We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
[L]et me repeat what I often say to students who come braying to me with postmodernist ideas: Suppose that I return a term paper to you with a failing grade and a note that reads, "I should give you a much better grade, but I hate your guts, so there." You will scream bloody murder, go to the dean, possibly sue me. What is the assumption behind your outrage? Obviously, you expect me to grade your paper fairly - that is, objectively - regardless of my feelings about you. But why do you demand this of me as a teacher while denying my ability to do it as a researcher?I've found, from my own experience, that when this kind of objection is put to them people of postmodernist outlook are not in fact lost for an answer. They will say something like this: 'Of course, there is an existing language game here, with its own rules, conventions and understandings, and within that language game we too know how to grade papers fairly and objectively.'
Hooray, they know how to do it. They only fail to note how damaging this answer is for their opposition to the possibility of there being objective criteria. If everything is relative to one or another perspective, or cultural or intellectual framework, ruling out that there could be right and wrong (albeit always provisionally) about historical events, explanations of illness, ditto of the origin of species, and what have you, how does it suddenly happen that there's this thing called a language game which can be referred to just like that, as though what it is is clear to the vision, its rules are uncontroversial, its inner meanings and deployment of criteria supply a definitive way of resolving disagreement? If the pomo answer to this is to say that there is no such solid ground, because the language game itself is subject to the same relativizing effects that multiple different perspectives produce upon historical events, illness, and so forth, then the language game-type response to Berger's question is merely a delaying tactic. Once you fall through this particular floor, the relativist drop is bottomless. (See also this earlier post.)
Indeed, the drop is the fall into the abyss, and is not safe for children, or for anyone who cannot handle the metaphysical depths.
I sometimes make assumptions about what is public knowledge and what is particular to academia.
This group believes and works at dismantling the Bill of Rights, the Constiution, and the Judeo/Christian ethic. They are firmly convinced that it is they who will re-design the new community structure (Agoras). It would not be so frightening except that they don't just meet under the academic banner;they teach this; they reward followers; they are funded for "millenium development", etc. The real goal is to eliminate the social structures that we inherited. All in the name of "systems thinking".
What postmodernism means to me is that there are no absolutes. This is a fairly mundane observation. But given that thinkers at one time were burned at the stake for less agregious blasphamy, the fact that this position can be even broached--without reaching for the lighter fluid--signals a progression of sorts.
It is a straw-man argument to claim that 'everything is relative'--this is like saying that there is an absolute. Not very edifying.
That said, what good points pomos score are too often lost in the dense jargon and the precariousness of many of their best thinkers' propositions (if you can find them).
The 'objective/subjective' dichotomy has its place in the everyday language through which we deliniate the abstract from the 'material' and 'real'--but it is also implicated in metaphysical questions that become evermore pointless the more one attempts to refine and define the 'point'.
I find Anthony Wilden's approach to this subject very valuable--especially given the horrendous discussions that take place around this subject in the US academy.
Keep academics rooted to the reality of the 'American experience'---allow evangelicals to invade the campus armed with torches and ample wood. The honest academics will become revolutionaries--the fakes will be, well, 'inspired'.