I stayed up until 0330 (yes, that is oh-dark-thirty) getting my presentation together for the Quest for Community conference for Friday. That’s not insanity, that’s planning ahead – I figured I’d rather be tired the day before the conference instead of the day of the conference.
Tonight is rehearsing it. I’ve rewritten it and added a bit. About a third is either revised or new material, and reflecting more of a post-modern theme. At least, I think it’s postmodern.
I’m still not clear on postmodernism – or if I naturally “fit” in that category myself. My thinking – especially my relativism and my reliance on disposable models – sounds like some approachable postmodernism… except that I think there is some kind of external empirical reality.
We might never actually experience it, mind you. Drawing heavily on Descarte and Plato, I realize that “we create our own reality”, that our subjective experience is
socially and biologically mediated. (Our perception of time, for example, is flaky at best, and as Tom Robbins wrote, “it’s safer to mess with a man’s wife than his clichés”.) Still, that doesn’t mean that an external empirical reality isn’t out there somewhere. The story of the blind men and the elephant is only ludicrous when each doesn’t have the postmodern sensibility that no one person holds the entirety of truth.
That sensibility is sorely lacking from all the (sociological, economic, and political) theorists I’ve been exposed to so far. This could be a black swan effect, but the trend is troubling. Each theorist is perfectly capable of determining the flaws of preceding theorists – but presumes that they are not making further flaws.
A post-modern model-based framework leaves room for error, while avoiding that absolute relativism that leaves a bad taste in so many people’s mouths. It, in fact, a model-based approach assumes error while still leaving room for a “reality” that is absolute and approachable.
Prior synthesists – such as Spencer – while doing a great job of creating a (mostly) coherent amalgam of different strands of thought, fell into the narcissistic assumption that they were always right, that they were the pinnacle of achievement.
A postmodern modelist (is that a term? Am I describing a mode of thought that already exists, or clearing new ground here?) would presume they were in error – but would still make a good attempt anyway.