John Deely on Postmodernity

Postmodernity begins at the moment that thinkers
decide to take seriously the notion that communication
is a part of reality, that intersubjectivity is something
real, and not simply an approximation that isolated
consciousnesses appear to achieve because the
mechanism of their minds is the same, and like causes
produce like effects.

I have some very scattered thoughts put together on Deely’s book Purely Objective Reality that I will post soon. In any case, I think this quote gets at the heart of what it means for Deely to be a postmodernist versus being ultramodern ( the title Deely gives to what is normally considered Postmodernism). While I think Deely is unfair to modern Philosophy in general, the important point is the conception itself. Communication as a fact of life, not something that is, in some detached sense, merely ‘inferred’, or a result of ‘mindreading’ or ‘simulation’; or something merely guessed at because of the arbitrariness of the sign or some such. It touches on an issue I have been thinking about: the order of explanation versus the order of nature. Whether or not this distinction can be made in a non-question-begging way is a question I’m trying to deal with. Regardless, I make the distinction for myself because of a nagging feeling that much of what we reconstruct experience as being is wrong-headed. We seem to start from illusions and then build successful communication as some sort of ratiocination, ‘inferences’ in the exact same sense as the very thinking that leads to such explanation – that is, our detached reasoning and abstractions become first in order and our experience is then explained as a kind of this very abstraction.

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2 Responses to John Deely on Postmodernity

  1. kyleschen says:

    “We seem to start from illusions and then build successful communication as some sort of ratiocination…”

    I don’t know if successful communication ever brings us out of the illusion or if it’s just a newly agreeable illusion. Like you said, reasoning necessarily has some level of detachment from the physical world. You may be beyond this, but have you looked at the epistemological mathematics that Taleb has done in Silent Risk to back up his Incerto? http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2392310

    (Sorry if I missed the point! I’m definitely reading “up” here. Venice referred me to your blog by the way… and I’m glad she did.)

    • Chen says:

      That’s something I’ll have to check out. Thanks! In any case, eventually I’ll get to the argument but it is to counter the suggestion that we *begin* with illusions. We were (are?) social creatures *first* before individuals making the notion that we learned to communicate by inference of other behavior dubious. I think the broader field of Semiotics has tools to properly deal with these issues. Thanks for visiting.

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