Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth-Century Philosophers

By Stuart Brown; Diané Collinson et al. | Go to book overview
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Bibliography
Frankel, Charles (1950) 'Positivism', in V.T.A. Ferm (ed.) A History of Philosophical Systems, Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, pp. 329-39.
Kolakowski, Leszek (1968) Positivist Philosophy from Hume to the Vienna Circle, trans. N. Guter-man, New York: Doubleday, and Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1972.
Kraft, Victor (1953) The Vienna Circle: The Origin of Neo-Positivism, trans. A. Pap, New York: Philosophical Library.

STUART BROWN

Post-Marxism

Post-Marxism can be defined in two main ways: first, as an attempt to reformulate Marxist thought in the light of recent theoretical and social developments that challenge many of the assumptions and categories of classical Marxism; secondly, as a rejection of Marxist doctrine in favour of one or other of these recent theoretical developments. One way of signalling the difference is Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe's distinction between being 'post-Marxist' or 'post-Marxist'. To be the former is, with Laclau and Mouffe, to be committed to finding space within Marxism for a whole new range of social protest movements-feminism, anti-institutional ecology, ethnic, national, and sexual minorities, for example-as well as for the techniques of poststructuralism and postmodernism. It is also to challenge the validity of many classical Marxist assumptions such as the central position of the working class in bringing about social change, and the notions of hegemony and historical necessity. The new Marxism aims at a pluralistic approach to politics.

Post-Marxism, on the other hand, implies a definite break with, and move beyond, the Marxist cause and its concerns. A case in point would be the many French intellectuals whose faith in Marxist theory was shaken by the actions of the French Communist Party during the 1968 Paris événements, when the Party was widely felt to have colluded with the state in defusing a revolutionary situation. Thinkers such as Jean-François Lyotard and Jean Baudrillard subsequently rejected Marxism, turning instead to postmodernism in its various guises. Post-Marxism is more of an attitude-of disillusionment in the main-to-wards Marxism than a spécific system of thought in its own right.


Bibliography
Laclau, Ernesto and Mouffe, Chantal (1985) Hegemony and Socialist Strategy: Towards a Radical Democratic Politics, London: Verso.
-and-(1987) 'Post-Marxism without apologies', New Left Review, 166.
Lyotard, Jean-François (1974) Economie libidinale, Paris: Minuit (English translation, Libidinal Economy, trans. Iain Hamilton Grant, London: Athlone Press, 1993).
Smart, Barry (1992) Modern Conditions, Postmodern Controversies, London: Routledge.

STUART SIM

Postmodernism

Postmodernism is a movement which began in the 1970s. Its chief exponents include Jean-François Lyotard, Jean Baudrillard, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari. It is found in philosophy, culture and the arts, and claims Nietzsche amongst its philosophical ancestors.

Whilst no clear definition of postmodernism can be given, it includes an examination of the social and cultural tendencies which have dominated advanced capitalist societies since the late 1950s and is characterized by dislocation and fragmentation; a concern with images, the superficial and the ephemeral; and a rejection of the traditional philosophical search for an underlying unity, reality, order and coherence to all phenomena. The movement is a successor to and a critique of modernism, a term which Lyotard (1979, 1984, p. xxiii) uses 'to designate any science that… make[s] an explicit appeal to some grand narrative'. Such narratives are alleged to be comprehensive accounts of a teleological process which will ultimately realize some hitherto idealized state of affairs. The two accounts for which Lyotard reserves his main attack are that of emancipation, which stems from the Enlightenment and the French Revolution, and that of speculation, which stems from the Hegelian tradition and its ideal of the complete synthesis of knowledge. All grand narratives and the consensual collusion or acquiescence upon which they were founded have collapsed, and the question of justification or 'legitimization' of any enterprise which was permitted by their assumption has once more become acute.

Lyotard maintains that due to the computer-ization of the past three decades, the nature of knowledge itself has changed. Any information which cannot be rendered into a form suitable for being stored in a databank is marginalized. Knowledge is legitimized not by an appeal to its truth, or its ability to represent accurately what is objectively the case. Instead, there is an appeal to

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