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Publisher's Summary

Tracing postmodernism from its roots in Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Immanuel Kant to their development in thinkers such as Michel Foucault and Richard Rorty, philosopher Stephen Hicks provides a provocative account of why postmodernism has been the most vigorous intellectual movement of the late 20th century. 

Why do skeptical and relativistic arguments have such power in the contemporary intellectual world? Why do they have that power in the humanities but not in the sciences? Why has a significant portion of the political left - the same left that traditionally promoted reason, science, equality for all, and optimism - now switched to themes of anti-reason, anti-science, double standards, and cynicism? 

Explaining Postmodernism is intellectual history with a polemical twist, providing fresh insights into the debates underlying the furor over political correctness, multiculturalism, and the future of liberal democracy. 

This expanded edition includes two additional essays by Stephen Hicks: "Free Speech and Postmodernism" and "From Modern to Postmodern Art: Why Art Became Ugly".

©2004 Stephen Hicks (P)2018 Stephen Hicks

What listeners say about Explaining Postmodernism (Expanded Edition)

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brilliant, vital

A brilliant unveiling of Post-Modernism up to its most contemporary tactics. if we are to understand anything about all that surrounds us, we must get a serious grip on this pervasive resentful ideology. I began with some limited knowledge, and after a (necessary) fairly dense start, I found Hicks extremely digestible. This book should feature in every University and thinking person's library.

2 people found this helpful

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Detailed survey of the history of the development

Bursts the bubble of the amorphous slimebag that is postmodernism simply by telling its history.

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  • Ken
  • 10-02-2022

Deep and accessible!

It covers a thorough history and contextualised analysis of Post-modernism. I'm recommending it to every to understand the development of our current political discourse.

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Finally Hicks unravels post modern absurdity

Post modernity is characterised by pomposity, incoherence and hatred.
Hicks carefully and adroitly teases out this statement.

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New terror

More of a intellectual analysis and historical background of post modern critical theory.
A little difficult for me as, I am not a philosophically knowledgeable individual. However a reader who persists and reviews the concepts and players is rewarded with a bit more insight into the madness engulfing, in my opinion the social, political and the individual.

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  • Geoff celia
  • 16-04-2020

Well worth the listen.

Dr. Hicks in this book has diagnosed the seminal problem of our day. Postmodernism has infiltrated many aspects of our society with only the intent to mock and destroy. Hicks’ brilliant dissection of the origins and causal pathway of the postmodern movement towards our current Western World should be required reading in every undergraduate philosophy class.

17 people found this helpful

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  • Riccardo C. Repetti
  • 02-02-2020

Explaining and Exposing Post-modernism!

Excellent, extremely informative history of the intellectual, philosophical roots and geneology of the current philosophical (reality and truth denying) morass, starting with folks like Kant and Rousseau and moving in careful detail all the way to Foucault et al. Hicks is an Objectivist, so his account may be expected to be biased or uncharitable, but making that assumption without reading his arguments would (ironically) constitute a fallacy of bias: "he is an Objectivist, so whatever he says about subjectivism (of which post-modernism is but one type) cannot be accurate". For proof that his assessment is correct, read Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, which basically admits everything Hicks says contemporary post-modernists think.

16 people found this helpful

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  • Cory Brickner
  • 25-08-2020

The "red pill." See how far the rabbit hole goes.

I just finished reading "Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault" by Stephen Hicks. Let me just get this out of the way now: It is absolutely a must read book for anyone that wants to understand the historical context of how we've come to where we are today with respect to the nonsense coming from the ashes of the marxists and other collectivists on the far left.

“Postmodernism, Frank Lentricchia explains, ‘seeks not to find the foundation and the conditions of truth but to exercise power for the purpose of social change.”

When I say "must read," I mean stop reading what I've posted and click on the link now! This is the best resource for unpacking what's happening in our universities, the BLM protests and riots, and the COVID-19 lockdowns. Basically the Marxist derived ideologies lost intellectually against the Western European market and trade system. I'm not going to call it Capitalism as that word was created by Marx to disparage the way of life that has brought so much wealth to humanity all across the globe over the past 2+ centuries. The proletariat revolution never came because the proletariat has been made wealthy beyond anything Marx and Engels could imagine.

“Postmodernism’s essentials are the opposite of modernism’s. Instead of natural reality—anti-realism. Instead of experience and reason—linguistic social subjectivism. Instead of individual identity and autonomy—various race, sex, and class group-isms. Instead of human interests as fundamentally harmonious and tending toward mutually-beneficial interaction—conflict and oppression. Instead of valuing individualism in values, markets, and politics—calls for communalism, solidarity, and egalitarian restraints. Instead of prizing the achievement of science and technology—suspicion tending toward outright hostility.”

What we're seeing now is a new breed of collectivists hell bent on destroying Western European civilization by any and all means possible. This typically means "divide and conquer" by implying bogus notions of "systemic racism."

The overwhelming, super-majority of people in this country are not racists. To attempt to further polarize skin color or country of origin or religious affiliation is to actually desire to force associations of people into superficial groups that have nothing to do about the character of the individuals and who they are as human beings. It is solely an attempt at creating strife, anger, and jealousy where you should judge your "group" to be significant to your identity and that other people's opinions about it should have meaning to you.

How can Western European society be deeply racist when it was the society that actually ended slavery for the first time in the history of our species?

"It is only in places where western ideas have made inroads that racist ideas are on the defensive."

How can Western European society be sexist when it was western women that were first granted the right to vote? Look at what countries still do not treat women as equals and none of them are of the west.

"When some men fail to accomplish what they desire to do they exclaim angrily, "May the whole world perish!" - Nietzsche

The postmodernists are absolutely miserable people. They hate what they cannot have and there is a "burn it all down" mentality. By sewing class warfare -- either via skin color, nationality, religion, or now mask-wearing vs. not, there is a desire to create a social atmosphere of fear. When you create this environment of fear, you "interfere with an individual's ability to perform the basic cognitive functions he needs to act responsibly in the world."

Stephen Hick's book is essential to understanding how postmodernists view the world and their desire to mold it. If you value our way of life and wish to preserve it for our posterity, "Explaining Postmodernism" is mandatory reading. Do yourself a favor and take the "red pill." You need to visit Wonderland and see how far the rabbit hole goes.

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  • Justin Caviness
  • 10-02-2021

Misleading information, I've been had!

I enjoyed the book before hearing other reviews, I got this book based on Jordan B Peterson's recommendation. Now apparently, many people are of the opinion that when it comes to social matters ie politics and philosophy he is out of his knowledge base. He has since stopped using the terms postmodern neo Marxist and I still appreciate his viewpoint on social issues amongst other things.. Back to the book... I believe that my own beliefs and feelings may have helped bridge the non sequitur arguments presented in this book due to my own biases (biases are not necessarily a bad thing; until it leads to ignorance, prejudice, and misinformation)

This is of course very upsetting when you are trying to educate yourself to the issues currently being discussed in sociopolitical landscape. As my heading states. I've been had!

I believe that from someone more familiar with postmodernism would see the jumps in logic in the first read as I had not. All that being said, if anyone can recommend a accurate book on postmodernism or this movement JBP is actually trying to do describe (instead of misattributing it to Postmodernism) it would be really appreciated.

As a final note, I would like to mention I still do enjoy JBP and find many of arguments to be sound. Unlike many others who vehemently voice their ongoing disapproval.

If I could get a refund this far out from purchase date, I would. Not because I oppose the views presented in this book, but because I oppose intellectual bias and misinformation entirely.

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  • Douglas
  • 24-10-2019

Must listen. You will learn why universities and media choose their ideals, words and tactics

This will shed light on the ideals, tactics and word choice of the far left, especially in today’s political arena.
It is no wonder that there is a crisis of meaning in life today as this post-modern ideology thrives.
It is intended to destroy everything except for the pursuit of power for its own sake and the ends justify the means. The only thing that exists is power.
It’s an entirely contradictory ideology and will destroy everything or crumble in upon itself via application of its self.... IMO.
Everyone must know the danger of this ideology in practice and what would happen as a result of it’s end goals.
Vital book to understanding so much of the hate and destruction and nonsense you see here in 2019.
May truth prevail over lies and deceit.

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  • jmhr
  • 29-08-2019

A Philo-Genealogy of Postmodernism's Secular Cult

Excellent! Having avoided philosophy as a topic since college, it was a great refresher from a rational historian's perspective. The author pulls back the curtain and exposes the perverse spirit and world view of postmodernism.

The narrator had a great voice, and yet the inflections (for emphasis) were often oddly placed, and the delivery so measured I wondered if it wasn't a very good computer program rather than a person. I'm still not sure, but it did not take away from the content that much. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, and I have recommended it to several friends.

I only wish it had gone one step further and described the psychology behind postmodernism's seductive attraction, especially to the Left.

I get the naughty pleasure of college students indulging in the ironic, the irreverent, the iconoclastic and sacrilegious. It's a way to flip of the old man. But rather than emerging on the other side into a sunnier disposition of hope and appreciation, far too many of these children grow into their old age, or even middle age, becoming bitter and contemptuous, permanently cynical and bent on destroying everything good, by ignoring the world around them and proclaiming it evil.

Then they poison the youth who follow behind. We really need an antidote, or an antibiotic, for this poisonous pathology.

The book stops short of a diagnosis, much less a prescription. And it makes the mistake, I think, of presuming these cultists really do mean well. I think they do not mean well. Quite the opposite.

But it was a great place to begin, if you've been wondering what's wrong with this country lately. Good reading!

9 people found this helpful

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  • Joshua J. Wood
  • 08-04-2019

Very partisan, not all that accurate

This is less a survey of post-modernist philosophy, although there is a bit of that in the beginning of the book, than a polemic against post-modernism as a proxy for progressive liberalism.

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  • D. Wayne Layton
  • 25-04-2021

Excellent Work

This book is very much worth the time. The author makes a compelling case that post-modernism is in fact a dominant ideology that effect contemporary ideas. is research help me better understand critical race Theory and some other ideas that are promoted today.

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  • Daniel Schealler
  • 04-02-2019

Does not actually explain postmodernism.

The book is very well narrated and and engagingly written, so top marks on production values.

The bit where it falls over is that it is not an explanation of postmodernism: It's a polemic of a straw-man version of postmodernism that I'm pretty sure nobody actually holds.

The book sets up a caricature of postmodernism from the perspective of those who are opposed to it without really understanding fully as to why. It's an extremely hypocritical book given the amount of time it spends shaking it's finger at scarecrow postmodernists for not caring about objective truth, while itself showing absolutely no concern for its own misrepresentations of the truth of what postmodernism is actually on about.

If you don't like feminism, socialism, and/or progressive politics; if you want to sound as if you have good reasons backing up those emotions; if you don't care about accuracy so long as you can feel self-righteously justified; if you think capitalism a magical cure-all with no downsides; if you think that the only level of analysis that matters is the individual while acting as if the complex web of inter-dependencies that exist between us all either doesn't exist or is completely irrelevant? If you answered yes to these questions and others in that general theme, then you will *love* this book.

But if you're like me where you have a rudimentary grasp of postmodernism but you want to learn more before adopting an informed position about it? This book is trash: A total waste of time and money. Get literally anything else.

I'd exchange this audiobook if I could, it was utterly worthless to me.

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  • Kris Fricke
  • 11-12-2020

very dry

I hoped to gain a comprehensive understanding of post modern philosophy and imagined a dedicated book would be the best way, however this is much much dryer than the numerous YouTube videos available explaining each concept and philosopher. this text may be useful for close reading with a highlighter in one hand studying for a philosophy final but other than that it's dry to the point of being tedious and hard to follow.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Karol
  • 28-07-2019

Fantastic Exposition, makes one think

This book has exceeded my expectations. It explains the fruits of postmodernism by painting a picture of a tree starting from the roots and ending at the youngest branches. it's exciting to see how something we can relate to today is linked to enlightenment thinkers like Rousseau and Kant. Although the author describes them as revolutionist rather than enlightenment thinkers. I recommend it to anyone interested in understanding the current cultural climate.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-06-2020

Mind-Garbage

Hicks makes Jordan Peterson look like a credible scholar. the book engages and quotes a wealth of philosophers in an interesting way, but ultimately twists and manipulates every idea bit by bit in its attempt to weave a far-right seduction. Dear me... The value of the book is in revealing what a warped world the conservative ideologues inhabit. At best, I can say, read the book if you want to know the enemy. The image of philosophy that remains at the end is but a grotesque caricature of the real thing...

7 people found this helpful

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  • Literatura y vida
  • 09-01-2021

Brilliant

Great, enlightening, clarifying, necessary, wise, accurate, realistic, elegant, clear, precise, nevessary, recommendable, nice, good, interesting

3 people found this helpful

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  • Dcl Bester
  • 25-02-2021

Time to slay a dragon?

Exceptional book tracing how Western culture scored its philosophical own goal.
If you are confounded by all things "woke" then read this book to understand from which soil it sprung.

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  • Paolo Carta
  • 25-03-2019

Postmodernism according di Ayn Rand

This book should more honestly be titled: 'Postmodernism according to Ayn Rand'. I should have paid attention to the publisher, Atlas, as in 'Atlas shrugged'.

The book is an account, for the simple minded militant, of how Postmodernism can be understood from the vantage point of the Russian-American writer, whose ideas are to philosophy what Flat Earth 'Theory' is to Physics. You'll find very little Postmodernism and a lot of Randian Objectivism. You might however enjoy an hilarious last chapter with a wholesale condemnation of modern art! Truly beyond satire.

Basically it's a prank: stay clear.

11 people found this helpful

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  • David
  • 08-01-2022

Read the reviews before you purchase...

Apparently you should never judge a book by it's cover, though you'd think the title might be a hint. This claimed to be an exposition of post-modernism, and the list of names of post-modernism thinkers on the cover would support this. However, if I had read some of the reviews I might not have bought this. It was like turning on the BBC and being switched to Fox. I knew nothing about Mr. (Dr.?) Hicks before I bought it but his right wing views shine through. His treatment of the left is entirely straw man. Hey, this book made ME feel smart.

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  • Jammin042
  • 17-10-2021

Absolutely brilliant from beginning to end

Uncovering the mess we are in with the rise of Critical Theory is well laid out in this book. It is a must read for anyone interested in the movements in the modern western world.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-08-2021

An intellectual tour de force.

An intellectual tour de force. Essential for anyone wanting to understand the origins of postmodernism and how we got where we are.

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