I had one of those “happy coincidences” with my holiday reading this summer. Whilst reading “The supremacy of Christ in a postmodern world” [proceedings from the Desiring God conference 2006] I came across an article by Edward Docx on the death of postmodernism in Prospect Magazine. I’ll post this week on what I’ve learned about postmodernism, on why Christ is supreme and then on applications, as I see them, for ministry. Today, it will do to demolish postmodernism with the stroke of a pen as a self-contradicting or self-destructive worldview (actually Edward Docx demolishes postmodernism with the stroke of his pen).
Docx (I can’t help but wonder what life is like for someone whose surname is the same as a Microsoft Office file type) believes that:
postmodernism is really an attack not just on the dominant narrative or art forms but rather an attack on the dominant social discourse. All art is philosophy and all philosophy is political. And the epistemic confrontation of postmodernism, this idea of de-privileging any one meaning, this idea that all discourses are equally valid, has therefore lead to some real-world gains for humankind.
This is the self-contradiction of postmodernism. If postmodernism is an attack on the dominant social discourse and this attack itself becomes the dominant social discourse, does it not then attack itself and if not, why not? Postmodernism, it seems, has critiqued, or condemned, all worldviews, all metanarratives; all, that is, except its own.
If postmodern thinkers and philosophers turned their criticism on their own worldview it would leave them without any grounds from which to criticise others. It might also help to ask questions like: If saying that there is no metanarrative is itself a metanarrative then why is this metanarrative better than others? On what authority does this matanarrative stand? Why is the idea of no metanarrative appealing? Postmodernism is a metanarrative which by its own rules must be mistrusted.