The Issues
Philosophy and Civil Society

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THE ISSUES: AN OVERVIEW

ISSUE ONE

ISSUE ONE: What comes after postmodernism?

         The term "postmodernism" has come to refer to the facile and even nihilistic historicism and relativism that many have embraced after losing their Enlightenment faith in Reason. Postmodernism, thus understood, represents a merely reactive and transitional stage of post-Enlightenment Western culture. To move beyond this stage, it is necessary to rethink Enlightenment conceptions of reason and knowledge so that they are not merely rejected and negated, but transformed in such a way as to open new possibilities for development that are continuous with the past.
          
This site proposes such a rethinking of the Enlightenment. The thesis: Enlightenment conceptions of reason and knowledge can be affirmed in the post-Enlightenment period, provided we understand them properly in terms of the political and cultural function they have served for three hundred years -- namely, as primary components of an emerging liberal democratic civic culture in the West. Thus, the project of rethinking Enlightenment conceptions of reason and knowledge becomes the project of rethinking the cultural foundations of Western liberal democracy. What comes after postmodernism, then? The answer offered here: the postmodern reconstruction of liberal democratic civic culture and civil society.

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Page last edited: 01/20/02

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