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Postmodernism: a Very Short Introduction – Book Review

What is postmodernism exactly? It’s something I have wondered for some time now and I’ve finally made some progress into defining what it is. It is one of those terms that seem to encompass many different things. It has many critics like Jordan Peterson for example but also people who propose it as the next big theory. Because it is such a burdened term, I wanted to get to the heart of what postmodernism now really is.

            This book gives, as the title suggests, a small introduction. The value of this book is not so much in its content (it explains the basic postmodernist theses and gives commentary to them), it is valuable because of its bibliography. It gives a starting point for further deepening my understanding of the movement.

            Since I want to create a video series on what postmodernism is and who the main philosophers are and what the main ideas are, I thought it too be good to start with this book. And for anyone who also wants to know what postmodernism is, I would highly recommend this book. It points out the main ideas of the movement and the prominent philosophers who created those ideas. Derrida, Lyotard and Foucault all get a chapter where he outlines the ideas that are valuable to postmodern thought. Now this means that you won’t get an overview of all the ideas and works of those three philosophers, only the ideas that are relevant to postmodernism. If you want an introduction to their ideas, you should read an introduction which analyses their works as a whole. Don’t expect to read this book and know everything of Foucault, you’ll be disappointed. The book also doesn’t claim to do this.

            Now I am not a fan of postmodern theory. I’ve read a bit about it and have to say it is one of those movements which had some valid points, but it’s time to leave it behind and find a better theory. It is widely relativistic and hugely skeptical. Two things I can understand, but I find that to be the easy way out. Just saying I don’t know to things is not the way to do philosophy in my opinion.

            But in order to validly refute the postmodern theories, you have to know what they are, and you have to know them well. So, this is the first step of a quest to being able to refute postmodern theories. The writer is also not a postmodernist but does give a faithful account of the movement. Praising it where it is due and critiquing it where it is necessary. This book gave me many insights in the theory and is a perfect starting point in the complex theory that is postmodernism.

By elenchusphilosophy

I'm a Philosophy student in Belgium, trying to talk and write about ideas of all kinds of sorts.

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