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Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault (Expanded Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Stephen R. C. Hicks
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Tracing postmodernism from its roots in Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Immanuel Kant to their development in thinkers such as Michel Foucault and Richard Rorty, philosopher Stephen Hicks provides a provocative account of why postmodernism has been the most vigorous intellectual movement of the late 20th century. Why do skeptical and relativistic arguments have such power in the contemporary intellectual world? Why do they have that power in the humanities but not in the sciences? Why has a significant portion of the political Left - the same Left that traditionally promoted reason, science, equality for all, and optimism - now switched to themes of anti-reason, anti-science, double standards, and cynicism? Explaining Postmodernism is intellectual history with a polemical twist, providing fresh insights into the debates underlying the furor over political correctness, multiculturalism, and the future of liberal democracy.
This Expanded Edition includes two additional essays by Stephen Hicks: *Free Speech and Postmodernism* and *From Modern to Postmodern Art: Why Art Became Ugly*.

Editorial Reviews


By the end of Explaining Postmodernism, the reader may remain ill at ease with postmodernist malaise, but Hicks s lucid account will demystify the subject. * Curtis Hancock, Ph.D., Review of Metaphysics --Review of Metaphysics

With clarity, concision, and an engaging style, Hicks exposes the historical roots and philosophical assumptions of the postmodernist phenomenon. More than that, he raises key questions about the legacy of postmodernism and its implications for our intellectual attitudes and cultural life. * Steven M. Sanders, Ph.D., Reason Papers --Reason Papers

Refreshingly, Hicks does not take it as given that the poststructuralist viewpoints have been demonstrated to be in error. Rather, he seeks to trace them to a powerful ressentiment directed against the partisan of the Enlightenment and of capitalist achievement, and to provide the Enlightenment thinker with openings for serious intellectual engagement. * Marcus Verhaegh, Ph.D., The Independent Review --The Independent Review

About the Author

Stephen Ronald Craig Hicks (born 1960) is professor of philosophy at Rockford College, where he is also Executive Director of the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship. He is the author of *Nietzsche and the Nazis* (Ockham's Razor, 2006, 2010), *Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault* (Scholargy Publishing, 2004; expanded edition, 2011), and co-editor of *The Art of Reasoning: Readings for Logical Analysis* (W. W. Norton & Co., 1998). Hicks earned a Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1991 and his B.A. (Honours) from the University of Guelph, Canada in 1981.

Product Details

  • File Size: 1569 KB
  • Print Length: 230 pages
  • Publisher: Ockham's Razor; Expanded edition (December 19, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005D53DG0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #547,728 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
109 of 117 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars UNMASKING POSTMODERNISM October 17, 2006
By F. Carr
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book isn't an introduction to postmodernism (PM). There are several introductions to PM on Amazon if that's what you want. Rather, its task could be described as turning some of the techniques of academic PM on its founders - Foucault, Derrida, Lyotard, & Co. The title could have been "Unmasking Postmodernism" because Hicks does so with devastating effect.

I have read several hundred books on philosophy from Plato to the present and I cannot think of one that I consider to have been more clearly written than this. The exposition is admirably jargon-free and straightforward, although some terms might be unfamiliar to some folks. This is the only book in many years that I began re-reading and marking up as soon as I had finished reading it the first time - I think it's that good.

It's important to distinguish between PM in the arts, which is largely an aesthetic trend, and academic PM, which exists almost exclusively in some humanities departments in the universities and identifies with particular epistemological and linguistic assumptions. This book is concerned with the latter group and Hicks provides a well documented case for the following historical sequence:

1) Leftist socialists had traditionally believed that reason and facts would show the superiority of socialism - theoretically, morally, and economically.

2) Academic PM's creators were all leftist socialists around the time that leftist socialism was failing - theoretically, morally, and economically (1950s on).

3) The reaction of leftist academic socialists to this wasn't to accept that they had been wrong. Instead, they availed themselves of recent developments in epistemology and linguistics as a pretext for dismissing reason and facts.
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46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pretty good... for an objectivist November 13, 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm not a philosopher, I'm a retired scientist. So I'm probably not the best reviewer for this book. However, I did enjoy it. That in itself is unusual when I read philosophy.

In all fairness, I suspect this book probably would not be considered to be an "academic level" philosophy book, at least for the advanced undergraduate philosophy major. But it does take one through a history of philosophical thinking from the Enlightenment to the postmodern present.

I had done some prior reading about postmodernism. I enjoy reading about the subject for the same reason I like going to public aquariums - the denizens are so strange and alien that one is astonished that such odd creatures exist at all. Of course, behind the scenes in the aquarium are vast engineered systems to provide anm environment that will support the inhabitants. For the postmodernists, universities serve as that vast engineered system. This book explains why the postmodernists need such a system to survive in a world that doesn't focus on pickle slices, hot meat and trans-fats.

The book also does a good job of explaining in more-or-less plain English the vacuity of postmodern thought. If you aren't impressed and awed by the kind of self-congratulatory dense prose one often gets from philosophical writers, and you want a readable overview of the development and blossoming of dead-end thinking, this is the book for you. If you're a real philosopher, though, I'm sure you'll find it so accessible as to be beneath contempt. And if you're a postmodernist, stay away at all costs. It will be dangerous reading for you. Your trope might trip.
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51 of 57 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is how philosophy should be written! June 4, 2005
Just finished reading this book. It took me about a week of very leisurely reading. The book is about 200 pages. This is how philosophy should be written, brief and to the point. People like me do not have a lot of time on our hands to pour through thick philosophical tomes hoping to discover one grain of wisdom in a sea of verbiage. What makes this book special is that every page, every word counts. This is not some superficial popularization, but a serious book filled with important ideas and serious implication for the modern world.

This is intellectual history written like a novel, and it reads like a novel. It's a dark novel, unfortunately, but there is reason for hope. The story it tells is of how postmodernism evolved from its dual roots of socialist utopianism and counter-enlightenment philosophy to become the dominant intellectual force in today's universities.

Beyond being just an intellectual history, the book represents a call to action for all those who value their Enlightenment heritage to articulate and defend the premises upon which the Enlightenment was built, but which were never fully articulated. In this book, Enlightenment doesn't remain some historical abstraction, but a great movement that has brought us individualism, science, technology, capitalism and all the fruits of the progress in all these fields. It's something that's worth defending, and I hope this book is read widely enough to make an impact in that direction.
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96 of 120 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book should be in every student's backpack. September 7, 2004
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book should be in every student's backpack. In the post-modern intellectual battleground in which each student find himself submerged - and sometimes drowning - this book offers essential intellectual self-defence for every student who still cares to think. No matter if you already know every answer to all the sundry irrationalities you face every day - herewith is a comprehensive summary of your intellectual enemy that for the first time clearly and comprehensively puts each of the post-modern heroes in their place.

Why is that so important? Well, what do you feel when you watch a butterfly emerge from its chrysalis? You watch it greet the sun, spread its wings and almost give thanks to existence for its rebirth. Imagine then another human being gleefully stamping their boot on that reborn butterfly, smilingly stamping the life out of it. Such is the situation in many places of academe. This book gives a defence to the fragile butterfly of the intellect.

One of the worst periods of my own life was spent at Auckland's Architecture School where I found myself being taught by intelligent human beings, many of whom seemed somehow intent on snuffing out young students' sense of certainty and their joy in learning about ideas and creating great art. I watched as many students became either irrational automatons emulating the noises made by these lecturers, or gave up in disgust - often questioning themselves and their own ability. They were crushed. That situation was not unique to my own alma mater - it pertains to nearly every grove of academia in the Western world. This book explains the mentality of scum who earn a pay-cheque by gleefully crushing impressionable young minds, and the strategies they employ to do it.

The book is a "great but very scary read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
Excellent book, well written and easy to understand.
Published 1 month ago by Jonathan Goodman
5.0 out of 5 stars A look into absolute silliness . . .
My definition . . .

"Postmodernism philosophy is the tantrum raised by those whose emotions, desires, beliefs, feelings, passions, assertions, etc. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Bruce J. Cameron
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars and More
This book clearly explained the roots of post-modernism in terms this modernist can grasp. Because post-modernist philosophical roots are in the subjective and nihilistic... Read more
Published 5 months ago by Elisheva H. Levin
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Lying is Acceptable to Socialists
Have you ever wondered why President Obama and fellow travelers do not care if they are caught in a lie, or make contradictory statements? Read more
Published 5 months ago by Dale B. Halling
5.0 out of 5 stars The Greatest Book Ever Written
Hicks is the most organized thinker I've ever read. He does a fantastic job of taking seemingly disparate episodes in history and philosophy and uniting them into a clear and... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Emurda
5.0 out of 5 stars best thing since "closing of the american mind"
Forceful and profound.This book on the philosophy of ideas introduces you to many personalities and puts them into historical perspective and related them to those who would... Read more
Published 8 months ago by Michel Olson
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophical Foundations of Postmodernism
This book is an excellent introduction to both the philosophical foundations of Postmodernism and the history of its battle with the Enlightenment outlook. Read more
Published 9 months ago by James Henderson
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended
While this book at times is depressing, it is extremely educational and well written. It is one of my favorite books. Highly recommended.
Published 9 months ago by NN09
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent survey of modern philosophy and the roots of post-modernism.
Excellent survey of modern philosophy and the emergence of post-modernism. Dr. Hicks proposes a provocative thesis and neatly corroborates it with historical evidence.
Published 10 months ago by Jerry Johnson
2.0 out of 5 stars A partial and slanted critique
One doesn't have to be a Right Libertarian (my friend jokes about thinkers who are adamantly "Ayn Rand-y") to find fundamental epistemological errors and malign social, political... Read more
Published 11 months ago by W. J. Reedy
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More About the Author

Stephen Ronald Craig Hicks (born 1960) is professor of philosophy at Rockford University, where he is also Executive Director of the Center for Ethics and Entrepreneurship. He is the author of *Nietzsche and the Nazis* (Ockham's Razor, 2006, 2010), *Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault* (Scholargy Publishing, 2004), and co-editor of *The Art of Reasoning: Readings for Logical Analysis* (W. W. Norton & Co., 1998). Hicks earned a Ph.D. from Indiana University in 1991 and his B.A. (Honours) from the University of Guelph, Canada in 1981.

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