What does Postmodernism meanQUESTION: What does Postmodernism mean?
When trying to answer the question, “What does postmodernism mean?” it is important to remember that postmodernism can only be described, not defined. Attempting to define it violates the postmodernists premise that no definite terms, boundaries, or absolute truths exist. Thus, postmodernism remains vague.
Professor Ihab Hassan was one of the first to write about postmodernism. Hassan says, “I know less about postmodernism today than I did thirty years ago , when I began to write about it. . . No consensus obtains on what postmodernism really means.” [Hassan, Postmodernism to Postmodernity]
“The term postmodernism is first thought to have arisen in reference to architecture, as architects moved away from unadorned, impersonal boxes of concrete, glass and stele to complex shapes and forms, drawing motifs from the past without regard to their original purpose or function. But when French sociologist Jean-Francois Lyotard used the term postmodern to signal a shift in cultural legitimation, the term became a key word in cultural analysis,” explains James W. Sire in his book The Universe Next Door.
Postmodernism appears to be a personal mindset more than an organized movement. In general, it tends to disconnect from mainstream society and embraces antinationalism, anti-Christianity, and opposition to traditional moral law.
Postmodernism tends to go against or react to the principles and practices of established modernism.
Truth is relative. “The naturalists have their story, the pantheists theirs, the Christians theirs, ad infinitum. With postmodernism, no story can have any more credibility than any other. All stories are equally valid, being so validated by the community that lives by them,” writes Sire.