The big three: Michael Foucault, Jacques Derrida and Richard Rorty. Michael Foucault (1926-1984) A cultural historian or Archaeologist of knowledge.
“Man is an invention of recent date, and one perhaps nearing its end.” There is no such thing as human nature or the common human condition.”
Self is constituted in and through language.
Truth is a fabrication or a fiction.
Truth is the product of the practices that make it possible.
Science is not a methodology but an ideology.
“Knowledge… creates a progressive enslavement to its instinctive power.”
We need to deconstruct apparent knowledge to determine the conditions that brought it into existence.
History has no meaning. It is socially produced.
About literature (including the Bible), “The author does not precede the works.” (therefore the text does not have a single meaning…its “meaning” is determined by the ones who read it rather than the ones who write it.”
1975 plunged into the gay community in San Francisco and more especially the consensual sado-masochistic activities in the bath houses. In 1984 he died of AIDS.
Jacques Derrida (1930-2004)
“When we write, our writing quickly becomes disengaged from us. It is no longer dependent on us for existence.
A word does not have a fixed meaning, but derives its meaning from its relations within the language system. In other words, the “book” is actually our “reading” of the text.
“Reading is a violent act of mastery over the text.” (in other words there are millions of
Books of Luke or John or Romans)
Richard Rorty (1931-2007) Pragmatic Postmodernism. A less pessimistic postmodernist. Married a Mormon woman.
Truth a matter of human convention.
Looks for coherence rather than correspondence Statements are “true” insofar as they cohere with the entire system of beliefs. Truth is what works. What is right is what is useful. Perhaps some bits of tradition might be useful. Truth is truth for us, but we should seek better kinds of truths by looking for coherence. “What matters is our loyalty to other human beings clinging together against the dark, not our hope of getting things right.”