Wittgenstein: Philosophy, Postmodernism, Pedagogy

By Michael Peters; James Marshall | Go to book overview

games within the same culture to an algorithmic sameness and his neopositivistic interpretation of Wittgenstein drives him to elide and gloss differences between cultures. This means that Rorty, having taken the historicist and given up on universal narratives where we identify ourselves with humanity, cannot recognize or appreciate the multiple and conflicting voices that constitute the democratic interpretive horizon or present historical context within which we have no choice but to "work through the status of the we and the question of the subject" ( Lyotard, 1989b, p. 317). 22


NOTES
1.
A version of this paper was presented to the conference, "The Democratic State: Individuals and Community," Political Studies Department, University of Auckland, July 8-10, 1996.
2.
We outline the themes of individualism and community in relation to questions of education and social policy in Aotearoa/ New Zealand in Individualism and Community: Education and Social Policy in the Postmodern Condition ( Peters & Marshall, 1996). We critique both neoliberalism individualism and romantic, utopian forms of communitarianism from a poststructuralist perspective.
3.
In this respect it is interesting to consider the claims of Joseph Margolis ( 1995), who, in taking a biopsy of recent analytic philosophy, concludes that it is a muddle. Drawing upon the work of recent heirs of the analytic movement -- Quine, Davidson, Kim, Rorty, and Churchland -- he concludes that the movement can be reduced to three contemporary variants, which he calls naturalism, postmodernism, and physicalism. These variants comprise "the most salient strategies of current analytic philosophy" and together constitute "an inexplicit generic philosophical policy at the heart of the 'analytic' orientation" (p. 162). Such an enterprise, he suggests, is careless about its largest premises; it speaks only to its own cohort and ignores for the most part any sustained reference to philosophers who challenge its fundamental premises. What is philosophically interesting to me about Margolis's claim is that Rorty, who purports to walk in Wittgenstein's shoes, is classified as a postmodernist and yet also is seen as an integral part of the analytic project, demonstrating its inherent weakness. Rorty is a philosopher who champions the "most extreme version of recent analytic 'naturalism,'" which leads to the ultimate repudiation of philosophy. Margolis, in a roundabout way, denies (correctly in my opinion) that Rorty is Wittgensteinian.
4.
He writes:

I have sometimes used "postmodern" myself, in the rather narrow sense defined by Lyotard as "distrust of metanarratives." But I wish that I had not. The term has been so over-used that it is causing more trouble than it is worth. I have given up on the attempt to find something common to Michael Graves' buildings, Pynchon's and Rushdie's novels, Ashberry's poems, various sorts of popular music, and the writings of Heidegger and Derrida. I have become more hesitant about attempts to periodise culture . . . it seems safer and more useful to periodise and dramatise each discipline or genre separately, rather than trying to think of them all as swept up together in massive sea changes. ( Rorty, 1991b, p. 1)

-148-

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