Postmodernism: It’s about Facts, not Values

Jordan Peterson in which he “destroys Post-Modernism & Marxism once and for all”

In the video Peterson discusses how postmodernism implies infinite interpretations, and that the failure of postmodernism is failure to realize that there only a finite number of interpretations.

To recap, postmodernism is:

-a literary and art style
-a ‘condition’
-a form of discourse
-an epistemological system
-a blanket term for far-left liberalism under the veneer of academic prose

The postdmoernidist condition has become so pervasive in recent years that people read it without even being aware of such postmodern themes. Articles denouncing sweeping social change and or warning about the potential dangers of technology in terms of social alienation and disruption to society, are part of the condition, and although postmodernism is associated with leftism, such concerns don’t discriminate between ‘left’ and ‘right’. Nick Land’s articles have themes of this. From: The Boomer Backlash, Part 2:

These narratives are like a giant web that spans the far-reaches of Reddit, 4chan, and even Vox magazine. Everyone is plugged into this ‘hivemind’. We’re all becoming like Nick Land, channeling his philosophy whether we realize it or not. Before the 60′s there was a general optimism about technology and ‘progress’, and then some guys in France turned those notions upside down, and the legacy still lives on 50 years later; for example, the paranoid cyper-punk writings of authors Philip K Dick and William Gibson, both of whose popularity has surged in recent years. But then also the immense popularity and notoriety of postmodernist writers Thomas Pynchon, Chuck Palahniuk, Hunter S. Thomson, and David Foster Wallace.

Peterson ignores this aspect of postmodernism. Modernism means unwavering optimism about modern society. Postmodernism is to deconstruct this, questioning whether such modernity is always ‘good’, but again, this is not exclusively a left-wing critique of society.

Regarding the final two bullet points, as discussed in the post Defending Postmodernism there is a persistent misconception that postmodernists reject facts and truths, when this is not actually the case. I don’t know where Peterson gets the idea that postmodernists reject facts. It’s not so much that postmodernists have an infinite number of interpretations–rather they have an infinite number of values instead a delineated set of preferred values. This makes postmodernism intimately connected with moral relativism. For the online postmodernist, correctness is more important than values. Most postmodernists don’t dispute that men and women are different, but reject the idea that such differences have value or meaning. The ‘patriarchy’ is hence seen as an oppressive value system. But that doesn’t imply support of matriarchy either. The absence of values means one cannot make a determination which one is better.

The late David Foster Wallace is considered to be a postmodernist writer. As further refutation of the misconception that postmodernists don’t care about facts, his books and articles are meticulously researched. It’s obvious he cared a lot about accuracy, and he was a staunch devotee of linguistic prescription (in contract to descriptivism), even going so far as writing a review of a Bryan Garner’s A Dictionary of Modern American Usage.