May 30, 2014

THE SIGNAL FACT ABOUT POSTMODERNISM IS THAT IT PRECEDED MODERNISM:

Being Postmodern and Conservative (Peter Augustine Lawler, May 28, 2014, National Review)

To be postmodern means to be about conserving what's true and good about the modern world, as well sustaining or restoring what's true and good about various premodern forms of thought and life. It is also, as Solzhenitsyn explained, about criticizing the modern world for its excessive materialism and its replacement of God and virtue with legalism, and the medieval world for its excessively single-minded focus on spiritual life or the soul at the expense of the body.

One of our conservative criticisms of purely modern thought is its prejudice in favor of endless innovation, which can be seen, for example, in its overly technological view of science. Maybe the purest sources of modern thought these days is the hyper-libertarianism of some economists and Silicon Valley technologists, which points in the direct of transhumanism. The false hope is that through techno-innovation we can become better or freer than human, a hope that depends on ungratefully misunderstanding how stuck and how blessed we are to be beings born to know, love, and die. That's not to say that we believe, as do those existentialists, that death is the final word about who each of us is.

So to be postmodern and conservative is to take our stand somewhere between the traditionalists and the libertarians. The traditionalists focus is on who each of us is as a relational being with duties and loyalties to particular persons and places. The libertarians -- or, to be more clear, the individualists -- focus on who each of us is as an irreducibly free person with inalienable rights, a person who can't be reduced to a part of some whole greater than himself or herself. A postmodern conservative is about showing how a free person with rights is also a relational person with duties. The truth is that each of us is a unique and irreplaceable free and relational person. 
Posted by at May 30, 2014 6:16 PM
  
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