Postmodern thought developed as a type of answer to these questions. The idea that reality exists but only within the framework of one’s social historical situation seems like the natural answer to a world of texts. Historical events of the last few decades have aided in the globalization of society and thus the rise of postmodern thought. Events such as the Vietnam War and the oil embargo of the 1970’s have led to “the advanced erosion of that global structure of domination, which supplied the `evidence of reality’ of which the self-confidence of the west and it’s spokesmen has been built.” [10] In a sense, the classic models of the world have been destroyed by these historical situations and people have begun to question the absoluteness of the “truth” the models claimed to posses.

For three decades the domination of the West seemed to be an unquestionable truth. It was utterly unfathomable to consider any nation other than the “advanced” nations of the West posing a threat of any kind. The realist model of war between great powers seemed to be unshatterable. This absoluteness of domination could easily be interpreted as a universal truth.Particularly in the field of International Relations, people were assured that the realist model was absolute truth.

As Zygmunt Bauman wrote, A historical domination could interpret itself as universal and absolute, as long as it could believe that the future would prove it such; the universality of the western mode (the absoluteness of western domination) seemed indeed merely a matter of time. The ground for certainty and self-confidence could not be stronger. [11] Western domination could be considered an absolute truth as long as it remained dominant.It was exactly this assumption that historical events of the last few decades shattered. With the devastating withdrawal from Vietnam it became clear that smaller, non-Western nations were no longer insignificant. Catherine Lutz discusses how the Vietnam war has altered the structure of international power.

While the 1930’s were also a period of economic and political insecurity, the 1980’s differ, of course not only in the underlying political economic structures of that insecurity, but in the intervening decline of American international power in the wake of Vietnam. [12]Ian Angus related this overturning of expectations to the postmodern movement when he wrote: Postmodernism rejects historical continuity and takes up residence somewhere beyond it because history was ruptured: by the Bomb-fueled vision of possible material end of history, by Vietnam, by drugs, by youth revolts, by women’s and gay movements — in general, by the erosion of that false and devastation universality embodied in the rule of the pyramidal trinity of Father, Science, and State. [13] The oil embargo of the 1970s caused a reassessment of the significance of war.The world of the last few decades seems to break down the unquestionable truth of western domination. History no longer supports the models and it has become all but impossible to continue to view these models as absolute.

As Bauman concludes: The certitude of yesteryear is now at best ridiculed as naiveti?? , at worst castigated as ethnocentric. Nobody but the most rabid of the diehards believes today that the western mode of life, either the actual one or one idealized (utopianized) in the intellectual mode, has more than a sporting chance of ever becoming universal.[14] The disintegration of the traditional centers of power brought with it disillusionment with the idea of absolute truth.

People began to wonder how true these models could be. Nothing seemed to be absolute anymore. Postmodern thought rose out of the ruins of these old models of absolute, universal truths. It seems fairly clear that people’s ability to communicate with other cultures and the deterioration of traditional locations of power has led to postmodern thought. It is slightly less obvious why this type of thinking did not occur earlier in history.

Both the social-historical trends that have supposedly led to postmodern thought have appeared in slightly different forms before. People have been traveling to other countries for centuries and central locations of power have disintegrated before. The collapse of the church and the fall of the monarchies could have feasibly led to the same type of questioning that the destruction of Western domination did. Why then did none of this happen? Human beings understood that other humans were different from themselves much before postmodern thought came to be.It can not be denied that Christopher Columbus realized that the Indians he encountered were extremely different from himself and his culture.

What seems to be new in our modern connections with people of other nations is not so much this understanding of difference, but rather the understanding that these differences are not absolute. Humans of pre-modern times assumed that the differences between people were in a way “natural” and thus could not be changed. Differences were considered to be ordained by God and thus unalterable. Since the dissimilarities were unalterable there was really no reason to attempt to understand them.Thus other cultures remained wild and unapproachable. As Bauman wrote: Not until the ‘natural’ differences between people are meddled with do these differences stop being ‘natural’ and appear as ‘historical’, to wit, actual or potential objects for purposeful human action. [15] It was only once this alteration of viewpoint occurred that human differences could be considered sources of true interest.

Only at this point could people begin to understand that the differences between humans were not in some way preordained by God but rather directly related to the social-historic situation from which they came.The era of mass communications was able to bring with it this change of view. Other cultures ceased to be merely wild and distant. Of course the question still remains as to why postmodern thought did not appear when the church disintegrated or when the monarchies fell. The answer is that in a sense it did. The beginnings of postmodern thought can be traced as far back as the final centuries of the Middle Ages. The fall of the church in the sixteenth century brought with it many famous authors whose ideas greatly resemble current postmodernists.Writers such as Mercenne, Gassendi and Montaigne can be included in the larger group known as Sceptics that developed in that time.

In general the Sceptics believed in much of what postmodernists believe in today. For the Sceptics “All truths, including one’s own, appear to be tied to `the time and place’. ” [16] Thus as Zygmunt Bauman adequately summarized: It was only at the threshold of the modern era that that certainty was shattered; it was undermined by the internal schism within the Church, which, for the first time in centuries, was powerful enough to produce centers of resistance too formidable to be marginalized into heresies.[17] Postmodern thought began its development in the deterioration of these central locations of absolute truth, yet postmodernism did not achieve its full potential until much later. This might appear curious but in fact it is logical. Without the emergence of mass culture and the subsequent ease of communication the breakdown of central locations of power could not lead to postmodern thought. Only the historical events of the last few decades, in combination with global mass communication, could lead to postmodernismRecently, many people have questioned whether or not the trend toward globalization has forced humans to think alike rather then move them to view the world in postmodern terms. It is undoubtedly true that the “McDonaldization” of society is a definite trend in today’s world and it would certainly seem that this type of pattern would force society toward uniformity.

Perhaps this was in fact the direction society was moving toward for some time. More recently, however, it seems that rather then uniformity, the array of goods in the world market has been forcing consumers all the more to make choices.These choices in consumption enhance a person’s individuality and tend to increase the differences between him and another individual. The choices one makes begin to define who he is. As Ian Angus stated “The earlier cultural homogeneity due to the uniformity of production methods has been displaced by a diversity of cultural identities focused on consumer choice.

” [18] This too leads to postmodern thought. Differences in consumption choices are yet anther difference between individuals that can be further explored.Humans begin to consider why it is that one buys something when someone else buys something entirely different. Thus the globalization which has led to the “McDonaldization” of society has not forced us all to think alike.

Instead it has made consumers choose among a plethora of goods thus asserting their individual likes and dislikes. In fact, consumers in today’s day and age have become less like each other then before. Therefore it makes sense that rather then forcing homogenization of thought, today’s market economy has created the idea of multiple realities.This paper has attempted to prove that the globalization of society has led to the advent of postmodern thought that is often prevalent today. Few would disagree that postmodernism is a significant trend among intellectuals, yet there are those who would claim that this postmodernism does not stem from social changes.

It is possible that someone could advocate the belief that postmodernism is simply an invention of intellectuals. They could claim that this idea was formulated in the halls of academies, so far removed from the “real world” that it was not at all influenced by “real” changes.As Bauman stated, “In the vast realm of the academy there is ample room for all sorts of specialized pursuits, and the way such pursuits have been historically institutionalized renders them virtually immune to pressures untranslatable into the variables of their own inner systems. ” [19] It is feasible to claim that postmodernism was simply the isolated idea of some eccentric academic which has little or no bearing on the workings of society. Perhaps this viewpoint is not unreasonable but history can not back up the claims.

Even traditional forms of philosophy have risen from certain social historic situations.The very need for a central location of meaning came from a basic human insecurity about an uncertain world. Furthermore it is quite unreasonable to believe that the ideas of certain eccentric academics would have made it far in academia without some basis in social change. A few decades ago any person proposing an idea slightly contrary to the traditional positivism was required to give extensive proof of their claims and was essentially grilled to the extreme. Today the tables have turned and it is the positivist who must defend themselves against charges of “ethnocentrism, intellectual imperialism” and other such accusations.

[20] Thus it is only reasonable to assume that some type of fundamental social change has occurred and brought with it postmodern thought. It is unquestionable that postmodernism has made a significant impact on modern theorizing. The idea of multiple reality which it advocates is one that has only recently been fully developed. It is significant to keep in mind that this new form of thought did not become prominent at any other point in history. It was only with the advent of mass communications and the disintegration of the traditional model of Western domination combined that this type of thought was able to take hold.Though it is certainly clear that postmodernism has become an important part of contemporary theorizing it is yet unclear what the future will hold.

It would be difficult for one to claim that postmodernism will entirely replace traditional methods of theorizing. Nonetheless many postmodern theorists would like to believe that it will certainly become a significant form of theorizing in it’s own right. Even this, though, is unlikely since postmodern thought would lose much of its importance the moment it became a prominent, central, theory.Perhaps the most likely future for postmodern thought is one in which it improves on already existing theories. It is likely that postmodernism will succeed in aiding traditional theories to recognize opposition viewpoints and perhaps be more willing to listen.

This trend can already be seen in the literary world where authors are politicizing their works in an attempt to show society just how one sided they have been. Thus postmodernism does not become a theory in its own right but rather a means of criticizing and improving already existing theories. Perhaps with this we will be able to create a better world.


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