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Postmdernism Theory
Abdulazim Ali N.Elaati
25-5-2016
1 What is the Postmodernism?
No doubt, before a concept of the Postmodernism there was another so-called the Modernism.
It came into existence to the modern period combined with industrialisation, market-oriented capitalist
economies, new social classes, democracy, and Enlightenment valuest- ”reason and progress”. This contro-
versial philosophy, the philosophy of the Enlightenment, it is possible that ”the establishment of objective
facts and universal values.”(Heywood, 2012)
One of the most ambiguous terminology and exciting the period of Postmodernism is the term
”Postmodernism” itself, critics and scholars disagree about it, of postmodernism; Due to the multiplicity
of its concepts and its implications from critic to another. There are a lot of meanings that made the
concept of Postmodernism contradictory with each other and different and overlapping knew Dictionary.com
2016 the term is: ”a number of trends or movements in the arts and literature developing in the 1970s
in reaction to or rejection of the dogma, principles, or practices of established Modernism, especially a
movement in architecture and the decorative arts running counter to the practice and influence of the
International Style and encouraging the use of elements from historical vernacular styles and often playful
illusion, decoration, and complexity.”(Dic, 2016) , and in Merriam-Webster is: ”of, relating to, or being any
of various movements in reaction to Modernism that are typically characterized by a return to traditional
materials and forms (as in architecture) or by ironic self-reference and absurdity (as in literature).”(web,
2016).
Postmodernism has appeared in a complex political circumstances, after the end of World War II,
especially in the context of the Cold War and the spread of nuclear weapons, and the declaration of the
birth of human rights, and the emergence of theater of the absurd), and the emergence of philosophies
irrationality such as surrealism, existentialism, and, absurdism, and nihilism, moreover, the deconstruction
was expressing president to move from the stage of Modernism to Postmodernism.
Hence, the philosophy of Postmodernism has adopted the questioning, undermining and nihilism, also
relied on intertextuality, disorder and non-compatibility, as well as, revisit a lot of the central axioms
and arguments started dating by Western thought, past and present. Consequently, it is destabilizing
postmodern - by David Carter ”: all the traditional notions of language and identity, as we hear a lot of
foreign students who are studying English literature are accused of anything that they do not understand is
expressed as postmodern. Often literary texts reveal what postmodern absence of narrow-mindedness, and
focused its analysis on it. The care of all the criticism of texts and lack of clarity of identity, and what is
known as the Intertextuality is reformulating early work or correlation between literary texts.”(Carter, 2012)
The Postmodernism meant theories, currents of philosophical, intellectual, literary, monetary and
technical schools that have appeared after postmodern, structuralism, semiotics and linguistics. The
Postmodernism is: to undermine Western metaphysics, and the destruction of the central arguments that
dominated ancient and modern Western thought, such as language, identity, origin, voice, and mind, so has
used the mechanisms of dispersal, uncertainty, disagreement and westernisation. Postmodernism appeared
combined with the philosophy of anarchy, nihilism, disassembly, meaninglessness and disorder; therefore, it
got some of its characteristic from those philosophies.
Clearly, it has been shown that the ideas are relatively different between Postmodernism concepts and
former Modernism. There are those who believe that the Postmodernism is radically totally different on
Modernism ideas. Some of them believed it is possible to consider that the writers and artists in the
premodern stage that they as the post-modernists, even though the concept was not formulated at the time,
this is the closest to the controversy that sees Freuds theories of the unconscious that they are already
present in the German romantic thought. The German philosopher Jurgen Habermas discussed: that
Modernism project was never finished yet, as this project continues to seek to achieve its objectives. In
this, he is intended to enlighten values of the mind and social justice. Whatever the use, it is clear that
the theory of interpretation of social and cultural developments through the Metanarrative are no longer
possible or acceptable, that it is no longer possible for ideas to be closely linked with historical reality.
Everything is text and image.(Carter, 2012; Habermas, 2015)
The thinkers had been linked between the Postmodernism and societal transformations that taking
place in the Post-industrial phase, or the so-called Information Society, as well as a Consumer Society.
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Thus, the new global conflicts have been associated with economic and political transformations of social
and private cultural that characterise the new phase, which entered human after the fall of the Soviet
Union. Among other things, this means transformation, abandoning traditional concepts and tools in
the analysis of society and state relations, such as social class, ethnic and cultural conflict, or party
representation and associative citizens within the state institutions and their access to civil rights, and rela-
tions with States regarding the foundations of dependency and control centers of power and their perimeters.
Postmodernism associated with the historic and contextual reference, and the evolution of Western capi-
talism postmodern socially, economically, politically, and culturally. Also, it has been closely associated with
the development of the media. Postmodernism as it came as a reaction to structural linguistics, Western and
central statements that refer to the hegemony, domination, exploitation and alienation. Also, Postmodernism
had been targeted to undermine Western philosophy, and the erosion of capitalist institutions that control
the World, a monopoly on the means of production, and it has the scientific knowledge. Postmodernism has
also worked on criticism of the Logos and logic through questioning mechanisms, dispersion and disassembly.
Postmodernism has appeared firstly in the field of painting, architecture and civil engineering, before
moving to philosophy, literature, art, technology, and the rest of the humanities and knowledge. Postmod-
ernism theory has invaded all the disciplines, such as literature, criticism, art, philosophy, ethics, education,
sociology, anthropology, science and culture, economics, politics, and architecture.(Carter, 2012)
There is a reflection of the ideas of Postmodernism on the daily life, all humanitarian and technical
fields in the community frame, where a lot of the pioneers are connected Postmodernism with current
intellectual and philosophical shifts, among other changes in social, economic, political, cultural and even
psychological in different societies. The beginning was in Western societies, where the latter has refused
elite control on all sources of power and influence. As well, a lot of social movements emerged calling for
the end of ideologies and exit all standard measurement, the consolidation of individual affiliation and
encourage consumer culture. And thus creating new sources of power in society, which has been described
by many of the descriptions, so-called the society post-industrial by American Daniel Bilal, who is of the
brightest brains of the neo-conservatives, and it so-called information society or the consumer society by
the American critic Frideric Jameson.(Ziydah, 2003)
In general, the framework of Postmodernism consists of four perspectives toward it. Philosophical
perspective that believes Postmodernism is an evidence of vacuum in the absence of modernity itself. The
historical perspective that sees the postmodern turn away from the modernity movement, or of a rejection
of some aspects. The political ideological perspective that sees the postmodern erosion of the illusions of
Western ideology. The Strategic perspective who believes that the approach to the texts of Postmodernism
does not comply with methodological standards, there is not a single reading, but in open and multiple
reading.(Alruwaili, 2002)
Politically, the concept of democracy is moving towards change as the Democratic majority is no longer
required as urgent because of the features of the Postmodernism emphasis on the individual as a source of
rights and duties, laws and therefore everyone has the right to be represented in power that govern, also has
the right to reject any representation in this power, and this is what made the Postmodernism thinkers talk-
ing about the field of democracy and not about parliamentary democracy or a democratic majority. Since
a decade ago, German writer wrote: ”I can not be beyond politics on the issue of post-modernist.”(M¨uller,
1979) Years has shown that politics and Postmodernism have become inseparable and can not escape them.
One of the reasons is that the arguments about the definition of Postmodernism and its evaluation has been
by the language of mostly politically negative - and mainly mention the neo-conservative(Newman, 1984)
and neo-Marxists.(Eagleton, 1985). There are others in the political left(Russell, 1985) saw their ability to
a radical change, but they did not see the actual achievement, wwhile some artists and activists resisted
the inclusion of their work within the Postmodernism, fearing retention, and accompanying it disabled their
political programs.
Democratically, legitimacy of interior has become insufficient alone to give legitimacy to the regime par-
ticularly in the regard to the Third World countries, as the organizations that are active in the field of human
rights, election monitoring and the environment, etc. have become other major source of legitimacy through
the so-called constitutional engineering that sponsored by the United Nations and that aim to move or shift
to the democracy. It does not merely facilitate the peace process and rights activation , but it has become a
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frame of reference, which is measured on the basis of democracy, regardless of suitability or non-suitability of
the environment where it is applied, according to thinkers the postmodernists: the democratic parliamentary
representation in all political parties and periodic elections the parliament and councils parliamentary, which
is what was produced by Modernism, as well as stemming from the central government that came from needs
of the industrial society, and with the changes that are shaking the foundations of industrial society, par-
liamentary democracy loses its validity in most communities, but it created its own environment, currently
subject to the decision of the requirements of diversity and variation process orientations of the people, and
the shift from hierarchical organizational basis to networking organization, and the pursuit of great faith to
the younger efficiently, which is more mobile and reconstruction according to changing circumstances as well
as the trend of sharp focus to distribution and proliferation.(Sellers, 1996) TO understanding the structure
of Postmodernism see Figure 1. (pos, 2016)
Figure 1: Whate is the Postmodernism?
2 Foundations of Postmodernism
Postmodernism in the Western culture based on a set of plug-intellectual foundations, intellectual
artistic, aesthetic and moral. So it could be identified in the following principles and elements:
Criticism comprehensive explanatory theories:: Postmodernism has sought to destroy the moral
an authority of the major intellectual formats, which usually take the form of ideologies.
Dual criticism of the analysis in the humanities: In the Western project of Modernism, there
meet between the two components of ”self and subject”, while Postmodernism calls for the cancellation of
self-modernism.
A new vision to concepts of history, Time and Place: Postmodern formed special new ideas about
the history, time and place, regarding history as an independent discipline, or as an entry point for many of
the social sciences, humanities, and applied sciences. The postmodern aims to minimise the importance of
history, and does not see his role as being only a witness to what is happening and to record the facts. But
these stories are not true; the witness always testifies whoever is stronger.
The truth is relative and not absolute: the ideas of Postmodernism are characterised by denying
everything that was prevalent on the Modernism stage and considers that the pursuit of the ultimate truth
is the largest human error committed in the course of scientific and practical goal, and the basic idea of
Postmodernism is that it’s impossible to reach the truth.
Rejected the Idea of Representation: Postmodernism rejects all representation operations in any
form of representation. In the sense that there is a group of individuals representing the rest of the people
in parliament. The fundamental problem is the lack of understanding and inability to represent the other,
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because of the differences in the political discourse of each party and the different meanings of terms between
cultures and even among members of the same culture, hampering the process of representation.(Berlin, 1992)
3 Pioneers of postmodern theory
As known the Postmodern, has its pioneers, theoreticians, philosophers and critics, that he is known
for his critique of modern media and technology. Furthermore, Jean Baudrillard made a set of concepts
such as the floating truth, hyperreality, interest in science fiction, and take care of the virtual world, and
unreal. Baudrillard denied as - Jacques Derrida - the existence of a clear meaning but he said the floating
signifiers or absented meaning . And therefore, he rejected the distinction between appearances and the
facts behind these appearances (Carter, 2012). For him, he finally broke down the differences between the
signifier and the signified, and no longer signs refer to the implications of any reasonable meaning, where
the real world is made up of floating concepts. Baudrillard explained these ideas in his work ”Simulacra
and Simulation.”(Baudrillard, 1994). Also, Jean Baudrillard denied, as such: the German philosopher
Friedrich Nietzsche, the existence of the truth as long as it is closely linked with language, error, conjecture,
exaggeration metaphorical, imaginative rhetoric and the media. Thus, Baudrillard said that the concept
of ”Hyperreality”: where something is real only when it moves within the media. Baudrillard’s writings -
The Illusion of the End 1992, Fatal Strategies 1983- became nihilism: the signs have become meaningless
because of its frequency and different, which does not end with ...it has led the extremist views to the
famous phrase - which has attracted harsh criticism - that the 1991 Gulf War were not real, it was a media
event. ”It’s unreal, it was without the symptoms of war.”(Carter, 2012)
The pioneers of Postmodernism also the French intellectual Jean-Franois Lyotard (1924-1998), Who
denies the truth, such as Nietzsche, especially in his book ”Postmodern Condition” 1979.(Lyotard, 1984)
In this book ”: Lyotard argues that knowledge can not claim to be offering truth in any absolute sense; it
depends on the tricks of language that is always relevant to specific contexts. Here, we find that Lyotard
owes beholden to Nietzsche and Ludwig Wittgenstein, where, he claims that enlightenment targets in
human liberation, and the spread of logic not only produces a kind of scientific arrogance. Jrgen Habermas
has refused to accept this assessment of the fate of the goals of the Enlightenment, where it is believed they
are still viable.(Carter, 2012; Lyotard, 1984)
Jacques Derrida also is one of the most important philosophers of Postmodernism, where interested
dismantle Western culture distraction and delay, and to undermine the central arguments criticism and
anatomy, in order to expose the dominant Western institutions, exposing the white mythology based on
domination and exploitation, colonialism and alienation and exclusion.(Carter, 2012) Jacques Derrida has
criticized Western metaphysics, that represents attendance and the language and voice signifier. Hence,
he undermined by a series of prevailing concepts, such as: Identity, essence, and logos, tag, meaning, the
phenomenon, the system, college, organic, substance, intelligence, sensitivity, realism, truth, and certainty,
culture, nature, error, and speech ..., etc.
Michel Foucault also is one of the pioneers of Postmodernism, and pay too much attention to the
concept of discourse and power and strength, as he believed that the speeches are strongly associated
institutions and scientific knowledge. In the sense that knowledge in an era of what constitutes a speech
includes specific rules agreed upon by the community, it constitutes the real strength and power. In
other words, all the strength and authority of society, and are expressed in the speech that power and
knowledge, and this is illustrated by Foucault in his book ”The Discourse of Language”. Foucault
believes that there is a close relationship between knowledge and power, so that the discourse on the old
human, it discourse has become in the nineteenth-century about human excellence. Foucault affected by
Bntcheh when observed over the thread of knowledge power and authority of the society, and the fact
power and authority. Foucault examines his book: ”Discipline and Punish” power system, as structured
institutions and organisations, and a device for control and discipline and punishment, as well as the ex-
pression of a liberal society, Foucault was influenced by the Bentham’s work.(Eribon, 1991; Thompson, 2003)
The Foucault in this book, that human, historically, set off from the control stage of the bodies to
control the minds and behaviours . This means that the state based on the power of authority, discipline,
and control individuals the bodies: minds and behaviours. Hence, the prison - example - a model of liberal
strength and power of the state authority and its prestige. This means that Foucault calls for human
liberation from power, and freeing it from the institutional power of the state.(Foucault, 1977) Thus,
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Foucault associated closely with the philosophy of power, and defend the freedom of the self, and shows
that every era is producing orderly discourse and dominant. Subsequently, the discourse system announced
the reality of the world and embodied the certainty of fixed standards.
On the other hand, Gilles Deleuze interested in pluralism and openness to others aware and interactively,
where he considered that philosophy as the philosophy of pluralism. Thus, he criticised the identity and
One philosophy and congruence in favour of pluralism and congruence. He has mocked his philosophy
starting point to understanding the literature, art and politics. After that, he talked about the social
sphere and formulated concrete anthology of the act and the event. Gilles Deleuze believed on the pluralism
and difference; he had had influenced with hence Bergson conceptions, the intuitive about stability, time,
immanence and pluralism. Deleuze was interested in the founding philosophy in his book : Difference
and Repetition, and talked about pluralism in the context of difference, and pluralism -as is well known-
the opposite of the philosophy of identity.(Deleuze, 1994) Hence, he linked the founding philosophy with
democracy as a space for difference and is a democratic system appropriate to the current evolution of
society. Thus, he considers incorporation and the difference are thought contradicts the thought of identity
and unity, exclusion and alienation.
4 Postmodern Critique
As any theory, the theory of Postmodernism has pros and cons just like any other cultural phenomena
and theories, and the rest of the curriculum of literary criticism. And therefore, we can not talk about and
imperfect in the humanities at all; The pros Postmodernism, it’s liberation movement aimed at freeing man
from the world of illusions and myths, and freeing it from the domination of mythology. Philosophies of
Postmodernism are also working to undermine the central arguments of Western thought, and revisit the
constants, and so by undermining, questioning, dispersion, audit and demolition. And the goal is to build
new values. On the other hand, it fights the culture of elite status, cases: Margin and popular culture,
and then criticised Orientalist discourses which had had a colonial character by disassembly, criticism and
analysis. As Postmodernism believed in pluralism, diversity, multiple identities theory, and re-consideration
of the context of the referral, the author and the recipient. And well cared intertextuality, differences
chromatography, Gender and ethnicity. And it succumbed to the language of fragmentation, disintegration
and disorder. Also, it denounced to the concepts of repressive and authority of the power.
However, the most significant cons of the Postmodern is reliance on the idea of disruption and destruction
and chaos, it does not offer a realistic alternative to human cultural and practical, it ’s hard to apply the
perceptions of Postmodernism because of its whimsicality and extremism. So, the Postmodernism consumed
its strategy to effect highlighting the unjust prejudices without having a moral or political or social position.
It is noted that postmodern theory undermines itself; because of the character of the anarchist, nihilist and
absurd. Postmodernism has attracted positive and negative criticism both. It could be seen as a positive force
editor are destabilising preconceived ideas about language and its relationship to the world, and undermine
all the self-languages that refer to history and society.Also considers that the era of Postmodernism leads own
assumptions and overrides all the correlated interpretations. For many are ineffective and is not committed
politically.(Carter, 2012) Thus, we find that the philosophy of Postmodernism has positive and negative
values, but what interested to the human being in the practical reality are the establishment and rooting,
not dismantling and disruption, while striving to build meaningful, rather than indulging in virtual worlds
absurd, nihilistic and anarchic.
In my opinion, simply put, Postmodernism philosophy does not work on an affirmation of any absolute
right or objective, especially in matters of religion and spiritualities. When the confrontation with right
regard to the truth of Allah and religious practice. The point of view of the philosophy of Postmodernism
is the following statement: ”This may be true for you, but not for me.” While such a response might be
appropriate when discussing the types favourite food or favourite forms of art, but that such a serious
thinking when applied to the truth because it confuses matters of opinion and matters right. I may be
considered the risks of Postmodernism philosophy as decline begins to reject the absolute right and then
leads to the loss of the distinction between matters of religion and belief and up to the philosophy of the
diversity of religions, which says that there is no true religion or belief. Thus, there is no one may claim
that his religion is right rather than other religions. The second interceptor is that Postmodernism are
considered God is no longer the source of truth, but in humans, as Ren Descartes says so: ”I think therefore
I am.”(Descartes, 1994)
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Giving answers to humans’ questions and inquiries has always been the mission of philosophers and thinkers. They have always strived to provide explanations for everything. With each wave of thinkers and philosophers, new explanations appear whether to defeat previous thoughts, build on them, or prove them still valid to the currents of the time. At times, thinkers of the same period express contradicted views concerning the same issues. Existentialism and Postmodernism are one example. Although having coincided with same events, they were two different ways of thoughts in that they differ in their response to them; whereas Existentialism came to shed light on the individual as its central focus, Postmodernism treated the individual as anonymous, ambiguous, and living only in the present.