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What is Postmodernism?
Postmodernism is very difficult to define and there is a lot of controversy over
exactly what it means. Scholars infinitely more clever than me debate over it's
definition! But this is an overview, there is a lot more online if you're interested
· Mid/late 20th century movement that followed modernism
· Modernism was about having absolute truths in a wide range of different
areas e.g. science, ideology, philosophy etc. These claims of absolute
truths are known as meta-narratives (or grand narratives). Communism,
atheism, Christianity are all meta-narratives.
· Postmodernism however emphasises the existence of different world
views and concepts of reality, with no set `right' or `wrong'. Meta-narratives
are seen as subjective, flawed accounts and instead mini-narratives are
formed. Mini-narratives are temporary, situational ideas that don't claim to
have universal truth.
· Andrew Wright "postmodernism is the rejection of those imperialistic
attitudes that so arrogantly attempted to colonise, patronise and
marginalise"
· Apparent realities are recognised as social constructs not absolute truths.
· Andrew Wright "we no longer have to conform to any pre-established norm
but instead are free...to continually construct our own personal realities"…read more

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Much of the development on post-modernism came from France, and
3 scholars in particular:
1. Lyotard. It was this scholar the devised the word meta-narratives
to represent the stories people tell to explain the whole of reality,
be they political, philosophical, artistic etc. The two dominating
meta-narratives in western thoughts are Christianity and
Natural/Evolutionary Science. This approach is flawed because
human reason is unable to provide us with any sure and certain
knowledge of the world.
2. Derrida ­ we are caught up in a linguistic labyrinth which is
misleading. We use words to describe what we think is ultimate
realities e.g. a scientist uses language to describe their
experience of ultimate reality of the physical world, a theologian
use language to describe what they think is the ultimate reality of
God etc. Despite it sounding like absolute truths all we are
creating is subjective mini-narratives which constantly change
3. Foucault ­ modernist knowledge is not neutral or objective as
people claim but is bound up with social, economic, political and
psychological power structures. Knowledge can't be separated
from propaganda.…read more

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The meaning of the phrase "God is
Dead"
· This is a quote from Nietzsche was has become iconic and
representative of the decline of religion however it is much
misunderstood.
· Nietzsche did not like Christianity but he was not exactly an atheist
either, he hated militant atheists like J.S.Mill.
· The phrase `God is dead' is spoken by his character the madman
in two of his books `The Gay Science' and `Thus Spake
Zarathustra'
· It means that God is no longer relevant to society, that modern
lifestyles and knowledge have made God redundant, squeezed him
out.
· Modern knowledge in particular can answer some questions which
religion always claimed to have the truth about, as such the need
for God is decreasing.
· Nietzsche has influenced post-modernist thinking on religion a
great deal.…read more

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Postmodernist view of religion…read more

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Religion as cultural constructs
· Postmodernism rejects the absolute truth claims of all religions
· Sociologist Durkheim argues that religion is a product of the
society in which it developed
· Religion also serves a role within society e.g. communion
unifies people and brings communities together through
shared experience
· Religions should be deconstructed (Derrida) and understood
as relative, subjective accounts rather than absolute truths
· Lyotard believes that religions were the logical interpretations
of the nature of reality as understood by that culture
· As they are relative the different religions are compatible.…read more

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