In thinking through Jean-Francois Lyotard’s The Postmodern Condition and my position as a “conservative” Catholic sympathetic to our friends on the Porch, I’d like to throw this out there for some opinion. Lyotard (“Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives”) has concluded:

The nineteenth and twentieth centuries have given us as much terror as we can take. We have paid a high enough price for the nostalgia of the whole and the one, for the reconciliation of the concept for the sensible, of the transparent and the communicable experience. Under the general demand for slackening and for appeasement, we can hear the mutterings of the desire for a return to terror, for the realization of the fantasy to seize reality. The answer is: Let us wage a war on totality; let us be witnesses to the unpresentable; let us activate the differences and save the honor of the name.

Is the reconciliation of “postmodern conservatism” (a thought on the term here and a succinct summary from Peter Lawler here) something like this: postmodernism rejects the grand narratives of “liberalism” (autonomy, individualism, the elevation of Progress) as well as collectivism (fascism, socialism, Communism) – see here an argument for possible commonalities of “totality” – while grounding itself in a metaphysical “masternarrative,” one of divine intervention and humanity. The differences spring from the assumption that human beings – sinful and lacking in knowledge – at their best make provisional statements about the world, statements constantly subject to revision due to circumstance.

Articles by Jonathan Jones


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