Stephen Hicks – Explaining Postmodernism In 2018

Stephen Hicks – Explaining Postmodernism In 2018

[Music] good evening and welcome to Nevada I’ve been looking forward to for a very long time my apologies for that little thing over there I just can’t stand people like that – agent I’ll be your emcee for the night a founding partner of Capitol events and a veteran member of the UBC these are two organizations of the base night possible tonight we hope further our ideals is not partisanship and the commitment to open dialogue on the subject of post-modernism as over the course of last few years as relevance has become rather significant in public discourse that’s gonna open the show well anecdote I came to be the story self is always important what’s important is the message as this this night couldn’t hug me possible without the dedication and perseverance of a team working towards a goal our human ability to create to make it a challenge is what drives us one of the main reasons why I got involved in the free speech Club to begin with is because I couldn’t stand to see those taking life now I believe in this notion because our speaker today understand supports drama understand support of perseverance and I’m very happy that through months of effort and playing we were able to make this night possible 36 is a canadian-born foster a professor at Rockford University named on the way holds a PhD in philosophy and it’s the author of numerous works that range from each new philosophy to business ethics he comes here today all the way from going to speak on the postmodern theory but I further do may resent you the author of the work that you are I’m a modern man at postmodern world don’t you see [Applause] all right thank you for the invitation and the gracious introduction yes challenging times for free speech obviously more broadly challenging times for education and here we are University events like we just witnessed are in some sense regular common occurrences for a generation one sided reading lists right an attempt by intellectuals and professors to take entire traditions of understanding and not have them be taught more recently activist student groups by trying intentionally to shut down the views of those they disagree with including professors right in their own universities who will include books that they do not want to have taught invite speakers whom they do not want to have taught now of course traditionally conservative professors have been the first ones to be targeted right in this way and conservative traditions but over the last couple of decades we’ve also seen this extended to more broadly libertarian thinkers classically liberal thinkers and then as things accelerate thinkers who are broadly speaking on the left but who are not left enough right from the perspective of the given activist group to the point where professors who have been invited right by the university are disinvited those who are invited are subject to shouting down and sometimes to overt physical threatening people arriving right at university events for God’s sake carrying weapons and occasionally violence breaking out now this is bewildering right to those people who are outside of the Academy and in many cases bewildering to people inside the Academy and the reason for this is that universities are experimental laboratories they’re experimental laboratories for ideas and when a certain set of ideas or a network of ideas get purchased they get traction and of course naturally they want to propagate themselves and exclude the competition and what we are seeing in the last decade is a leveraging of a very prominent set of ideas that has taken hold in the last two generations particularly in the humanities right that we call post-modernism now post-modernism is partly a philosophical label partly a historical label right post-modernism right whatever modernism is and so that’s our subject tonight and the claim I want to make is that the pathological manifestations that we are starting to see the threats to the ideals of liberal education free speech discourse being willing to engage in the give-and-take of heated argument on important matters all of that is currently up for grabs because we are postmodern right now what does this mean well post-modernism of course is a sprawling label it’s an intellectual movement it’s a cultural movement but when we survey the landscape all of the post modernists first tier second tier third tier cite the big guns right the big names whom we are supposed to know if we are well-educated people so the names like Michel Foucault Richard Rorty Jacques Derrida jean-francois Leo tar right and others I consistently come to the fore as the leading intellectual heavyweights guiding this movement so I want to start with a sampling of some quotations from leading postmodern thinkers so here’s Michele Foucault on the end of modernity he starts with a geological right metaphor the deepest strata of Western culture have been exposed and of course this is what philosophical individuals do and intellectuals do you drill down to the bedrock right the basic assumptions and you think about those you try to find alternatives you put them to the test and the claim is the bedrock right of modernity right has been exposed and are once more stirring under our feet so we are in earthquake times right the modern world is being subject to fundamental shocks right to the system Richard Rorty agreeing saying the postmodern task right as he called it is to figure out what to quote now that both the age of faith and so we pause there they face perhaps thousand years of Western history if we take the Eurocentric or Western perspective right at this point the decline of Rome the collapse of Rome on through Renaissance and Reformation that was the age of faith in which essentially a religiously based philosophy was dominant intellectually and dominant culturally but that failed right that’s Rory’s first point and the in lage SR and the Enlightenment right seem to be beyond recovered the Enlightenment right kind of a capstone intellectual and cultural movement in the modern world again historians will argue maybe 1600s but certainly belongs 1700s and early 1800s the Age of Enlightenment but the claim is that to write has failed so what has gone on essentially up up to R or D and fuko’s generation mid to late 20th century is the entire history intellectual and cultural history right of the West going back to the fall of the Roman Empire the two dominant paradigms or philosophical outlooks have both been tried and then found wanting failure and now we are casting around what should we do next and that will be the postmodern cast what will we do next now Foucault Frenchmen Rorty American this is an international movement so here’s John Gray a Brit we live today amid the dim ruins of the Enlightenment project agreeing with word II which was the ruling project of the modern period now this is a slightly stronger claim it’s not just that the Enlightenment failed as an intellectual movement right but rather enlightenment transformed culture and the institutions that we live in and those have reached a pathological state an end state I said when we look around us the claim is we should see ruins that we live in effect a ruined culture and the postmodern position is to recognize this and to react to that in in some way alright Enlightenment’s wake yeah so what is enlightenment waked by going to be that is the postmodern right predicament so what’s the Enlightenment right well there’s some history here I realize given this here that the font is a little small but I wanted to get all this in so let me talk you this through this enlightenment vision as both Rorty and gray and Foucault right agree said that is the ruling project of the modern era and we are trying to define post-modernism so what is modernism right and what was this enlightenment philosophy or framework that tried to summarize and institutionalize what the modern world right is all about first a philosophical revolution I want to go back to this early 1600s and I’ve got three names here Francis Bacon Rene Descartes right John Locke so if you take courses in early modern intellectual history and particularly if you studied modern philosophy the transition to modern philosophy is identified with these formative figures Francis Bacon and John Locke both into Rene Descartes Frenchmen typically Rene Descartes is given the the honorific title the father right of modern philosophy I think therefore I am cogito ergo soom right and all of that sort of stuff why is that fundamental why our intellectual historians willing to cite these individuals as the founding fathers of the modern world and the claim we’ll make is that all of them are advocates fundamentally of reason that human beings have the capacity for reason and if we’re interested in knowing what’s true what’s false what we should believe right what we should put in action right and stake our lives on should be primarily through the guidance of reason now from our perspective that’s not necessarily a radical sounding claim but if you go to the early modern world this was a dramatic claim human beings have the capacity for reason it works and we ought to use it fundamentally the contrast then is to what had been the dominant theory of knowledge or the dominant epistemology of the previous era the age of faith right the one that already alluded to if you want to know the fundamental truths and what you should believe and what you should stake your life on it has to be an act of faith not an act of reason and what are you having faith in well you have a couple of options and there are widespread theological debates that are dominated for a thousand years do you have faith in the church as the institutional vehicle for the true religion right but what is the turk’s based on well the church is based on a long lineage right that goes back to Scripture and so ultimately scripture is your authority and you accept the truth of Scripture on faith well what is this faith in Scripture right based on why should we accept that of course we ask the standard question and the claim is again a non rational one that there are certain prophets who in ancient times were visited directly by God and or one of God’s angels or emissaries and God spoke directly to those individuals and they recorded in some way what God said and then passed it on and those of us who have not had such direct communications from God except that they got it right on in faith so ultimately it’s either a mystical revelation or faith in some thing that can be traced back to a mystical revelation that is where we get our important knowledge from and that was the dominant framework for the age of faith the moderns challenge that and reject that we do not believe in mystical revelations we do not believe on the basis of faith there might be a place for these things but they’re going to be secondary tertiary and we are going to bracket them as much as possible and rely on our own capacity for reason for really during out what is true so this is a bit of a mischaracterization of Descartes but the rhetoric is perfect here right I think right therefore I am right those rungs sounding words right all that if you take that as axiomatic is to say I think right and that is core to my humanity my capacity for thinking my very being is wrapped up in my capacity for being able to do this sort of thing Francis Bacon making similar kinds of arguments about the foundation of Reason and working out an early version of scientific method John Locke in a more mature fashion later in the century also an advocate right of reasoning bargaining explicitly that we have to go by our own experience other people’s experience doesn’t do you any good the fact that something is true and somebody else believes it it doesn’t do you any good right you have to figure it out for yourself by the exercise of Reason and it is a human birthright that we all have the capacity for this and this is what has to be trained and exercised this has of course huge implications for education right if we think that human beings all of them have the capacity for reason that education is not a matter of here are the truths that you accept on faith go out and live them up after having learned them rather were training people to think and to utilize their own experience and become so to speak scientists in their own lives that was hotly contested right for a century now century is not a very long time in human history larly for philosophical debates but the early modern ‘s won the debate right and the advocates of faith the advocates of mysticism the advocates of reliance upon traditional institutions were on the defensive intellectually speaking now this is important and I want to put the dates to here this is Francis Bacon I’ve put 1620 here because that is the date of his first significant publications or one of his significant Descartes publishing in the 1640s Locke publishing in the 1690s but actually doing is writing in the decade before when he was in exile in Holland because he was on the wrong side of various political conspiracies and fences for while but notice the dates here are sixteen hundred’s that’s important yeah now what happens as a consequence if you think fundamentally that the human rational capacity is most foundational and that that needs to be exercised well that has huge implications if you then take the rational capacity or capacity for reason and turn it to understanding the world you don’t have a magical understanding of the world right or you don’t necessarily interpret everything that goes on in the world in terms of omens and signals right from God you try to understand it on its own rational terms well you start to see the beginnings of science and it is then not an accident right historically that it’s in the mid 1600s that we start to see the first kind of recognizably modern scientific fields coming into existence astronomy and physics are the first major battle grounds but astronomy and physics right in modern terms require an epistemology of reason and so physics becomes institutionalized starting in the 1600s capstone names I really should probably have Galileo up here Galileo also did yeoman worked right here a little bit earlier didn’t work out for Galileo very well because he was silence but by the time we get to the second part of the 1600s we’ve got Isaac Newton right towering figure right with a very mature physics right in place awesome things being done in mathematics right by both Newton and Leibniz and any number of other people then it’s a matter of generations by the time we get another 40 or 50 years you can see chemistry right coming online it’s separating itself out from alchemy and magical understandings of how the elements work and then another 50 years later biology right is coming online and so by the time we get into the 1700s we have recognizably the sciences of physics cosmology chemistry biology all of it supported by an understanding that reason is fundamental and we are working out what this means or scientific method we also then see we get into the 1700s right he’s started to be applied to more systemic areas if you take science physics chemistry and you apply it to understanding right thermodynamics right then you get the Industrial Revolution the Industrial Revolution was a lot of inventors of course working in their garages right in workshops but a lot of it was very theoretical science right that was discovered and people were looking for ways to apply this and it’s not an accident then that the Industrial Revolution is first happening in England because England was the first nation of the Enlightenment right Newton bacon Locke right are all right Englishmen so if you apply reason to the manufacture of goods right in the making right of machines well then engineering right as a discipline and all of the various kinds of engineering disciplines start to professionalize themselves and our big capstone label for that is the Industrial Revolution James Watt 1769 with the first right commercially feasible right steam engine right there was one that actually had more energy output than energy right as as input but a century of amazing cleverness with respect to industrial gadgets and as a result of that the number of material goods that are produced for people it just starts to skyrocket so from philosophers arguing about epistemology to scientists working out the physics and chemistry to engineers right putting these things into practice and making machines that can produce awesome down amounts of good we see that trend line in place and the data are very good that by the time the 1700s comes up stuff is being produced on a historically unprecedented scale right cotton right for all human beings to wear dinner plates the fact that you can put glass right in your in your window right all the things that we started to take for granted right in the modern world were first mass-produced in England and then places that were influenced that by that by the 1700s now if you do the same thing you take science and you start to apply it to human beings human beings are more complicated than machines but you get away from again magical and witchcraft and types of understandings of why people get sick alright we’re not getting sick because God is punishing us right for various things or we’re not healthy because God has favoured us right we’re looking for naturalistic rational scientific understandings right for various things and you start to see there’s late 1600s and all through the 1700s a transformation of the medical profession and putting increasingly on scientific footing medical chemistry with Lavoie ze Edward Jenner and the smallpox vaccination a huge right lifesaver I don’t know if you can imagine right being the first person to inject yourself right with with something that you know right came from a sick person who died of a particular disease because you’ve got the confidence right the rational confidence right you’ve done the numbers you’ve done the experiments that it’s going to work so he is a great hero right of vaccination science but these are two guys right I’m singling out here and then again the empirical data is very good are a human life expectancy for most of human history right was in the 20s right it wasn’t until the 1500s that had got up into the 30s right and then starting at the late 1700s we see that number going up right steadily right and so forth directly as a result of this so people are living longer they’re living healthier partly because of medical chemistry were in less pain in a lot of cases and the story is increasingly progressive and we have more stuff right available to us now the same thing though occurs if you take reason right as fundamental and you don’t emphasize that we’re trying to understand the world out there right scientifically but we apply reason to ourselves and we take as the important foundational failure that every individual has the capacity for reasoning what does that imply for the normative side right of our existence well it is an immediate or at boost to individualism because we’re getting away from the idea that only certain special individuals have received insights from and everybody else is in ignorant and everybody else should be faithful with respect to those people who have the special institution are the special insights or that only an elite number of people are the heirs of certain traditions that have come down right over the centuries and if you are not an authorized official right of one of those institutions then you should have faith in those authorized individuals what we are saying is every individual has his and increasingly her own brain and can use it to figure out the way the world works and governs their life and that means that the respect for each individual’s thinking starts to increase explicitly and dramatically now one sign of this is a whole series of political institutions you start to see I’ve got John Locke here again in 1690 the first major battles in this were in religion so if we just take this argument about what your religious views should be and how should we think about religion and deal with the fact that we have differing views right about religion and we know that historically right the standard answer has been we disagree on religion therefore I need to kill you or I need to torture you right to get you to believe it of course you’re trying to do the same sort of thing for me but if the point is that religion is important it’s important for people to know the truth right about whether there really is a God and which one is the right god and what that correct God said that it doesn’t do you any good just to take this on faith that you have to figure it out for yourself and that you’re not right with God so to speak unless you have the right attitude right toward if you’re just mouthing words that you’ve heard from other people that’s not legitimate but if you have convinced yourself of the truth of a certain position then that’s genuine right and that needs to be respected but what this means though of course is that we know people are going to when they start thinking for themselves disagree with each other right and so you and I might might come to a point where I really think that my position is true on this and you do you think your position is true on this but what’s going to stop me from torturing you and what’s going to stop me from trying to kill you is the belief that you are a being of reason and your religion is not going to do you any good unless you really believe it by your own lights and that means I have to respect the fact that you disagree with me on this that’s the more important thing because if I try to torture you into it that’s not going to do you any good and if we’re supposed to be as part of our religion benevolent and love our fellow mankind then tolerance becomes absolutely essential the arguments for tolerance that carried the day in England and in Holland right in there late in the 1600s that’s a direct implication here and that is a historically almost unprecedented right achievement right religious tolerance if you are familiar with religious history right very few cultures very short times but in the modern world that came about here obviously this has political implications if you think if you’re going to leave people’s religious lives up to themselves as individuals to work it out well then what about their political lives what about their economic lives it’s not a big stretch to say we should also get away from feudalism right where we tell people what they can and can’t do with whom they can trade what prices they can set we will leave people up to make their own decisions about what they’re going to make whom they’re going to trade with right and so forth and so we started to see the institutions of modern capitalism and I don’t think again it’s accidental Adam Smith on The Wealth of Nations published in 1776 if you make the same applications with respect to politics well right politics again right should not be a matter of right elite leadership our politics should be something that every individual has the capacity to do we want people to participate in the process we want them to argue right about politics and we want everybody to have a say everybody to be able to run for office and at the same time we want to have protections for each individual to do their own thinking on political matters and so forth so we have constitutional perfections on freedom of speech so again it’s not accidental that we have a number of liberal revolutions in the classically liberal sense first in England than in the United States right then in France all right so freedom increases right wealth increases material goods and so forth and again the dates are significant because all of these dates are in the latter part of the 1700s a century and a half transition that’s the Enlightenment I have an asterisk up here you’ll find this in the book I don’t know if you know when the last which this is just a fun little fact here the last which right was burned to death right in in in England it was in the 1760s right actually her last name was a witch and her daughter who was also apparently a witch and their last name was Hicks okay so I don’t know if there’s any family connection right but that stands out in some people’s minds right has a significant but the point is we stop doing that anymore right we stopped torturing people right over right religious differences we take democracy seriously we take republicanism seriously right we take all of these institutions seriously right liberalism in some form markets right engineering medicine and because we believe in the fruits and the Enlightenment was the first era right in human history that put together this whole package and obviously there are hundreds right if not thousands of very important intellectuals right making all kinds of arguments in prevailing right in the arguments until you have significant movements but they do become cultural movements and then they start to be institutionalized and become started working in machinery right or the working cultural fabric right of the societies that start to think this way first England some extent a little bit later in Scotland spreading across the channel to France and many of the Western European states petering out the further east it goes right in Europe but certainly then transplanted across the ocean to the United States and then everywhere that the British Empire went right the Enlightenment became an intellectual and cultural phenomenon right of this era now also a striking thing we have the language here right so we have Jefferson’s language The Pursuit of Happyness right but think about how again if you know something about the history here how rarer it has been the idea that life should be about happiness this should be a fundamental birthright and that we expect that if we give people space now we have the right kind of society that most people will be able to put together happy fulfilling lives again this is a historically unprecedented phenomena we kind of take it for granted right this idea of sort of just in economic terms right that you know we expect our lives will be better than our parents and our parents lives were economically better than the grandparents that our kids should have it better off and so forth that progress right again is historically unprecedented until you get to the middle part of the 1700s if you ask people sort of speaking how does his human history go are we getting better and better of course the answer is were basically three know things used to be good in the old days it’s just getting worse and worse and worse and worse and worse right the decline theory of history right or it is sometimes things go up sometimes things go down sometimes things go up sometimes things go down it’s the same damn thing over and over just one damn thing over and over right so there’s no improvement there’s no decline it’s just right cyclical right so to speak or the randomness theory of history right you look at history it’s too complicated and it doesn’t make any sense because the world is ultimately a mystery and so we can’t say this never happened before the 1700s the idea that we have finally figured out what has kept people in ignorance and bondage for so long we have become enlightened we’ve got the tools if the reason we have a scientific method we have the understanding of basic human liberties and rights and respect for the individual and we have enough people institutionally right who believe this we can make a society that in principle can solve any problem give us enough time extraordinary optimism right progress as a human birthright to be expected all right that’s the Enlightenment vision I’m calling it a vision at this point because I’m stopping the story here in the late 1700s and at this point it was largely an intellectual movement although there were some significant political revolutions economic revolutions and so forth and scientific revolutions that had happened but this was still largely a projection that if we go further into the future we will deliver the goods on all of these claims that we are making here so when the postmoderns now two centuries later we go from the late 1700s to the late 1800s to the late 1900s are saying right that all of this has failed and that we are now in a position toward the end of the twentieth century to look back and what the Enlightenment promises were what the philosophical underpinnings of it were that we can see that those philosophical underpinnings have failed and that when we tried to put them into practice right they necessarily as a failed philosophy led to negative DIMM ruins manifestations that’s going to be the claim all right but I want to give a definition here and part of what makes talking about part of modernism difficult any broad movement is constituted by a large number of claims I’m a philosopher by training so I always go for the philosophical labels right but what we have here in modernism if we ask the metaphysical question what is the nature of reality what’s real and what’s not real how do we tell the difference between truth and fantasy right what’s just made up right imaginary worlds or fictional worlds from real actual reality and a basic answer that the moderns give is a realist answer or a naturalist answer the world is basically and fundamentally the natural world there might also be a god and we’re open to arguing for it many of the moderns did believe in God but they had a rational understanding of God and believed that you had to argue for the existence of God and you had to argue for it first on the basis of a very good understanding of the way the natural world worked so we’re gonna start with the natural world and see where that takes us he pissed omo logically how do we know how do we really know because we’re a smart species and we have all kinds of beliefs and things that we want to be true how do we sort out the ones that we really should put our confidence in the answer here is some sort of Objectivism right we need to use our experience and reason on the basis of that experience and of course that’s what scientists do in very sophisticated fashion but all of us in our lives need to practice these trades be as objective as we a can in our experience assessing the data including the negative data and trying to come up with our best understanding of it what is it to be a human being de-emphasize these ones but the individualistic themes come out here and our understanding of human nature and the ethics of human beings or individuals they should be autonomous they have the capacity to think for themselves if they so choose to do so some debate over another moral status but largely a retreat from the idea of original sin an idea that human beings are born either neutral or some capacities for developing themselves to the good a more understand optimistic understanding of human beings and then when we turn to political and economic issues some sort of broadly speaking liberal capitalism comes to be the dominant right set of views when and where those are just the historical right labels right of the Enlightenment so this is a five-dimensional definition of modernism and if you want to understand right philosophy philosophy is traditionally divided into five disciplines sometimes six alright what’s the nature of reality how do we know what is it to be a human being what should I do with my life and how should we live together metaphysics epistemology human nature ethics and politics right you have an integrated view on all of those things that’s your philosophy of life this is the modernist right view of life that is radical because if you contrast that to the Primo view our the pre-modern view emphasized supernaturals and there’s a realm that is superior to or beyond the natural world and if you want to understand reality that’s where you start in some sense the natural world is derivative right of a supernatural world that ultimately true knowledge comes from mystical insights that are directed to special prophets right by God and or faith we found a strong emphasis on the sinful nature of man that human beings are not autonomous but rather subjects right and fundamentally we should be obedient right both to our religious authorities and to their religious authorities who carry the carry the weight of God on earth various networks of feudal obligation I’m a member of this class and so Who I am and what is owed to me and what I owe to other people is defined by my class membership and I have obligations of service and sacrifice with respect to other groups and the point just is that between the pre moderns and the moderns that’s the recognizable right set of debates right on all of these right philosophical dimensions and the postmoderns are going to say they’re both wrong right this philosophy has failed we tried that for a thousand years we’ve tried this one for 200 years it also has failed we need a third alternative what is that going to be all right now let’s go back to Foucault I first point I want to make is that post modernists although I disagree with them all of them are brilliant all of them are deep all of them are extraordinarily well-read particularly in the first generation post modernists the ones that I think are justifiably the names on everyone’s lips when we need to talk about post-modernism and the reason for that is that they go for the fundamentals they really are drilling down to the deepest strata so what is the deepest strata well according to this light or this chart rather the most fundamental thing is this modernist belief in the importance and the efficacy of human reason that that’s how we acquire knowledge if we really want to sort out the true from the false we have to be sophisticated in the use of our rational capacity logic mathematics scientific method and so on so Foucault it is meaningless right to speak in the name of right or against reason truth or knowledge now that’s a big guns claim the entire enlightenment project relies on a claim about reason and the claim is going to be that that claim is not only false but just meaningless reason is a meaningless concept proof right is a meaningless concept knowledge is a meaningless concept and one of the things that anecdotally we know when we start reading right postmodern things is there’s a strong dose of skepticism and cynicism about any sort of positive value claim one way this is done graphically right is certain kind of success words epistemologically right truth right or fact right they’re always put in scare quotes right and that’s a way of distancing yourself from it you know I’m going to use this word truth right and then haha right that’s the implicit and this is where it’s coming from so what we do have in post-modernism is a very deep skepticism about the human capacity for knowledge and this is in contrast right to the claim that says if we have faith we’re gonna get knowledge or if we use reason we can get knowledge both of those are going to be seen as false there is no such thing as knowledge we’ve been trying for a long time we can’t figure it out therefore we should realize the game is up now the point then is going to be right I’m harping on this right meaningless is a very strong claim right poison from mr. right that’s just a meaningless phrase and the claim is when I say knowledge that’s no different from poison man from mister actually I can’t even say it twice cuz I just made it up on this flat right I just a meaningless nonsense phrase and of course that’s just a breakdown of communication and if we want to communicate with each other we shouldn’t be using meaningless words and phrases and so the implication is going to be whatever we’re doing we’re not talking about knowledge we’re not talking about truth and we should just kind of set those concepts aside and do something else now what does that mean because that’s out there well richard rorty why not to do death by PowerPoint but this is another important right quotation here the difficulty faced by a philosopher who like myself is sympathetic to this suggestion that is to say what Farouk oh just said the truth knowledge etc are meaningless as one who thinks of himself as auxiliary to the poet right rather than to the physicist pause there when we were talking about the Enlightenment or saying reason scientific method right science and so forth that the job of the philosophers was to support and articulate to a large extent the whole scientific project that has transformed the world in the modern era and what Rory is suggesting here is that no we shouldn’t be thinking of that right because what the scientists think they’re doing I think they’re studying the natural world and they’re gathering facts right and they’re doing logical interpretations and they’re getting closer and closer to the truth right of things and we’re really getting knowledge right of the way the world works but if Foucault is right that’s not what we’re doing so shouldn’t be thinking of philosophers as working with physicists and so he says yeah instead I’m going to think of myself as an auxilary to the poet as a philosopher whatever that is I’m working with the poets and the poets and what the poet’s are doing is closer to I can’t quite use the word right right or true or is that we be paradoxical but that’s where we need to be okay now what’s the difference between a physicist and a poet or if you put it in philosophical terms right the scientists say we are trying to be objective I might really want something to be true I might be emotionally invested in a theory but if the facts and the logic and the evidence goes against my theory I’m gonna have to set aside my feelings and what I want to be true I’m committed to objectivity but if you’re a poet right what is your mode of operation well you just make whatever you feel up right put it crudely right you can make up that’s fine because when you are doing poetry you’re expressing not necessarily a rational theoretical understanding of the world but your subjective reaction to your circumstances right and the world and you’re putting it out there and when I put my poem out there your response to it is not is this true and does this meet the canons of scientific method but rather your reaction is you know does this push my emotional buttons in the right way and make me think and imagine things that I want to think and imagine and so what Rory is suggesting is if we then set aside as we thinks we must the Enlightenment project that means we are setting aside objectivity that physics project and instead we are enshrining subjectivity and the poet’s are the most human realization of human subjectivity now that’s kind of paradoxical because it sounds like we’re saying the right way to think about the human condition is this way but how can I talk about the right way without using the words truth right I can’t say that I know this right and that’s what he goes on to say and this is the predicament right that we are in I have to do this without avoiding our hinting rather that my suggestion somehow gets things right that my philosophy corresponds to the way things really are because as a skeptic I can’t know right what things really are all right so we’re going in this way and we’re using language to suggest some new territory but we’re aware of these pitfalls okay Stanley fish Duke University professor for a long time Milton scholar then actually moved to my state became the highest paid public employee in the state of Illinois made more than the governor as a superstar professor at one of the University of Illinois right campuses talking here about deconstruction plying postmodern methods to literary constrict a criticism and the label therefore a deconstruction is a literary method of applying postmodern techniques to techniques and the claim is to say you know these deconstruction is really pretty great because it relieves me of the obligation to be right I don’t have to worry about being right right what does this text really mean and am i interpreting it right correctly and should I have arguments and good evidence right and so forth instead of that objective right criterion deconstruction says says I just have to be interesting and what’s interesting well that’s deuces wild that’s subjective right all right and so you start to come up with creative right interpretations of the text and there are not these constraints so literature studies are going to go in a certain direction Franklin trachea was a colleague of fishes while there was at Duke Duke his university is very important right to this postmodern story and there’s a fork in the road here because for some post modernists it’s just a matter of being playful and interesting and coming up with cool interpretations that push your value buttons the fish option but we also know that post-modernism has an agenda right there is a politics right at work and this is what lent rikiya is going to argue here which says post-modernism this is now old news seeks not to find the foundation and the conditions of truth all right so we’re not interested in about the conditions of truth right that’s what Foucault told us we don’t do anymore Rorty right agrees well if we’re not about truth and what are we about we are about exercising power for the purpose of social change truth is out power is in and then he immediately applies this to the education because he’s a professor he has students right coming in on a regular basis what should I be doing right as a professor well the entire ideal of liberal arts education right is based on the Enlightenment vision every human being these young people who come into my classes of the capacity for reasoning and I have to expose them to the facts lots of different experiences and have lots of debates and discussions right among the students and with me about the difference ways we might interpret rich all of these facts and data and we’re gonna put our interpretations up against the really smart people who’ve written the books that everybody write the other smart people think that we should read and the idea is we are training the individual human beings capacity for thinking for digesting their experience for being open to new experience to debate changing their mind on all of the rhetoric and argument and so forth that’s what your job is as a professor because that’s what you think is the best way students can become truth seekers themselves and really come up with the kind of knowledge that they can rely on in their lives but if all of that is out what’s left is power my job as a professor as he goes on to say is to quote help students spot confront and work against the political horrors of one’s time so John Gray is right we do live in the dim ruins of the enlightened world it’s all crap right out there my job as a professor is to Train activists and I use my power to do that recasting right of Education on postmodern Minds Andrea Dworkin right generic we know that post-modernism comes in sub-brands right there are racial versions there are feminist versions there are environmentalist versions there are ethnic versions or religiously based versions right and so forth the Enlightenment said right every individual matters all human beings should right be free to explore their their own lives intellectually politically economically and people should have certain rights and so forth and so we strive for the extension of those liberties to all human beings everybody should ultimately be equal and then we’ll be right peaceful and progressive Dworkin right and her postmodern phase right in a book called intercourse you don’t want to read it really despite the sexy title how can you see the words at the back because I’m kind of a delicate person okay I’ll just say it right the normal by a normal man is taken to be an act of invasion and ownership undertaken in a mode of predation so let’s talk about equal liberty and rights and human dignity rich and extending the franchise and education opportunities that’s all a fraud and the reality is men have their power agenda women of course have their own power agenda but there’s unequal power and that’s the bottom line and that carries into the bedroom and to me the most important word here from the Dworkin possession is the word normal right so it’s not just that rapists are a minority of weirdos right among us right whom we need to deal with this is what she takes to be the human condition in male-female relations so that enlightenment promise is again a fraud we can extend this to international relations right we’re not exporting democracy and markets and peace and prosperity for all when we are taking the Enlightenment vision and spreading it around the world and encouraging people to trade with us instead we have a darker vision again strong nations versus weak nations and we all have this rhetoric about trying to get along with each other but really it’s the matter of the strong nations like the United States imposing their agenda in various sneaky forms on all of the weaker nations in the world and so really the weaker nations of the world are always right the victims now this is a reflection by Leo Tarr Jean Francois Leo Tharp about the first Gulf War in the 1990’s about Saddam Hussein so what do you think about Saddam Hussein probably you’ve heard from this postmodern perspective the CIA propaganda version right that he was a brutal dictator right who did bad things to his people right etcetera etcetera the truth is I’m sorry I can’t say truth but something or other is right that’s settin Hussein is a product of Western departments of state and big companies the powerful corporations and the powerful nations just as Hitler Mussolini and Franco were born of the peace imposed on their countries by the victors Hitler was a victim Mussolini was a victim Franco a victim they were bad guys that’s fine but they weren’t like homegrown making their own problems and becoming evil they are a symptom of the real badness which is in the Western rich capitalist nations that have this rhetoric right about so forth the Iraqi dictatorship proceeds as do the others from the transfer of aporia’s right that’s a greek word or an academic you have to throw a few of those in which means problems in the capitalist system to the vanquished less developed or simply less resistant countries so what we have here is the Marxist Leninist theory of the exportation imperialistic Lee of problems from the rich countries to than the the poorer countries and that was a hint but Derrida right makes its yeah explicit quotation deconstruction he’s the big name in literary deconstruction but here he says why is he a deconstructionist and of course there are philosophical issues but he says deconstruction never had any meaning or interest at least in my eyes and as a radicalization that is to say within the certain sorry the tradition of a certain Marxism in the spirit right of Marxism so Marx is important here not so literal Marx but some sort of Marxism right spirit sort of thing and so the various kinds of neo Marxism are going to be an important part of the story here now the point of all of these selection of quotes is to set up right for then the same chart but now we fill it in the way that postmoderns will do right metaphysics what is real what is the nature of reality the postmodern answer is going to be that that’s a pointless question that’s a meaningless question and in philosophy we just that position anti-realism so we’re not going to try to debate whether God really is real the way religious philosophy wants to do or whether natural world is the only reality the way the more scientific minded both of them are making claims that they can figure out the way reality really is the postmoderns are skeptical and to say we’re just going to dispense with metaphysics as a discipline or anti-realist in point how do we know well the answer is going to be that we are subjectivist s– right but rather that we are socially right subjective and that ties in to a kind of social determinism language matters a lot and the argument that often is the most prominent one is that we’re born into certain linguistic groups we learn a certain language at our mothers and our fathers knee but built into those languages a certain set of assumptions and ways of framing the world and those get deeply baked into our understanding of the world we can’t think outside of them and so we are all prisoners of our linguistic groups and the various social things that come out of that the groups of course different languages different ways of thinking about each other and we can’t think past it mean that those groups are going to be in conflict with each other there’s not going to be an irrational way a logical way discourse way of getting past our different understandings of the way the world works so we’re going to have group conflict and need to make good on this a little bit later in the talk here but there’s going to be a strong theme of egalitarianism right equality of some sort is going to be the trumping value right and it’s but it’s going to be a group equality that is the trumping value and some kind of socialism and again those are fighting words but I will make good on them and that’s where we are now and if you put all of the charts together that is a set of different answers to either the pre-modern or the modern chart so we have pre-modern modern and postmodern five philosophical issues completely different packaging’s for each of them okay now here’s my main bad guy right in my account all right and this is when I take a lot of heat from right because there are any number of scholars and there’s an argument that you can make here that says that Immanuel Kant is an Enlightenment thinker and I think there is some truth to that if you say here’s 20 things that make you an Enlightenment thinker I think kicks off about six of the boxes right and that’s a legitimate thing to say but in my judgment Conte is the first of the counter Enlightenment thinkers and he was doing his main writing in the 1780s critique of Pure Reason is his most famous work and the most important work in my view published first edition in 1781 and I will just give you a quick thumbnail of why I see him as the beginning of the turn from an Enlightenment to a counter enlightenment and why Conte is also going to be important and this is not a controversial claim in the history of philosophy though is that can’t basically conquered the German intellectual world by the time we get to 1800 and much of the story of German philosophy since then is the story of neo-kantian ISM and reactions to Conte Conte as much as I will disagree with them now you have to say he is the most important philosopher of the last 200 and maybe 20 years or so now just to Telegraph write a few things there in the preface one of the things the book is called the critique of Pure Reason all right so it’s a critique of Reason right and a critique of pure right reason so there’s some technical terminology built into there but Kant in his preface says that his agenda is to say that enlightenment philosophers are making all of these very grand if not grandiose claims for the power of reason and my job is to put limits to it say there’s only certain things that you can reason your way up to beyond that there are limits and those limits are quite severe right in the Contin corporis all right so what we have then is a philosopher who is shifting away from how can reason and solve all of our problems to saying no here are some limits to reason and part of his motivation is to say that he like many of the religious thinkers right of the era or veer worried about this trend line right science is coming along and it’s increasingly naturalistic and the scientists are coming up with all these explanations for things that really are in conflict with a lot of traditional religion and so do I go with my scientific mind or do I go with my religious heart and that’s a big huge right gut wrenching dilemma right for so many people right at the time and it seems like the choice is if you follow the trend line right Sciences increasing religion is declining that if we go along then religion is just going to be out of human affairs so we need to put limits to what reason can do as Khan puts it to make room for faith right if we say reason is limited here then beyond that faith will have a safety zone and we will continue to be able to articulate faith and if you emphasize that point that is not an enlightenment point but it is central to Kant’s argument canta labels himself a Copernican revolution nary philosopher right he says his philosophy amounts to a Copernican revolution Copernicus was the first in the modern world to suggest that the Sun was at the center of the system and not the earth so we now have a solar system right instead of a geocentric system and if you think of the cosmos as the earth at the center we’re at the center of God’s plan for the world and everything revolves around us well that’s got some pregnant metaphysical implications and value implications if you think by contrast that we are just kind of a putzie plan at 93 million miles away from the center of the action the Sun is at the center and we’re just whizzing around and largely a empty space that also has some kind of cosmological metaphysical implications so that shift from geocentric to solar centric right absolutely important and what Conte is saying is that’s exactly what he’s doing philosophically philosophy up to his point had assumed Haizi said that we are concerned with objective reality that there’s a reality out there and at our job as philosophers is to get it right that reality is what it is it sets the terms and it’s our job to have our minds map right or somehow represent or somehow thira ties the way things really objectively are out in the world Khan’s argument is that that is impossible that we realize here speaking collectively for philosophers right at that point I have been trying for millennia to do that I can’t is convinced by the skeptical arguments to say that that is impossible there is no way for us to be objective about what is out there and so what we need to do is a Copernican shift and recast everything on subjective terms so it’s a deep transition from a commitment to objectivity to subjectivity when you do that you’re in a different philosophical territory and what’s going to then happen over the course of the next centuries is the implications of that get played out increasingly over the generations now one thing I would mention here I don’t know if you’ve read all the way through the critique of Pure Reason it’s a big book Kahn is not a noted for his stylism but there is a very important section at the end or toward the end of the critique of Pure Reason called the antinomies of reason that Kant uses as kind of a capstone set of arguments about why he thinks we have to abandon the idea that we can know reality that we can be objective in any fundamental way and they’re called the antenna mieze of reason and what he does is say if you take four big issues in the history of philosophy of course one of them is there really a god or not and Kant says absolutely you can prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a God and that he must exist but you can also absolutely beyond the shadow of a doubt come up with a completely convincing argument that proves that there are no gods is the soul immortal well you can prove that the soul is immortal or you can also prove that the soul isn’t do we have free will or is everything determined you prove both of them did the universe have a beginning in space and time well yes and no and as far as logic and reason right and the validity of arguments gokon has convinced that arguments on both of these sides are completely legitimate and the conclusion that he draws from that then is to say if this tool of reason can contradictory conclusions on the same issue that shows that reason is out of its depth when it’s trying to grapple with these deep metaphysical issues so we just have to stop being metaphysical about those issues all right now that’s my five minute summary for why Conte is important okay and I take a lot of heat on this right justifiably so because there are good arguments to be made that Conte is pro reason right in various some respects but this is an important turning point according to my argument now what I want to do is just point out some dates here come on died in 1804 all right so what’s that two hundred and fourteen years ago now all right so I want to jump just kind of a long generation just to give you a whiff of what has happened in the history of philosophy after Conte because Conte everybody has to know Conor react to constant scottsville Asif you let’s jump to 1843 Kierkegaard right if you’re interested in existentialism and certain forms of Protestant theology Kierkegaard you have to grapple with him another giant right in the pantheon forty years later but what we have is an explicit irrationalism by the time we get to Kierkegaard changer if you want to believe the things that are genuinely meaningful in your life and are going to give you significance you have to make a leap as he puts it here into the observed because the things that really give us meaning in life right we can’t make sense of them rationally but we really want to believe them and feel that we need to so we need to do a leap of faith unfortunately we’ve got all of these Pro reasoned philosophers who say we have to be rational right and so forth and so what we need to do then is crucify reason go on the attack against reason so we’re very deeply anti-enlightenment right in this school 40 years later all right that’s 1840s another 40 years it’s not perfect math what’s that 43 years Nietzsche right astoundingly important philosopher for the last hundred years writing how pitiful how shadowy and fleeting how aimless and capricious the human intellect is so anti rationalism right with a vengeance right 80 years later jumping another forty years Martin Heidegger whether you love him or hate him right the man was a screaming Nazi after all right so I’m gonna be a little bit prejudiced but brilliant brilliant philosopher right uh no I disagree again fundamentally with him he’s on my top three list of most important philosophers of the 20th century most philosophers right will agree with this and again he’s talking about here we’re trying to do some metaphysics and reason our way to certain conclusions and we just keep reaching these contradictions and here’s this contradiction that has nagged philosophers for a huge amount of time and heidegger’s reaction to that then is to say if this contradiction breaks the sovereign tree of Reason then the fate of the rule of logic is also decided logic disintegrates in the vortex of a more original questioning so some issues that we want to grapple with right somehow logic gets in the way reason can’t wrap its mind around it so we need to set aside logic set aside reason and find some other way to get to that and the point just is that there’s now a long irrationalist traditional philosophy very powerful and very prominent right after Conte and by now we are getting into the 20th century all right those are all what we call continental philosophers these guys are also continental but they are of a different school that is typically seen as a pro reason pro science school and things have been going on in post enlightenment philosophy also in the 1800s and as we got into the twentieth century but many of the pro science philosophers are also reaching skeptical dead-end kinds of conclusions so I’ll just give you some names here Moritz Schlick leading logical positivist thinker reaching conclusions about language right language is not a tool that we use objectively to try to come to understand the world the rules of language are in principle arbitrary right so language is an arbitrary subjective vehicle that we use logic the scientists are all about logic right and logical proof right in and building mathematics on on logical foundations right and so forth logic according to Ludwig fitness on all the propositions of logic say the same thing that is nothing logic does not tell us anything a gar principles of logic and mathematics are true universally okay fine that sounds very nice right if we’re interested in science and coming to understand the world we want universal truth but why are the principles of logic and mathematics true Universal well because we never allow them to be anything else it’s a decisional thing we just allow them to be true it’s not that they are true and we have discovered them it’s a subjectivism that has been reached at this point here at the point then is logic language mathematics either empty or subjective and these are the deep truths that leading philosophers are reaching again now by the first decades of the 20th century some more right rudolf carnap metaphysics and value theory so metaphysics and ethics two of the big concerns what’s the nature of reality what is it to live a good life to traditional philosophy concerns well metaphysics including all value and normative theory logical analysis yields the negative result that the alleged statements in this domain are entirely meaningless metaphysics is entirely meaningless ethics entirely meaningless and if it’s meaningless and this point was to try to do those things we should just set them aside Brian Medlin now pretty generally accepted and I think this is as a survey truth true by professional philosophers that ultimate ethical principles must be arbitrary that’s 1957 published in one of the leading respected journals write a philosophy and I want to cite the 1950s because this is important right as a decade now by the time we get to the 1950s just the lean philosophers are the ones that you would read if you take history of philosophy courses you become a serious philosopher or you’re a philosophically minded person who wants to know what’s going on all of them are reaching skeptical empty nihilistic conclusions about the nature of philosophy so Leo Tarr Foucault Derrida Rorty the biographical data becomes important brilliant guys they go to school born in 1924 26 30 31 by time they get into their 20s and early 30s which was by the time most people get their doctorates if they’re going to get a doctorate the itard gets his in 58 Foucault a little earlier in 51 Derrida and 55 Rory and 56 they’re being educated and reaching professional status in philosophy in the 1950s what had they learned from all of the genius philosophers that they had read skepticism empty emptiness meaningless and so forth and the point is going to be that the reason why these guys are cited justifiably as the leading post modernists is that they are the ones who best recognized where philosophy was in the 1950s and the 1960s and decided what to do about it what the next steps were going to be they were the ones who reacted to the failure of philosophy in the middle part of the 20th century and came up with the alternative and what’s the alternative so this is my first thesis I’m going to say and we’ve talked a lot about knowledge right truth meaningless right and so forth this claim here is that contain epistemology is the ground root but as things get worked out over the course of the next century and a half by the time we get to the middle part of the 20th century postmodern philosophical foundations have been laid and and it’s got this interesting quote from Nietzsche right who’s kind of on the same page here if you take Conte seriously and apply it consistently you will end up with a knowing crumbling scepticism now he was projecting and that’s exactly where philosophy got fifty years after his death okay and that’s the thesis that I am arguing so when you are encountering post modernists and in one side of their mouth they’re saying nobody knows anything right for sure right it’s all just semantics right there are different interpretive frameworks you have your narrative I have my narrative they have their narratives and so forth and it’s all just narratives well narratives are just subjective constructions that push various value buttons right that we have and we have no objective way to adjudicate the value or increasing betterness of one compared to the other that’s this and there’s a deep philosophical story for why that came to ascendancy in the Western intellectual world when it did all right I think that’s a good argument partly because I made it up myself and I know there’s a lot of good counter arguments right they can be made about that and we were just flying over the territory at 40,000 feet so to speak but there’s a thesis there but I do think this argument I’ve made so far has a problem any guesses that’s it’s false [Laughter] it’s not complete the problem is going to be politics I haven’t said much about politics but we also know when we talk with post-modernism that there is a politics at work there as well all right so that has to be integrated into the story right as well so the angry young man right this is not just you know your theory of concept formation and linguistic semantics needs some adjustment Hicks right it’s something more significant right going on and we know that politics gets people juiced up so we have to talk about politics a little bit here now suppose though that we believed sorry this thesis was true right now really what post-modernism is about is some really deep people thinking about naw in truth and the epistemology and metaphysics and reaching some really skeptical conclusions yeah I guess nobody really does know anything maybe it is all just subjective right maybe we all just do make up things that push our own value buttons and and so forth or we’re just culturally determined by the group so maybe that’s true so maybe I’ll just be a skeptic okay about everything and that then means that I and everybody else when we believe things we’re really just making arbitrary subjective commitments to this that or the other thing whatever we want right because that’s what subjectivism is all about bottom line right so that’s true what would that mean for politics alright so there’s what maybe 150 a couple hundred people here right so suppose we all did a lot of philosophy and all of us came to be screaming subjectivist s– right that’s a bit flip really strongly believing that there is no truth that everything is just subjective right whatever and so forth I said all of us then are making our decisions about what we’re going to believe in the value parts of our lives we’re going to include that some political views right so we’re all gonna make arbitrary subjective commitments to a certain way of thinking about the world politically and so we all do that and then we do the survey so we just go around the room and say okay what what what politics did you subjectively commit to right and he says well I don’t know he’s big strapping guys I want to be the king I’m into monarchy and I think you’re looking around I have a pretty good chance that I could pull it off okay form a few strategic alliances right and so forth I don’t know you don’t seem like a very sweet right person you say I don’t know I think everybody should be nice and get along and share everything right with everybody so she doesn’t like monarchy but she’s gonna write to commit right and you somebody says I don’t know I think people should have freedom and rights are absolute right and other people are going to be fascists and right I think I like the idea of I don’t know let’s all go back to the land and live in try right peacefully in harmony with nature so some kind of tribalism right and so on okay so we’re all just doing our subjective fantasizing how many different politics will we come up with right in this room all right I don’t know right there’s a hundred and sixty people then maybe 165 right because five people I are indecisive and changed their mind right and so forth you’re that’s fine you know because everything is subjective anyway right okay good so what we would expect then this is the more serious hypothesis is if everything was just about people reaching skeptical relativistic conclusions about knowledge and truth that when they turn to value issues and political issues they would be all over the map politically you would have people making subjective leaps into all kinds of normative programs and political programs but and this is the problem when you look at the post modernists they are not all over the map politically if you however you define the political spectrum far whatever right over here too far whatever right over here right if everything was subjective and random then we would expect a random distribution on the spectrum but what we find is that all of the post modernists in the first two generations without exception I don’t take it on faith for me but I can give you the list and you can do your own homework you take the top ten leading post modernists and they are all here on the political spectrum you take the top 20 the top 50 the top hundreds of top 200 most cited people in the literature they are all at the very far left end of the political spectrum and that’s not an accident that’s not a random distribution so that’s the problem why is it then that we find a very powerful contingent of thinkers who subscribe to far left politics now adopting postmodern sceptical relativistic subjective istic epistemology what’s going on there alright go back to biography there’s the big form using them as representative Leo Tarr if you add his politics by the time he’s in the 50s right he’s a young man and like most young people we get into politics that we get passionate right about our politics he committed to far-left version of neo-marxists politics Fuko joined the French Communist Party was with them for a few years broke with them but then in the 60s became a kind of Maoist another kind of communism jacques derrida politics did not join the French Communist Party almost but he did hang around in those circles publishing those journals and as we saw in the quotation earlier said his entire agenda was in a certain spirit of Marxism Richard Rorty is an American these three are French Communist Party never that strong right in the United States right for various reasons but the American political landscape Rorty is a strong social democrat and about as far left as you can go on the American political landscape and the same thing holds for Stanley fish and the others as you go through the list all on the very far left part of the spectrum so what we then have is a number of individuals very smart committed to far left politics but in the 1950s in a very skeptical philosophical world now the politics matters in another way because all right there’s Uncle Carl I swear you this my introductory microeconomics professor looked exactly like that guy but it was really disconcerting because I was reading a lot of markzware at the time this guy was actually kind of conservative right and so it was a little cognitive dissonance here so what does far left especially Marxist philosophy mean of course lots of things to be said so I’m just gonna give you a thumbnail thing here but here’s a few things for claims of classical socialism Marxist version two of them are going to be moral claims if you compare capitalism to socialism which one is morally superior and which one is morally inferior there’s the moral agenda and Marx as we know right thought economics was the mother science the foundation right of everything that is built upon it foundational economic claims about the economic productivity of capitalism compared to socialism and this has worked out by Marx and his colleague angles primarily and others in the middle part of the eighteen hundred’s communist manifesto was published in 1848 hold that date in your mind so first the moral claims capitalism is exploitative you have rich people you have poor people the rich people have the power they use their power to keep the poor people down and to extract right wealth from them it’s competitive its imperialistic and so the capitalist profit motive brings out the worst in people and it’s a dog-eat-dog struggle right and so forth socialism then is moral because it rejects the impetus of capitalism the competition the class Society basis instead it’s committed to humanity it’s committed to peace everybody is going to share and we’re going to try to keep people equal alright so moral claim capitalism seems to be doing all right and is more productive than feudalism was right but ultimately it’s going to be less productive than socialism the Marxists right are claiming because it’s got these internal contradictions that are going to work it’s their way out and as a result of that it’s not going to be able to keep its act together the poor get poorer the rich get richer this causes internal conflict right within the cat advanced capitalist societies and the whole thing then will collapse in revolution socialist buy economies by contrast they will be more prosperous because people are going to be working with each other instead of against each other and at least in the early stages we’re going to have a dictatorship of the proletariat but the dictatorship will be wise benevolent leaders who are able to assess the economy as a whole and make proper allocations of resources and distribute things right appropriately and so we will be much more right productive so a pair of moral claims and a pair of economic claims classical Marxist socialism now the other thing I want to add to this is that Marxism labels itself as scientific socialism socialism but we’re not just abstract dreamers we are socialists who think we have studied the way the world works the iron laws of economics right are going to work out human nature we have the right theory of it this theory yields definite predictions about the way the world is going to go and we are going to stand on those predictions we are scientific about this this is not utopia it’s reality so another death by PowerPoint chart let me talk you through it Marxism is a class analysis so let’s take the slogan there to get richer and the poor get poorer we all know that one but we’ll tease it out what does that mean when we actually apply it to a social scientific understanding of the way capitalist society works well we say we have three classes we have the working class the proletariat we have a middle class because there had been a rising middle class and we have the upper class the working class they’re weak they’re poor right they don’t have much status the middle class they’re comfortable but they’re unstable and the upper class are the powerful and the rich people okay so that’s where they are initially initially what’s going on then in capitalist societies of course the poor are being exploited the wealth is being extracted from there’s so many of them wages or pushdown capitalists get to make all the rules they control the government so they can extract as much wealth as they want and so these guys are exploited and it’s very hard for them to get out of their condition if not right impossible and so they’re basically going to as Marxism predicts become more and more people in the population so the prediction then is going to be as capitalism advances more and more people will be forced into poverty or as a result of the capitalist dynamic the middle class right they’re unstable because the logical capitalist competition right says there’s winners and there’s losers and we’re all competing with each other some people in the middle class will succeed in clawing their way up to the rich class but the most of them are going to at some point make a mistake right or they’re going to be out competed and they’ll be forced down into the proletariat so the claim of classical Marxism is that the middle class really has no future it’s going to be squeezed out right and that then predicts population should asymptotic ly approach zero right for the future and the rich right start off there exploiting and ruthless they’ve got all the power but of course they’re all competing with each other right because if you’re a millionaire you want to be a hundred million heir then you want to be a billionaire and if your Marxist you believe that’s zero-sum competition and so the logic then is to say fewer and fewer rich people will succeed at this ruthless competition and they will slowly amass all of the wealth in their own hands and then all of the other former Semler rich people will be forced down right the chain of plan so we have very then three social science predictions that we make right population of the poverty people in poverty sure will go up dramatically under capitalism the middle class will shrink to nothingness and the rich class the bourgeoisie will also shrink over to a very small number now the problem then is going to be I’m going to say this is a problem that even in Marx’s lifetime and certainly in the succeeding generations right of Marx’s by the time we get to 1900 right 1920 right and so forth we march our way through is that all three of those predictions failed it’s not just that they failed by a little bit right or that the data was mixed but that all of the data is showing that the exact opposite is coming to pass if you look at poverty rates under the more capitalistic nations rather than more people living in poverty poverty rates are going down they’re going down significantly that’s an opposite the middle class is supposed to be becoming smaller and smaller instead what is happening is it’s getting bigger and significantly bigger the number of people who are rich is supposed to be getting smaller and smaller but the problem is the number of rich people is getting more and more damnit there’s just more and more millionaires right and then billionaires right and so forth now this is a problem because if you think of Marxism as social science social science stands on its predictions as measured against the data and by every measure Marxist social science failed to fit the data in fact the data was the exact opposite and this caused a crisis not only you know by people who are not sympathetic to Marxism say hahaha you Marxist got it all wrong but a crisis within Marxism and what you find when you read the Marxist of each succeeding generation is they are aware of the data we predicted this but now the data says that what do we do and of course we need to start tweaking the theory right in various ways but this is a problem and as the generations go on and the predictions get worse and worse right the problem gets more and more I want to say that the crisis reached a head again by the time we get to the 1950s the reason for that is important partly because if you look at the first half of the 20th century all right the Marxist head said world war 1 right the marxist theory of world war 1 is it’s all the capitalist countries getting together and going to war over resources and what’s going to happen is the capitalist countries will basically kill each other off or weaken each other and that will provide a space for the communist revolution of some sort right to fill the vacuum that didn’t happen but good news depression right the Great Depression happened Marxist theory says right this is the final death throes of capitalism soft market excesses capitalist getting greedy etc etc capitalism is over and out of the economic collapse or the proletariat will get their act together and we will have revolution that didn’t happen World War two well this is one’s a little bit more complicated because we’ve got the communist nations fighting the fascist Nations fighting the liberal democratic nations but the theory was going to be that the fascists and the liberal capitalists would weaken each other and then Communists if they bited their time and thought strategically by the time right one killed the other the remaining one would be weakened and we will be able to kill them and then communist revolution of some sort right once again by the time you get to the 1950s though it’s clear that’s not going to happen as what’s happening in the 1950s well fascism is gone but it’s probably coming back unfortunately right but it’s gone right and we do then have the familiar Cold War contours right so the Soviet Union versus the left dress or the liberal democratic nations right in the West but the liberal capitalist eminent nations have recovered from World War one from the depression from World War two and things are pretty good if you start looking at what’s going on the poor in the 1950s in the capitalist countries right they’re all buying cars and television sets and the interstate has been built so they’re taking all these trips right and international flight is increasingly available – everybody’s enjoying all of these movies right and eating better and people are getting taller etc etc so by the time we get to the 1950s if you were on the very far left and sympathetic to Marxism it’s not looking good right in terms of the data so I guess works we’ve had a hundred years of waiting for the revolution hasn’t happened capitalists are doing better and better it seems but what about those moral claims capitalism is inhumane well of course there’s lots of things we can complain about how Canadians have treated each other and how Americans have treated each other human rights issues right and so forth and the grand scheme of things those are important but relatively light by historical standards by and large you’ve got a pretty good chance of putting together a pretty good life if you’re living in one of those countries but on the other side to crushing blows happened in 1956 and these were crushing blows to Western Marxists especially because for a generation Western Marxist had thought despite the predictions about the economic modelling right and so forth at least we have the Soviet Union and the Soviet Union is a beacon of our humane moral future it’s a communist revolution that succeeded and Stalin Papa Joe is at the helm with the power to do what is necessary to usher the Soviet Union and therefore eventually the rest of the world in the right direction an almost messianic right fervor about what was going on in the Soviet Union any number of fellow travelers go over there they take the tour’s they come back right glowing right reports 1956 sahlan has died Khrushchev has consolidated power and he announces in a speech that all of those stories about genocide about the asylums about the torture about Siberia were true it wasn’t just CIA propaganda was alright tens of millions of people tortured starved exterminated under what was supposed to be the humane a social system that ever existed how is this possible 1956 also in Hungary one of the satellite states right now behind the Iron Curtain things aren’t going very well economically students in university classes are chafing at having to take only communist party propaganda right in their courses right they want a more liberal curriculum they want to have jobs when they get out workers are hungry and so their approach that are starting peaceful protests well we know socialist governments care about their people they care about the workers they care about the students the reaction of the Hungarian government was to call up Moscow say we got big problems here Moscow sent in the troops sent in the tanks and protesters are shot the ringleaders are dragged off to prison they are tortured forced to give up their allies were then arrested tortured and tanks are sent into the protesters and ride over people and Western technology for the first time this is shown on international television everybody sees it it’s not just CIA propaganda again how is this possible this is a crisis of faith in the 1950s so the old left that is to say the Marxist left is in trouble what are we going to do and what do you do if you are a young person in your late 20s and early 30s strongly committed to your politics and you’re really really smart well Yuri strategize and so one of the things that we do know that happened is this is exactly when the New Left started so we have a new left a new agenda right and so forth and the point is going to be that that agenda right is being set by the strategists and the strategists are the most philosophically minded of them and we know who those people are going to be so this is the second thesis that is to say that by the time you get to the 1950s what has happened is yes philosophies at a very skeptical place epistemologically but at the same time people on the far left are going through a crisis about what we are supposed to do now that our youthful dreams in the classical Marxist ideal have failed and even all kinds of neo Marxism have been tried those have failed the practical results in the Soviet Union and other places has tried have failed we need to do some serious thinking now I’ve used the word faith and I want to say that there is exactly a parallel here because if we think about the kinds of uses of faith that were more familiar with what happens if you’re an intelligent young person and you believe a certain religious worldview typically you come to believe that it’s true it explains a lot of things but it also has a strong normative component you believe that it is moral and decent and it’s the hope for Humanity that your religious vision come to prevail more but then you start to grow up and you start to realize that there are lots of smart people who believe very different things right about religion you start to have arguments with them sometimes they’ve got really good arguments and you find yourself questioning on the basis of the evidence and the data whether your religious views right or true and sometimes you reach the conclusion that you know I don’t actually think the arguments for my religion are are that good there’s a lot of holes have been poked in them they can’t be true and these various alternative religions including non religions the arguments for them are pretty compelling so we have a crisis right a faith that of course we know millions of people go through and to put it in polarized terms it’s am I going to go with what seems to be the best arguments the best logic the best evidence to go with my reason or am I going to go with what I really want to be true which is to say this religious view that has formed part of my identity and my understanding of what is beautifully and nobly possible for human beings what choice do I make and what is that polarized you really have two choices one choice is to say you know the most important thing is the facts the truth and I have to go with the logic I have to go with the evidence and that means as hard as it might be for me emotionally I have to abandon the religion of my youth I have to live without that religion I got some other more rational religion or possibly live without religion at all because objectivity and reasoning matter and some people do without in that road but the other option then is to say you know I’m gonna believe what I want to believe there’s no way I can give up this beautiful deep part of my identity and that means that I have to find some way to get rid of the logic the evidence and the commitment to reason and I’m going to elevate a subjective commitment to something I want to be true over reason and we do know in the history than a religion that there are many religious strategists who take that route limit reason crucify reasons set aside reason in order to rejuvenate personal faith commitments now that exact same psychology carries over to politics and that’s the claim I’m making here about the 1950s socialists the smart ones recognized that the arguments for socialism had been destroyed Mises Hayek and the others and all of the empirical data right that was out there there’s no way to give a rational explanation for the economic superiority of socialism right over capitalism and the data shows that the socialist nations have been brutal in practice that by and large whatever our gripes are about the West’s things are pretty good morally speaking but if you’re a committed socialist you’re at a crisis at this point because you believe that capitalism is evil and socialism is moral but the logic says the opposite do you go with what you want to believe your socialist ideal or do you go with the logic and we do know again some people make the different choice some people say okay I need to modify my socialism abandoned socialism and move toward some sort of liberal democratic understanding but a lot of people double down and say I am going to find a more sophisticated way to bracket Reason bracket the evidence bracket the idea that on politics reason evidence and logic is fundamental and that’s the postmodern move right there another colleague at Duke University Frederick Jamerson Marxist theorist at exactly this juncture says yes we are aware of Marxism x’ and neo Marxism history we are aware of how things have gone right in the West and we do know it is evidence versus political commitment and he’s making his point clear everything in the last analysis is politics your political commitments are fundamental everything will be shaped to fit the political commitments all right so the Enlightenment right versus post-modernism right that’s the battle we’re fighting right now these guys were young in the 50s became mature in the 1960s leading their professions grand old men in the 70s and 1980s trained any number of PhD students who then sells went on to be professors in the humanities in the early the 90s early 2000s and our generation extraordinarily successful for the power of their political strategy and their ability to marshal the philosophical and epistemological arguments to support them now that’s where we are so the battle is joined but I want to now turn in my concluding minutes here and be critical right of post-modernism there are literally dozens of important philosophical issues that I’m not going to be able to talk about obviously all of them need to be engaged are there good arguments for skepticism and good against right and so all of those issues led philosophers down varying paths have to be engaged so I don’t want to undermine the importance of any of those but there are some things that we can say about the postmodern project the postmodern claims and about its assessment of the Enlightenment especially so one thing that we are aware of right is this issue that post modernists are as a movement right not logically consistent and there’s a certain amount of traction and importance to pointing out the logical contradictions right that are made in postmodern so on the one hand if we say right that all truth is relative that is an epistemological claim right that comes out of post-modernism but at the same time post modernists will tell you that in some sense their way of looking at things is the right way of looking at things the other narratives need to be set aside bracketed so when we start talking about what gets into the curriculum for example the standard postmodern claim is not that there are all these other traditions right and they’re all relative and therefore they’re all equal and so we should teach them all the agenda is no the postmodern one is the right way and we’re exerting all of our efforts to get rid of all these other books that do not fit our postmodern Canon that’s a contradiction and it’s worth calling them on it if we believe strongly relativistically that all cultures are equally deserving of respect because there is no objective stance from which we can evaluate them there is a big question why it is that Western culture is always singled out as uniquely bad and evil and worthy of condemnation that’s a contradiction and it’s worth calling out that one if we believe values are really subjective then that sits very uneasily right with the rhetoric that suggests racism really is evil I think that’s true that’s a truth claim sexism really is evil but you can’t have it both ways technology is really bad and destructive right but it’s really unfair some people have so much technology while others are going without we hear both of those right on a regular basis one implication of deep subjectivism and relativism is a kind of tolerance right if I don’t know the truth and you don’t know the truth and all we have is our own subjective narratives right and so forth well live and let live you do your thing we should just be tolerant dominance is bad right the whole exploitation thing rich versus weak that’s just that’s as wrong men subjugating women right value judgments but what we find of course is when post modernists do assume positions of power in the classroom in university administration in other cultural institutions very authoritarian forms of political correctness are immediately put into place not tolerance not issuing the use of dominance and power another contradiction worth calling racism sexism and party race class gender if those are the big three right in terms of analysis but when we look at the arguments here the claim of course theoretically is that liberal capitalist West is deeply racist right but we do know again as a matter of historical record slavery was first challenged as morally repugnant in Western nations and in nations that adopted the philosophy of the Enlightenment and it’s only been in places where those Enlightenment ideals have made inroads around the world that racist ideas have been put on the defensive Wes is deeply sexist right but then if we look at the status of Western women right over the course of the last 200 years not that also problems have been solved here but it is a very progressive story Western capitalists are cruel to the poor well tell you if you want to be poor you want to be poor in Canada all right or the United States right and so on all right for various reasons all right now those are just potshots right so to speak those are argument starters right the clever postmodernists of course have thought about these things they will have some responses but these are useful salaries but I want to now do a none postmodern thing and actually look at some data data facts logical interpretations mathematic statistics etc etc if you’re an Enlightenment guy you think those matter right I think we should be using them against the postmoderns the dim ruins of the Enlightenment the failure of the Enlightenment project let’s look at some data are we interested in poverty all right this is a beautiful website I wish I had this when I was a student right but it’s a Gapminder it’s a Swedish site I invite you to go to Gapminder you can do beautiful things with the data playing around with it but this is a charge this is the world in 1812 the numbers superimposed here what we have on the vertical axis is life expectancy in years so starts at 20 25 30 right and it goes on up to 85 for sneaky reasons that we will reveal in a few seconds here along the bottom here we have income measures we have both GDP gross domestic product and then we also have purchasing power parity and adjustment for inflation who want to keep these numbers across both what you earn and what you can buy with what you earn and we want to compare different nations with each other each of these circles is a nation right in the world so there’s actually a 180 something circles there they are big circles big population small circle small population and they’re also color-coded for what part of the world you are in so all of these kind of I know pumpkin colored ones those are European nations this yellow one here that’s the United States right in 1812 that one right there that’s Canada in 1812 the dark blue nations are sub-saharan African nations the big blue and the light blue one of them vary the South Asian Nations and so forth okay so point then is I’ll give you some numbers here that’s 400 that’s a thousand this is two thousand four thousand this is also a logarithmic scale it’s doubling for each right unit of of territory here as we go go along but what this then is to say is if you go to 1812 right all of the countries the country that has the highest life expectancy in the world it’s about 42 and it’s a GDP about 3,800 that’s the richest country in the world in 1812 guess which one it is that’s England all right so this is England right about 50 years after the Industrial Revolution it started the first nation of the light mint and it’s already breaking away right from the pack if you go to 1712 England is right down around here that’s the United States right this is France right this is Germany and these are Western European nations and then Canada’s lagging a little bit right behind okay jump ahead 100 years we’ll go to 1912 okay so we’re over 1812 1912 one century all right that again is the United States but notice how much bigger it has gotten population is increasing all right income right United States income was down around here twenty-two hundred dollars or so now it is about eight thousand all right there’s Canada keeping company these are all Western European nations these are two East Asian nations that have opened themselves up to trade with the West right in the previous generation not of other countries they’re all still stacking around but notice what we have is most of Europe and North America and two East Asian nations have significantly improved life expectancy we’re now got some nations in the 50s right flirting with sixty right at that point all right one more hundred years we’ll go to two hundred thousand and twelve basically our generation that’s what happened in the last century okay so United States right even bigger Canada is in there Japan Singapore Hong Kong all the Western European nations these are now the Eastern European nations this is now after the fall of Soviet Union one generation this is where the log scale becomes important because you know if you take these Eastern European nations here right that’s about eighteen thousand dollars for a person standard Western European nations it’s in the 30s so it’s more than double these are the two North American nations these are the Latin American nations right I believe this one is Mexico right so Mexico is around fifteen thousand right despite proximity to Arizona if you’re in Arizona right you’re about fifty thousand so the powder makes a big difference there as well but look at the sub-saharan nations all of them all of them were down here I don’t know what parts of the world you travel to I always tell my students to go to Mexico and often they do for spring break and so forth they all come back and say you know the poverty in Mexico I just can’t believe how awful it was it was just horrible there really is horrible right by American standards and by Canadian standards but yeah there’s the yeah the Mexicans are right there by historical standards that’s not bad okay now of course if you’re a Mexican right and you go to some of these sub-saharan African nations right it’s pretty grim but this is the striking point I want us to get to these are all three of the charts here every single country in the world right 200 years ago was right down there that is to say all of the countries in the world were in this lower left quadrant there’s nobody there anymore life expectancies have doubled even in the poorest nations of the world income has in some cases doubled tripled quadrupled right and so forth in a space of 200 years so when someone says what happened in the Enlightenment was a mistake right philosophically an institution we write there’s some data that speaks to that right because that looks like a success story to me if you think living long and wealthy is a good thing and I do so are you interested in racism and sexism of course we are yes this is basically the twentieth century story about women’s education in North America heavily skewed by American data so this each of these lines is a degree so bachelor’s degree master’s degree doctoral degree law degrees medical degrees right early part of the 20th century and part of the 20th century the trend lines are all up right significantly in fact for bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees it’s now 60 to 70% of all of them are women right it’s the men who are having more troubles so getting those degrees right and so forth and that looks like success to me and that’s in the Enlightenment right to touch the nation’s racism sexist re racism right and so forth this is the story right slaves or serfs in the world in 1750 by this measure about 76 percent of the world’s population was either a serf or a slave right at that time enlightenment is just starting its push to say there’s something morally repugnant about slavery let’s do something about that and this is the story right until now we get to our generation and we still have slavery and serfdom right in the world but a very small minority of the population and we’re still going after that that looks like a success to me this is a survey published in 2013 you can get this at Washington Post measuring racial tolerance right one of the questions they ask is how comfortable are you living with someone in your neighborhood who’s of a different race right over neighborhoods and so there’s dozens of questions that mine that territory and what we find is in all of the blue right those are the nation’s where people are fine with it the vast majority of people you find fewer than 5% of the pop relation saying no I actually have a problem living with someone whose skin is not my color other parts of the world the data is of course much more mixed and much more the other way but again it’s not accidental right that the nations that are the most blue right are the ones that are the most touched by enlightenment philosophy and that looks like a success to me so I’m going to assert there’s a fact that the progress right has been real but I’m highlighting the philosophically charged terms because I said fact and I said progress and I said real ok and the philosophical debate right is is joint now of course all of this has huge implications for the culture wars and if you don’t believe in facts you don’t believe in progress you believe in the opposite of that you don’t believe there is a real biological or physical reality that we are ultimately responsive to if you think everything is about power and social construction you will have a very different agenda that’s the one we’re dealing with right right now and my argument is well if your agenda whatever your agenda is the facts and the logic are against you and I think they are against post-modernism you should expect some non factional factual non-logical non civil right non liberal arts education responses to it you will find a very negative hostile uncivil warlike response and that’s what we’re seeing manifested and I now think of as third generation post-modernism and that’s what we’re dealing with right now all right so that’s my book some of the theses there I’ll stop at this point and my hosts will let me know how much time I have to field questions so please have at it ah you guys get to go first nice okay good oh well thank you left versus right and we’re different ideas and party sit on that and you mentioned fascism in your talk the teacher had fascism at the far-right and socialism economy doesn’t have a far left it my son didn’t understand what units of measure were for this okay good so that price spectrum is garbage so the way that they were used now is more or less accidental packages so there’s this package so in the United States you’re a liberal or conservative there’s not necessarily any internal coherency between all the elements right of the package and we just all have left and right for for various reasons and the pretense then is that it’s just a one dimension right along which we get measured that’s exactly right the problem so when you start to flesh things out we do know there are tribal isms and there are futile isms and there are fascism x’ and there are social isms and there are libertarianism and classical liberals and so far there’s no way to put them all on one spectrum right from from left to right so I’m actually surprised that your son is still getting that executives remember typing the exact same question right when I was a freshman didn’t write in university so this the idea was that you know Hitler is at the far right and you know Stalin is at the far left and so then I don’t know where were you put to Thomas Jefferson right if you like a compromise yeah so if we’re supposed to say on this it doesn’t make any sense right or if you kick it up to the theoreticians right so we’ve got you know Giovanni Chantilly and one of the philosophers of fascism right you know we got Karl Marx but where do you put John Stuart Mill you know somebody’s borrowing this from the Communists and this from the fashion history and some sort of packaging so it’s inappropriate so I think good and you’re partway through your question you said the right thing is to say well what is the dimension right that we’re trying to measure as serious political scientists will then start to take up that point so then you say for example yep who do you think the polity is do you think the polity is comprised of a number of individuals and the polity is trying to serve those individuals or anything that the polity is a collective and what we’re interested in is what’s good for the whole it is something that somehow the society as a whole should be coming together so that then would be to say you are having one aspect of your political spectrum should be individualism to collectivism that’s not the only important political question another important question is how much power and authority who we think the government should have and so another one is to say well government should be limited to some very clearly defined functions constitutionally prohibited from going beyond those functions versus other government types of politics to say we think that women should be vested with large amounts of power large and right amounts of authority so then a different spectrum that says you know strong authoritarianism to limited government minimal is about the other spectrum and you keep going through so what he will then end up with is a multi-dimensional analysis when I’ve done this in my semi-professional way I think there are five important dimensions interests say its left and right it’s fine to say I have defined this dimension this is what we are measuring and you can then therefore kissing I’m on the left or the right here but that has to come after some very serious work Thanks hum over this cycle next question you can stay by the free speech bubble you like to a lot of people to have their say but they just have to follow the rules and so I take it down question from okay and it’s very simple it’s just what Foucault a socialist I think broadly speaking yes evidence would be the fact that he joined the French Communist Party in the 1950s that’s one datum he was not a hardcore Stalinist and the reason why he broke was that by the time you got to the early 1950s it was very clear that the French Communist Party was just taking marching orders from Moscow and Foucault didn’t have enough of a anarchist anti-authoritarian Street that he couldn’t stomach in fact I serve people and he is one of the ones who reflected on the fact that the socialist Nations all of the ones that were claiming inspiration from March were turning out to be very brutal right in their practice and so he was enough person to say this is not what I wanted so he backed away from it but then at the same time 15 years later he’s wildly enthusiastic right about what’s going on in in China right under mama you know we know now that Mao was slaughtering tens of millions of people but Foucault is out there waving the the Maoist bent right so I think that counts as a datum for being a a socialist he always described himself as a as a man of the left and in French intellectual circles at the American scientist socialists so I know that there are other elements right enough soda about Foucault he did evolve over time so I think that point you can say he was last socialist or more socialist but that’s the territory he was working most of his career [Music] a true partner is legal I’ll be very very ok so I notice positions could be regarded as some kind of post post modernist yeah all right so the Beatrice okay yeah I wrote a book on each end the Nazis is each other and influence on an enormous range of people in the 20th century all the political map and so on but yet Nazis did see him there the extent to which that’s legitimate by them or not is the subject of that but yes one of the things that need you is famous for is his account of master morality and slave or out and ultimately he was a power politician didn’t believe in truth and so it’s Department by the postmodern see him as a forward right so everything is perspectival and science is a is a psychological projection right on a messy reality right and so on so the postmodernist to some extent do legitimately see Nietzsche as a 4-letter often filtered through Heidegger who also was a deeply read in nature the idea is ultimately it’s its power power works through us and constitutes us but there are different focuses of power capture and different social groups and so we have to understand things sociologically in terms of power struggles and some dominated some ability so on so all of that is very neat you to go back to the Foucault question at one go settle themselves you know you get there down to it I’m just basically a nutrient and I just I tried to read things so that’s the positive claim that says Nietzsche to the post modernists legitimate story that can be Twitter but at the same time this is the first question that you raised over taking them in reverse order there is an obvious way in which Nietzsche would be disgusted with post-modernism because one of the things we find in post-modernism is this idea of victimization and that when you are the strong group versus weak group well if you really believe it’s strong versus we do have a value choice to me right am I going to be on the side of the strong and say you know it is a dog-eat-dog world and there’s not going to be lunch I’m gonna be one of the ones that eat lunch that means I have to be tough and willing to dominate right and so forth or am I going to say yeah the world is dog-eat-dog but I really feel sad and you know I wish they had and so all of us want to get together and we heard together for safety right against the big bad ones and form alliances and so forth now that’s metaphoric alright but we do have right literally are in post-modernism systematic identification with any group that has a victim claim and the victim claim is always valorized right and you’re the mark of your being a moral person is your identification group and one of the political tactics that you use to advance is you play up your victim status right because that then leads you to various kinds of areas right and so forth so neat you know of course himself is on the other side of that divide he didn’t say the world is power or strong versus weak but his view was that if we are going to advance the human species it’s not going to be the weaklings that get us there right it is going to be the strong the powerful who have an agenda and who are willing to dominate other people even to the point of slavery it was it was never slavery to make people I used their energy and used their power for my own agenda and that’s going to enabled me to do something great so Nietzsche I think in his benefit and epistemology is very much what the postmodern rooms are drawing upon in his value theory and his politics he is anti postmark I’ll go back over here my first question that I came prior to this event wanting to ask the boat and I think I still cannot ask every hearing it has to do with the law and recently in Canada there was a a decision made where a person was found not guilty but primarykey o stone and then I was reading later and analysis have done about sort of an analysis from a Marxist piece of writing where they talked about the person’s fear in the situation that they were in is being perceived and that that’s why in the act that they did which they were accused it being crime at Seoul so there’s about the language we talked about linguistics and language so that’s my main question has to do from long ok surrounding with that here I presumed innocence is what I’m talking about okay for something else which is has to do with we’re talking about this evening I was wondering where the work of genius Bob would fit into the because to me it seems very Johann Sebastian Bach baroque music that’s a very interesting question but one of the things that’s interesting in the development music is you know all the data that shows that having a mathematical mind and able to have large-scale abstract structures and to sustain that over time is essential right to the development of great decomposing so we might then float a hypothesis right historically that large-scale musical pieces that are integrated and mathematically interpret can only happen in a culture that has widespread but respect for reasoning and some facility with mathematical ease no that’s just a hypothesis and I would just put it up there for investigation but then the the timing of the great explosions of certain kinds of music writing in the West we fit and they would track on to the development of early enlightenment thank you your first question I’m not sure I’m going to get into quite but it’s question above law presumption of innocence someone did something but their explanation for why they did that was their their their their feelings in response to how they thought someone else was perceiving them am i okay I just I guess I probably get into the question but there’s no cases with authorities about the perception in Saskatchewan was a huge supporter of a used and then he was found not guilty and so then afterwards everyone that was objecting to the decision that he was not killed to him I would only think that they must have thought that he is guilty because they claimed there was no justice but my opinion is that there’s no evidence to prove the person guilty then you would be unjust to find them guilty and the other thing being the critique that Iran of the outcome from these Marxists was that his fear that someone was going to harm him was perceived freedom something that was real all right yell at me okay I don’t know the particulars of the case in Saskatchewan so I won’t be able to give a that part but one of the things that was part of your practice is finding the presumption of innocence and another part was question what do we make of the status of evidence if it is first person reports of a person’s feelings in contrast to evidence that is objectively verifiable by any number of parts and I would say yeah absolutely if you’re a mr. Mulvaney crumbles than all of those procedural issues about what counts as legitimate evidence in a court of law are going to change their grandeur crumble right and go away and courtrooms ultimately will then there’s become subjective battlegrounds right in the worst sense and I think that’s all I can say without knowing the particulars of that case so given that I assume others agree that subjectivism and anti-realism is perhaps not the best way forward what would in your opinion the best way for for someone who wants to take the Objectivist real disposition to answer the admittedly difficult challenge that the post modernists present which is choosing your assets and how do you choose those give it up nothing else to call right okay yes sir good questions about terror where one starts here all I would say is you should get courses ready in history philosophy and perhaps you’re right you have all done so and for me the issue is going to the level of perceptual rate analysis or you get the logic before that the concept is what is the human consciousness is first point of contact for the next general rule under standard realistic layman’s that we have a five sensory organ acquisition in direct contact with the world if you can maintain at that claim they don’t amazes of that you can go on to build up the more sophisticated cognitive things that we can do we can form abstractions they start taking those abstraction putting together into proposition pretty the proposition together theories that ottoman words are not there’s even more sophisticated scientific back then but my reading of the history of philosophy is that in the modern world one of the things that play modernism all that she was that it was not able to and a direct realism an exception and that might be what kind of representation ISM and what you have that big goal between the subject of the object at what the mind or so to speak is where it was an internal subjective representation it may or may not accurately force longer what’s out there you are in a box that you’re never going to get out of it so I’ve written two books the station public perception and this is not using an accident but a master of action for any vaccine come a little bit later because they are sophisticated conceptual identifications and proposition is first of all government recommend is by changing Hinson through the psychologist at Cornell University on the physiology and psychology exception I think even brilliant other than experimental psychologists of perception and also that he gives a very strong direct response to the Conte and how the public understands perception of course clock is drawing on both the raggedness and the appearances tradition both had their fall so eventually take a Gibson or other and I will mention is even Kelly are you an interestingly was a PhD student of richard rorty’s but on the other side of the philosophical maps i just imagine how those conversations when but another very brilliant man wrote a book 1986 all the evidence of the senses and my view was under appreciated classic of directness of perception so I started here at entrance picked up for the top I really broke down the timeline and the development of postmodern time and I guess my questions particularly about basically the last ten years off the developers particularly about existentialism it seems like existentialism impose bars over both kind of like these they kind of take a lot from me – Heidegger’s lines and thinking but they’re also kind of almost diametrically opposite like extensive pretty into creating individual identity it’s very valid positive ways because great prisons but post – breaking anything it’s a lot of responsibility other and yeah I could get me pasta why that’s what happened because I grew up reading a lot of a specialist and then I started reading the post one is it was like everything like this ugly deformed cousin virgin that’s a nice foot yeah that’s good and I think that’s a very perceptive question right I think most of the extension was our generation earlier and so according to the biography so the leading post modernists are all coming of age in the 50s right but Sartre and Camus are coming of age in the decades right earlier to that so there’s a bit of a chronological different but in terms of philosophical categorizations the existentialists are still trying to do some metaphysics and they’re still grappling with issues of human nature and even though Sartre goes say you know existence precedes essence and there is no human nature and so on he’s not as radical right about that as the later post modernist right will be Heidegger as an existentialist if you wanted to include the war German is still trying to do some some benefits right he’s trying to figure out what really is the nature of being with respect to being a capital D being right so I would see that postmoderns are a more ruthless derivation of the most empty skeptical parts right that the existential star grappling with the existentialists are still believing that we can do some metaphysics that we can find some authenticity that we can find as creators right some genuine meaning right in our life and I believe that the postmodern is a banded back that’s too many physical as to positive normatively so that was your grace a deformed cousin it’s like a it’s like the ugly you learnt that what Ruby on the tape yeah we should obviously existentialism has a reputation for being too gloomy the life is absurd God is dead and the world oh and then we die and so on and all of the existentialist will say if you were a mature person you might have to go through that phase there’s a deep fruit but then there is pork in the road that some existentialist like canoeing its are rated some moves and some of the religious existentialist want to say we can start there but nonetheless come up with a positive program right and the postmoderns are the ones who say oh we go there and we just that’s not possible we have to that would stay on the negative path where they become increasingly nihilistic thank you so you talking today a little bit about how the most modernist were sort of king of âge in the 1950s they’re confronted with this reality that town so he’s calling us ideas were not being borne out of it they thought they would that there were these awful things happening in Soviet Russia things like that so I was just wondering them so they’re tact was to switch what was important with this kind of subjectivity and now in 2018 you know I’m fairly confident the American president never read this book or as early the post modernist but we do see this sort of fake news phenomenon the iessons so I was wondering that in your opinion if the faking this phenomena this may be sort of a type of mechanization of post-modernism or just your thoughts on the fake news phenomenon gentle right so yeah focuses really on this the first two generations another stop story so and what you’re asking about what report about the most recent generation that’s that’s a perfectly legitimate question I think the most lurid strategy is general in one sense and that I can attach to any political program any time you’re in an argument you’re losing an argument right if you say well it’s just semantics here’s the breathing space so you play that that the histological card right so or all facts are just being up facts anyways and I could just question your sources and that’s the way but the point is going to be that any movement that gets itself in trouble will find itself resorting to those kinds of defensive strategies and the fact that the far left was in the political trouble in the nineteen fifties in the 1960s they just got their first but I think what has been happening is that obviously other parts of the wording they can adopt the strategy those tactics as well so one of the very interesting things is that in the 1990s this is now one generation after left-wing post-modernism right is in place you start to read in some forms of theology high Christian theology that there working both over those modern themes we’re putting them to service in maintain a certain kind of Christian religious right senator and there are the immediate things but we’re having these battles with these evolutionists we have Ellucian dismal hell science facts logic right excited said I’m on their side and we can’t fight that battle so what we need is an epistemology that enables us to undermined the claim that says facts logic scientific mathematics in the service elevator religion I think the all right now politically right is doing the same sort of thing and then people from any part of the political spectrum if your view is to say you know the truth and justice don’t really matter in politics all it really matters is power and you know there any number of people in any generation ruled that way they will and say yeah they news and real news there is no difference right between those two everybody’s playing the fake news game and our drugs just do it better than anybody Thanks okay five minutes so how about this view each one related question in 30 seconds and I’ll try to do I’ll give myself 40 second five seconds to respond yeah do i close test which rarely speak therefore the silence if you think that the most artists misinterpreted this line positive specific if so was it because of an inability to navigate the paradox before trembling with wicked science any kind of close to the tractates whether he got that right right or not I don’t think so right because it’s an anti metaphysical move saying there’s certain things we can talk about soldier has to close off certain branches of subject and most of the the positive is a lot of positives at that point are and he outlines a difference in your project of saying can’t do metaphysics with weekend through productivity right queries wordy whether you got it right or wrong when he cites his big three if he does say movie thickens fine and high leader and he’s got a certain spin on Dickon Stein or we can argue about that but I do think that big design said the period he’s playing with fire okay that feeds into post-modernism so as you’ve highlighted currently the post monitors are monthly and not to say the least if they reject power and exploitation how’s it possible to organize a socialist state and if objectivity is subjective and how they post blunders justifying the entire nation to trust their one leader to be objectively correct and by the way you describe those modernist and their exploitation of ideology to justify that underlying agenda would it be more accurate to label these people have some sort of revolution [Music] Wow I want to take the first part of that question over the shade the post-modern don’t merge a Kakaako I reject certain forms of power most postmoderns will say that basically this benefits will stratum of the university we’re allowed to talk about that just is power and the only thing is the side of the power imbalances you are on their allegiance is to be historically losing in groups and they just one of marshal power anything’s fair there is only power I’m just worried how you escaped becoming a postmodernist yourself a university major influences work yeah well I think I escaped because when I went to university I wasn’t planning to be a philosophy percent planning to be an architect and an engineer don’t why don’t I can build a thing so I really just got my undergraduate degree in philosophy for fun because I wanted to have a whole bunch of books to read even know what I was supposed to read when I was pursuing my architecture of engineering career so maybe that meant I was a little bit insulated from taking it too seriously you know I didn’t take it seriously right when I went to graduate school and when I started teaching there after so so I I made the biological urges or the biographical one’s not going to carry very far I think if you’re an engineer you want to build things you take reality seriously so maybe that’s right deeply in my bones I may be that knocking but that still is my good readers to say what I think you’re not giving the other side’s arguments a fair shake but there we would have to engage the arguments hi I wanted to know one thing one things you find when you’re arguing with post-modernism or post modernist rhetoric whether it’s like a fight fan of Lacan or just somebody engaging a bit of sort of fashionable deconstructivism if the Apocrypha comes out and they’re more than happy to lay out words just you know if keep in mind the language is just made by cisgendered web men to keep their hegemonic control over culture and then you know use definitive words you know whenever it is convenient for them so how can you call that out knowing that the most people in the public sphere because you’re not going to convince that person to convince the people around you are not going to respond well the huge way this is post modernism look you know people will suddenly become very interested so how do you call that you have to be clear who you’re if you’re interested if you find someone who fits that category they’re serious post one in it then your strategy either has to be I like arguing about this sort of stone I want to sharpen our very horrible tools and improve or you might just say it’s a waste of time you that was Marcus ultimately even if I have to learn change their mind is that top of their agenda is or you might then say the root of my audience is people who are listening to us happiness too baby I know they’ve heard those arguments by one thing idea kind that is useful though is with what modernist is just say something obviously wrong any of those so say you know who come over before he died said that no way that is false we believe certain things people didn’t believe certain things you know this performative contradiction somebody like that that’s that’s a bit cheap but often cheap shots work I get to those whatever the closer okay I really love the presentation although we would like to personally through second this is about the origin of the post mortem excuse my clumsy English describing fugu as building this theory to justify the failure of community 50 seems a bit [Music] redundant you know I think if it doesn’t cover the broad spectrum of the context of Kerala there weren’t in Indochina or war to Algeria was happening at that time and I think that it is losing some contributions of possible arizim around the constructing into structure that this course we’re a freshman giving place Foucault was thinking about madness quality he was thinking about the structures of power in Polish village so a Hebrew name which are significant contributions in trying to understand what’s the role this course in the oppression of within the society all right very good so I would say what you said about Foucault is exactly right but you would also be able to say the same sorts of things about Maureen and legal tar and dairy doll I did each of them is unique and post-modernism is a bit of a broad legal and they have disagreements right among them and each of at different contexts and is responding to a particular issue so if we were to drill down to Foucault in the 1950s and his break from from from from a trencher Communist Party was one of the things that’s going on his having finished his PhD degrees and we’re working on his first sets of projects right what exactly is going on in his mind he fits into this story but obviously there are other things that are going on right for him for him as well let me just say though also I have been very critical along on post-modernism but I do think that all of them are brilliant and there are some things in in Foucault that I that I like because he does have kind of an anti-authoritarian street that comes out on a fairly regular basis that prevents them from being lip service to anyone right kind of ideology and you do get the sense that he’s he does have some genuine humanity right in him that he’s not utterly nihilistic the way some of the other postmoderns are so for each of these guys as individuals yet there would be a much more nuanced story that we would have to tell so but necessarily when you scale how at a movement level you can only say broad stroke of things like subjectivism and skeletons and skepticism our operative here in varying degrees among these people and a certain kind of reaction to coming out of the far-left políticas is going on even though the weights are going to do different for each individual thinkers so absolutely ok I think we’re out of time No No thank you very much [Applause] [Music]

100 thoughts on “Stephen Hicks – Explaining Postmodernism In 2018

  1. The private sector of the United States has been the single greatest force with respect to the creation of a constitutional republic, the judicious implementation of capitalism, the fairest exercise of free trade, the unleashing of the entrepreneurial human spirit, equality under the law and the unprecedented economic improvement touching the greatest part of the human race writ large. With that said, despite the shortcomings of the American Experiment it remains the single greatest accomplishment in the history of mankind. With that said it is dubious to imagine the government (a public sector ribbon of politicians and bureaucrats) can out-match the collective wisdom of the People of United States insofar as doing any better. The Left, however, would like us to believe otherwise. Their specious thesis is but a ruse to appropriate the collective successes born of the American Dream for their unearned and unequal benefit. With that said, the Experiment that is the United States is a work-in-progress, not a work of perfection. The Left takes pretentious umbrage as to the state of progress and gives evidence for failing to achieve utopian perfection—and on that basis they attempt to exploit the state of imperfection with accusative contempt as if being number one in the history of the world, and improving, is grounds for throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The Left claims they can achieve utopian perfection if they held the reins of power. Their solution is to institute the tried and failed Experiment of socialism—that will destroy America as we know it. Their modus operandi requires them to cultivate a contrived doubt respecting the collective wisdom of the People so the Left can co-opt the People as a fifth column to act against their own success, progress and interests. Withal, the Left calculates to wrest power from the People—via a shameful confidence scheme comprised of equal parts of hubris, folly and despotic ambition. Let the American Experiment continue unabated under the stewardship of the Right, lest Leftist ideologues impose the horrors of socialism on the hope of the world, which is the American People.

  2. It's strange that when people wants to draw attention to how well our life is today, compared to older times, they always pull out the average life expectancy, without mentioning anything about child mortality.

  3. I see mostly old heads in the seats. Poor Hicks may be preaching to the choir. I wonder what kind of response he gets when he speaks to the Millennials.

  4. What truly fascinates me about post-modernist thought is that it is, by its own definition, utterly meaningless. That is the fundamental problem I have with most similarly nihilistic skeptical frameworks. Without some sort of pursuit of truth, it's just philosophical and rhetorical masturbation from people who have seemingly decided that they are above meaningful understanding and in doing so, have essential implied that everything they have to say is useless as well. One can acknowledge the limitations of human thought and perception without throwing out the clearly beneficial ideal that is the pursuit of truth.

    This is by far the most straightforward and coherent explanation of the relationship between post-modernism and modern Marxism/Social Marxism that I have ever heard. Ideological devotion is the only explanation that really makes sense. And it's no wonder that die-hard Marxists try so very hard to distance themselves from the relationship by implying they are completely unrelated and one most be incredibly ignorant to believe otherwise (i.e. the usual response when someone like Jordan Peterson talks about postmodernism). All while accepted theories in academia (like Feminist notions of "strong" and "weak" objectivity) are built on the very same cynical rejection of truth and knowledge that conveniently sidesteps the growing mountains of evidence that contradict their claims. Their beliefs cannot be wrong, so it is the very concept of truth that must be rejected or redefined. It is a ideology built on expertly obfuscated and convoluted cognitive dissonance.

  5. This is nonsense, and evidence of the abundant ignorance of most of the cult members commenting this video. Hicks is explicitly counter-enlightenment. The alleged post-modernists, as any cursory reading of actual texts would show, were all carrying forward the spirit of the enlightenment from Voltaire to Hume to Kant, which meant critique above all else: the critique of authority and the legitimate exercise of power, whether political or religious; the critique of knowledge, whether gained by reason or sensation; the critique of economic principles underlying the division of labour and systems of production and exchange; the critique of moral customs and society, the foundations of law and justice, rights and duties; and so on. If you think enlightenment means holding on to the scraps of a fading world in the name of tradition and established power, then news flash, you're not on the side of Enlightenment. Read a damn book and stop listening to conservative grifters trying to peddle lies to an unlettered audience.

  6. You can believe and cleave to both modernism/reason and Faith/Divine intervention. Its not one or the other its both. God ordained both reason and Faith. Faith should not be foolishness and neither should reason be biased or a lie. Leave it to Academics to make things complicated. But its true the Christian does have an advantage in that God revealed himself to Him by his Holy Spirit. This is the disconnect for the academic thinker all he has is his thoughts and maybe the creation to speak to him. In the end, everyone finds out the Bible was true after all. The purpose of reason, science, and industrial advances is to Civilize the whole earth and support 7 billion people from it. Not to take care of ourselves apart from God and go it alone. Preserve our own lives because there is no God and no one to take care of us. Were just some strange accident out there in the cosmos.

  7. I am very glad I watched this because I thought his book on postmodernism looked interesting. I now know that his arguments are pathetically weak in the sense that he attempts to refute the postmodernists by superficial exogenous arguments, i.e. pseudo-psychology and claiming capitalist successes validate Enlightenment philosophy. He even conflates socialism and communism, completely ignoring the problems in capitalism or that there is any alternative to reform it beyond collectivism. It's ridiculously simplistic and, indeed, arrogant. So, I've saved myself money and time. This is a mediocre thinker, a sop for the ignorant right. I say this as a moderate conservative, not a marxist or whatever, but a skeptical, curious thinker. I don't agree with the postmodernists, but would like to learn what they think, where they went wrong and what of value there is in their approach. On that level, Hicks completely fails.

  8. If truth goes out the window, so does inequality and power. You can't determine what's fair and what's unfair without reason.

  9. Were it not for Franco, Spain would have been a communist satellite outside the Iron Curtain. Truth and reality are important.

  10. Math and science (biology, chemistry, bio-chemistry, physics, quantum physics, cosmology), economics, banking/investing, finance, business should be required courses for philosophers to graduate with a degree in philosophy. It appears they have far too much time on their hands to dream up the post-modernism b.s., which, by the way, even by their off-the-wall standards, have gone completely awry. That's what happens when dumbed-down, agenda-driven universities, staffed by tenured professors, accept students (not capable of the hard subjects that require math, sciences, economics, finance, business, investing) who should not be at university at all, and slide them into namby pamby humanities programs. Meanwhile, if anything should eliminated, wiped off the map, perhaps it should be the outdated study of philosophy. The tragedy is that less-than-bright politicians have attached themselves to the nonsense and, if not stopped, are on track to destroy global humanity.

  11. All bearer of the name including Myself required knowing this as a Gender Proper and pronounced blunted as is spelled pronounced STEEV-ən/STeF-ən

  12. Open College with Dr. Stephen R.C. Hicks #1 – Free Speech; Why The Philosophy Matters

  13. Enlightenment is still works and still goes on.
    Modernism is still working,
    Post modernism is that the provocative
    idea of reducing all objective realities
    to the subjective individuals with ideas about them
    and then reduce those ideas to conformity and communication.
    Finally attacking the subjective individual who trying
    to think for himself and who is daring to certain in himself.

    Postmodernists wants everyone to be confused and
    they want to manipulate and control information
    and communication.

  14. As polemic this lecture is beyond brilliant. However, as an informed and accurate explanation of the origins of post modernism it leaves a lot to be desired according to a brilliant rebuttal which can be located here

  15. Ideology: the lecture. Agree with the user Napoleon Klein below, the good Dr. Hicks picks his quotes very carefully. Indeed very ingenious in supporting his argument specifically, not useful for much else.

  16. from 40:00 onward is a great exploration of how postmodern effected the academia and how it started from the arts. He uses the example of poetry. The same thing one can say about visual art with Picasso movement like cubism, later into dadaism, futurism and Warhol. The same thing was happening in music where you had 12 tonal and later chance music, same with dance – chance dance, improvisation later dealing all with power, politics, and social activism as he states! Brilliant. Originally, I was going to comment, how come he doesn't talk about Marcuse who was all about "liberation" of just about everything, and felt that people were living in Plato's cave, and that's why they must liberate themselves, but I think he did a good job explaining it without all those other postmodern/Frankfurt school philosophers.

  17. 44:40 – This was a funny catch, in discussing deconstruction, he applies it to Fish's argument as as demonstration of how it works, and asks "well, what is interesting?" deconstructing his argument. 😉 LOL

  18. I love the people trashing this talk.

    The commonality in everyone upset at this talk?

    They are all postmodern, or subscribe to postmodern methods of thought.

    I bet there is not a single right wing person who would disagree with this.

    Again, why are all the postmodernists on the left?

  19. I knew from the start of childhood that I was different, odd man out, I'd never fit in and there was no use trying to play these games. Life is a setup and the only way to keep your sanity is to operate around the obstacles as much as possible. It's like a board game or a card game–life is in fact Vegas. If you aren't a gambler and high stakes roller, you must withdraw or the rabid players will eliminate you in more violent ways. Choose a quiet life, don't speak too much, don't opine unless you have facts straight, argue calmly and withdraw when it makes sense. Above all else remember that your view and situation is unique to your own experience and nobody can tell you what your reality is. Don't seek idols or fame; don't desire too much; and don't suffer fools. Religion is an evil road. Think for yourself always. Nobody on earth knows much more about the experience of living than you do. We are all on the same bus ride to nowhere. Try not to live in your own film. Never live in others' films/dreams. Let your failures and successes be your own. There are no heroes, only heroic circumstances. Believe in nobody but yourself.

  20. I have read and listened to Steven quite a lot. I have learned quite a lot, have gotten much of my overview of the current philosophical landscape from him. I agree with much of his view of things. I disagree with one important aspect of his world philosophic view. This disagreement is as follows.

    Steven sees an evolution from an age of Faith to an age of reason (and onto our present age in which the age of reason is being threatened by an encroaching age of postmodern reactionary emotionalism) , and defines the age of Faith as an age that essentially put their faith/trust in religious institutions and religious text and their accompanying dogmas.

    I think Steven misunderstands the true nature of this stage in human philosophical development/decay, because he skipped over a significant stage of this philosophical evolution. I think within the age of faith there are two distinct philosophical forces at work, one of which actually fostered the age of reason (and thus can reasonably be said to be a faith factor that fosters the mature use of reason. And not to see this faith-based trigger for the age of reason, is to result in what we have now, an age of insanity, of emotionalism, or reactionary thinking.

    Within this age of faith there came to be an age of socially and psychologically trans-formative protestant individuality, based upon the faith of the individual, not in an institution, nor in a set of dogmas (or even the sacred texts these are based upon), but in one's own experience of God. And yes, within those that embraced this Protestant movement, there existed internal conflicts about whether and how much one could trust/have faith in one's own individual experience of God, yet this conflict did not erase the massively potent and influential catalyst that Protestant individualized faith experience brought to the philosophic and intellectual landscape.

    And it was the enlightenments turning away from this individualized faith experience , that rendered our present age of reason, so easily co-opted by the personal interests of academicians (the widespread suppression of alternative lines of thinking) and the political interests of Nation states (Nazi science).

    It was the failure of the Protestant individualization of one's spiritual experience, and the eventual return to the collective ideology of what became Protestant dogmatism, that the enlightenment began to react to in suppressing all aspects of faith in the simplistic category of irrational and counter-rational experience. There came to be an enormous conflict between Reason and faith, and such conflicts inevitably result in projection of all of our unlaced issues onto those we fear. Projection, in turn, leads inevitably to the institutionalization of the very same misbehavior one was once afflicted with in their enemies. All of the suppression brought to bear upon enlightenment thinkers by the suppressive Religious establishment of Europe and the Americas, was not unconsciously embodied in enlightenment institutions. And our desperate clinging to reason, led inevitably to our seeing reason co-opted by hidden agendas and ulterior motives, so that the age of Postmodern reactionary, thinking is upon us.

    And what would the reaction to reason be? It is the embrace of the facts of emotion, and memory, and how these two things affect what we frequently mistakenly take for reason. The Postmodern philosophy is a reaction to the toxic end results of the hypocrisy and suppressive weight of modernism's, and Enlightenment's reactionary positions on faith. And Post Modernism will win out in the end. It has to, because it comes at the end of a long line of reactionary philosophical pathology.

    There are significant and useful elements in each stage of our species philosophical development. Even in Postmodern thought, there are those impressively necessary realities that reason is nowhere near as simple as the Enlightenment, modernist thinkers want believe it is. Yet, it is the reactionary thread of each Philosophical stage (including the Protestant stage, which eventually was taken over by their own reaction to the spiritual threats of the Catholic Church in the form of Protestant Dogmatism, which undermined Protestantism individualized faith just as Enlightenment's reaction to Protestant dogmatism undermined their gift to the world, reason.).

    So, what we have here, in Steven Hicks rebuttal of Post modernism, is both the modernist thinkers denial that they have ulterior motives and hidden agendas at work in what they think of as reasoned rejection of faith, and we also have Steven's denial of the Postmodern reaction to the excesses generated by Modernisms ongoing toxic excesses. And given that Steven is among the most clear-thinking and articulate members of the modernist camp, and he cannot see these things, it is a dead certainty that Postmodern thought will prevail in the world. And yes, it will be very toxic in its effect upon the world. The thought Police are on their way. We should all be prepared for the coming purges.

  21. I enjoyed this and found it very easy to follow but it was of course one sided. I would like a coherent rebutal from a post-modernist of his caliber (if they exist?). But this criticism of post-modernism: "it defines life as a power struggle and thus has a political motive" is weak, life is obviously a power struggle in any system: in our socio-capitalist system it is also about adapting to adversity, competing, and survival of the fittest individuals and groups (corporations, bankers, political groups, ideas and their adherents, unions, non-profits, men and women ad nauseum). Post-modernism has flaws but they are no more flawed than the libertarian ideology of placing the individual over the group – both are valid and should be employed by any thinking person but in isolation both are disasters. Post-modernisms main function is to look at the way power systems operate and could be improved for the individual and the group. Now this is not radical or stupid but is a very valid and noble enterprise so long as it sticks to the data.

  22. The fun fact about the ones who say nothing is a fact and that all is just subjective opinions is that it is just they're opinion and not based upon facts, they don't believe in facts…. I do, and i think it is that they just don't have any arguments that give them power, after all it is knowledge that make the world go around, the destructive psyche of dose ppl are just to obvious, like kids that try to destroy everything when they cant win the game.

  23. For anyone on the periphery, that is, not fully up to speed with the machinations of PoMo, this lecture and lecturer are invaluable. Highly recommended. Big shout out to TFSC.

  24. A truly enlightening talk by all means… he should join Dr.Peterson and the IDW! its just that all the tiny RIGHTs at the end of each word was a bit distracting :D! But great job and I am thankful you shared it.

  25. Anyone else sees a connection, between postmodernism and the dismental of Logic and the high rate of women at universities?

  26. I don't think there are too many people, even at universities, who take postmodernism seriously as a philosophy, since it ultimately doesn't go anywhere. In my experience, postmodernism is now for the most part a debating tactic that intersectional feminists and cultural marxist social justice warriors selectively employ to demoralize opponents and derail discussions. The people who employ postmodernist tactics reveal that they aren't committed to postmodernist propositions because, if you look closely, you'll see that they very much believe in truth, which they think they possess, and in facts, which they claim to have mastered and which they say support their beliefs.

  27. There are intelligent, well-researched, coherent arguments against postmodernism. Just not from Stephen Hicks.

  28. Advocated postmodernism as reason, postmodern defined as mistrust in theory’s. Trusts it’s own theory’s. Odd that.

  29. No matter in whatever society you live in defines you as an individual,its what role you play in it. Are you a stick carrier to forcefully carry out the rules or are you carrying the basket with food and clothing to provide to your fellow men. A huge problem with philosophy is the following: Its impossible for a lazy privileged person to even comprehend the true meaning of things, it can only be done by a person who has after a hard day of producing something of value for himself and his fellow men still the time to contemplate the improvement of the human condition. Once you become a “professional “ you start loosing contact with the day to day reality and will get lost in a delusion sooner or later.

  30. The measure is not about left and right but how much misery are your actions or ideas creating for your fellow men. All ideologues without exemption want to live the comfortable life on top of the food chain, rule and control their environment by braking natural law. If we all take the gloves of and decide who is the biggest monster left standing than the inevitable outcome will be total chaos. Its the ungratefulness of the self proclaimed rulers towards the producers and their delusional belief in being necessary in our world what leads to constant conflict and misery. It is easy to be on top surrounded by order followers and make up rules and social constructs who exclusively benefit you. But you can not ever be so stupid and really believe that everyone is just going to give in and hand over the resources they produced in your custody. We either all live by the golden rule and grow or we are going around in the current state of human condition which is slavery. The sheer presence of the existing reality will force an out come on to us.

  31. 11:24 Shows what an ignoramus Hicks is. You guys make a mockery of the free speech movement by promoting this sophist.

  32. This guy is a propagandist. He peedles and distorts literature and history as he likes to meet his own agenda. He hardly talks about any original arguments from original work rather just provides whatever value judgment he wants. Look up this channel . He dissects his propoganda. He also has good references and video explaining post modernism.
    Hicks is just propoganda machine.

  33. Right right right right right. This is an amazing session but I’m going to blow my brains out if I hear right one more time.

  34. I thought he had his facts very nicely laid out until toward the end when he attributed the sharp decrease in % of slaves in the world directly to Enlightenment Philosophy, when in fact it is the direct result of Industrialization & wealth accumulation together with the luxury of time to ponder the moral questions with or without religious affiliation. Also the map on 'Most and Least Tolerant Nations 2013' does not seem to reflect the actual situation in the respective countries accurately. On the whole though, a great learning experience for me!

  35. Nietszche's writtings are full of meaning and was pro reason, his philosophy is an invitation to aim to be the best you can be, I'm oversimplifying as I said it's very deep, I wouldn't say he's an irrationalist

  36. This is not very good or informative at all. He says it himself "this is a mischaracterisation of Decartes but…" NO but! Just one of many fallacies that bubbles up from the simple to the more complex subjects this talk fails critiquing in a sound manner. eg. Decartes proves God's existence in the same text as Hicks quotes, and since Hicks insists on a traditional approach to history it is worth pointing out that Decartes wasn't an enlightenment thinker. The Enlightenment is a temporal marker that points to the 18th century – OMG Kant wrote a book titled "Critique of Pure Reason" and one wonders if Hicks thinks Plato was unreasonable. And so forth… this is really elementary errors. There's an abundance of far more inspired and not intellectually sloppy material in the world already, don't settle for this.

  37. Post modernism was developed by many different people with radically differing views on philosophy and politics, most people today don't know anything about the postmodernist movement and postmodern thinkers are about as likely to influence their views as anyone else living at the time. Singling out postmodernism as the source of our woes as a society makes about as much sense as singling out the Brady Bunch, probably substantially less sense as significantly more people are familiar with the Brady Bunch and have actually watched an episode at least once and could describe what it is. But surely I must be brain washed by the postmodernists, which are apparently pulling all the strings and manipulating the west to fall into a state of degeneracy from a shadowy kabal of… oh it's just code for Jews.

  38. "Knowledge" absolutely does exist. It is before you, but it is not recognized because of its simplicity, for only a complicated mind can see it. If it is recognized it is then rejected, because it would put the complicated mind out of a job.

  39. I hate that uneducated people call what Stalin did what "communism" said instead of "failed communism" or "corrupted greedy communism". Stalin did nothing of what his predecessors ideas were or what communism stood for. "Everyone is equally fu*** under me" "elite will have more while poor have equally less" "I will kill whomever I want" seems to this guy the same as "everyone deserves equal minimum comfort in life". The thing is to fight the human greed and corruption that is the evil side of capitalism, you need agencies that are checking each other as much as they check government and institutions. Nice propaganda for people who don't even know what communism or capitalism was supposed to entail. Working class may be not dying now from overworking physically, but the suicide rate in USA says it all. Not caring for veterans. Stupid gun laws that kill people for profit. I'm not a communist or even would not consider myself todays left at this point, but I rather have social capitalism like in Europe for the betterment of society hundred times over than living in a capitalist country like USA. Moral system? Reasonable? Far from it USA, try again. 🙂

  40. why do SJWs and dumb lefties downvote this? he's literally giving post-modernists credit for being smart. idiots…

  41. I find postmodernism to be so ironic. Foucault asserts that we all have bias so we can never arrive at any truth but he asserts this during a time period in world history when human inventions are prolific.

  42. One contradiction that isn't addressed is how rich many postmodernist are. Postmodernist professors are paid a lot, neatly rich but yet they promote Marxism which is for poor people. How do they square this circle?

  43. In his conclusion, he displays data proving that we are better off today across the globe and across centuries. However, American don't get their benchmark from the 1800's or from sub Saharan Africa. What's relevant to American is, are we better off compared to America about one generation ago. We don't care what the rest of the world is doing or what our ancestors went through. There's data showing that younger generations are not as well off as compared to their parents and grandparents. For example, wages have been stagnant for a few decades and few middle class Americans are invested in the stock market. Now with all f this said, who is to blame? Is it just a coincidence that we see these problems at the same time that postmodernist are gaining influence? Could it be that postmodernists who hide behind feminism and immigration, are causing this backslide?

  44. Another contradiction that could be added to his list is how the left hates the 1% as a group but loves individuals who make up the 1% such as Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, George Soros, Nancy Pelosi, etc

  45. 41:20 — "I can't quite use the word 'Right'…"
    lol. You've actually used it in every sentence you've spoken.

  46. A Critique of Stephen Hicks' "Explaining Postmodernism" by Cuck Philosophy

  47. Hicks is the man! I think, best way to get someone to snap out of the allure of post modernism, is to tell them that there are people who think we can’t know anything, or prove anything in politics or philosophy; That ideas ultimately don’t matter in that arena.

    “The mind is the tool we use to discover what’s already there.”- M

  48. PC just gets in the way of the inescapable truth:

    Life is for the strong, and, if need be, taken by the strong. The weak of the world
    were put here to give the strong pleasure

  49. I just listened to Mr Hicks' talk about post-modernism in 1998, very interesting to hear this talk 20 years later. The guy is a genius thinker, so ahead of his time.

  50. I’m only an hour in, but this is one of the most important and urgently relevant things I’ve stumbled upon. Thank you so much for making this available ?

  51. The core of the matter begins at 28:50; the pursuit of happines and who will granted it. God or government. Man beggins to look for hapiness.

  52. O Stephen Hicks é uma fraude. O livro dele está cheio de citações inventadas e citações atribuídas a filósofos errados (como quando ele atribui uma citação do Todd May ao Foucault) além de representações completamente incorretas da filosofia pós-moderna. Um exemplo é quando ele afirma que a filosofia pós-moderna é baseada na identidade quando na verdade a maior parte dos filósofos pós-modernos (como Foucalt e Butler) são pós-identitários. Ele também afirma que Andrea Dworkin e Catherine Mckinnon são feministas pós-modernas, quando na verdade eles são feministas radicais que rejeitam o pós-modernismo explicitamente. O Stephen Hicks confunde mais do que esclarece. Sem contar que ele é partidário do objetivismo randiano, uma posição filosófica que não é levada a sério no mundo acadêmico por razões óbvias para qualquer pessoa que tem uma compreensão básica de filosofia.

  53. Can anyone help me with this? – If we can say, that some of Nietzsche´s ideas were misused by the nazis, what is the argument against the marxists saying, that the ideas that Marx proposed were misused by the Soviet union, China and so on? I am genuinely asking :). Amazing video.

  54. First, recognise that hume's scepticism has to be solved if reason and science are to be based on solid grounds. Second, dedicate your life to proving that causation is a necessary element of human perception and so science is necessarily true. Third, dedicate your moral philosophy to showing that no man should be a mere means but every human being has an innate dignity which must be respected. Finally, some idiot under the cloak of a professional comes along and says you are an antireason religious fanatic who tried to destroy enlightenment


  55. Yeah bro I love to be on the side of reason! Reason is everything, everything we do is rational, I love that. The only thing that is not irrational is reason

  56. Woah… I was on board until he mis-characterized Kant & neglected to discuss the idea of a- priori reasoning in a really unprofessional way. Kant was not advocating for a subjective form of epistemology… Our legal justice system wouldn't work without Kantian ideas. WTF!?

  57. AUTOGRAPHED books still available here:

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