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  • This is the first of two conversations; today Kylon interviews me and next time I will interview him.

    Kylon dropped out of college during his freshman year in 2009. Since then he has founded and co-founded […]

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  • Our investigation into the philosophical roots of social justice continues…

    Daniel Bonevac is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. He joins us today to discuss Jacques Derrida and […]

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  • (Part Two) Our investigation into the philosophical roots of social justice continues…

    Dr. Stephen Hicks is a Professor of Philosophy at Rockford College and the Executive Director of The Center For Ethics […]

    • “The postmodernists of the 1920s….” Hi, Brett, I recognize you’re likely to continue dismissing any criticism of objectivism out-of-hand with the usual ad homs and straw men generalizations, but I think it’s important to register the postmodernist challenge to objectivist theory anyway on your website for the 20% of your audience open to debate. I’ve added this episode to my growing collection of objectivist/Trivium doublethin; I’ve been using these audio files for an advanced online critical thinking class because my students have recognized the need to take Ayn Rand’s philosophical arguments seriously and deconstruct them. Ayn Rand’s famous dictum at the start of any debate was to first define your terms, right? So three episodes in, let’s see how we’re defining our terms. What is postmodernism (aka post-structuralism)? How is it distinct from modernism (aka structuralism) lest we confuse the two, right? And, relatedly, what is structuralism? I’ve noticed a trend where objectivists intentionally, or in their ignorance of the primary sources, conflate structuralists (of the 20s) with post-structuralists (of the 70s). This is despite post-modernists’ explicitly empirical attacks against the structuralist theories’ of determinalistic structural power (race, religion, culture, government). For instance, if you’d ever read Derrida’s Of Grammatology, you would have observed that roughly 1/3 of the book is spent deconstructing Rousseau’s philosophy – particularly the blank slate and noble savage – in even more damaging and intelligent ways than the Objectivists do. Need I say that the Trivium’s blank slate belief that every child is born naturally good and intellectually curious but is corrupted by evil, satanic governmental institutions like public school clearly stems from Rousseau, and has been debunked empirically and widely in our post-modern era. Another 1/3 is spent deconstructing Levi-Strauss’ fake ethnographic work on indigenous cultures, who he claimed were non-violent. You may recognize the disproven concept of the noble savage also remains prevalent in New Age 1.0 and Trivium 2.0 (but not 1.0) dogma. So as far as your explicit conclusion that postmodernists are overthrowing empiricism and the Scientific Method, I must strongly disagree based on my reading of the primary sources. If you’ve read different postmodernist books on the subject, I’m open to debate, but in the absence of any primary sources, I’ll go with what I’ve read.

      Another primary source I’d recommend on this subject, and I’ve heard Thadeus Russell recommend this one several times, is Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Science. If you’d read this book, you’d know the key difference in grammar is not that the postmodernists seek to overthrow empiricism or the scientific method but rather wish to SITUATE it with in its proper historical and cultural context. This is the difference between Science and Scientism which the Objectivists also talk about, but the post-modernists again deconstruct it more thoroughly and less dogmatically.

      One area we can likely agree on is Nietzsche’s overarching influence on both modernist and postmodernist theories, including Objectivism (which, as my students have recognized, is clearly a modernist Structure in itself). I succinctly summarize Nietzsche’s contributions to philosophy in three elements:
      1) God is dead.
      2) Power exists.
      3) Man’s divine power is regained individually through honest recognition of 1 & 2.

      To my knowledge, no serious philosophical counter-arguments have been mounted to Nietzsche’s challenge.

      We also agree that modernists and post-modernists almost universally fall into the trap of psychological darkness and depression, although I’d argue this is a result of taking Nietzsche’s challenge seriously rather than anything the postmodernists actually discuss. In other words, the few intellectual philosophers, who seem full of doom of gloom because they’ve accepted Nietzsche’s challenge, are not as mentally unhealthy and are not spreading mental illness to those who listen to them as they may appear at first glance (although I admit a large percentage of them could benefit from meditation, a cold shower, and a study of Eastern philosophy). Rather, I think the deeper truth they’re pointing out is how crazy and mentally unstable everyone in the West is who appeals to a monolithic cultural, religious, or governmental authority. Indexical thinking (Jesus saves) is so much more widespread than symbolic thinking (I save myself through my interpreting of the world). When you admit we’ve evolved from monkeys and not a Hebrew God and still have monkey brains that are detrimental to the social and mental health of the human race, some degree of darkness is likely to ensue. The Marquis de Sade, Dostoevsky, Camus, Carl Jung, and a bunch of other deep thinkers in the modern era took this darkness seriously, whether or not they found they’re way out is another story. The challenge was not to ignore, ad hom, dismiss, or censor this honest realization that darkness exists, but to take it seriously and deconstruct it from historical, economic, psychological, linguistic, scientific perspectives until the existing authoritarian dogma loses its power and dissolves, leaving behind greater individual freedom.This is why David Ray Griffin’s postmodernist deconstruction of 9/11 is the one I recommend most. The alchemy of deconstruction turns darkness into light. This is also why Foucault’s historical deconstruction of the field of psychiatry – SITUATED within different historical eras and cultures is the most widely read and taught of the postmodernists’ books. This is also why I included Lacan, who focused almost solely on the unconscious cultural and evolutionary factors that influence mental health, along with Derrida and Foucault, as the three major postmodernist philosophers that everyone should read and understand the basic grammar of BEFORE they criticize postmodernism. Clearly, I don’t need to argue against Objectivism or the Trivium. Postmodernists have already won the debate of ideas, and we live in a postmodern world and will continue to do so until objectivists read the ideas, process them, and respond to them intelligently rather than create more strawmen arguments out of ignorance of the primary sources and ambiguously define key terms. Apologies for the length, I know how much you hate to read ;).Just so you know, I’m not the one dropping bombs and then running away from the fight.

    • Where is part 1?

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  • Author, teacher and podcaster Hunter Maats joins me for a fun and challenging marathon conversation. Hunter and I discover lots of areas of disagreement, but our exploration into our differences has just begun. […]

  • (Part One) Our investigation into the philosophical roots of social justice continues…

    Nikos Sotirakopoulos is a lecturer in Sociology at the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough University, UK. He […]

    • Dear Brett, would you mind sharing which of the postmodernist’s books you read as the primary sources for your critique? I’m always curious to know where these kind of ideas come from. Many thanks!

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  • Today, many young people are looking for personal liberation in all the wrong places.

    – Thaddeus vs. Jordan Peterson: common ground?
    – letting go of a conspiracy theory
    – over-corrective responses […]

    • Honestly, Brett, it’s a good thing you changed your karma a few years ago, gained self-knowledge, found the Trivium (X3), self-esteem (X6) and NVC (X4) (QED = 72), and didn’t weaponize or proselytize them to others before integrating them in yourself in multi-part series, calling out your peers, like another libertarian religion! Que sera sera! That was then this is now. What is dead will never die! What empty, recycled slogans will you preach next in place of education? Censor and denigrate critics at your own risk, but reflective thinkers with real intellectual self-defense spotted the self-hypocrisy long ago. Shame on you and your audience for ignoring basic grammar even while preaching grammar first to others! Roots lie beneath the surface, not above. (Unless you’re a self-actualized Buddha floating in Nirvana, which you’re clearly not, regardless of your propagandistic rhetoric). Self-aggrandizement prior to self-knowledge outside your rewarded identity is the quality that you and Thad, progressive snowflakes and monocultural conservatives, share. And that lesson’s worth at least $1.

    • Based on the first two discussions in the series, what are you concerned that I might be overlooking?
      Granted, Postmodernism is a huge subject and it’s likely I’m overlooking a lot, but what are the glaring errors or omissions that are upsetting you so much?

      • That’s better, a question rather than threatening censorship. My main concern is that you are presenting a second-hand version of postmodernism. Postmodernism through Rand’s eyes or postmodernism through Jordan Peterson’s eyes, and I don’t think either one of these second-hand views accurately represents the depth and objective science of postmodernist theory. Sooner or later you’ll have to dig into Foucault, Derrida, and Lacan if you want to really understand the primary sources, but after 7 years of criticizing ‘postmodernism’, you and most libertarians/an-caps still haven’t done much of their grammar homework, so I don’t have much hope of that happening. It’s ironic, because most of your criticisms of postmodernism are rooted in postmodern theory; i.e., uncovering multiple layers of analysis rather than seeking black and white, monolithic answers. I also think Niko’s reference to the Austrian economists’ Objective Value Theory was one of the most hilarious Freudian slips I’ve heard in years. This is just to say I’m not upset so much as I am deeply intrigued by the unconscious hypocrisy and lack of attention to grammar and rhetoric, overemphasis on logic (logocentricism), despite years and hundreds of episodes hectoring people about that very topic. But that may be a reflection of how my subjective research values and interests differ from yours. Namaste, snowflake, please don’t censor free speech even if critical of your special in-group. In my mind, you now owe me $2, but I’m willing to forgive the debt, if in the next episode you can cite and summarize the key points of any one of the Postmodern philosophy primary sources you claim to be “above”.

        • The next show is partly about Derrida, with a Philosophy professor from U of Texas. Hopefully after that my outstanding balance will only be $1.

          • Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize that it was the UT prof and not yourself that was putting out this series, calling for donations, and making the claim of being “above” the postmodernists’ philosophy. With such a title and your name at the top of the bill, I figured surely you’ve read enough of Derrida yourself to at least challenge this academic on Derrida’s philosophical shortcomings rather than just appeal to his/her authority? Just in case he/she , being an academic, presents any false conclusions or hypocritical misrepresentations? *Wink, wink.* So let’s call it $1.90 for now, and I’ll throw in a pat on the back and an NVC-like ‘atta boy’ for the attempt to at least dig into Derrida on an Objectivist-leaning podcast. P.S.: I know Brett’s read it, *wink, wink* but in case his audience hasn’t: Derrida’s Of Grammatology is a logical place to start. (weblink not included out of respect for my new postmodern bff whose rhetoric is entirely sincere because it’s now based on pure grammar collection rather than monetary considerations from a niche audience appreciative of free speech even when bluntly critical of it).

    • Scott replied 1 month ago

      Hi, Brett (my new rhetorical bff), with your approval, I’d like to cash in any credits I’ve earned for your on-air answer to these 2 questions (which I’ve thought a lot about and subjectively valued your answers to at .95 each). I’ve stayed within the theme of postmodernism in hopes it may generate your more immediate consideration:

      1) Up-to-date, and to the best of your knowledge, as an historical scholar, what happened on 9/11?
      2) Why did you stop talking (or talked mockingly) about this seemingly external topic, and thus far, has your conscious elision been more effective or ineffective in achieving your long-term goals?

      With love, heartfelt gratitude, and a deep sense of humanity, your smug, degenerate, selfsame troll

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