity's attempts to make truth claims is valid. They've discovered that at the base of almost every truth claim is a story, a story that privileges ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Tags:
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
TrendingPope Francis Learns What Rick Warren, Russell Moore, N. T. Wright Think about Marriage
Pope Francis Learns What Rick Warren, Russell Moore, N. T. Wright Think about Marriage
(UPDATED) Warren turns Vatican conference into 'revivalist meeting,' while Moore explains why marriage crosses theological boundaries.
Editor's PickA Decision in Ferguson: How Should Evangelicals Respond?
A Decision in Ferguson: How Should Evangelicals Respond?
The grand jury has made a decision in Ferguson, now we have to make ours. How will we respond?
Comments
Christianity Today
What Exactly Is Postmodernism?
hide thisNovember 13 November 13

In the Magazine

November 13, 2000

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.