By J. Luis Dizon

Seeing the failure of attempts to discover objective truth through science, a massive shift has been occurring in the past few decades towards what is commonly called Postmodernism. While this worldview is broad and hard to define, it is characterized by a rejection of objective truth in any realm of knowledge. This means that everything is subjective, being conditioned by the perceptions and cultural biases of individuals. In other  words, what is true for you may not be true for me, and nobody can know what the big picture story is (if one even exists). Many who hold to this worldview are suspicious of all truth claims, following the lead of French philosopher Michel Foucault in saying that those making such claims are just attempting to exert power over others.

The problem with Postmodernism is that, like Naturalism, its premises are self-refuting. It claims that objective truth does not exist, yet Postmodernists present this claim as being objectively true. If there is no objective truth, then this central tenet of postmodernism cannot be objectively true. And if our perceptions are culturally conditioned, then postmodernism is also culturally conditioned. The same self-refutation holds true of Foucault’s statement that truth claims are attempts to exert power. If that is the case, would that not mean those who claim postmodernism are also attempting to exert power over others whenever they make assertions pertaining to their worldview? It is as the English philosopher Roger Scruton once said: “A writer who says that there are no truths, or that all truth is ‘merely negative,’ is asking you not to believe him. So don’t.”[1]

A common corollary to this is the idea that words have no objective meaning and can be interpreted in any number of ways. This comes from a closely related view called Post-Structuralism. The problem is that we do not use language that way. Whenever we complain that someone has misunderstood us, we assume that our words have an intended meaning and that the other’s interpretation is incorrect. It has been humorously said that according to Post-structuralism, if would be perfectly valid to read a text on post-structuralism and interpret it as saying “Post-Structuralism is wrong”! Such a view is not only impossible to consistently put into practice, but also self-defeating.

Despite the popular appeal of Postmodernism in much contemporary thought, it is shown to be fraught with absurdities and inconsistencies. Its tenets refute themselves and they certainly cannot be lived out in any meaningful way in real life. Like the previous worldview examined (Naturalism), Postmodernism is shown to lead to nothing but moral and existential confusion, and certainly cannot provide hope to anybody.

[1] Cited in Blanchard, John. Can We Be Good Without God?. Darlington: Evangelical Press, 2007. 12.


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