Massive geopolitical shifts and dramatic developments in computerization and biotechnology are heralding the transformation from the modern to the postmodern age. We are confronted with altered modes of work, communication, and entertainment; new postindustrial and political networks; novel approaches to warfare; genetic engineering; and even cloning. This compelling book explores the challenges to theory, politics, and human identity that we face on the threshold of the third millennium. It follows on the success of Best and Kellner s two previous books: (...) Postmodern Theory, acclaimed as the best critical introduction to the field, and The Postmodern Turn, which provides a powerful mapping of postmodern developments in the arts, politics, science, and theory. In The Postmodern Adventure, Best and Kellner analyze a broad array of literary, cultural, and political phenomena--from fiction, film, science, and the Internet, to globalization and the rise of a transnational image culture. They use the best of modern and postmodern perspectives to illuminate contemporary life and to strive for a just and viable future. Gold Medal Winner in Philosophy--ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards. (shrink)
This distinctive collection by scholars from around the world focuses upon the cultural, educational, and political significance of Richard Rorty's thought. The nine essays which comprise the collection examine a variety of related themes: Rorty's neopragmatism, his view of philosophy, his philosophy of education and culture, Rorty's comparison between Dewey and Foucault, his relation to postmodern theory, and, also his form of political liberalism.
Ice Cube "What's a brother gotta do to get a message through to the Red, White, and Blue?" Ice-T Rap music has emerged as one of the most distinctive and controversial music genres of the past decade. A significant part of hip hop culture,  rap articulates the experiences and conditions of African-Americans living in a spectrum of marginalized situations ranging from racial stereotyping and stigmatizing to struggle for survival in violent ghetto conditions. In this cultural context, rap provides a (...) voice to the voiceless, a form of protest to the oppressed, and a mode of alternative cultural style and identity to the marginalized. Rap is thus not only music to dance and party to, but a potent form of cultural identity. It has become a powerful vehicle for cultural political expression, serving as the "CNN of black people", or upping the high-tech ante, as their "satellite communication system". It is an informational medium to tune into, one that describes the rage of African-Americans facing growing oppression, declining opportunities for advancement, changing moods on the streets, and everyday life as a matter of sheer survival. In turn, it has become a cultural virus, circulating its images, sounds, and attitude throughout the culture and body politic. (shrink)
As we move into a new millennium fraught with terror and danger, a global postmodern cosmopolis is unfolding in the midst of rapid evolutionary and social changes co-constructed by science, technology, and the restructuring of global capital. We are quickly morphing into a new biological and social existence that is ever-more mediated and shaped by computers, mass media, and biotechnology, all driven by the logic of capital and a powerful emergent technoscience. In this global context, science is no longer merely (...) an interpretation of the natural and social worlds, rather it has become an active force in changing them and the very nature of life. In an era where life can be created and redesigned in a petri dish, and genetic codes can be edited like a digital text, the distinction between “natural” and “artificial” has become greatly complexified. The new techniques of manipulation call into question existing definitions of life and death, demand a rethinking of fundamental notions of ethics and moral value, and pose unique challenges for democracy. (shrink)
In the realm of philosophy and other theoretical discourses, there are many different paths to the turn from the modern to the postmodern, representing a complex genealogy of diverse and often divergent trails through different disciplines and cultural terrains. One pathway moves through an irrationalist tradition from romanticism to existentialism to French postmodernism via the figures of Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Bataille into the proliferation of French postmodern theory. This is the route charted by Jurgen Habermas in The Philosophical Discourse of (...) Modernity (1987), a trajectory that ultimately leads for him to the dead end of irrationalism and the catastrophe of fascism. (shrink)
The postmodern turn which has so marked social and cultural theory also involves conflicts between modern and postmodern politics. In this essay, we articulate the differences between modern and postmodern politics and argue against one-sided positions which dogmatically reject one tradition or the other in favor of partisanship for either the modern or the postmodern. Arguing for a politics of alliance and solidarity, we claim that this project is best served by drawing on the most progressive elements of both the (...) modern and postmodern traditions. Developing a new politics involves overcoming the limitations of certain versions of modern politics and postmodern identity politics in order to develop a politics of alliance and solidarity equal to the challenges of the coming millennium. (shrink)
"But certainly for the present age, which prefers the sign to the thing signified, the copy to the original, fancy to reality, the appearance to the essence, ... illusion only is sacred, truth profane. Nay, sacredness is held to be enhanced in proportion as truth decreases and illusion increases, so that the highest degree of illusion comes to be the highest degree of sacredness,".
The past several decades have exhibited vertiginous change, surprising novelties, and upheaval in an era marked by technological revolution and the global restructuring of capitalism.1 This "great transformation," comparable in scope to the shifts produced by the Industrial Revolution, is moving the world into a postindustrial, infotainment, and biotech mode of global capitalism, organized around new information, communications, and genetic technologies. The scientific-technological-economic revolutions of the era and spread of the global economy are providing new financial opportunities, openings for political (...) amelioration, and a wealth of ingenious products and technologies that might improve the human condition. Yet these developments are accompanied by explosive conflict, crisis, and even catastrophe. The post-September 11 world reveals the contradictory dialectic of globalization in which the wide-reaching circulation of people, technology, media, and ideologies can have destructive as well as beneficial consequences. Hence, the turbulent transmutations of the contemporary situation are highly contradictory and ambiguous, with both hopeful and threatening features being played out on political, economic, social, and cultural fronts. (shrink)
In theorizing the postmodern, one inevitably encounters the postmodern assault on theory, such as Lyotard's and Foucault's attack on modern theory for its alleged totalizing and essentializing character. The argument is ironic, of course, since it falsely homogenizes a heterogeneous "modern tradition" and since postmodern theorists like Foucault and Baudrillard are often as totalizing as any modern thinker (Kellner 1989 and Best 1995). But where Lyotard seeks justification of theory within localized language games, arguing that no universal criteria are possible (...) to ground objective truths or universal values, Foucault steadfastly resists any efforts, local or otherwise, to validate normative concepts and theoretical perspectives. For Foucault, justification ensnares one in metaphysical illusions like "truth" and the only concern of the philosopher-critic is to dismantle old ways of thinking, to attack existing traditions and institutions, and to open up new horizons of experience for greater individual freedom. What matters, then, is results, and if actions bring greater freedom, the theoretical perspectives informing them are "justified." From this perspective, theoretical discourse is seen not so much as "correct" or true," but as "efficacious," as producing positive effects. (shrink)
This chapter contains sections titled: Modern Theory and Kierkegaard's Assault on Reason Nietzsche and the Postmodern Nietzsche's Progeny and the Postmodern Turn: From Heidegger through Derrida Foucault's Critique of Rationality and Modernity Lyotard's “Postmodern Condition”: Polemics and Aporia Richard Rorty, the Attack on Theory, and Renunciation of Radical Politics For Theory and Politics.
Some critics argue that Marx has conflicting models of history: a "continuist" model that interprets history as a unified, evolutionary movement, and a "discontinuist" model that sees capitalist society as a break from all preceding social formations. I argue that Marx in fact does have multiple models of history, but that these are not incompatible or contradictory. Rather, Marx adopts a "perspectival" or "contextualist" approach that employs different models to gain different perspectives on the historical process. I provide a close (...) reading of the "discontinuity" model based on an analysis of Marx's Grundrisse. (shrink)
As the debates over cloning and stem cell research indicate, issues raised by biotechnology combine research into the genetic sciences, perspectives and contexts articulated by the social sciences, and the ethical and anthropological concerns of philosophy. Consequently, I argue that intervening in the debates over biotechnology requires supra-disciplinary critical philosophy and social theory to illuminate the problems and their stakes. In addition, debates over cloning and stem cell research raise exceptionally important challenges to bioethics and a democratic politics of communication.