Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Classical approaches tend to have greater respect for order and carefully pruned thoughts and the elimination of weeds

Joe Perez said...MD: The weed metaphor. I use it to describe my HIV (weeds) in a garden of flowers. See my guided visualization here:
I'm mostly content to just lurk and see how CJ or others reply to this post, but a quick word or two on your metaphor...I wanted to say that as I see it the term "postmodernism" must have a meaning, otherwise it would not incite the sort of deep disdain you and I share for weeds. So it will not surprise you that I feel CJ made his case in the dialogue by providing an ample reference of philosophical learning to clarify postmodernism. As a term which refers to a current or movement, it's obviously very inclusive (much like the terms classical and modern, terms which I've noticed you continue to use).
  • The postmodern current, as I see it, isn't so much like a wide with roots more than 10 feet deep. It's too new, and it has taken hold mostly in an academic enclave among intellectuals. It's more like a style of gardening in which shrubbery is not pruned, trees are left to "go wild", weeds are considered acceptable and desirable. It's a fondness for jungle-like gardens.
  • In contrast, your classical perspective is more like a traditional approach to gardening. I hesitate to say anything more without putting words into your mouth, but generally classical approaches to anything tend to have greater respect for order and carefully pruned thoughts and the elimination of weeds, and perhaps these phrases characterize your view of the postmodern curret.
I don't agree with your view of pomo as "a pathological riff under the heading of Opinion," but I'm afraid it would involve a more significant exchange to come to anything resembling understanding/agreement.
I'll still to the gardening/weeding metaphor, even as I insinuate that the pomo current in relationship to the Great Ideas is like the attitude of a collector of Great Books who reads them carefully but scattershot, in no particular order, and in a continual dialogue with himself and the books, decides that they do not form a coherent Order. Therefore the collector decides to cut up the books and use the pages for different purposes. Some pages he frames and places high on an altar. Other pages he uses to line a bird cage. Others he sails into paper airplanes, others he gives to friends who he thinks will find the pages useful. He's a postmodern collector of the Great Books. His attitude may or may not be pathological, but it is not Opinion he is concerned with, it is the very essence (or lack thereof) of All the Great Ideas themselves.
I'm actually very appreciative of your reference to poetry. There are other ways out of postmodernity and I highly recommend the neo-Thomist, neo-Aristotelian philospher Alasdair MacIntyre to you, esp. After Virtue or Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry, which is referenced in your encyclopedia article link. MacIntyre begins a neo-Aristotelian view of postmodernity that may indeed succeed in providing a way *beyond* postmodernity. For example, he argues with Thomas that modernity and postmodernity alike are guilty of the sin of pride, and that their distorted worldviews are symptoms of this spiritual malaise. But if like MacIntyre or Ewa Thompson you are battling postmodernism, then you must first recognize that something which may be called postmodernism exists, right?
That seemed to me the issue where CJ backed you into a corner. It was hard to tell whether you were debating that postmodernism is too vague to exist or if postmodernism needs to be shot down because it's a pathology of Opinion. I'm not siding with you or CJ on the debate on this point, only saying that I shared CJ's confusion and would invite you to be more clear. You sound a bit like a prosecuting attorney who says, "There may or may not have been a homocide, but if there was a homocide, then the defendant must be the guilty party." best wishes, and apologies if I'm not a really active participant in this exchange. mostly I wanted to comment on the weeding metaphor and the comment went on a bit longer. joe 2:27 AM

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