What is Postmodernism


For the final essay, consider some of the artists, architects, and philosophers who contributed to the definition of Postmodernism.Here are a few questions to start:

Was this movement simply a knee-jerk reaction to Modernism?

Is it, as some critics have complained, merely pastiche, or speech in a dead language?

does Postmodernism have some genuine criticisms, valid skepticisms, or authentic positions to offer in contrast to Modernism?

Answer the above, adding any other relevant points from your point of view, in an essay 5 pages long (double-spaced), employing specific works of art and/or architecture (minimum of 3 examples), and reference specific ideas and the thinkers to which they were attributed.


What is Postmodernism

Postmodernism is widely regarded as the reaction to modernism. Modernism is a philosophical movement that along with cultures and trends that emerged from wide-scale and far-reaching transformations in western society back in 19th and 20th century. On the other hand, postmodernism is a reactionary to modernism. It is based upon disillusionment with the modernist philosophy which proved ineffective in improving the human condition and the nature of man. In a general description, it is correct to say that postmodernisms are the trends and movements in arts and literature that developed in the late 1970s in the rejection of dogma, principles, concepts and principles put forth by modernism (Featherstone, 2007). This shift from modernism to postmodernism was as a result of distrust of grand theories and ideologies that were widely campaigned and advocated by a modernist. Modernist believed in the objective nature of reality while the postmodernist believed in the subjective nature of the reality and this brought all the difference between the two movements. Despite having many critics and most authors disagreeing on the best definition of postmodernism, the era presents a period of time when literature rejected modernism tenets of rational, historical and scientific thought in favor of self-conscious, ironic and experimental works.

Question 1

Was this movement simply a knee-jerk reaction to Modernism?

In many occasions, most people are tempted to take an immediate, drastic, unthinking and emotional action and reaction produced by an event or a statement that they are reacting to, and thus, the reacting person is very sensitive. Besides, this is the case with postmodernism since it was a rush reaction to modernisms as the following points shows.

Modernism was fundamentally based on the use of rational and logical means to gain knowledge. In most of their works, modernists abandoned the concept and idea of ordered universe by the laws of nature, linear narratives and traditional forms to show the malleability of the truth and the question the nature of reality itself and at times, whether reality exists at all. In most cases, these modernists dispensed with the idea of a universe ordering scheme in favor of artifice, temporary and reliance on irony. Their knowledge was hierarchical, organized and determinate nature experience (Nicholson, 2013). On the other hand, postmodernism denied the application of logical thinking. Most of the thinking in this era was not based on scientific thinking; it was irrational thought process as a reaction to modernism. This scenario is a clear proof that all the postmodernists wanted to do, was to oppose the modernists without a clear path that they wanted to take. It was just a movement that emerged after the Second World War just as a reaction to modernism and nothing else.

In addition, modernist’s thinkers asserted that human being usually progresses and improves his life and develops through the use of science and reasoning. They also believed that past experiences present a wealth of knowledge that can be used to bring changes in the way of life. They had their full trust and support to previous texts and data that presented this information. This shows that they had to reason their way out basing their argument on concrete and past data. Unfortunately, this was not the case of postmodernism. Postmodernists believed that progress was the only way of to justify the European domination of the culture. Most of the Europeans especially the whites believed that their culture was far much superior to that of the other parts of the world. They defied the truth in the text narrating past experiences and rendered it of no use in the present times and thus they had nothing to base their decision-making skills and they were prone to make mistakes despite being free thinkers (Lash, 2014).

Moreover, modernist historians believed in the depth of their work and research. Thus before making any decisions they had to go deep into the subject to fully analyze it to be fully informed. On the same not, they used to consider the original work as authentic and the credit was always awarded to the artists. On the other hand, postmodernist thinkers believe in going by superficial appearances they believe in playing on surfaces and showed less or no concern towards the depth of subjects. This shows that their decisions were not based on any concrete data. Moreover, they were basing their views on hyper-reality; they get highly influenced by things propagated through media. Most postmodern writers believe that language is inherent and unable to convey any semblance of the external world and that verbal communication is more an act of conflict than an expression of rational meaning (Eagleton, 2013).  From the above point discussed points, it is evident that postmodernism was merely an emotional reaction to modernism and nothing more.

Question 2

Is it, as some critics have complained, merely pastiche, or speech in a dead language?

Postmodernism has some genuine criticism, valid skepticisms and authentic positions to offer in contrast to modernism put forth by various authors. As an intellectual movement, postmodernism was created to challenge the beliefs and norms that were brought forward by modernists. Most of the critics of this movement are broadly divided into two parts, epistemology, and ideology which are based on subjectivity (Ahmed, 2013). The following are some of the most important critics and skepticism that are associated with postmodernism from postmodernists like Max Weber, Sigmud Freud, and Michel Foucault.

Postmodernism and anthropology

Postmodern attacks on ethnography are merely based on the belief that there is no true and sincere objectivity and that therefore the authentic implementation of the scientific method is not possible to execute. Most of the postmodernists conceptualize the postmodern challenge to the objectivity of social research as skepticism over the anthropologists’ ability to integrate and join the context of investigation and the context of explanation. The context of investigation is primarily based on social identity, beliefs, and memories while the context of explanation refers to the nature of reality that an anthropologist wishes to investigate particularly the social actions and the social environment that surrounds his matter of investigation and discussion.


Modernity attempts to imply the progressive economic and administration rationalization and differentiation of the social world. The main act of the modernity was to question the foundations and basis of past knowledge and usually consists of two fronts the progressive union of scientific objectivity and political; economic rationality which brings all the differences (Featherstone, 2007).


Postmodernity comprises the actual dissolution of those social forms associated with modernity. Some social critics have tried to elaborate the postmodern condition in terms of the historical and social milieu that spawned it. Most of them have the take that modern, overloaded individuals, desperately attempting to maintain rootedness and integrity and they are usually pushed to the edge to believe that all value-orientations are equally well founded. Postmodernity is the process of destruction of meaning equal to the earlier destruction of appearances. Some of the critics go a step ahead and state that postmodernism is just a myth that does not exist at all. It is a notion created in the minds of many but does not exist in the reality.


It should be considered as a distinct concept and idea from the notion of modernity. Despite modernity being modern, though, character or practice, the term is always restricted to a set of artistic, musical aesthetic and literary movements that developed in the whole of Europe in the late 19th century (Nicholson, 2013). Modernism is associated with self-consciousness, the alienation of the integrated subject and reflexiveness and the general critiques of modernity’s claim regarding the progressive capacity of science.


In conclusion, it is evident that postmodernism brought about a new line of thought totally different from that of modernism despite the movement being formed as a result of the knee-jerk reaction. Postmodernism swayed the way the society take and do their things. In the society today postmodernists believe that whatever their minds thin can exist, and no one bothers to dig deep for facts. Most of the people want to hear what is pleasing in their ears and despise the past data and the truth (Eagleton, 2013). Moreover, criticism of postmodernism is intellectually diverse and includes the assertions that postmodernism is meaningless and promotes obscurantism. Most of the critics think that basically, it adds nothing to analytical and empirical knowledge, and most of them do not respond to people like other professionals in other fields.


Ahmed, A. S. (2013). Postmodernism and Islam: Predicament and promise. . Routledge.

Eagleton, T. (2013). The illusions of postmodernism. . John Wiley & Sons.

Featherstone, M. (2007). Consumer culture and postmodernism. Sage.

Lash, S. (2014). Sociology of postmodernism. Routledge.

Nicholson, L. (2013). Feminism/postmodernism. Routledge.