The development of post-modernism – an introduction

I was listening to a radio broadcast by Pastor Ravi Zacharias this morning on the way to work. Zacharias is an internationally well known theologian and extremely well versed in philosophy. In this short broadcast which can be found here he explains the development of post-modernism and provides a side by side comparison of it with modernism.

Briefly my take away points are:

  • Post-modernism began more when modernism ended and launched post-modernism. Post-modernism was ushered in after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.
  • Discipline of Logic
    • Objective reason is a myth
    • The laws of human thought is not independent upon society
    • These laws are cultural in nature and arbitrary in constructions of society and they are ultimately routed in language.
  • Philosophy
    • Knowledge of truth and reality is grounded in society. There is a sociology of knowledge, which means society conditions your knowledge
    • Society constructs reality, power determines the truth
    • Words do not describe reality (correspondence theory/coherence theory). Words create reality.
    • Relativism which denies absolutes makes the statement that all truth is relative.
    • Scientific observations are biased by the community that interprets them. There is no such thing as objective science.
  • Law
    • People are cogs in a social machine, part of the economic system.
    • Personhood is defined by culture. It is a social construct.
    • Law is whatever society’s most powerful group makes it.
    • Law is subject to interpretation by those in power and is reducible to politics and the political group behind law. Objective fundamental laws do not exist.

He then went on to highlight some of the key differences between Modernism and Post-modernism

Modernism Post-Modernism
Believe in determinacy, there was structure and purpose, intent Indeterminacy, no intent, no structure
Purpose and design Play and chance
Hierarchy, authority Anarchy, egalitarianism and equality to all statements
Values the type, seeks the logos underlying meaning of the university expressed in language Values the mutant silence rejecting both word and meaning
Art as a self-contained finished work Focuses on process and the performance
Looks at creations, totalisations and synthesis (there is a meta narrative) Decreation, deconstruction and antithesis
Interested in death Only interested in surfaces
Interested in cultivating presence Cultivates absence
Positivistic (scientific truth is the only truth) Fragmentation
Techno-centric (era of machines) Anthropocentric (man-centred)
Rationalistic Reason is not a test for truth
Reference List

Zacharias, Ravi (2016) European Mission’s Conference Q&A, Part 2 of 5 [online] Ravi Zacharias International Ministries. Available at: [Accessed 28 October, 2016]


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