We explain what postmodernism is, its art, architecture, philosophy and characteristics. Also, its relationship with modernity.

Postmodernity supports the idea of ​​the failure of the modern project.

What is postmodernity?

When we speak of postmodernity or postmodernity, we refer to the process cultural, artistic, literary and philosophical emerged from the second half of the twentieth century.

It should not be confused with postmodernism, literary movement Hispanic origin that emerged in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries as an attempt to renew and overcome the modernism. On the contrary, postmodernity is characterized by its opposition or overcoming of the precepts aesthetic, philosophical and theoretical of modernity.

The term "postmodern" is used in numerous disciplines, both in the Arts and humanities as in the social Sciences, with more or less the same meaning. However, it is difficult to define, since it encompasses at the same time a set of streams of thought, very different from each other.

Everything considered postmodern shares the idea of ​​the failure of the modern project, that is, the failure of modernity to renew traditional forms of art, culture and thought.

According to some authors, it would even be necessary to distinguish between “Postmodern culture” (“Postmodern culture"Or"Postmodernity"In English) and" Postmodern Theory "("Postmodern Theory"Or"Postmodernism”In English), to distinguish between the contemporary cultural trend in which we have lived since the end of the 20th century, and the models of criticism and philosophical thought that have been produced as part of these trends.

In some cases, the name post-materialism or post-structuralism is even proposed as more or less synonyms of postmodernity. Another drawback when talking about the subject has to do with the validity of the term and the attempt to describe something that is currently in process, and for which there is still no established theoretical framework.

In any case, it is commonly distinguished when speaking of postmodernity between the historical period, the artistic movement and the philosophical current.

Modernity and postmodernity

Faith in science and progress is typical of modern thought.

Postmodernity cannot be understood without first understanding what modernity was and what ways of thinking it proposed. From a certain point of view, in fact, postmodernity is even part of modernity, its stage of decadence or of overcoming, if you will, since they do not exist limits clear for the end of one and the beginning of another.

In fact, it should not be thought that a paradigm the other completely, but rather that postmodernity is, deep down, a questioning of the relevance of values modern.

But let's go by parts: on the one hand, modernity is the era that began in the 15th century that spans several centuries. In it a series of profound scientific, social, political and economic changes took place in humanity.

Among other things, this is how the bourgeoisie as the dominant social class, the construction of rule of law and of the republican order, all under the premise that human reason was the best ally to organize the social and political world. Faith in science, in progress and in the accumulation of knowledge is typical of modernity.

Postmodernism is the loss of faith in those promises, largely inspired by the nihilism and the pessimistic view that followed the WWII and its horrors. In that sense, postmodernity disbelieves in modern “great stories”.

On the contrary, it takes an ironic stance, relativizing what were previously absolute values ​​and embracing nominalism, that is, the view that everything in the world is necessarily particular. Hence, the main criticism of postmodernity has to do with its lack of proposed alternatives, which could turn it into a kind of philosophical dead end.

Characteristics of postmodernity

Postmodern thought is characterized, broadly speaking, by the following:

  • It is opposed to dualistic thinking. That is, he tries to escape from what he understands as a tradition of Western thought, which would have built a whole vision of the world based on dual oppositions: black-white, east-west, man-woman, etc. Thus, postmodernity tries to make visible the "others", who would be those who are in the middle, those who escape through the cracks of said dualities.
  • It proposes the deconstruction of values. Through the questioning of tradition and its values, postmodernity relativizes what in earlier times was a truth undeniable, thus dismantling the inherited cultural apparatus and exhibiting its limitations, its fractures, its arbitrariness.
  • Understand the reality as creation of language. Contrary to what the Western tradition understands by language, which is a mechanism of representation of the reality, postmodernity proposes that language and thought are the same thing, so that the real ends up being a linguistic construction, since thought cannot exist without language.
  • It proposes that the truth is a perspective. Postmodernity disbelieves the great truths, and instead embraces points of view, so it understands reality as something inaccessible, out of our reach, since we only have access to the way we perceive and understand it.

Postmodern art

Postmodern art understands genres as loose categories.

It is not easy to determine what is the beginning of postmodern art itself, but it is estimated that it began around the 50s of the 20th century, and that it continues to the present day. Its main characteristic is, paradoxically, to attack the traditional concept of art, thus valuing industrial or commercial objects, mass reproduction, collage or pastiche.

In other areas, the weakening of genres is valued, understanding them as liquid categories, not very rigid, that can be combined, and thus the transgeneric is embraced, especially in the literature.

Intertextuality is another significant feature of postmodern art, in which everything refers to something else, following the sense of the hyperlink from Internet: a reference refers to another that refers to another, without the desire or need to return to the starting point.

This allows the exploration of reality based on simulations, as proposed in its own way by movie theater postmodern, in films like The Matrix, Inception, Blade runner, and others, whose imaginaries question the traditional concepts of the real, the true, the human and the separation between natural and artificial.

Postmodern architecture

Postmodern architecture is opposed to the modern utilitarian style.

In the architectural field, postmodernity began in the middle of the 20th century and was consolidated as a movement in 1970. Its main proposal is the return of "ingenuity, ornament and reference", as a response to the formalism imposed by architectural modernity.

The collision of styles, ironic or paradoxical design, the return of the façade to form a "neo-eclectic" style, are the ways in which postmodern architecture opposes the modern, discreet and utilitarian style.

Thus, while postmodern architects consider modern buildings as abstract or simplistic, modern architects brand postmodernity as vulgar, populist, and accuse it of sharing elements with shopping malls, full of useless or easy details.

Postmodern philosophy

Emerged in France around the 1960s, the philosophy postmodern, in a similar way to the above, starts from the idea that the postulates of modernity and Illustration they have already been surpassed.

Thus, it aspires to get away from the traditional way of interpreting and thinking. It abandons the modern faith in rationality, thanks to the significant influences of the Marxism, psychoanalysis, Nietzsche's and Kierkegaard's critiques of rationality, and Lévi-Strauss's structuralism.

The term "postmodern" in philosophy was popularized by the French philosopher Jean-François Lyotard (1924-1998), and this trend usually includes the works of thinkers such as Michel Foucault (1926-1984), Jacques Derrida (1930-2004) , Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995), Louis Althusser (1918-1990), Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007), Alain Badiou (1937-), Julia Kristeva (1941-), Giorgio Agamben (1942-), Peter Sloterdijk (1947 -) and Slavoj Zizek (1949-).

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