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Explaining Postmodernism (Expanded Edition)

Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault
Written by: Stephen R. C. Hicks
Narrated by: Scott R. Smith
Length: 7 hrs and 23 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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".

©2004 Stephen Hicks (P)2018 Stephen Hicks

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Well worth the listen!

An important and useful examination of the historical development of philosophy which has led us to our current cultural moment which is immersed in postmodern thought and its implications for society.

A little tough to grab onto all the information during the first half of the book as Hicks goes over the philosophical contributions of numerous thinkers, but when he arrives at the 20th century, his points seem to coalesce nicely into an explanation of how we arrived at the present philosophical moment.

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  • Rivera V
  • Brooklyn, NY
  • 2019-01-27

Prepare to be well informed

A must read for anyone interested in the pervasive and diabolical influence of post modernism in news, the academy, politics, and other social movements.

Steven Hicks has distilled the history of the movement and its makers in a way anyone can understand.

8 of 13 people found this review helpful

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  • Daniel Schealler
  • New Zealand
  • 2019-02-04

Does not actually explain postmodernism.

The book is very well narrated and and engagingly written, so top marks on production values.

The bit where it falls over is that it is not an explanation of postmodernism: It's a polemic of a straw-man version of postmodernism that I'm pretty sure nobody actually holds.

The book sets up a caricature of postmodernism from the perspective of those who are opposed to it without really understanding fully as to why. It's an extremely hypocritical book given the amount of time it spends shaking it's finger at scarecrow postmodernists for not caring about objective truth, while itself showing absolutely no concern for its own misrepresentations of the truth of what postmodernism is actually on about.

If you don't like feminism, socialism, and/or progressive politics; if you want to sound as if you have good reasons backing up those emotions; if you don't care about accuracy so long as you can feel self-righteously justified; if you think capitalism a magical cure-all with no downsides; if you think that the only level of analysis that matters is the individual while acting as if the complex web of inter-dependencies that exist between us all either doesn't exist or is completely irrelevant? If you answered yes to these questions and others in that general theme, then you will *love* this book.

But if you're like me where you have a rudimentary grasp of postmodernism but you want to learn more before adopting an informed position about it? This book is trash: A total waste of time and money. Get literally anything else.

I'd exchange this audiobook if I could, it was utterly worthless to me.

15 of 25 people found this review helpful

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  • Matt Kragen
  • 2018-12-19

A primer for PM's opposition

I read this to get a feel for the opposition to postmodernism, as my academic environment is heavily saturated in it. While this book is adequate to get a sense of Hicks' position, it feels lacking in supporting arguments. I was also a little disappointed that there wasn't much refutation of the positions opposed. The summary of philosophical history was well done, however.

4 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • jmhr
  • 2019-08-29

A Philo-Genealogy of Postmodernism's Secular Cult

Excellent! Having avoided philosophy as a topic since college, it was a great refresher from a rational historian's perspective. The author pulls back the curtain and exposes the perverse spirit and world view of postmodernism.

The narrator had a great voice, and yet the inflections (for emphasis) were often oddly placed, and the delivery so measured I wondered if it wasn't a very good computer program rather than a person. I'm still not sure, but it did not take away from the content that much. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and I have recommended it to several friends.

I only wish it had gone one step further and described the psychology behind postmodernism's seductive attraction, especially to the Left.

I get the naughty pleasure of college students indulging in the ironic, the irreverent, the iconoclastic and sacrilegious. It's a way to flip of the old man. But rather than emerging on the other side into a sunnier disposition of hope and appreciation, far too many of these children grow into their old age, or even middle age, becoming bitter and contemptuous, permanently cynical and bent on destroying everything good, by ignoring the world around them and proclaiming it evil.

Then they poison the youth who follow behind. We really need an antidote, or an antibiotic, for this poisonous pathology.

The book stops short of a diagnosis, much less a prescription. And it makes the mistake, I think, of presuming these cultists really do mean well. I think they do not mean well. Quite the opposite.

But it was a great place to begin, if you've been wondering what's wrong with this country lately. Good reading!

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  • The Eagle
  • Sacrmento, CA
  • 2019-06-24

The roots of postmodernism exposed

Excellent. Details the roots of post modern philosophy. What is post modernism and the deep roots of the philosophy sre discussed. Everyone shoild be familiar with this relativist view of culture to understand the origins of todays 'isms. Scott Smith's narration is excellent.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Joshua J. Wood
  • Brockton, MA United States
  • 2019-04-08

Very partisan, not all that accurate

This is less a survey of post-modernist philosophy, although there is a bit of that in the beginning of the book, than a polemic against post-modernism as a proxy for progressive liberalism.

3 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • mathew merrill
  • 2019-01-05

Provacative

Compelling and interesting. May explain much of the current social - political climate of our day.

3 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Christopher
  • Danvers, MA, United States
  • 2019-02-15

over simplified garbage

paranoid, factually inaccurate, bias, over simplified, boring, and poorly composed. It seems like he has some good points but they are unfortunately lost because of his desire to tell a story instead of presenting knowledge or philosophy in good faith.

4 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • No to Statism
  • South Georgia - USA
  • 2019-04-09

Masterpiece!

Mr. Hicks presents here a truly courageous overview of postmodernism. Additionally, his depth of understanding on this dreadful subject is excellent! With this in mind, I give my thanks; thank you Mr. Hicks for taking the time to create this book!

Scott R. Smith did a great job reading the text. These things being said, I highly recommend this audiobook.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • Portland OR
  • 2019-02-01

Brilliant

Highly recommended to everyone struggling to make sense of the Left and thinking they're all a bunch of idiots.

0 of 3 people found this review helpful