SIO53: What Is Postmodernism? With Aaron Rabi

What the Gender Studies Hoax and Jordan B. Peterson’s pronoun mania both have in common is the bogeyman of postmodernism. It seems to be conventional wisdom that postmodernism is manifestly crazy. But how substantive is that criticism in reality? I’ve invited a philosopher, Aaron Rabi, to give us a bit of a lesson on what postmodernism is and perhaps where the criticisms are accurate and where they fall short.

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St. Ralph

I get a kick out of hearing how Einsteinian physics “overturned” Newtonian physics, turned Newton on his head and overrode our then-current understanding of the universe. Our current understanding of the physical universe is 99.9% the same as it was before Einstein. You can go to the moon and back without going “Einsteinian.” You need to throw Kepler in on top of Newton because Newton thought the irregularity of celestial orbits was due to the “hand of God.” Kepler figured out that orbits are ellipses, not circles, but that was way before Einstein. From the point of view of a… Read more »

Cee Jay
Cee Jay

You are my patron saint.
/Embrace the Void


There’s a part of me that came to this episode assuming I’d be reassured that the notable figures arguing for a return to modernist thought were just overreacting to small, idiosyncratic annoyances that are relevant to their field (e.g., people challenging the relevance of their claims) but failing to appreciate the consequences of rejecting postmodernist thought in other fields (e.g., person-centered therapy as an effective mental health treatment).

When your guest mentioned naive scientism, and noted “race realism” as an example of modernist thought, I realized my assumptions about these notable figures may be overly hopeful.


[…] a movement of (justified) anxiety and cynicism over corporate control over a powerful technology. Postmodernism is hard to define but in general it’s skeptical inquiry cranked up to 11. It considers […]


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