Semiotica 2011 (183):219-241 (2011)

It is difficult to make sense of the notion of postmodernity, because “modernity” is clearly a shifter, in the sense of Jespersen and Jakobson: a term dependent for its meaning on its moment of enunciation. It is true that, from the Middle Ages onwards, several meanings of modernity have received an objectified reference. But in the arts, particularly in the visual arts, this is not true. Modernity has been defined as the ever-new transgression of norms established by the period coming immediately before. In another sense, modernity is connected to urbanity, as it first took place in the coffeehouses of the seventeenth century and the boulevards of the nineteenth century. This meant a close connection of individuals having nothing to do with each other from the point of view of family relationships. At the same time as this concept of modernity is overhauled by the perpetual presence of the mobile phones, it is confirmed and extended by the Internet. A third kind of modernity, perhaps closely connected to the second one is that of thinking, as initiated during the Enlightenment, striving to go beyond the divergent doxa of different cultures to some kind of rational understanding. Taking into account the standing of rationality in the history of humanity, postmodern philosophy really amounts to some kind of mobbing of the poorest and most feeble members of the crowd
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DOI 10.1515/semi.2011.011
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