You Should Buy Explaining Postmodernism

My friend Stephen Hicks, a professor of philosophy at Rockford College, has written an outstanding book, Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault. I heartily recommend it to anyone interested in the subject. Steve is an incredibly lucid writer, and has a rare talent for making fordbidding ideas accessible. Steve traces the dismal fortunes of reason from Kant's Copernican Revolution, through subsequent German philosophy, down to contemporary postmodernism. I especially enjoyed the clear explanation of the famously obscure Heidegger. Steve notes that postmodernism isn't just nihilist or anti-rationalist, but is uniformly leftist. (If nothing's true, there is no fact of the matter about the quality of reasons to believe things, and belief is just a commitment backed by power, then it makes just as much sense to be a money-grubbing natural rights minarchist as a turtlenecked chainsmoking Trotskyite.) His account of the way the increasingly evident failures of communism in terms of reason and evidence are tracked by the increasingly extreme postmodern rejection of reason and evidence is utterly compelling, and has influenced my thinking since I Steve first gave a talk on the topic to a student group I ran at Northern Illinois way back in 1997. Anyway, it's a lovely little book, and if you've never been able to make heads or tails of postmodernism, or would just like to get a particularly sharp and fresh take on it, pick up Steve's book.

Author: Will Wilkinson

Vice President for Research at the Niskanen Center