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Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Fo


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Objectivist philosophy professor Stephen Hicks of Rockford College, Rockford, Illinois has a second edition of this book out.

He has a page on his personal website describing the content, and a downloadable pdf file of the first edition. I am reading the pdf now. The gist of this intellectual history was partly covered in Peikoff's The Ominous Parallels, but this book has that history as its primary focus and is much more thorough.

One of the points addressed early on is "wasn't Kant an advocate of reason". By the end of the first three chapters there is what appears to be a comprehensive 'intellectual genealogy' (but not a diagram) of which thinker followed and influenced whom from Kant to the present. From the fourth chapter on Hicks takes on the interesting question of why is there a correlation between disavowing reason and political collectivism, as after all if there were really no method and no limit for thinking then post-moderns ought to found leaping on faith to a true diversity of opinions rather than being consistent collectivists.

There is a diagram on p. 173 on the Evolution of Socialist Strategies, just before the sixth chapter which is all about the postmodern strategy.

Hicks states and defends two hypotheses about postmodernism:

"Postmodernism is the first ruthlessly consistent statement of the consequences of rejecting reason, those consequences being necessary given the history of epistemology since Kant." (p. 81)

"Postmodernism is the academic far Left's epistemological strategy for responding to the crisis caused by the failures of socialism in theory and in practice." (p. 89)

Here is a 14 page review of the first edition Stephen R. C. Hicks’s Explaining Postmodernism:

Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault: A Discussion (by Steven M. Sanders, Bridgewater State College).

(according to the blurb on Amazon.com) "This expanded edition includes two additional essays by Stephen Hicks, "Free Speech and Postmodernism" and "From Modern to Postmodern Art: Why Art Became Ugly".

I recommend reading this for understanding the culture and politics of the present day. I'm learning from it.

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It sounds interesting to read. How much of a background in these men (Rousseau, Foucoult, etc) would someone need to have a decent grip on the material? Wikipedia-ish or in-depth study?

If you had heard of these guys but can't keep your scorecard straight, this will be still be understandable. There is brief recapitulation of where everybody fits into the history by discussing the problem each perceived and their answer to it. This is not a textbook.

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I'm reading this now, in the free first-edition PDF. I'm not finished yet, but after four chapters I highly recommend it. It is definitely easier to understand if you have a passing knowledge of the history of philosophy particularly since the Enlightenment, but I think many people on this board fit that bill.

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  • 1 month later...

I'm reading this now, in the free first-edition PDF. I'm not finished yet, but after four chapters I highly recommend it. It is definitely easier to understand if you have a passing knowledge of the history of philosophy particularly since the Enlightenment, but I think many people on this board fit that bill.

I highly recommend this to anyone who even has a passing interest in what postmodernism is all about. To further qualify "passing knowledge" here, I'd say at least having an idea of what sort things Kant, Hegel, or Marx discussed. The relevant points to the book are explained. It was an interesting read.

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