There are four fundamental differences between modernist and postmodernist theories. The first difference is that modernist rejects formal aesthetic theories in favor of the functional, but postmodernist question about the adequacy of the functional as an inspiration of artistic expression (412). The second difference is that modernists think in terms of totality, genre, or system, but postmodernists tend to think in terms of fragmentation, ephemerality, and discontinuity (412). Modernists actually think that fragmentation is chaotic. They are not like postmodernists who value the fragmentation. The third difference is that modernists consider science as the source of objective knowledge and truth, but postmodernists consider language as the central to the production of knowledge (412). Why do postmodernists consider language as the central to the production of knowledge? According to Jacques Derrida, "difference" is the one which is able to mark writing, a differing and deconstruction of the linguistic presence of meaning (412). For example, we should treat as a product of linguistic. Moreover, the text itself is independent of authors who are having specific and particular intentions. The fourth difference is that modernism is associated with humanism and the Enlightenment, but postmodernism is characterized as "incredulity toward meta-narratives" (412). This means that those theories, like Spirit, Man, and the rational subject are favored by postmodernists. These topics have been discussed by some modernist, like Marx. However, they assume these topics to be universal. As a result, internal differentiation has been made (413).
What are the main characteristics associated with postmodernism. There are four main characteristics associated with postmodernism. The first characteristic is that postmodernist question the very status knowledge in modern discourse (412). Like what mentioned above, modernist consider science as the source of objective knowledge and the truth without any doubt. However, postmodernists do not think in such way. They are skeptical of the way how we get the knowledge. They are more critical of the origin of the knowledge. The second characteristic is that postmodern theory assimilated other theories from the 1970s and 1980s that engaged the same question (413). This can be seen through the postindustrial theory by Daniel Bell and Alain Touraine. Bell and Touraine base their analysis of postindustrial society on the increasing dominance of information and knowledge in the economic sphere (413). The third characteristic is that postmodernity has been acknowledged as a part of modernity. This point of view is from Zygunt Bauman. Bauman thinks that instead of saying that postmodernism replace modernism, it is actually just the culmination of modernism (414). Bauman furthered explain this by using the example of Holocaust. In Bauman's point of view, the Holocaust was a product of the modernist faith in progress embodied in bureaucracy and technocracy (414). The fourth characteristic is that postmodernism is more"pseudohistory" than a historically and culturally specific account postmodernity (415). For example, Jameson argues that postmodernism is actually an aesthetic movememt in respnding to social and economy changes in the society (415). Besides that, Jameson also argues that late capitalism affects the cultural formation in postmodernism.
Khim Yong Phee: (Post)Modernity I: Elias, Bauman, Latour (Fifth Blog Entry)
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