Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner


Originally posted on October 17, 2012

My friend Anthony asked me today, “What will be the philosophical trend after postmodernism?” I answered, a mischievous smile breaking out, “I dunno, maybe post-post-modernism?” “What’ll that be?” he asked, playing right into the flow of exploration. I warmed up to the idea:

Indubitably, as knowledge and technology advance, there may be several waves of fashion over the next century or two, just  as in the last century there have been a goodly number—Romanticism, Positivism, Holism, Existentialism, Transpersonalism, Integrative Psychology and Philosophy, and so forth. So what might post-post-modernism be like? So here’s a guess: Guessing! (Now that I look at the word guess it doesn’t sound the way it spells, like the word people and other words.) Anyway, we can all guess, and maybe that’s the point. We can and maybe should give ourselves permission to guess, to assert without knowing for sure, to explore, speculate, play with possibilities, create scenarios, experiment, make up myths, art, poetry, and make philosophy a bit looser. Might this be the post-post-modern trend?

After all, postmodern philosophers  tend to make pronouncements about the way it really is—and rather weighty, obscure statements at that, using terminology that is dense and hard to figure out. What if in the next phase we lightened up?

I confess I’m inclined to think so, following many long conversations about philosophy for much of my life: I am pretty convinced that, based on the nature of individuality—its highly complex structure—and how it overlaps with semantics and meanings—that all philosophy is, as Nietzsche said, perspective, but not only that, let’s add the psychological dynamic of rationalization! That means that the mind is cleverly put to the service of what one is inclined to believe based on a thousand subtle inclinations, ideals and unworthy motivations, associations and cascades of intuitions. No one will ever, ever fully understand or agree with another; there will always be at least a nuance of re-interpretation, a different weighting of elements, even when  on the surface there is general agreement.

Now this is the kicker! It’s okay! It has to be this way!

First of all, this is the result of our growing awareness of psychology, its inevitable uniqueness, the power of the unconscious to affect it, the innumerable factors of temperament and ability, family and other elements. Mix this with our growing awareness of semantics, the way people really mix associations with words, so that truly only rarely do two people share an identical meaning for any more than trivial interpretations. It’s time we wove this awareness into the growing awareness also of the fact that each individual is mentally constructing his inner map of what-it’s-all-about.

Saying it again, post-post-modern philosophy recognizes the futility of attempts to make firm statements about truth. Certainly, though, we can open our minds to ideas, and share our own back in the spirit of inviting others to use what they feel comfortable with. It’s more of a witnessing process than argumentation. It’s lighter and friendlier, too.

The final point is a turn to the pragmatic. I’ve become increasingly aware that there are thousands of philosophies that may or may not be so, or may vary in the intensity or scope of their truth claims, but in fact they are irrelevant to my interests. This goes against my cultural conditioning in the mid-20th century that I should be interested in everything. I can’t—there’s waaaay too much of everything. Yes, I know that this or that truth may become relevant to my purposes in a week or a decade, but until I can see the connection—and it’s not as if I’m closed off, I’m just not pursuing every possible peripheral lead— I’ll just keep plugging away at what seems more relevant.

am inclined not to dispute a hundred claims, but rather concede them, as they are irrelevant to me! It’s a very lively philosophy, one that focuses on those aspects of “truth” that seem most relevant, about which I might do something. I acknowledge that there are a billion things, some in waves that are closer and some further away for what works for me.

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