“We cannot begin with complete doubt. We must begin with all the prejudices which we actually have when we enter upon the study of philosophy. These prejudices are not to be dispelled by a maxim, for they are things which it does not occur to us can be questioned. Hence this initial skepticism will be a mere self-deception, and not real doubt…” — C. S. Peirce
For the Boomers and for Gen X, that massive heap of post-everything glopped together as postmodernism was an exotic novelty that either liberated or infuriated depending on your temperament.
For Millennials, postmodernism was simply what was taught as current thinking, combined with Kahnemaniacal cognitive scientism, to produce a confused paradox — or is it an oxymoron — that fears cognitive distortion of… what, exactly? I have yet to hear anyone address the doublethink at the root of the Millennial generational faith.
For Gen Z, postmodernism is another conventionality to ridicule. When a Gen Zer says “That’s just a construct” they say it from a minimum of two ironies layers if not more. For them there is nothing beneath the irony, to contrast with it, and there never has been. Postmodernism is all they know. They are thoroughgoingly faith-fluid.
What we miss in the constructivist vision of truth and the deconstructionist vision of skepticism is two crucial questions.
The first is a question of practicality: Does reality cooperate with what we assert as true? We can claim all kinds of things, but our claims can be demonstrated to be wrong. They can also be demonstrated to be at least to some degree — but never conclusively — right.
The second is a question of intellectual conscience: Do we actually conceive a construction as true, and does a deconstruction cause us to conceive something as doubtful? Nobody can demonstrate sincerity of belief, disbelief or doubt, nor can they prove that a provisionally held assertion can never someday become sincerely believed. This hope is actually held by some, and for others is a ruse and a crutch.
How can discern the difference between actual and feigned belief — or sincere hope for future belief and willful delusion? Even if discernment were possible, how could we ever prove it? We cannot, so charlatans abound.
Where the first and second converge — where a truth is demonstrably true and conceived as true — this is where truth exists. It may not be a truth that satisfies a metaphysician’s fantasies, but it is a truth defined against demonstrable error and faithless falsity.
I think younger generations are barely in touch with demonstrated truth, and entirely alienated from intellectual conscience. Everything is a construct and no construct has anything to recommend it over any other, except…