Postmodernism in Latin America
Postmodernism is the 19th and 20th century reaction against the previously dominant western foundationalism, or modernism. Foundationalism is rooted in classic Cartesian philosophy: ontologically, an objective reality exists independent of our perception of this reality and we can gain access to it if our theories are logically based on some indubitable foundation. For Descartes, this indubitable, uncontroversial point of reference aligns with "I think, therefore I am." However, after each stated foundation posited the process of critical undercutting begins; we find no extant foundation upon which to build our ontologically relevant theories.
Postmodernism, in brief, alternatively negates the existence of the ultimate reference point. There exists no grand or meta-narrative that explains the world from some objective, disinterested vantage point. Each narrative in based on particular perspectives and is in turn biased by these perspectives. To avoid the seeming inevitable nihilism an extension of postmodern thought leads, the emphasis is then placed on the necessity of agreement. Truth is not an objective statement, but contrarily is a measure of a particular narrative's fit with the set standards in which it is placed. For example, in scientific enterprise, research is performed in the context of traditions that have set up their own standards for establishing successful science. Traditions have established and agreed upon the rules of engagement, the common language, and set of standards by which good science is judged.
There are three main themes debated within the postmodern context: (1) extreme relativism (2) philosophy of science (3) Hermeneutics. The extreme relativists are most easily observed in their method of literary criticism. Literature is interpreted according to one's own interests and according to one's own predispositions. Moreover, this sort of interpretation is inevitable as we all come from our own experiences, prejudices and predispositions, and after all, we compose our literature, histories and theories. In the philosophy of science, the argument is as stated above: science is performed in its own traditional context that has previously established its own standards of judgment. Within the Hermeneutic tradition the question is centered near the means and methods of understanding: how are meaningful products produced and understood? The focus is on the dialogical interactions taking...