The Seduction of Unreason by Richard Wolin (2004; about postmodernism)
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In The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism - From Nietzsche to Postmodernism, Richard Wolin takes to task the notion that postmodern philosophy is somehow anti-authoritarian and therefore provides the core concepts needed to fight power. Rather, it is the exact opposite - tracing the history, he reveals that postmodernism rests on highly authoritarian concepts.
Although Wolin is not an anarchist, his work adds historical body to the critiques of postmodernism by socialist leftists such as Alan Sokal, Jean Bricmont, Noam Chomsky, and Meera Nanda. You'll never read Foucault et al. the same.
If short on time, try to read the first chapter on Nietzsche (and yes, it is balanced - the author does not make the bogus claim Nietzsche was the 'harbinger of Nazism' and acknowledges that the Nazis gave a biased account of Nietzsche).
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Aug 28, 2010, 22:26:24
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4m 23s ago
Thanks! "Against Postmodernism" by Alex Callinicos is a good one too if you're interested in the topic.
Aug 28 2010, 22:43 UTC
These "post modern" debates (whether for or against)get pretty tiresome after a while and in my view are much ado about nothing (in that on a practical level, they are politically irrelevant either way).
Noam Chomsky is known for criticizing the frivolity of French intellectuals, but he has also said that "everyone should read Derrida" (a friend of mine met Chomsky at a Derrida conference) and that "Focault is unusual among Paris intellectuals in that there is still something left when we peel away the framework of obfuscation."
The problem is that Derrida and Focault have spawned countless imitators who do write nonsense, supposedly in their name (Paul De Man for example). However this should never distract someone from engaing with them directly (This is especially true for Nietzsche and Heidegger, two brillant and very important thinkers in my view). Whether you like or dislike them, you should not only rely on secondary sources to judge them.
Aug 31 2010, 16:19 UTC