Those who embrace the basic tenets of postmodernism possess a desire to both reject and accept logic at the same time. This blatant in-your-face contradiction and pretense is what makes postmodernism so confounding to understand, but also what makes it a trap that ensnares those who find the rejection of reason and responsibility psychologically attractive and in some ways seemingly addictive. The proliferation of postmodernist concepts depends on this paradoxical yet seemingly rational rejection of reason and therefore a default appeal to unencumbered emotion and whim to further its successful spread as an insidious and capricious mind virus.
The facts of reality are such that even the rejection of logic can’t escape logic, and thus postmodernists, as reason-deniers and advocates of irrationality, are themselves constrained by logic, no matter how sincere they may be at trying to wish it away.
It is worth taking a moment to review and understand what happens logically when one introduces and accepts contradictory premises as being valid, which is inevitable when one rejects reason and embraces contradictions as a purported principle of discovery and discourse. Such a rejection of the means humans have at their disposal for their survival can, and does, lead to disastrous results.
In logic, as in reality, there can be no valid forms of contradictions. We seek out and take note of real or apparent contradictions in fact because they are revelatory of errors in knowledge that require correction. In logic, once a contradiction is accepted—or once reason and logic are rejected—anything goes; you can “logically” conclude, infer, or rationalize anything from accepted contradictory premises. (See Principle of Explosion: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principle_of_explosion)
In formal logic, to accept contradictions as valid and not to seek to eliminate them in arguing from premises to conclusions, is to trivialize the concepts of truth and falsity. This trivialization is exactly what today’s postmodernists desire and require. Consider this simple but sufficient example from the Wikipedia entry cited above:
As a demonstration of the principle, consider two contradictory statements— “All lemons are yellow” and “Not all lemons are yellow”—and suppose that both are true. If that is the case, anything can be proven, e.g., the assertion that “unicorns exist” by using the following argument:
1. We know that “Not all lemons are yellow” as it has been assumed to be true.
2. We know that “All lemons are yellow” as it has been assumed to be true.
3. Therefore, the two part statement “All lemons are yellow OR unicorns exist” must also be true, since the first part is true.
4. However, since we know that “Not all lemons are yellow” (as far as this has been assumed), the first part is false, and the second part must be true, i.e., unicorns exist.Wikipedia, Principle of Explosion
A good explanation can be found in this YouTube video (https://youtu.be/2ZTJTfjYu1k), including insight into why postmodernists are able to proclaim that 2+2 can equal 5, or that the slope of a line in the linear equation y=3x+5 can be 7.
The reason we are taught to avoid contradictions by means of logic is that logical and factual contradictions are agents of destruction and a signal that one’s thinking and conclusions are misaligned with truth and reality. To willfully identify contradictory premises and then ignore them is to willfully dispense with reason and reality. The remedy is to check the validity of one’s premises and to engage in more learning and discovery to root out one’s errors, and at the very least to act on one’s conclusions with caution if one suspects or discovers a contradiction in one’s reasoning.
Reason enables one to establish valid conclusions from valid non-contradictory premises. If one rejects the role of reason and logic as valid tools for discovery in order to establish any arbitrary conclusion one desires, one may as well just assert whatever conclusion one feels like and do without the pretense of drawing conclusions from premises. This is the precise the non-rational methodology that is used by postmodernists as a substitute for reason. This is the only means that’s available to espouse “conclusions” from one’s feelings and emotional desires. Such is an epistemology of faith, a strongly held belief or conviction or wish that something exists or is true in the absence of evidentiary proof. This is the essence of the foundation of postmodernism and its status as an invalid method to discover and prescribe truths about the world.
This is why rationality and logic are inescapably foundational to setting and achieving human values and goals.
For humans—whom Aristotle identified as the rational animal—irrationality is the enemy of sustaining life, achievement, and flourishing. To abandon rationality is to abandon biologically appropriate living. That is why we want and need things to make sense. Rationality is the source of efficacious action, self-esteem, and the gamut of ethical virtues that include honesty, integrity, independence, justice, and productivity. To willfully pursue nonsense and abandon reason is thereby also to abandon any pretense of ethicality and mental health. The willful evasion of reality is the quickest road to self-induced cognitive impairment and mental illness.
Logic and reason are essential to anyone trying to build something. Successful action requires that we create linkages forward in time that connect thought to actions in order to achieve the desired outcomes. That is why logic and reason—and not wishes and whims—are the bedrock essence of effective human action.
But if you hold different values—if your goal is not to build but to destroy—then logic serves considerably less practical purpose beyond its minimal range-of-the-moment application to pursue impulsive urges for immediate gratification. Even to this extent, some remnant of reason is indispensable and positively necessary to join the actions chosen to the ends sought.
Next: Part 8 – If You Wish Violence on People You Disagree With, You’re Already Infected
© 2021, Barry L. Linetsky. All Rights Reserved
Barry Linetsky is a Partner with The Strategic Planning Group in Toronto, Canada, where he and his colleagues have been helping executives and owners define and align their business purpose with customer values since 1994. Barry is the author of the acclaimed business biography The Business of Walt Disney and the Nine Principles of His Success (Theme Park Press). His two most recent books, Understanding and Creating Vision and Mission Statements and Understanding and Creating Strategic Performance Indicators and Business Scenarios, co-authored with Dobri Stojsic, are available from amazon. The third book in the series Understanding and Creating Critical Success Factors will be available soon. Barry’s thought-leadership articles have been published by Ivey Business Journal, Rotman Magazine, Mises Wire, and the Economist Intelligence Unit in conjunction with Harvard Business School. Barry is also a writer, researcher, analyst, photographer, and business strategy enabler. Read his blog and learn more at barrylinetsky.com. Follow him on Twitter @BizPhilosopher.