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Todd Adams
 PSC 314
Spring 2007
         What is Postmodernism?
    The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge

   Jean-Francois Lyotard defines postmodernism
    as: “incredulity towards metanarratives”

   In layman‟s terms: “Disbelief in totalizing
    stories about history and the goals of the
    human race that ground and legitimize
    knowledge and cultural practices”
    Monsieur Lyotard, Quelle est la différence?
                        (What‟s the Difference?)
   Modernity is defined as the
    age of metanarrative
       two metanarratives that
        Lyotard sees as having been
        most important in the past.
            history as progressing towards
             social enlightenment and
            knowledge as progressing
             towards totalization.
   Postmodernity defined as
    the age in which
    metanarratives have become
       an age of fragmentation and
       Key Features of Modernism and Postmodernism
             Modernism                                   Postmodernism
   Economic Production                          Growth of the Service Sector
                                                      Decline in manufacturing
      Industrial and capitalist society
                                                      Increase in part-time flexible and home
      Social class as the main form of                working
         social division                              Rise in unemployment
   Urbanization                                 Spread of Globalization
      Growth of cities
                                                      Business and Culture cross national
   Bureaucratic State                                     „McDonaldisation‟

      Powerful central government and                     „Exxon-Mobilization‟

         administration                          Fragmentation
   Knowledge                                         Increasing diversity of culture in a "Pick &
                                                       Mix" society
      Derived from scientific and rational
                                                 Massive loss of faith in Science
         thinking                                     people no longer believe in „The Myth of
      Not religious faith, magic, or                  Truth‟ (Lyotard)
         superstition                            The End of Metanarratives
   Belief in Progress                                no „big story‟ can explain everything.
                                                           Marxism
      Based on science and technology
                                                           Functionalism

                                                 Abandonment of the Optimism of the Enlightenment
                                                      There is no objective progress
                                                      a 'playful celebration of chaos'
         How does Postmodernism Work?
   Language Games
        simple forms of language and the actions into which it is woven and unified by family
        Three Rules to the Language Games
              the rules of language games do not carry within themselves their own legitimation, but are
               subject to a "contract between players”
              if there are no rules there is no game and even a small change in the rules changes the game
              very utterance should be thought of as a "move" in a game
        moves in one language game cannot be translated into moves in another language game
   Performativity or „Technological‟ Criterion
        Most efficient input/output ratio
        Inconsistent with socio-economics
              Demands less work (lower production costs)
              Demands more work (lessen the social burden of the idle population)
   Mercantilization of Knowledge
        Knowledge is a saleable commodity
              Produced in order to be sold
              Consumed in order to fuel new production
        Impact on Education
              Computerization and the legitimation of knowledge by the performativity criterion is doing
               away with the idea that the absorption of knowledge is inseparable from the training of minds
              Education will no longer be given "en bloc" to people in their youth as a preparation for life
              It will be an ongoing process of learning updated technical information that will be essential for
               their functioning in their respective professions
        Wars in the future will be fought for control of the flow of knowledge
       Comparing Modernism to Postmodernism
           Legal Theory- Rule of Law
             Modernism                           Postmodernism
   Having society governed by           Society is never governed
    law is better than having it          by law, because people have
    governed by men because               to interpret laws and enforce
    law is created and modified           them
    by the will of the majority          Since people can interpret
   It is also stable, fair and not       laws any way they want,
    capricious compared to                these people, not the laws,
    human rulers                          are the real rulers
                                         Law is no more stable than
                                          its latest interpretation or
                                         "Fairness" is a rhetorical
                                          tool used by majority
                                          culture to describe their
                                          view of what should happen
    Comparing Modernism to Postmodernism
      Legal Theory- The Meaning of Laws
           Modernism                         Postmodernism
   Laws can yield a stable and       Careful study demonstrates
    generally agreed upon              that those in power (judges
    meaning when interpreted           and governments) can
    using grammatical historical       always find a law that backs
    hermeneutics and previous          their interests, and other
    case law                           laws give them excuse for
                                       their criminality
                                      The poor and minorities are
                                       excluded from interpreting
                                       law their way
      Comparing Modernism to Postmodernism
        Legal Theory- The Law and Society
              Modernism                             Postmodernism
   Everyone is equal under the law        Laws are written by the powerful
                                            majority society to protect their
   Judges should be impartial,             interests
    administering law to the rich and      To describe as "criminal" any
    the poor according to what the          action that threatens their property
    law says, not according to the          or persons, especially when
    judges feelings                         perpetrated by the poor
                                           The poor and minorities will
                                            always be arrested more,
                                            convicted more and imprisoned
                                            more, while crimes of the rich will
                                            go unpunished much of the time
                                           Judges should realize this and
                                            seek to even the score by ruling
                                            for the poor and against the rich

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