Wednesday, July 14, 2004

on Post Modernism

Well, I'd provide an "official" definition for post modernism, but my dictionary couldn't provide it. So, you'll just have to sit with me as I attempt to explain this ideological phenomenon.

First of all, I think it is a mistake to think of post modernism as a twentieth century phenomenon. I think the cultural dynamics of post modernism have existed throughout human history. I remember looking up the definition of this "force" in an anthropology textbook of mine several years ago. Unfortunately, I don't have the book anymore, so I can't reference it exactly. Basically, the textbook defined "post modernism" as the breakdown of traditional cultural institutions and values. This would remain relevant to all forms of social belief, including religion, art, science, politics, and law. This type of social "evolution" has always happened in society. Some key moments in human history concerning the breakdown of traditional thinking are: the codes (laws) of Hammurabi, Greco-Roman democracy,
Christ, the Magna Carta, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, the Reformation, Civil Rights, etc. I'm being biased, as there is so much more, specifically pertaining to the scientific revolution. See also Copernicus, Newton, Darwin, Einstein, quantum physics, modern cosmology. Get the picture? History shows that what we "know" is always changing, or expanding. You can thank the written and spoken word for this, but as human population density expands, so does its territorial boundaries including all knowledge and belief of an individual culture.

What makes the idea of "post modernism" significant to today's society is the fact that we are "quickly" becoming a global society. Technology has given human communication an almost unlimited reach. A side effect of this is the present cultural conflict among nations. Of course, we've always had war, but our inter-continental "war on terrorism" is a perfect example of this. This is a war between cultural ideologies, initiated by the mutual belief that "my way is correct, your way is not." The idea of cultural relativism has everything to do with this. Perhaps "post modernism" may best be defined as the evolution and integration of culturally relativistic identities, wherein some cultural values fuse with new ideas while other traditional values break down. Basically, post modernism is cultural evolution on a global scale. It promotes the progress of human civilization. Simultaneously, in our nuclear age, compounded by our dependence on artificial environmental systems for sustainment, our blindness to the effects of post modernism threaten to destroy the very civilization we've come such a long way to build and protect, namely, the civilization of Earth.

Post modernism might be difficult to grasp. It represents an antithetical concept to our common beliefs, but we shouldn't hide our eyes from it.


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