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MACHINE DREAMS

Alexei Taylor, Author

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Postmodern


‘Postmodern’ gives the impression of a concept more or less aligned with modernist thought, right? Ironically, postmodernism came to prominence as a reaction to the modernism of the previous era. Even more ironically, art critic John Chapman coined the term postmodern in the 1870’s (in describing certain artworks), although the term eventually came to define the all-pervasive change in the post-WWII global society. As befits so broad a concept, it has no uniform definition. In fact, the "inexistence of an absolute truth", (a sub-concept), renders a uniform definition for postmodernism impossible. However, certain factors are consistent with most representations of postmodernism across various disciplines, most of which play out antagonistically towards modernism.



In a sense, modernism and postmodernism do overlap because rapid technological advancement characterizes both eras. But where modernism advocated scientific discovery for the purpose of improving life, at the expense of ‘old-fashioned’ concepts, the postmodern era embraced these traditional values albeit in a modern/ironic context. More importantly, where modernists accepted the belief in empirical knowledge, and the existence of objective reality, postmodernists advocated skepticism towards such ‘metanarratives’ (to quote Jean-Francois Lyotard) and accepted a pluralistic approach to knowledge, giving equal weight to each viewpoint, and dominance to none.
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