The Double-Postmodernist Thought Experiment

Let’s say there are two postmodernists who believe that all forms of truth are relative, but hold different internal values and judgments on problems in their society and they sit together to converse on their disagreements. Let us call these two Postmodernists: Liberal Postmodernist and Conservative Postmodernist.

Liberal Postmodernist is concerned by the wife-beating and murders of women happening in Conservative Postmodernists local town which have engendered massive news stories across the country and which are corroborated by strong statistical evidence by the government and police regarding crime rates in Conservative Postmodernist’s area. Likewise, Conservative Postmodernist is concerned by Liberal Postmodernists admiration for China’s Great Leap Forward.

Liberal Postmodernist begins the discussion by pointing to the statistical evidence of crime rates in Conservative Postmodernist’s area. Conservative Postmodernist then asks what Liberal means by “statistical evidence” and how his definition of “statistical” is different from what government or police in his local area use. The two then go back and forth on what each other means by “evidence” since they have two different personal meanings on the word “evidence” when talking to each other. Liberal Postmodernist then brings up the murders of innocent women by their spouses and how they’re disproportionate in Conservative Postmodernist’s local town. Conservative Postmodernist then questions what Liberal Postmodernist means by “innocent women” and how he doesn’t believe that murdering is either right or wrong because he doesn’t want to impose the meta-narrative onto his town and that Liberal Postmodernist is imposing a grand meta-narrative by arguing that murders in his local town are “disproportionate” since that is relative to different contexts as it wouldn’t be “disproportionate” if compared to a war-torn country outside of their country. Liberal Postmodernist brings up the recent case of a rape and murder of a 9-year old child by their father in Conservative Postmodernist’s local town. Conservative Postmodernist replies that his definition of “rape” and “child” don’t follow the grand meta-narrative of his town’s laws and he has his own definition of what is “rape” and what is a “child” that isn’t subservient to the “grand theory” of his country’s laws which he doesn’t find legitimate because he finds no grand theory legitimate since truth on what constitutes lawful behavior is relative in his personal view as a postmodernist. They argue about these definitions for several hours.

The discussion then moves onto Conservative Postmodernist demanding to know how and why Liberal Postmodernist can find admiration in China’s Great Leap Forward when it killed an approximate 45 – 46 million people. Liberal Postmodernist then asks Conservative what he means by “approximate” and “million” since he doubts the grand theory of “mathematics” and disagrees with the meta-narrative of “math” which is against his personal truth as a postmodernist. They spend several more hours arguing on the definition of “math” and what value the definition of the word “number” and “approximate” are compared to Liberal Postmodernist’s personal definition of them.

Questions for readers:

  1. How can two postmodernists who change the definition of words to suit their own convenience ever have a discussion where they move forward beyond arguments over their personal definitions? At what point are they simply redefining words to create their own languages?
  2. How can any conversation between two post-modernists lead to any productive outcome whereby someone changes their mind based on logic, facts, or evidence of any sort?
  3. If two postmodernists can’t have a productive conversation where they convince each other of any particular point or purpose, what is the point of having a dialogue between two postmodernists?
  4. What is the point of someone who does believe in truth, logic, or some other epistemic value having a conversation with a postmodernist, if the conversation doesn’t lead to any productive outcomes and they’re constantly tangled into a postmodernist redefining words, to the point they’re not even speaking the same language?
  5. How can you even begin to create lasting change in society to curtail human rights abuses and defend the individual will from institutions or cultural traditions that harm people, if you’re a postmodernist?
  6. If Post-modernism doesn’t place any value in reason or logic, can it even claim to have an epistemology? Can it truly be against oppressive institutions that it’s premise claims to refute the theories and meta-narratives of?

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