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Postmodernism

Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom

Excerpts about Postmodernism

Constructionist Philosophy Doesn't Recognize the Basis of Constructs in Existence

Science need not take the positivist position. Its objective research can proceed within a view that recognizes the ultimate unity of all things; this unity allows for the presence and reality of knowable forms. This deeper and more accurate view may actually aid scientific research, adding another dimension of reality to its study, making this study more complete and objective, and making available to researchers more subtle capacities for perception and research.

On the other hand, extreme constructionist philosophy, popular in postmodern times, takes the opposite view. It sees the world as composed not of reified noetic forms, but only of mental constructs. In deconstructing the view of naïve realism, it veers toward extreme nihilism, lacking the recognition that the constructs of the mind are not completely without basis. It does not see that the basis of the reified world is the oneness of existence of basic knowledge. It does not see that the mind cannot be so original, that it is bound to borrow its concepts from direct basic experience of truly arising forms. It wants to liberate us from the belief in independent objects, but it ends up robbing us of the luminous richness of basic knowledge, with its myriad noetic forms. It is true that these noetic forms do not exist independently on their own, but they are not completely the creation of our individual minds. They are the inseparable forms of the universal mind. Reality lies midway between the visions of positivism and of extreme constructionism.

Deconstructionist Thought Robs Knowing of Its Ontological Ground

Postmodern deconstructionist thought has done something similar, which also tends to rob our knowing of its ontological ground. Such extreme deconstructionism, as seen in the followers of Derrida and Foucault, in cultural constructivism, in relativism, understands all reality and truth to be ultimately a construction, cultural and personal. For such philosophy there is no such thing as universal truth. Now, this is fundamentally true for ego experience of self and world, for our sense of self and world develops, as has been amply understood by object relations theory, through the development of ego structures, which always occur within object relations, which imply a social and cultural context.

Deconstructionism reduces all truth and all reality to nothing. This is actually what occurs when we first deconstruct ego in paths of inner transformation. However, as these wisdom teachings know, this deconstruction is only the first step of the transformation, the next is the arising of true reality, free and independent of any construction. In fact, this reality is understood as primordial, unoriginated, and nonconceptual. And we experience this reality as presence, beingness independent of construction. Understood from the perspective of gnostic traditions, deconstruction is nothing but a new form of nihilism, for it leaves only construction and deconstruction, but no universal or ultimate truths.

Dereification is Really Restructuring, Rather Than Destructuring

The process of de-reification can be seen as a destructuring process for it is a matter of destructuring the reified concepts of the mind. However, this is an incomplete understanding of this process. De-reification can also be misinterpreted and abused when understood exclusively as destructuring. Because the penetration of reified concepts leads not simply to chaos or annihilation of experience, but to the ground of basic knowledge, the process is more accurately understood as that of restructuring. The structuring of experience by ordinary knowledge dissolves and is replaced by the authentic and spontaneous structure of basic knowledge.

Enlightenment is Knowingness Free of Relativism

The experience of enlightenment is knowingness free of relativism, personal or cultural. It is liberation because it is free from the confining constructions of both the individual and culture, and this liberates our Being to freely display its richness. This is a positive experience, rich with significance, vibrant with color and full of truth. In Buddhism, for instance, what is called relative truth is not what the relativists call such. Because when all construction is undone in enlightenment, awakened consciousness is aware of absolute truth, or emptiness, inseparable from relative truth. This relative truth does not go away with deconstruction; it merely reveals its true face.

Relativism and Constructivism View Experience as Determined Only by Ego Structures

The extreme schools of relativism and constructivism view our experience as determined only by the shutters (the various ego structures that constitute the sense of self; Inner Journey Home, pg. 64). When the shutters are removed, nothing remains for knowledge to behold. We also imply here that the knowledge of the wisdom teachings can be objective in the way scientific knowledge is. Even though it is a different kind of knowledge, it has similar criteria of objectivity. Like scientific knowledge of the physical world, this knowledge is verifiable.

Stages of Essential Development Can Follow the Dissociation in Our Stage of Modern and Postmodern Thought

In other words, we can view the dissociation of the triad in our modern and postmodern Western thought as a stage that can be followed by other stages, all natural to the development of thought. We can envision a further stage, parallel to the stage of essential development of the soul, and further still toward the stage of the microcosm diamond pearl. This will be a stage where Western thought redeems itself, just as the soul can, by finding the unity underlying its dissociation, by appreciating the value of differentiation and discrimination without having to continue the dissociation.

 

The Thinking Mind Alone Cannot Dissolve Reification

Now that you have some understanding of how reification operates, you can appreciate how important it is to feel our way through that process, to approach it experientially. Because if we only work with it mentally, we are still operating within our reifications and will remain trapped by them. That is why it is not possible for the thinking mind alone to dissolve reification, despite the claims of some postmodern philosophers.

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