Conversatio Divina

Postmodernism: Philosophical & Historical Roots 1

Dallas Willard

Postmodernism is a philosophical movement which generated a lot of interest in Christian circles in the past 30 years. As a professional philosopher, Dallas saw postmodernism emerge and in this one-day, four-part seminar for Biola University faculty Dallas explains what it is, where it came from and why it matters.

The bottom line is that postmodernism is a theory about knowledge and that matters because knowledge is very central to human life. Talking to a wide variety of academics, this seminar is intended to be useful to those who haven’t studied philosophy in detail, which is indeed most of us.

[Editor’s Note: We are testing a new transcription service with this audio. We apologize, in advance, for any errors in the transcript, especially in the less audible other speakers.]


Dallas [00:00:15] Notes. Let me walk through them, tell you what’s, what’s here. I thought I would just provide a skeleton for a bunch of remarks that could be made. And I realize that I’m coming to a group of people who have already got a lot of stuff on their minds, and that’s good. So what I want to do is just present the skeleton to you, then I will start to work on it. But with the understanding that you may have things you want to talk about that aren’t here. And as I get into it, I’m very hopeful that we can proceed more in the way of discussion and the questions and comments from you rather than me just talking. Um, so basically what we have here on page one is, um, why should anyone care about postmodernism and modernity? And page one and two, um, address that, actually one, two and three. And so we will begin by talking about that, um.

Dallas [00:01:31] Pages three and four are a statement about, uh, what makes it especially difficult for us to deal with the issues of modernism and postmodernism today, the generalized condition of knowledge in which knowledge seems incapable of taking account of itself. And that’s caused by the way the theories of knowledge have culturally developed. And basically, it comes from the fact that knowledge doesn’t seem to be a sense perceptible reality. And yet, the overriding imperative for epistemology in our time ties knowledge to sense perception and theory about it. In other words, we are still very much under the influence of modernism culturally, and that makes it difficult to talk about knowledge. Now, one of the reasons that people who like postmodernism celebrate it is because it loosens up some of those restrictions. Um.

Dallas [00:02:40] Then on Page five, I just have a statement of what modernism or modernity is from the viewpoint of the underlying philosophy or epistemology that, that formed the framework for this amazing human production that dominated the Western world for at least four centuries. Then a little bit about the background of its rejection on Page Six. Then bottom of Page Six, how did the modern interpretation of knowledge evolve? And so I start with some comments from Aristotle and Plato and others and move through the rise of nominalism at the bottom of seven. And the significance of it at the top of eight. And then the the real people generally, I think, understand this. But Hume is the one who nailed modernism to the wall. He ruined its prospects by his doctrine of identity. So you have to look at the at the late 18th and the 19th century as an attempt to come to grips with this in one way or another. And on Page Eight, I have a little discussion here of Hegel’s logic and Marx and the outcome at the end of the 19th century in terms of of Nietzsche’s views, Kierkegaard and Freud spanning eight and nine. And Nietzsche, Kierkegaard and Freud are the great 19th century figures that rejected modernism. Marx’s marginal, in some respects, he did. In some respects he didn’t. Then the final stage of the, laying the final foundation stone for the rejection of modernism and now as a cultural phenomenon, page nine the total linguisticization of human consciousness. And without this, there simply would not be what we today call postmodernism or even more narrowly post-structuralism. So it’s important to deal with that. And then right at the bottom of nine, I don’t know how much time we’ll have to go into these movements, and some of you may be more interested in one than another, but I want at least to tell you what they are, as these are the three main forms of, um, postmodernism. Though Foucault, if he were still able to say anything, would say he doesn’t belong in any of those and are more recent figures like Deleuze also is trying to be something different. Lyotard also. But these are the main recognizable forms of postmodernism today. Hermeneutics as it is called, critical theory and deconstruction. Then on page 10, you’ll see I turn to the issues forced upon the Christian intellectual by postmodernism, and, uh, at the bottom and going over to the next page, some avenues of response. I would like to spend at least the last hour or so looking at these. It may be we will get into them before then, but I would like to have time to do some work on that. And now you may have a favorite issue that you don’t see on the skeleton, and if you do, I hope you will just determine that you’re going to bring it up whenever you see it to be appropriate and we will go with it. Um, all right. Are there any initial comments or questions that you want to? I think actually, I might. Yes, Virginia.

Unidentified [00:07:08] A receipt. Appreciate. But I do think those of us.

Dallas [00:07:19] Mm-Hmm.

Dallas [00:07:23] Mm-Hmm.

Dallas [00:07:25] ,Well, I’ll be happy to provide you with extensive bibliography on any point you wish. My thinking is that for this meeting, we would do better to just come together and butt heads and just think about a few very simple issues. I did relent and included a bibliography on hermeneutics and one on deconstruction towards the end of the notes and most of the rest of the stuff, after page 11, I was referred to as we go along. There are some especially crucial passages from Kant and Hume and a few other things, and some are just exhibits of the condition today that I’ve been looking at.

Dallas [00:08:09] I want to emphasize that I am eminently interruptible as I go along here, it’s going to be. See, we have all this stuff on one side, a lot of it. You’re already familiar with yourself and then we have you and your professional and spiritual project on the other. And it is important that we get those two together and the way that we we have to, we have to count on you to pitch in and make your statements and raise your issues and questions. And I do encourage you if you think I’m not going at it right in any way to make sure to say that because I, I have been wrong on several occasions and I am so just come right in. OK. All right, well, thank you, Virginia, for that comment and anyone else, we’ll just go with it, if not.

Dallas [00:09:12] Now, I wrote out here what Ferguson told me to do. Just so you know what I thought I was doing. And so I don’t know that we need to read this, but I am very pleased that this is a part of Biola’s faculty integration seminar program. And I don’t know how you feel about integration or what that means to you. To me, it just means a believing person doing their work, and it means that you would follow out the motives to knowledge and action that are in one’s work as a believing person. And that for me, it isn’t a rather, I hope I don’t offend anyone with this, but for me, it isn’t, it isn’t an afterthought. Integration is not an afterthought. Integration is a part of what I do. I mean, it’s there. And but I do I do recognize that in many contexts of Christian education, it is an afterthought. And that in itself speaks volumes, which we you probably have already thought about.

Dallas [00:10:34] Now let’s go immediately to the question, why should anyone care about postmodernism and why does it matter to Christian intellectuals? This topic is so hard to discuss in universities generally. You could not, you cannot get any discussion on the part of university faculty at USC or any college or university I know of as to what knowledge is. And especially among the people who are supposed to be responsible for the operation. Now you can get, uh, you can find a few people here and there and the faculty who are prepared to discuss that a little bit. Um, but fundamentally, we don’t deal with that question very seriously, and our culture forces us not to think about it very seriously. It is one of those questions, which is truly radical. And there is a sense that if you got too concerned about this, you might really mess up the operation. And it might turn out that a lot of what we’re doing and I’m not I’m not talking about Biola, I’m talking about the general university, but a lot of what we’re doing might not be very closely related to knowledge. And frankly, many people on our faculties have not thought out what knowledge is. They have not thought it out for their own satisfaction and tend to regard it as an idle, vain philosophical kind of question. Um. But postmodernism is simply a reinterpretation of what knowledge is. That is what postmodernism is. It is a reinterpretation of what knowledge is of what counts as knowledge. And this is tied in with, as it would have to be, of course, it is tied in with a reinterpretation of the nature of the human self because after all, it is the human being one might think, who knows and knowing is a capacity of human beings.

Dallas [00:12:56] Now, in fact, that has under the tides of postmodernism in one form or another now come under very severe attack. And the idea being that so that knowledge is a social reality. And the picture of the knower as an individual who is able to on her own just her own internal abilities and external powers to know is at least not significant as knowledge is now important. And this book of Lyotard’s, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge, if we may have a chance to talk a little bit about its contents, but basically if you want to see the picture of knowledge that emerges not only from the French scene, but if you if you listen to philosophers in this country who are talking about knowledge, generally, you’ll find there is emerged something called contextualism and contextualism is a is is a view that you cannot define knowledge by talking about the internal state of knowers or just the states of knowers, you have to talk about a social context. Well, this gets up a lot of issues that we want to deal with later.

Dallas [00:14:28] But this issue, who should care about postmodernism and why does it matter in the Christian intellectuals? It goes very deep to the heart of what we do as educators and as what we do as Christians, because, as I say on page two, it matters because our business as Christian thinkers is the nature and destiny of the human spirit, mind, consciousness, self. Now I’ve stated that in a very, hopefully inclusive way. To me, a Christian mathematician is interested in mathematical knowledge, which is the manifestation of the human spirit and destiny. I mean, if we didn’t have mathematics, most of what we do today, we wouldn’t be doing. And so all of the areas of knowledge fall into that, and I’m not just thinking about, you know, how are we going to manage to get our sins forgiven and go to the right place when we die. So I use the phrase the nature and destiny of the human spirit, mind, consciousness, self to include human phenomena, generally, we are interested in that and when we speak of redemption, my own view is, we’re speaking of redeeming that, human life. And that involves things like discovering new theorems and mathematics, new ways of thinking about the shifts of the plates of the Earth. All of those things are part of that enterprise. So we are deeply involved in this question because it is a great shift of ideas that has occurred.

Dallas [00:16:11] And I need to add we are idea people. We know whether we are Christians or not. As intellectuals, we are idea people. Um, you know, I probably should add “should be.” But I mean, that’s the ideal for intellectuals is that they should be idea people. Ideas are our patterns of of interpretation or meaning, historically developing widely disseminated patterns of interpretation, which guide action and so on. And we work primarily with ideas as intellectuals. Theology is a matter of ideas also. And the Bible is an idea book. So now when we look at the shift from modernism to postmodernism, what is happening is we’re looking at a shift in ideas about knowledge. The way we think about knowledge, what constitutes it, its relationship to the knower and of course, its relationship to the larger context of God and human history. At the middle of two, the passing of modernity is the pervasive loss of confidence in a certain picture of knowledge. And in knowledge, thus pictured as the basis of human well-being and rightness. So, of course, that really means that we’re looking at a change in the passing of an idea of the university, for example, the university as a place which it has often held even apart from Christianity, a place where the received truth is received. Right? You go and you receive the received truth. And that picture of the received truth is one of the things that falls under the impact of postmodernism. And it may, it varies with individuals how far they take it, but your real, thoroughgoing postmodernist as an individual who is likely to say that the most abstract principles of physics and mathematics are not eternally fixed, shall we say that they have to…

Unidentified [00:18:57]

Dallas [00:18:59] That what?

Dallas [00:19:01] Oh yes. Well, you had to pick them, but a lot of them do say that. And in fact, uh, many of them insist upon it. Now, whether or not they’re right. You see, because what we have to we have to recognize here is that physicists may be very good at physics and not very good, uh, philosophy of physics. So we’re going to get into the thick of this in the moment because there’s an other another idea that’s even more basic than anything I’ve mentioned yet, and that is the idea of identity. For example, do Newton’s three laws have an identity that exists through time? And does relativity physics mean that somehow they stop being what they are? Uh, well, you get the idea, but it’s certainly true. And indeed, uh uh, many of the people in the science classes are well, they tend to get on with their work and not worry too much about the philosophy of it. And if they feel that there’s some idea that’s hindering their work, they don’t hesitate to dump it and get on with it. And often I’ve told people about postmodernism, and the main thing that postmodernism says to the to the world is get on with your business, whatever it is, because it it announces that there are not all of these essential internal boundaries about what can be right and what can’t be right. And we’ll get into some of the details in this in a moment, but it has a very liberating effect on on many people and on culture generally. Of course, that scares the bejeebers out of other people because they don’t want to be liberated in that way, and they especially don’t want others to be liberated in that way.

Dallas [00:21:01] But what I say here onto is that this is the passing of a certain picture. I draw a parallel to the passing of the medieval synthesis over into the rise of modern science. And it is it is a very similar phenomenon of something that’s happening in our time, part of the brave new world disorder, someone might say. Now, is this something that people just sort of woke up one day and had deep insight into? But one of the things I would want to be saying to you is that so often is the case with general philosophical ideas, they are accepted not because people see that they are right, but because they see the alternative is wrong. Postmodernist ideas are a lot like that. Because modernity in the 20th century is supposedly found incapable of providing a basis for life. This is perhaps culturally newer than it is philosophically, and those of you who know the history of ideas because you will understand that certainly the 19th century was full of misgivings about what was identified as reason and science. But, uh, it was thought not only to have failed to liberate. It promised liberation, liberation from superstition, outdated institutions, authorities that didn’t know what it was [they were] talking about, it promised that modernism did. Um. But it seems to have failed to liberate in the way it promised. And in fact, many of the people who most identify with postmodernism see it, see modernism as a basis of oppression of minorities and minority. Now it doesn’t mean so much those of less number as anyone who is oppressed. Um, so modernism, if this is true, not only failed to produce the needed goods to feed the world and so forth, but to be the basis, but turned out to be the basis of great destructiveness, for example, in ecological stuff and pollution. In your…

Dallas [00:23:41] Well, let me just go and read that over that last paragraph on two, then I’ll look at some of the attachments that I’ve tacked on to the back for a moment. I underline here and I make it as a profession, as a as a statement which you may want to debate with me. But I think that this is true. All of our professional fields today exist in a state of crisis concerning the knowledge bases of their practice. And this may not be true, in fact, I think it is true of mathematics. It expresses itself as a time of great excitement and among many people who are working in the foundations of mathematics. But crisis is, among other things, exciting. Um, I do know if you stopped to ask yourself, what is the knowledge basis of the practice of law? It’s a nice question. The case that just came down, um, about the, uh, young lady who was displeased at the rabbi’s invocation at a graduation and there was a great deal of fuss over and you’re probably familiar with it. The Supreme Court ruled five to four that even nonsectarian invocations and benedictions at public school graduations are unconstitutional. And Mr. Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion based the opinion on the idea that the use of prayer in that way involved psycho-coercion, psychological coercion. And Mr. Scalia and others on the minority side were just incensed at this. Where did we get this idea? That there is something called psychological coercion and that it is the basis of decisions on constitutional law. Well, how do you answer a question like that? Don’t try to talk to Scalia.

Unidentified [00:26:02]

Dallas [00:26:06] Well, but there is an issue of where.

Unidentified [00:26:19] Is right. Well.

Dallas [00:26:27] All right, now, this that beautifully that that puts exactly what I mean to Virginia, so that’s a good way of putting it. There is a you see, that’s the sense in which we have a crisis at the foundation of the practice of law. Now you have you have the same thing in the practice of medicine. If you go to the state of Oregon and listen to their wonderful proposals about how to decide what you use money to pay for. You spend huge amounts of money for people who are living the last two weeks of their life? Or do you just turn them loose and spend that money to help unborn babies come into the world in a healthy way, which is going to, number one, save tons of money later, mean much less pain and so forth. Now where does that wind up? That winds up somewhere bouncing between Portland and Washington, D.C., because the decisions of the state of Oregon cannot be made independently of decisions of the federal government. And what is the basis of that decision? And again, that’s where I say there is a crisis in the foundations of the profession of medicine. That’s just a very minor sort of illustration.

Unidentified [00:27:52] That there on.

Dallas [00:27:58] My own… No. My own view is, since I am a realist in the theory of knowledge, that the cracks were there all along. The crisis is precipitated because the crisis is a behavioral sort of thing. The crisis is precipitated when people discover the cracks and they don’t know how to put it together. All right. So now, for example, until technology developed to a certain point, there were no issues in this. That’s right. I mean, when I was a child, when a person got sick and everyone knew that it was about time for them to go anyway, they went to bed and they when they took them out of that bed, they took them to the graveyard. There was no trip to the hospital. Right. There was no point in any trip to the hospital because if they took him to the hospital, the hospital would look remarkably like their own house anyway. Right. So this is a part of the of the progression of knowledge that leads to the postmodernist position on these things is the discovery of the cracks.

Dallas [00:29:08] And um, I’ve included in your in the back of your notes a little thing here from the L.A. weekly that you may have seen sometime back on James Hillman. We got psychologists here, right? You know who Hillman is? Interesting, guy. Um, WWe’ve had 100 years of analysis,” these are his words, “and the world is getting worse.” Well, if you read Hillman’s books, um, you really see a very different a lot of changes between… When analysis began, it really wasn’t with the idea that it would cure the world of anything. Um, but changes in, um, clinical psychology, if you wish to refer to it as that, uh, have brought it about that, uh, we have now a massive profession of people devoted to helping the world supposed to be better through getting individuals better. The individuals don’t seem to be getting any better. And so now when you look at Hillman and you look at what he says, I think the thing that stands out, not only for him, I spent a lot of time with this because I have to I work with, uh… USC, interestingly enough, has three at least three different degree granting programs, which turn out clinical psychologists. None of which is the psychology department. And frankly, I mean, I don’t know of a field where you would see more of a witness to this sort of crisis than that particular field. It’s held together, I suppose, by the people who need help.

Unidentified [00:31:08]  It seems to me that some of the press was also eager to talk about kind. Seemed to me a lot of the questions posed by the technology. Technology. No one, really.

Dallas [00:31:46] All right. That’s right.

Unidentified [00:31:52] Some sort of.

Dallas [00:31:58] Mm hmm.

Unidentified [00:31:59] He was.

Dallas [00:32:01] Mm hmm.

Unidentified [00:32:21] Later this. Rewrite. Technology.

Dallas [00:32:39] Right.

Unidentified [00:32:40] Four years. What?

Dallas [00:32:49] Hmm. Yeah. Mm hmm.

Dallas [00:32:57] Well, and people have known for a long time that basic oppositions like wave and and particle interpretations of of light and energy can’t be made.

Unidentified [00:33:10]

Dallas [00:33:12] So that’s been around a long time. Right. But still, I mean, these kinds of things didn’t surface in the way they have now. And and now they really do have a serious effect on trying to understand what knowledge is.

Unidentified [00:33:29] How are you using the word?

Dallas [00:33:33] Well, basically, what I mean by it, I should have asked Virginia, because it’s her word, but what I mean by is you have a lack of connection. You have things that are running independently within one supposed discipline and both posing as knowledge. And yet the inability there’s no rational way of bringing them together to form one coherent whole, as that has been understood in the past. And we’ll, um, in the case of mathematics, for example, has to do with things like being able to recognize that theorems are true, which you cannot derive with a set of principles. You know, they’re true, but you can’t prove them. Um, and uh t.hat kind of intuition is what I think we wind up flying by and, for example, to go back to the Oregon case, you may have been watching the people there have simply made a list of priorities as to what is to be funded. At a certain point, you just cut it off because we don’t fund anything below that. Now, of course, they can argue for that. But finally, it comes down to a lack of shared principles with the people on the other side. And if you listen to the two arguments, you will hear those principles. They don’t share those principles and intuitions go with them.

Unidentified [00:35:05]

Dallas [00:35:09] Hmm. Right, right. Yeah.

Unidentified [00:35:14]

Dallas [00:35:17] Mm-Hmm. Is it the same world? Now, postmodernism, of course, has been very liberating to people by saying, you don’t need to raise that question. Just get on with your business. You don’t need to raise that question. So we’ll be coming to that. Just another illustration or two. Right in front of the Hillman case, I just pulled a page out of the Los Angeles Time magazine for last month, and this is a Professor Carolyn Heilbrun of Columbia. And she’s talking about her experience and as a faculty person at Columbia and as a feminist and over on the right hand side of that, that’s Page 14 and your notes there, I’ve got a little asterisk there. The life of the mind is a synonym, synonym for what is referred to as the universal treated, revered, accepted as though it had it had been engraved somewhere as eternal and unchanging truth. Now then, but it is, in fact, what the group in charge says it is. So one of the one of the movement’s now in response to this crisis in the knowledge foundations of the professions is to say that decisions that are made about the foundations of the profession are political.

Unidentified [00:36:52] That’s been going on for. Stuff.

Unidentified [00:36:59] Which has been going.

Unidentified [00:37:00]

Dallas [00:37:09] OK, now that’s what I was interested in, because it’s two different things to say, the politics has been going on all the time. What I’m talking about is the recognition of it and that has not been going on all the time. OK, now whether or not we stay with that, what I’m saying now is that the post-modernist recognizes this. Right?

Unidentified [00:37:36] To the theory of knowledge.

Unidentified [00:37:39] Well, that’s right. In other words, they come up with a different view of what knowledge is right. So now that comes back around to us because we are as intellectuals and as Christian intellectuals, we have a special job there, but just as intellectuals, we’re in the business of knowledge, aren’t we? So what we’re talking about here is what we’re in the business of, right? And what is being basically said is we’re in politics. We’re in politics. Now, and that’s one of the issues that we want to deal with now in these hours together in whatever orderly or chaotic manner it may be, because that is a very, very fundamental point. And the the basic question is what are the restraints on what can be called knowledge? And this means what are the ? This this this raises the question of what are the boundaries of professional respectability, if you wish. I put in here on Page 16 and 17, just I won’t spend too much time on it, but an illustration this is called Blond Ambitions: The Rise of Madonna Studies in the University. I don’t know if you have courses on Madonna down at Biola yet, but um. So now that the the this is actually written by a person now who is critical of the idea that the basic issues are political. And what he’s doing is he’s presenting this as a reductio ad absurdum. He’s saying, Look, what happens if you just say, “Well, you know, whatever goes goes, this goes. So it goes. So here’s what’s what’s going? Madonna studies.” And then he spends time talking about some of the what he regards as the ridiculous excesses that go on, and the principle is always the same. So it’s just like back to Kennedy and Scalia. The question is what matters and why when you’re trying to answer a question of knowledge or practice. Now the general point of his discussion of the Page 17 there, if you just look at the left hand part of that, you see the paragraph beginning, “this tendency to turn Madonna into a classroom aide becomes most obvious, when one examines the basic methods… See the question methods classroom aides. What are the methods? “by which her admirers interpret her songs and videos?” And what he’s going to spell out here is something that he regards as professionally, shall we say, not good. Why? Well, because basically of the idea that it’s you just sort of make it up as you go along, and if it strikes people as interesting and convincing, then what more is there to ask? All right. We’re going to dig deeper into this sort of thing in a moment. I’m just trying to illustrate here. “These astonishing note by note and frame by frame vivid sections of Madonna’s work would surely constitute some of the strangest intellectual curiosity…” Now see what’s he working? Strangest intellectual curiosity. He’s working with a model of knowledge. He’s working with certain standards of interpretation and reasoning, which he thinks are not observed in this case. Because what he sees is the reigning political values in the university simply being foisted off on this cultural artifact called McDonal… McDonald? Wow. What kind of Fraudian slip was that? Strangest intellectual curiosities to have emerged from the university revealed the weakness of postmodernism as a vehicle of cultural analysis to see we understand he’s he sees postmodernism as something that says essentially, well, you just get in your genre, whatever that is, and you go. And my phrase is, whatever goes goes. All right. Whatever goes goes, if you can make it in your professional circle, if you can gain a hearing, if you can gain favor, if you can gain support and promotion and so forth, that’s the only question there is to ask. Now I have to deal with PhD students now in other departments because American philosophy has by and large tried to disown postmodernism, though, in ways which we may not have time to go in to, it buys into it heart and soul, but it’s tried to disown it in its French incarnation, shall we say. And, um, but in other departments, I have to do it constantly with graduate students who are trying to get their PhDs, and they’re sitting in seminars where they’re essentially being told whether or not they get their PhD is going to be a political decision.

Unidentified [00:43:13]

Dallas [00:43:20] Yeah. OK, I won’t quarrel with that now, Virginia. All I’m saying is now that it’s being said, it didn’t used to be said. And it may be better that it be said. I’m not arguing that right now. All I’m saying is now they are having to sit there and be told that their political alignments will determine whether they get their PhD.

Unidentified [00:43:43] Students.

Dallas [00:43:47] Well, I would quarrel with that, and I will say this. Ah, when when they go to the dean of graduate studies, when they go to the dean of graduate studies and say this is another one of those crimes, I am being prevented from getting my degree because of the political alignments of the department. The dean of graduate studies does not say, Well, now you know, this has always been so. The dean of graduate studies says, Oh, heaven forbid, partly because he knows that the next move is a lawsuit. Right? So this brings out these conflicts that I’m most concerned to get on the table in our little first part of our time together. So that’s you see, we have a real tension here.

Unidentified [00:44:38]  Today that this is going on you. And thus, in view of what you know about this type of thing, a mere byproduct of that you. Even though this was going on, it’s not an expression of. Or it may have been people living up to what they confessed. So the business has changed

Dallas [00:45:31] and the public relations.

Unidentified [00:45:34] Business and so forth. Well, I didn.’t

Dallas [00:45:40] See what what I especially want to point out, JP, is that the public relations talk of the university still is contradictory to it, and the legal talk is against it, right? All right. So this is my way of saying I’m emphasizing the cracks at present. All right. So we have two sets of idealization going here. One of what you might say is still modern in its rhetoric. At least it’s modern. And the other one is saying, Listen, you dummies up there in the dean’s office. Wise up? Wise up to the nature of knowledge, right? So that’s our mind.

Unidentified [00:46:23]  I was wondering if was. Would you take that? Industrial psychology can.

Dallas [00:47:02] Mm hmm.

Unidentified [00:47:03] There is there.

Dallas [00:47:10] Yeah, that’s Habermas’s view.

Unidentified [00:47:12] Right? Psychologist. Certainly, there’s always a political.

Dallas [00:47:21] Uh huh..

Unidentified [00:47:24] Get your balance there.

Unidentified [00:47:29] Well, Habermas would agree with that, but what he would say is it is in principle possible to remove that. Habermas is actually Marxist in his background. And he believes that power is tied to economic realities so that if you could get those economic realities adjusted rightly, then perfectly clear communication would ensue and then everything would go on right.

Unidentified [00:47:57] You started. Unionization. I mean,

Dallas [00:48:21] You see if if indeed, the political is the ultimate appeal there is no recourse in that situation.

Unidentified [00:48:32] All that work. Political. Interactive. The genesis of the. I would never admit.

Dallas [00:49:29] The real issue here is whether there’s any objectivity other than the political. That’s the real issue and we are going to be working into that some. But you see if if you take a, what tends to happen in postmodernism and it need not happen, in my opinion, but it tends to happen is that all of reality is treated as a construction. And then the next stage is to say that construction is the result of a political process. And then finally, you say there is nothing else to appeal to. And this is where we really begin to get into the guts of the theory of mind that is shared by postmodernism and modernism, unfortunately, and this is why I say I don’t buy either one of them.

Unidentified [00:50:20]

Dallas [00:50:22] I think that’s right, Virginia.

Unidentified [00:50:23] I know.

Dallas [00:50:27] Mm hmm.

Dallas [00:50:37] Now I agree with that. That’s what I was just saying. You don’t have to. But that tends to be the way it goes. Among the, for example, if we take the clear cases of Derrida on the rest of them, clearly there is in fact, a political historical process which results in a construction of reality of the present, and you can never step outside of that. And appeal to something else as a basis for judging whether or not the construction is right or wrong, whether the knowledge is really knowledge or not. And I agree with and I want to emphasize that. It does not have to happen. But the steps which one must make in order to keep it from happening constitute an exceedingly delicate dance, and not many people managed to avoid it. And in fact, many times you hear people taking immediate refuge in it as a kind of way of defending their position. They take immediate refuge in it, “Well, all reality is construction, and my construction of reality is just as good as anybody else’s. And there’s nothing that you can appeal to outside of that anyway.”

Unidentified [00:51:47] It was would be characterized.

Dallas [00:51:50]  All right. Well, many in many contexts in the university and in conferences and things like that, you hear people frankly taking that kind of liberty with postmodernist theory, but they don’t understand it. Not many people have had time with Stanley Fish or Derrida or the rest of them. Most of the people talking about deconstruction, for example, have never read any of the serious stuff. What they have heard is something that fit it into something they wanted and that liberated them, set them free. And I do think that the at the popular level, the one thing you hear, whether it’s at a seminary or elsewhere from postmodernism, is get on with your business, do your work, follow your professional imperatives. And that is tremendously liberating in a setting that has been dominated by empiricism and positivism to the point of paralysis. All right. And then there was a little false hope generated there by something called linguistic analysis John Austin and Wittgenstein. But it quickly went down down the tubes. Searle also. So there’s a big battle between Searle and Derrida over fundamental principles. But the truth of the matter is when Searle walks into a room where they’re doing literary theory, he doesn’t have anything to say except grind some philosophical axes. When Derrida walks in, he’s got a lot of interesting things to say. People can get on with their work. Right. And we want to talk about that in some more detail later.

Unidentified [00:53:29]

Dallas [00:53:30] Mm-Hmm.

Unidentified [00:53:30]

Dallas [00:53:38] Talk about that. What is that, as you see it, as you experience, it.

Unidentified [00:53:43] May set you free. It’s also tremendously enslaving and there’s something about where there is a reality and there’s such a thing. Because the world is the way it is. Yeah. And if you don’t have the. So here you have carried. Look, it’s not much of what you describe what it’s real and you could be considered. It’s like what? They got a bunch of.

Dallas [00:54:21] Idiots.

Unidentified [00:54:21]

Dallas [00:54:24] But Donahue was.

Unidentified [00:54:26]  and the audience said to this person because he was the only one who. The audience said, you know what, you’re up there, that guy who claim with the truth of the matter.

Dallas [00:54:38] Well, we need to discuss that as we go along, JP. And that is certainly true because you see the many people experience this as the modern outlook because as I will go here in a moment, what the modernists says above all is there is a way things are. And unless your views match up with that, you’re wrong. And people don’t like to be told they’re wrong or to have it thought that they’re wrong. And so we want to get into that some later. You want to run to the rooms here and take a little break. Let’s let’s take just a few minutes. Yeah, right. Coffee. OK. And by the way, feel free to get up and walk around.

Footnotes