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Continental Postmodernism James A. Van Slyke. “There is Nothing Outside the Text” Memento –Leonard has lost his ability to make new memories –Uses tattoos.

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Presentation on theme: "Continental Postmodernism James A. Van Slyke. “There is Nothing Outside the Text” Memento –Leonard has lost his ability to make new memories –Uses tattoos."— Presentation transcript:

1 Continental Postmodernism James A. Van Slyke

2 “There is Nothing Outside the Text” Memento –Leonard has lost his ability to make new memories –Uses tattoos on his body to help him remember important facts Jacques Derrida –Text is the central component of putting our worlds together –It is not possible to step outside one’s own texts and objectively interpret the text of another

3 “There is Nothing Outside the Text” Reacting to a problem of modern dualism –Problem of perception Objects are external (extension) to the inner workings of the mind Language becomes an imperfect instrument of interpretation of external objects

4 Literary Criticism It is often assumed that the intention of the author is somehow “behind” the text Good reading is getting past interpretation to the ‘real’ intention of the author Derrida’s Critique –All reading is interpretive, never get to the ‘true meaning’ or ‘essence’ somehow beyond the text –“Interpretation is an inescapable part of being human and experiencing the world” –We bring our own sets of expectations and assumptions to the interpretation of a text

5 Derrida Not that everything is a text like a book… But everything is interpreted according to the mediation of language –Language is not a portal or veil that we travel through to get to the ‘real’ –“there is no reality that is not already interpreted through mediating lens of language” –The experienced world is a type of text that needs to be interpreted

6 Concerns Does interpretation = relativism? Objective truth is not a matter of interpretation Background assumptions –Objective truth is not a matter of interpretation –Modern epistemology ““universally acceptable truth based on indubitable foundations” –Modern Philosophy of Mind ‘Thinking stuff’ uses reason objectively

7 Contributions Could Derrida be describing a part of how the world works –The identity of Christ is always contested –There are several interpretations of who Christ is and what is death meant on the cross Each a response or experience of Christ –Still possible to interpret well or poorly To interpret well requires a correct frame of reference to understand the event –The Bible becomes one of the primary texts through which we interpret the world

8 Lyotard and Postmodernism Suspicious of rationality as the primary conveyor of truth –Suspicious of science and its commitment to rationality Suspicious of Meta-narratives or “Big Stories” that attempt to provide and universal explanation of everything

9 “Incredulity to Metanarratives” Metanarrative –Reaction to Modernity –Metanarratives tell a big story and appeal to universal reason or science for justification –Central tension between science and narrative –Lyotard was critiquing the scientific metanarrative The ways in which it discredited religious and mythical narratives Its assumption that is was somehow above or beyond narrative

10 “Incredulity to Metanarratives” Science appeals to autonomous reason –Reason is greater than narrative –Reason is able to stand outside the lesser narratives and provide the correct account of knowledge Narrative attempts to make claims through telling its story –Legitimized by the culture in which it is embodied

11 Narrative and Science Narrative or myth has always been a part of reason, the two are never separate “the state spends large amounts of money to enable science to pass itself off as epic” – Lyotard “Every scientist is a believer”

12 Contributions Lyotard is trying to reaffirm the importance of myth and religion Reason requires a narrative to justify its claims Isn’t telling stories what the Christian tradition does best?

13 Michel Foucault Attempts to show the similarities between prisons and psychological institutions and education, hospitals, businesses, etc. –Discipline and Punish –The Birth of the Clinic Power is at the root of all institutions Justice and Truth are merely instruments in the exercise of power

14 “Power is Knowledge” Power and Knowledge have an intrinsic relationship with one another –Knowledge is never neutrally determined –Knowledge is never simply “rational” or “for the good of all” –Knowledge is linked with networks of power – economic, social, political, etc. Hermeneutic of Suspicion

15 “Power is Knowledge” Foucault continues in the line of Nietzsche by using the method of geneaology –Look back through history and uncover the power relations within different forms of knowledge –Re-interpretation of texts and events by unmasking the power relations that exist –The subtle biases and prejudices of power are actually behind the establishment of truth Nietzsche – Genealogy of Morals –Good and evil are names given to behaviors to serve the interests of the powerful over the weak

16 Discipline and Punish Foucault describes changes in the penal system, but argues that they are all forms of domination –Torture Torture is used to illicit a confession The confession justified the punishment (making it true) allowing the sentence to be passed The exercise of the sentence solidified the power of the sovereign –Punishment –Discipline

17 Discipline and Punish Punishment –Not a move to more humane practices –Shift to avoid more uprising –Leads to a deeper surveillance on behavior –Control becomes more integrated into the structure of society Discipline –The goal of society is the formations of persons according to the mechanisms of power –Society forms individuals who are “docile” and “useful for the state, capitalism, etc.

18 Contributions Recognizing the power relations in any organization or institution –Allows us to be self-conscious of the power relations and our participation in those relations –Knowledge is not independent of social, political, and other issues Smith asks “Is all power bad?” –Contemporary evangelicalism is too autonomous –Submission to the authority of the church

19 Contributions Recognizing the ways in which society disciplines us into certain types of persons –Captialism is dependent upon consumers Society creates consumers by the way in which it disciplines them Marketing to make you believe that you need certain types of things Marketing that invests particular types of meaning into objects –Counter-disciplines are needed

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