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Updated: Feb 28, 2023



  • Post modernism is a product of modernism and modernist values.

  • A late 20th-century movement outlined by broad level of skepticism, relativism and subjectivism.

  • It opposes the modernist statement that there is an objective reality.

  • The term is associated with Jean Francois Lyotard as it first came in 1979 with the publication of his “Postmodern Condition”.

  • Post modernists have denied the faith in science and technology as the instruments of human progress.

  • Main post modernists thinker involves Jean Francois Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault , Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe.


  • Martin Heidegger a German philosopher and post modernist thinker along with Lyotard have popularized the term postmodern.

  • They say postmodernism is about the distrust towards all those theories and ideologies which claimed them to be the universal theories.

  • Friedrich Nietzsche also one of the postmodernist rejected all the moral and political principles as a mere nihilism.

  • Michel Foucault was mainly concerned with the forms of knowledge.

  • Derrida’s deconstruction is another approach to understand the postmodernism, opposed the claims of a single truth and knowledge.

  • According to Jane Bennett the term postmodernism can be understood in three ways.

  1. A sociological designation for an epochal shift in the way collective life is organized.

  2. Second as an aesthetic genre.

  3. Finally third as a set of philosophical critiques of teleological or rationalist conceptions of nature, history, power, freedom and subjectivity.

  • Postmodernism in participates in all three ways, but most intensively in the third way.

Difference between Modernism and Postmodernism

  • Postmodernist thought was the result of opposition and repudiation to the modernist thought.

  • Modernism has a deep faith in the idea of grand narrative as it believes that there can be a grand theory.

  • Modernism relates to a series of cultural movements that took place in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth centuries. These movements include reforming movements in architecture, art, music, literature, and applied arts.

  • The postmodernism refers to the confused state of cultural developments that came into existence after modernism.

  • As a matter of fact, the period after 1960s is generally considered postmodern in nature. To be precise, postmodernism is construed as begun after 1968.

  • However, postmodernism, when compared to modernism, is more complex to understand and appreciate.

  • Thinking, during the post modern era, was considered irrational and unscientific in its approach.

  • Unlike modernism, postmodernism did not pay any kind of attention whatsoever to original works. They would dub them as pieces that gained popularity due to propagation.

Opposition of Modernity

  • Modernist political theorists like Machiavelli, Montesquieu, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Voltaire and others have contributed toward the idea of representative democracy, rational stature, formal equality and other relevant concepts.

  • Scholars in this period all around the world have continuously defend the void promise of emancipation through modernity.

  • The claim of postmodernist was simple that there is no objective value, no established reality an off course no universal truth.

  • Rather, there are numerous realities, diverse of truth and variety of people with their own set of values and realities.

  • Postmodernists attacked all such modernist projections and questioned existing established styles of understanding.

  • Postmodernist roots are developed on the denial and opposition of the modernist land.

Foucault and Derrida

  • Michel Foucault has declined, but he is considered as one of the important postmodernist.

  • He defined the post modernism through two guiding concepts: the power and the discourse.

  • Modern institutions viz the hospitals, schools, mental asylum, sanatoriums and prisons are disciplinary tools of power to make people disciplined.

  • Foucault seeks to uncover and denounce the ways and the process through which human beings are normalized.

  • He severely challenged this legitimization of modern society as it increases the surveillance which is a result of progress and development in science and technology.

  • Derrida’s idea of deconstruction signifies his approach of challenging the foundations and hierarchies on which the western political tradition and culture have been based.

Critique of Postmodernism

  • Postmodernism established itself by critiquing modernism, further it also part to certain criticism.

  • Many small movements driven by enlightenment are under postmodernist threat.

  • Postmodernists themselves are not able to sustain the very same objective of emancipation that it intended to adhere to.

  • Secondly postmodernism lack the coherence and a common understanding that can be shared by all.

  • Post modernism is routinely denounced as nihilistic, immoral or politically irresponsible.


  • Postmodernist believes that there is no absolute or universal truth and the truth changes with the advent of new events and discoveries.

  • It means that scientific events that took place historically on one side of the world have influenced political and social events that are now taking place on another.

  • It embraces and encourages individual expression, the cross-cultural dialogue and debates as a necessary factor.

  • Thus postmodernists regard their theoretical position as uniquely inclusive and democratic.

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