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Postmodern philosophy

Postmodern philosophy is for the most part an outgrowth of Continental philosophy, and is heavily influenced by Heidegger and Friedrich Nietzsche. The later Ludwig Wittgenstein is also very influential. It is generally characterized by a rejection of the Enlightenment project, especially its claim to progress through the accumulation of positive knowledge. It is more specifically characterized by a rejection of metaphysics and of humanism. Although many critics therefore characterize postmodernist philosophy as a form of nihilism, postmodernists themselves generally see their philosophy as a liberatory philosophy. Some people have identified postmodern philosophy with relativism, although postmodern philosophy makes more, and more specific, claims than relativism (most important, most postmodernist philosophers locate postmodernity historically; it is not a purely abstract or logical argument).

The most well-known postmodernist philosopher is Jean-Francois Lyotard. He argued that modern philosophies legitimized their truth-claims not (as they themselves claimed) on logical or empirical grounds, but rather on the grounds of accepted stories (or "metanarratives[?]") about knowledge and the world -- what Wittgenstein termed "language-games." He further argued that these metanarratives no longer work to legitimize truth-claims. He believes that in the wake of the collapse of modern metanarratives, people are developing a new "language game" -- one that does not make claims to absolute truth but rather celebrates a world of ever-changing relationships (among people and between people and the world).

Postmodernism and Post-Structuralism Postmodern philosophy is very similar to post-structuralism; whether one considers the two identical or fundamentally different generally depends on how invested one is in the issues. People who are opposed to either postmodernism or poststructuralism often lump them together; advocates on the other hand make finer distinctions.

The philosopher Jacques Derrida and the historian Michel Foucault, are thus often cited as postmodern philosophers, although each has rejected the other's views. Like Lyotard, both are skeptical of absolute or universal truth-claims. Unlike Lyotard, they are (or seem) rather more pessimistic about the emancipatory claims of any new language-game; thus some would characterize them as post-structuralist rather than postmodernist.

Postmodernism versus Postmodernity Others who have written about postmodernity are the literary critic Fredric Jameson[?] and the geographer David Harvey[?]. They distinguish between postmodernity, which they use to describe an objective historical condition or situation, and postmodernism, which they use to describe a particular way of talking about postmodernity. They have further identified postmodernity with what the Marxist Ernest Mandel[?] called "late capitalism," and have characterized postmodernism as the ideology of late capitalism.

Major postmodern philosophers

See also

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