• Given the correctness of Kant‟s analysis
of perception and the failure of his
Transcendental Deduction, we must
concede that the Protagorians could
have been right all those thousands of
years ago. It‟s possible that each
human being lives in his/her own world,
a world of his/her own making.
• “[T]he German Romantic Philosophers
[Fichte, Goethe, Nietzsche, et al.] who .
. . followed Kant replaced his notion of
„constitution‟ with the more exciting
notion of „creation.‟ We create our
realities, they announced. We are all
artists, building our worlds. Notice the
words „realities‟ and „worlds;‟ there is
no longer confidence, much less a
guarantee, that there is only one reality
or one world.”
Robert C. Solomon, Introducing Philosophy, p. 218
• The notion that humans create, rather
than discover, reality is the key tenet of
what has come to be called Post-
• Stanley J. Grenz has pointed out that,
although Post-Modernism has its roots
in Nineteenth Century German
Romanticism, it does not take off until
the last quarter of the Twentieth
• Texts do not contain an inherent
structure that is the same for all
cultures and by which human
experience is interpreted by all people.
• Rather, each reader of a text imputes
his/her own meaning to it.
• Alternatively, the meaning arises from
the interaction between reader and
• There is, potentially, therefore, an
infinite set of “valid” interpretations of a
• Post-Modern philosophers apply the
deconstructionist claims about texts to
reality as a whole.
– “Just as the meaning of a text depends
upon the reader, so, also, reality can be
„read‟ differently depending on the
perspectives of the knowing selves that
encounter it. This means that there is
no one meaning of the world, no
transcendent center to reality as a
Stanley J. Grenz, “Star Trek and the Next
– The Post-Modernist view follows
quite naturally when you accept
Kant‟s analysis of perception but
reject his Transcendental Deduction.
– If the world in itself (the noumenal
world) is unknowable and individual
human minds do not structure the
world of perception (the phenomenal
world) in the same way, then the
Post-Modernists are right.
– Postmodernist Moral Relativism
• “One widely popular version of relativism
is [the postmodernist] notion that truth is
what my peers will let me get away with
saying . . . . Although this view is very
much au courant and with-it, in the
contemporary intellectual world, it has
consequences that are peculiar, not to
say preposterous. For example, most of
us think that the Chinese authorities did
something monstrous in murdering
• “those hundreds of young people in
Tiananmen Square, and then
compounded their wickedness by
denying that they had done it. On [the
postmodernist] view, however, this is an
uncharitable misunderstanding. What
the authorities were really doing, in
denying that they had murdered those
students, was something wholly
praiseworthy: They were trying to bring
it about that the alleged massacre never
• “For they were trying to see to it that
their peers would let them get away with
saying that the massacre never
happened; that is, they were trying to
make it true that it never happened; and
who can fault them for that? The same
goes for those contemporary neo-Nazis
who claim that there was no holocaust;
from a [postmodernist] view, they are
only trying to see to it that such a terrible
thing never happened; and what could
be more commendable than that . . . ?
• “At a more personal level, if you have
done something wrong, it is not too late:
Lie about it, thus bringing it about that
your peers will let you get away with
saying that you didn't do it, then it will be
true both that you didn't do it, and, as an
added bonus, that you didn't even lie
Alvin Plantinga, “The Twin Pillars of
» In fairness to postmodernists,
political oppression and lying
are not usually liable to “keep
the conversation going.”
» Nevertheless, the most
postmodernists can offer are
pragmatic, not principled,
objections to these practices.
» Under certain conditions, e.g.
maintaining world peace, it
might be best to tolerate these
• The Radical Post-Modernism of Michel
– All attempts to put forth an
interpretation of reality, by whatever
means, is a power grab.
– Merely naming something is an act of
power and, therefore, does violence
to the named.
– All institutions do violence by
attempting to impose their
understandings on the flux of
– This sort of Foucaultian Post-
Modernism is the basis for much of
the radical intellectual left‟s criticisms
of the United States.
• By means of the global economy,
the United States imposes its view
of reality on the world.
• Terrorism against the United States
is, therefore, “justified” because it‟s
merely the victims‟ striking back.
• Any response to terrorism by the United
States, e.g. the attacks on the Taliban and
Iraq, is merely another act of American
tyranny over the rest of the world.
• The only “legitimate” response is for the
USA to admit its sins against the world and
dismantle the global economy.
• Most of those who opposed the war against
Iraq and the USA‟ continued presence there
probably find the radical left‟s criticism of
the United States absurd, though this is the
view of the organizers of, but not
necessarily of all the participants in, the
recent “anti-war” protests around the world.
• Final thoughts
– If one accepts Kant‟s view of
perception, but rejects his
Transcendental Deduction, some
form of Post-Modernism, however
unedifying it might be, is unavoidable.
– The only way to avoid Post-
Modernism is to reject Kant‟s view of
– But then, how does one avoid what‟s
just as bad as Post-Modernism –
Hume‟s radical skepticism?
– To avoid both Hume‟s radical
skepticism and its Post-Modern
alternative, one must go back to the
very beginning of modern empiricism
and the fundamental mistakes its
founder, John Locke, made.
– Over 400 years before Locke‟s Essay
Concerning Human Understanding, St.
Thomas Aquinas, in the first part of his
Summa Theologica (1265), anticipated
the mistakes Locke would make and
provided a better, “common sense”
understanding of human knowledge.