Brandon Bartlett is a philosophy junior and Mustang News columnist. The views expressed in this column do not reflect the viewpoints and editorial coverage of Mustang News.
If you want the uncensored truth, look no further than this fresh twist on an old joke:
A physics professor, a math professor and a philosophy professor argued about whose department was best. Unable to come to an agreement, they asked
“I’d have to say that the math department is definitely better than physics,” Armstrong said. “For instead of needing expensive laboratory equipment, they merely demand a pencil, some paper and a waste basket.”
The math professor smiled smugly until President Armstrong continued, “But the philosophy department is even better than math, for they only require a pencil and some paper!”
As a philosophy student, I can confirm that we would all be better off if we just bought the philosophers some waste baskets. But given that we are currently using all of the spare tuition money to make parking on campus impossible, we need a new plan to get rid of that trash called postmodernism.
I know that sounds harsh, but all things considered, I cannot help but find it fair. Postmodernism is not just another philosophy with strengths and weaknesses; it is western society’s raging dumpster fire (that is, if the philosophers had a dumpster).
But we may be getting ahead of ourselves; let us start with
What is postmodernism?
Postmodernism is, in effect, the rejection of meaning (as in “a meaning to life”). This unfolds in three steps:
First, it is noted that meaning comes from narratives, which is to say that we understand our own life and world through the lens of a story: “I used to be hungry, then I ate at Metro, now my stomach hurts.” The fundamental purpose/meaning of such a story is to link behavior with a better or worse outcome for the sake of future action.
It is then correctly observed that these meanings are not objective facts, at least not in the scientific sense. In order to claim a state as better, we must answer, “better for whom?” Value, and thus meaning, necessarily involves a subject and thus it is, in one sense of the word, subjective.
As soon as we have values, we have ways to rank and order the world. However, according to the postmodernists, as soon as we rank and order the world, we are necessarily oppressing people. As soon as I decide that I value quality of food and hence get lunch at Firestone instead of Metro, I also decide I would rather eat dinner with Alice (she is an amazing cook) than with Bob (he manages to burn
Put another way, the postmodernist sees society as a game in which our value systems, or ways of acting, are like the rules: they both constrict what actions are allowed and decide what skills will be rewarded. By deciding to play monopoly instead of basketball, we promote the statistician over the athlete and thereby, according to the postmodernist, oppress the athlete.
Instead, the postmodernist would prefer we play a game that does not reward any special skill at all, which is to say that it is based on luck and spares the loser any future disposition to lose. Unfortunately, we already have just such a game:
The dangers of postmodernism
There is no winning at Russian Roulette, there is no getting better, and there are no strategies; the best one can hope for is the delay of death.
And in this lies the fundamental error in postmodernism. Look at your own life. Have you ever done anything without a goal in mind? Of course not. Humans are goal-oriented creatures, for each action is chosen in lieu of a million other possible actions. And this choosing process, of course, requires placing value on traits, ideas and people. Hence, postmodernism does two things by the removal of goals:
Firstly, as we need goals, it sadistically, or masochistically, denies us a core part of our humanity.
But the second consequence is even worse. Life, by its nature, is full of suffering: we get sick, loved ones die, the WiFi goes down, and so on. The thing that makes this suffering bearable is a sense of meaning, a sense that we are actually doing something to make our lives, even if in tiny ways, a little bit better.
By taking meaning from us, we are left only with meaningless suffering. And what could be worse than that? In fact, there are only two responses to a hopeless life full of meaningless suffering: resentment or suicide.
Where do we see postmodernism?
As I mentioned in my last article, postmodernism exists primarily in universities (thank God), but it is entering the public sphere more and more.
This is seen in movements that immediately deem all exclusionary rules and behaviors as evil.
And while the fingerprint of this corrupting spirit is littered, like trash, all around us, nowhere can it be better seen than under the credo of social justice. For to the Social Justice Warrior, oppression exists wherever there is not an equality of outcome. This is to say they see oppression whenever the selection of winners and losers is non-random and non-uniform. This postmodernist behavior erodes our goal structure and strips us of our own objective value structure.
Thus, to all of you who hope for a life worth living, let us stand firm against the postmodern illness and, maybe someday, buy the philosophers a damn trash can.