Monday, June 24, 2019

Straw criticisms of postmodernism

Which pretty much covers most of them. Ray Harris commented on this Donna Haraway interview:

"I have long argued that most people misunderstand post modernism and when they attack it, are in fact attacking a straw man. It's a complex subject that requires a thorough grounding in modernism - at a high level (masters/doctorate). So be wary of any one simplifying post modernism and trying to reduce it to something it is not and never was."

In the interview Haraway said:

"Our view was never that truth is just a question of which perspective you see it from. […] The idea that reality is a question of belief is a barely secularized legacy of the religious wars. In fact, reality is a matter of worlding and inhabiting. It is a matter of testing the holdingness of things. Do things hold or not?"

E.g., from Caputo's book Deconstruction in a Nutshell:

"The last thing Derrida is interested in doing is undermining the natural sciences or scientific knowledge generally. A 'deconstruction' of natural science...would be to keep the laws of science in a self-revising, self-questioning mode of openness to the...'anomaly' the upstarts, the new ideas" (73).

But this is not done in an arbitrary fashion by simply questioning the underlying principles of science or any knowledge base without having a firm grounding in that base. For one must first know the thing one deconstructs inside-out from the point of view of those holding such knowledge. For example:

"To read Aristotle and Plato well one must learn Greek, learn as much as possible about their predecessors, contemporaries and successors, about their religions, social, historical and political presuppositions, understand the complex history of subsequent interpretations of their works, etc." (78).

It is this type of thorough understanding of Plato that Derrida brings with his deconstructive reading, and the implications are right in Plato's text.

"The very idea of a deconstructive reading presupposes this...classical reading....only after that reading, or through it, or best of all along with it, does a deconstructive reading settle in.... The idea is not to jettison the classical discipline but to disturb it by way of exploring what systematically drops through its grid and, by so disturbing it, open it up" (76-7).

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