Philosophy has been touched by postmodernism. Philosophy, in the modern academy, is supposed to be the discipline of disciplines: it is philosophy which will be able to gather together, in one over-arching discourse, all the various micro-disciplinary problems and procedures dealt with in the differing and ostensibly unrelated fields of literature, medicine, law, politics and so on; and it is philosophy which will also set itself the task of explaining their necessary separations. Postmodernism has not ‘challenged’ philosophy; rather it has simply enabled an earthquake under its foundations; for postmodernism is most aptly situated precisely in the moment of the eradication of all foundational thinking. This, of course, makes it a fundamentally paradoxical exercise to ‘define’ postmodernism, for any definition would at once inherently seek the foundationalist status lexically integral to any description, while it would simultaneously discount in the semantic content of the definition the very possibility of such foundationalism. In what follows, therefore, I shall not so much ‘define’ postmodernism in philosophy as indicate what is at stake in the debates that have constituted the postmodern moment in our cultures. 1
The term ‘postmodern’ was probably first consistently used by Arnold Toynbee in 1939; and it was prefigured in his writings in 1934 (that is, at around the date of the first recorded instance of the term’s usage in Spanish, by Federico de Onis). 2 In A Study of History, Toynbee suggested that the ‘modern’ historical period had ended, at a date determined in his studies roughly between 1850 and 1918. Toynbee’s historiography was a product of the late nineteenth-century desire to found a synoptic and universal history; and this desire was most easily
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Twentieth-Century Continental Philosophy. Contributors: Richard Kearney - Editor. Publisher: Routledge. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1994. Page number: 474.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.