142 Comments
Feb 6Liked by Johann Kurtz

"Essentialism is a kind of violence…”

It’s actually the other way around.

“Knowledge is just an expression of power.”

Just power is an expression of knowledge.

“Power is domination.”

Tell it to the Sun.

“No truth claims can be grounded.”

Including that one?

“There are no facts, only interpretations.”

Is that a fact?

“Every perspective is equally legitimate.”

That’s illegitimate, according to my perspective.

“All knowledge is relative to an individual’s standpoint.”

Absolutely relative, or relatively relative?

“If a term or concept was formulated in a colonial context, it must be false, and deploying it is a kind of violence.”

What is ‘colonialism’ and when did it start?

“Classification is a form of conceptual imperialism.”

Speak a coherent sentence without classifying something.

“All binaries are violent hierarchies…”

Like trans/cis?

“Language determines thought.”

And vice versa.

“Being is always already before language.”

Just so.

“Philosophy is phallocentric or logocentric.”

(1) Mostly (2) You’re projecting

“Logic is merely the codification of heteronormative, white, male thinking.”

You’re welcome?

“There are no more metanarratives.”

Are they illegal now?

“History is over.”

Just wait.

“Knowledge is impossible.”

How do you know?

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author

It really is that easy

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Feb 6Liked by Johann Kurtz

"Tell it to the Sun" 🤣🤣🤣

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Feb 6·edited Feb 6Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

Nice piece.

When Western Civilization was in its infancy, it was converting pagans; people who believed in a God, just the "wrong" one. They had not been exposed to Christianity. Now you are attempting to convince people who have been exposed to and have rejected Christianity to keep a Christian morality without a Christ, a totally different proposition. The position of a world without meaning gave way to meaning without a world. Neither was tenable, so now we have dozens of small worlds with small meanings, and the people who claim to inhabit intersections of these small worlds proclaim themselves They/Them gods. The argument whether Western Civilization can survive without the Christ of Christianity, and only its Golden Rule morality, is yet to be answered. It's not looking good.

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Yes. Belief cannot live without action. Rituals nourish belief. After the belief ceases, the rituals may continue for a time, but ultimately they too will fade. As you say; without both transcendent meaning and a way-of-being-in-the-world, our civilization falls.

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[As loathe as I am to link to a Fox News piece, Dennis Prager here is worth it (subtitle) -- "America will not survive if its rituals do not survive":]

https://www.foxnews.com/opinion/passover-rituals-vital-dennis-prager

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Feb 6Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

Western civilization *is* Christianity. All of its institutions and art assume a belief in God. If you take that away, you're left with the world in 2024. The institutions -- like universities, hospitals, and capitalism -- are still alive, but they're inverted. Art is close to dying altogether. There's no life behind our prattling philosophy.

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author

Aristotle would like a word.

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Feb 6Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

Fair enough. But I think you could make an argument that Christianity did a lot to keep Greek and Roman philosophy and literature alive.

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Feb 6Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

I think the Gestalt is what matters here, and the Aristotelian gestalt was both reiterated by Christianity and then killed by modernism. Postmodernism is just the corpse of modernism decaying. I think we could use a rearticulation of the Aristotelian gestalt.

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Absolutely.

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Dont know much about Aristotle but it could be said he was one of the "philosophers" who provided the verbal scaffolding for the hard-edged "realism" in which we are now all trapped.

Not much room for the intrinsically open-ended and paradoxical nature of human existence and of Reality Altogether.

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Indeed, and insofar as this is true (which is pretty far), the valuable core is really the pagan philosophical tradition, and not the Semitic overlay.

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Feb 9Liked by Johann Kurtz

Mr Carter - The Graeco-Romans were the closest to understanding the Divine and how it related to us; this is why Our Lord was born in the Roman Empire. This is also why the philosophy of the two greats (Aristotle and Plato) has been fused into the faith. But without Jesus Christ, the Eternal Word, the Ancients were clawing in darkness.

Revelation is held by the Son, and no one goes to the Father but through him. You are close to the Truth- transcend your own ego and embrace it.

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It's nothing to do with ego. I simply don't see what Jerusalem adds, beyond a bunch of Semitic bafflegarble. There's nothing, either at the philosophical, ethical, or mythic level that wasn't already present in the Indo-European tradition.

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The Black Adder summed up your thesis with his now immortal words Utter Crapp!

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The pagan philosophical tradition was getting sucked into deconstruction, or sophism as it was called back then, until the "Semitic overlay" came along.

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Some of them. One might point to similarly masturbatory or amoral tendencies in the church, but it wouldn't follow that the worst invalidates the best.

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deletedFeb 7Liked by Johann Kurtz
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I have no problem with the Christos. It's the Jesus part I don't believe in.

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Feb 20Liked by John Carter

What is Blood Satellite? Do you have a link to that review? Thank you in advance!

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Meanwhile there are now more Christians in the world than ever before both in total numbers and as a percentage of the human population. And yet the world is becoming more and more insane every day and some/most of the leading edge vectors of this now universal psychosis are back-to-the-past Christian true-believers some of which are listed here:

http://www.digital.cpac.org/speakers-dc2024

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Re your last sentence.

There is no living-breathing-feeling human life to be found on this site - just a lot of macho posturing.

The images that the author uses are infused with death too.

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Very true.

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Feb 6Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

I agree this is an important project and that philosophical foundations matter. I think Friston’s free energy minimization theory of the brain gives us what we need. Beliefs are predictions, full stop. It doesn’t matter what you _claim_ to believe. If you won’t place a bet on some future outcome, with real stakes, you don’t believe it. Absolute certainty, then, is not a function of the accumulation of evidence but of the intentional choice not to doubt. If we believe that true ideas are those which correspond with reality, we don’t need to attack our opponents, merely prevent them from stealing from us and they will starve themselves out. Simply legalizing prediction markets (they are in a regulatory mess right now) would go a long way to reward people for calling bullshit, and make it clear who actually believes and who is just talking.

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Hey man, nice to hear from you!

Skin in the game is certainly the secret sauce. That opens itself to prediction tracking, too, which in turn establishes the basis for a reputation score. Academics, pundits, and tv talking heads would be a different breed entirely if their audiences could see an objective metric for their predictive power.

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Yes brain's are very much like computers. They operate on the same principle, namely:

Garbage In Garbage Out.

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Feb 6Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

Great article - thanks for writing!

If I may attempt a pithy summarization, it sounds like our weapons need to be "zetetic memetics."

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author

Brilliant.

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Perfect

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Feb 6Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

Let's revive the old saying, "Says Who?"

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author

It came to me in a dream.

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Feb 6Liked by Johann Kurtz

You know, that's really funny because that is a very common response by pomos who have learned the spiel by rote but lack understanding of it (something something golden rings and sows' snouts).

"Says who" when you have claimed something politically incorrect yet self-evident, such as humans having two sexes and only two sexes.

"Says I" is of course the audible response, "Wanna make something of it? We can step outside, just say the word" being the unspoken word.

It is astonishing how quickly they back down (and run to HR I suppose, I was out of it when "picking a fight and tattling to teacher" became the go-to strategy).

"Gravity is a social construction" she said, the physics professor.

"Why do you take the stairs then, why don't you just step out the window?" said I, because my mouth runs on its own circuitry.

This was in the 1990s.

What we call woke/postmodernism is 100% the same crap that ran rampant in the 1970s, but without the internet and social media it was confined to institutions for women's studies and other kinds of institutions.

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And make woke jokes

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Feb 6Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

Why, because you say so? 🤣

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I enjoyed reading this and I gave it a few days to gel before I wrote this response:

I repel against the idea that there is nothing good in postmodernism. We have to understand not what postmodernism is today, but what it was in its hay day around 1945. At that time it was an artistic movement associated with dada, zen, and surrealism. It was John Cage, Kenneth Patchen (who wasn't famous yet), and Salvador Dali. Postmodernism recognizes the primacy of the search for novelty over what was felt to be aesthetic or good in the arts. The work of postmodernism is to decouple art from the cliched emotionalism that ruled the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Emotion became cheap and easy in music and literature, and we discovered that we cannot use the same tired paths to reach the same emotive responses. We wear out our neural pathways and our responsive synapses don't want to fire the same way on repeated listenings to the same piece of music or film. Also, art that mimics what other artists produce wears the audience out. We can't always reproduce these cliched emotions from the same tried and true artistic gestures. The audience needs novelty or it can't sustain a sense of meaning. This search for novelty is why songs get played out. Our ears tire of listening to the same noise. So, the project of postmodernism was to decouple mimetic artistic gestures from their easy emotional responses, and to make the audience work again to find meaning. This includes thwarting the audience's expectations (John Cage) and including ambiguity in art, where it isn't clear exactly what the artist intends. Postmodernism asks its audience to experience the world again as if for the first time. But that was 80 years ago. Artistic movements don't last 80 years. They last 10-15 years. Postmodernism has been co-opted by agents who use it as a blunt Nihilst instrument, to destroy any aesthetic. This is not true postmodernism, but is brutalism. Art from artists that hate their audience is brutalist. Brutalism is rampant in architecture, and there is also plenty of literature, music, and theatre that is meant to display the artists' antipathy for its audience. Let's differentiate between postmodernism, which was great a long time ago, and brutalism, which is a terrible and destructive influence now.

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This is a really brilliant comment. You might consider turning it into an actual essay - I would happily share it if so

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Seconded.

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Feb 11Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

Standing ovation!

All true, and your text provides such an important window into where it came from and why it came about, which is necessary to understand why and what it is today.

So, so well put.

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> At that time it was an artistic movement associated with dada, zen, and surrealism.

In other words, it was a movement that tried to pass off ugliness and nonsense as art.

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author

Surrealism is great, though.

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If I had to guess when her art was made without knowing I would've been off by 75 years. https://publicdomainreview.org/essay/the-substantiality-of-spirit/

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I'm not convinced surrealism has much besides novelty to recommend it. Certainly, looking back one can clearly see the seeds of many current evils within it.

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To be fair, I've often made a similar critique of T. S. Eliot's free verse poetry. Eliot was a genius, a poet of the highest caliber. His poetry wasn't formless per se, it simply flowed seamlessly and entrancingly from one form to another. Only a master could accomplish this.

Those who followed were too dumb to understand this and just puke out ungrammatical garbage with weird typesetting, and think that's poetry.

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T. S. Eliot is another example of the same phenomenon.

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Eliot is not my favorite. The Four Quartets is a good work by him. William Carlos Williams response to T. S. Eliot's The Wasteland is a brilliant work: Spring and All (1923). Basically, Eliot was producing English Lit. in America, and WCW insisted on an American idiom. Williams enjoyed a long brilliant career.

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When I was first introduced to postmodern works, I felt the same way. It takes practice to listen to music and to read books. What you will enjoy when you first start listening and reading is far different than what you will enjoy after decades of reading and listening. There is no accounting for taste, but the tastes of people who don't spend their lives in music listening and reading books are very different than those who do. I will give you a couple postmodern works that I love, and that could be accessible: Memoirs of a Shy Pornographer by Kenneth Patchen (1945). Mulholland Drive by David Lynch (2003), Twin Peaks by David Lynch (1991-2017). You may hate these works. That's up to you.

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That's just Stockholm syndrome.

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I suggest listening to the orchestral works of Paul McCartney. You'll probably love them.

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For a daily dose of blunt nihilism and the now infamous purveyor of such why not check out the rantings of the Yellow Haired Monstrosity aka Donald Trump. How many lies has he told so far!

He has single-handedly trashed all the normative conventions upon which all the institutions of a civilized culture depends

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Feb 6Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

Postmodernism the method was doing okay, until it became ideology-ised during the 1970s to late 1990s.

As a method, it has its advantages since it demands the analyst stepping outside his own preconceived set of truths, be they "hard" or "soft" science or of a socio-cultural nature, or the senses themselves or pure experience for that matter.

As an ideology or perhaps even an epistemology and ontology, it instead becomes a perpetuum mobile of rationalisation, very much akin in nature to economics: everything is reduced via rationalisation and reductionism to the lowest common denominator, then made equal and the same by linguistics and semantics, and then the arguement and position which was not provable or possible to argue for intially is exhumed (or re-animated) from this process. This is why postmodernists and those mired in its method of reason can spout things like "All laws are arbitrary" and think that this a) means no laws are justified, moral or have intrinsical value, as well as b) being able to state it is so, makes it so and removes from the speaker any moral imperative or any burden of proof beyond relativisation.

The reason for the above process is the french post-WW2 philosophers, once called "the new philosophers". I'm sure I don't have to name names. Where postmodernism as method simply enable one to pick apart societal phenomena and contrast and compare them (the, or one of the original point(s) of sociology) in order to further understanding of them (not "being understanding of them"), it does not permit someone to rationalise their own actions as always morally good, something which postmodernism the ideology does as it sees morals/ethics, logic and so on as just another semantic costume for the ever-underlying powerplay.

I'll go so far as to admit there's /a/ truth to that, but it is not /the/ truth.

The truth is instead that without absolute and external to the individual source(s) of morality, the individual himself must stand exposed before his own deeds, feelings and urges: how much more soothing then the embrace of frigid and forgiving nihilism.

Which is why postmodernists always come across as relativists and nihilists, at least superficially. Less intellectually honest than dogs, they cannot own up to "My will, my deed" but must instead blame [insert fetish* here], much the same as a child of five might do: "It wasn't me, it was the TV-people that took the cookies!". This is why they often seem so perversely childish and childlike: they take refuge in their own inability and unwillingness to assume responsibility, and (just as a spoiled child) will use this behaviour as leverage: "If [insert current fad here] is accepted and respected and cherished, then I'll hurt myself!"

Look at the trans-somethings and homosexuals for the perfect examples (unsurprising given that ideological postmodernism was conceived by homosexual pedophiles).

Another reason is of course that the use of postmodern method really isn't all that special. A (in my day) common exercise was simply: "Analyse text A according to school of thought B", f.e. a feminist analysis of "Heart of Darkness" or a catholic analysis of "A Clockwork Orange". Hardly exciting and unlikely to yield much influence and power, and certainly not any kind of absolution for urges, wants and deeds.

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That perpetuum mobil is a huge source of its popularity in the academy, I think. No final answers, no final arbiter of truth whether with a capital T or a lower case. Just an endless kaleidoscope of perspectives from which to view every phenomenon, providing fodder for an infinite ramification of doctoral theses and journal papers on queer theoretic interrogations of Virgil or feminist critiques of early Thomist philosophy. It reduces academia to a self-referrential language game whose only purpose is jostling for clout and access to resources.

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Feb 6Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

Which is why it was possible to make an "AI" some 20+ years ago capable of churning out postmodern abstracts for essays: no actual intelligence or knowledge needed, just the ability to recognise keywords/phrases and string simple sentences together according to basic grammar.

The initial engine for "The Postmodernism Generator" was called Dada, fittingly enough, and it premiered in 1996 or thenabouts.

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Yep. Also why there are fraud mills posing as editorial services that will compose a doctoral dissertation in as little as a week, on any topic you like. It's all word salad and the academics themselves don't read their own nonsense.

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Fantastic response. As you say, because there's truth and utility to the method, it cannot be dismissed outright, tempting though it is. Only in acknowledging both its strengths and its deep flaws can we escape its gravity.

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Feb 6Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

Thank you!

It was in part the contrast between political science (with a heaping of other subjects) where I was, and women's sutides where my wife was, and out discussions about methodology, ontology and all the other fancy terms that brought on the realisation that postmodernism and its attendant ideologies was academically speaking very much a coitus interruptus; never finishing and never spawning anything.

All it was as it was practiced by an increasing number of (initially) humanists was an advanced form of mental masturbation, and when the identity-forming part was added in the late 1990s, it started to resembled self-induced psychosis.

I will never forget the debates at university where a grown woman (a professor of physics!) could claim that gravity was a social construct, or that holding different cultures (or races as the americans say) to the same standard was racist - and holding them to different standards was also racist, depending on whay gave you the greatest leverage at any moment.

Having had personal experience with mentally ill/retarded (schizophrenics, autistics) and drug abusers (heroin, mainly) I couldn't help noticing the similarity of the structure of reason/rationale that was emerging among acamics during the 1990s, and since (this is something postmodernism got right, saldy) normal in a social setting is a quantative concept rather than a qualitative one, as soon as they were of enough numbers, postmodern-ised ideological concepts became the norm, and then the dogma.

Nowadays, when my brother selects literature for his students, a board must sit on it and decide if the authors are "representative" enough, with a political commissar present who has final say and de facto right of veto. In geology.

What is hopeful is, it was this kind of mentality and behaviour which caused the still largely medieval catholic church and christianity to commit suicide during the 17th and 18th century, making it possible for that faith to re-emerge during the late 19th century, centered around said faith's prime principles rather than church dogma and structure.

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In physics and geology.

Lord help us.

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Feb 11Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

I always enjoy and respect Rikard's comments, occasionally giving him a "heart" , but not too many as they clog up the inbox. He appears on enough of the Substacks I read that I wonder if he has much time for real life, but I don't think that he is a supportive AI.

As you mention physics we should consider quantum mechanics.

Moving from Newtonian physics to quantum mechanics made my brain hurt, possibly in the same way as a teenager gets "growing pains."

I wonder if the postmodernism was a reaction to the apparent paradoxes of quantum mechanics- you could never know where you are or where you were going, at least not at the same time. I had enough in my BSc work to understand that my math wasn't good enough, but it was helpful about ten years ago when I visited a genetics lab and realized that all of the "results" were statistical, not proper Newtonian facts. This helped a little when the PCR scam was unleashed.

My introduction to the (unmentionable author) deconstructionism was at third hand via an ex-girl ex-friend's coursework in the 1990's. It did allow me to follow today's essay and commentary.

Thank you for continuing your work here.

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Feb 11Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

Hehe, he is a retired teacher, so that's why he's got time on his hands to trot out his hobby-horses all over the place. ;)

Plus, it's the middle of winter. Not much to do but feed the chickens, cut and chop firewood and wait for Spring.

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Feb 6Liked by Johann Kurtz

“Knowledge is impossible.”

Hm. How do they know that?

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Because it feels right?

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Students of quantum mechanics (vs) who haven't figured out that the wave function collapses at a certain scale?

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I have coined this era, The Age of Rediscovery. Discovering and applying old ways of understanding towards new knowledge gained. For instance, metabolic science is now understanding WHY the old ways of eating were healthier for the homo sapien compared to modern diets. This is old knowledge understood in a modern way. A blending of the old and new instead of a disregard and dismissal of our past. Homo sapien has lost much knowledge on the road to modernity. It is now being rediscovered. It's a beautiful thing.

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author

Very nice

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Feb 7Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

So was your essay ♡

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Feb 7Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

You know, this Essay reminds me a little bit of another that John michael greer wrote on Critical theory.

He basically Describes the History of Critical theory, along with where it went wrong, referencing both that very same inventor of Zetecism that is the hero of this Essay, Joseph storm, but another great and late philosopher who fought the myths of Progress, Bruno Latour.

here is a link to all who are curious.

https://www.ecosophia.net/the-myth-of-modernity/

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Feb 6Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

A fantastic piece I'm gonna have to save to ponder longer. The problem of postmodernity (and its roots in modernity) has been on my mind a lot lately. You might have suggested me a solution.

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author

Glad to hear it, and thanks for the comment

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Feb 6Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

It is sublimely refreshing to read this essay, and know that inquiring, open minds are dissecting the Post-modern Amoeba. The initial findings suggest—as we knew all along—that the Amoeba will not and cannot survive, as it has essentially castrated and neutered itself in so many ways (I use both surgical terms to allow for the current 14,259 genders).

I’m reminded of a book that Jonah Goldberg published in 2012, “The Tyranny of Cliches”, wherein he dissected how Liberals tend to mangle language, to obfuscate their real message. Fascinating analysis, but then poor Jonah talked himself into the Darkside, bless his heart. Alas, now he’s One of Them.

Interesting statement: “…skeptical seeking, which Storm calls ‘Zeteticism’.” That sounds a lot like what was only recently otherwise known as classical “Science” and “Philosophy”: knowing that you do not—and cannot—know everything, but nevertheless still desperately yearning to know more; or at least as much more as your mortal being can grasp.

Anyway, you also state, “We are accepting that a) human knowledge is not the same as infallible access to absolute truth; and that b) the postmodern dogmas are patently false even on their own merits, and do not even carry the appearance of truth.” Might I humbly suggest a sequel to this fine essay of yours: pick up where Poor Jonah left off.

I.e., in the section where you quote Storm’s various examples of post-modern’s absolute assertions, “Essentialism is a kind of violence…”, etc., choose perhaps 4 or 5 of his examples (or as many as you wish!) and give us a Playbook of (brief) Retorts. Give us a playbook we can take to the Streets.

Maybe?

Think of the fun we could have. We could party like it’s 2016.

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author

Glad to hear it's refreshing, and thank you for the thoughtful comment. Let me recover from this deep dive into postmodernism before I decide if I have the stamina to retort every one of their misconceptions!

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Feb 6Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

My gut tells me if you only did 2-3 retorts we could pick up the pattern of your logic and apply that to the rest. And when I said “brief” retorts, above, I’m talking about maybe 3-4 sentences, max. Short paragraphs. Like you’d do in a live face to face conversation with one of these Intellectual Idiots.

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Feb 6Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

Your description of the search for lower t truths sounds a lot like William James’ philosophical pragmatism. A response to the totalizing theories of modernism that left room for knowledge and values. The road not taken was always there.

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Feb 6Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

I’m thinking that Steve Patterson and yourself would find a lot to talk about.

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author

Will read. Any recommended starting piece?

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Feb 6Liked by Johann Kurtz

https://open.substack.com/pub/stevepatterson/p/our-present-dark-age-part-1?r=1azse9&utm_medium=ios&utm_campaign=post is an interesting take on the last century or so.

Not all of his articles are on Substack yet. The below is one of my favorites.

https://steve-patterson.com/defending-zenos-paradox/

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Mar 4Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

I also joined for the art !

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Feb 8Liked by John Carter, Johann Kurtz

I like this. And if I have understood correctly, it seems that “metamodernism” may well be a modern rediscovery of all that can be learned in the Biblical book of Proverbs. Especially seeking out Wisdom. On another note, the self-defeating cry of the post-modernist always struck me as hugely amusing. “There is NO such thing as absolute truth!”

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