Essay on Defining Post-Modernism

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Defining Post-Modernism

In trying to define exactly what post-modernism is I shall firstly briefly consider some of the events and thinking that led up to the development of this particular school of social theory. I shall then consider some of the common strands of thinking in postmodernism concentrating mainly on the writings of Jean-Francois Lyotard and Jean Baudrillard. I shall then consider the view of David Harvey, a Marxist many consider to be writing in the postmodern tradition, who argues that post-modernism is just another form of capitalism. Having analysed his argument I shall conclude by giving my own personal view of post-modernism and by showing that by its very nature it is virtually impossible to come up with one
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Lyotard sees these games having evolved from the narrative, the telling of stories or legends, to the scientific, or denotative which became important during the enlightenment. Such scientific games relied upon evidence and argument to either prove or disprove them. As society enters the post-modern era faith is lost in the denotative language games and is replaced by technical language games. Truth is not the important factor any more, but whether or not an idea, or 'game';, is useful. Knowledge becomes a commodity that is to be sold, and Lyotard sees it as possibly the most important commodities in what he calls:
'the world-wide competition for power';
Lyotard links the rise in the importance of knowledge to the rise in the use of computers in both society's commercial and social life. In my view there are few people who can dispute this fact. One only has to consider new media technologies and look at the rise in the use of the Internet to conclude that this is indeed the case. Bill Gates has become the richest business on the planet, and, to a certain degree, one could say that he does control 'knowledge';, or at least people's access to it.

Another important aspect of the post-modern society is the diversity that exists within it. Even postmodernist theory is not a unified approach. Kellner (1990) argues that:
'There is nothing like a unified 'post-modern social theory'…there is a plurality of different post-modern theories and positions';

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