Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Diversity Without Unity: A [Post]Modern Myth

by Hiram R. Diaz III
Milk is Milk
Whereas philosophical modernism embraced the belief that there was one unifying conception of reality that could be grasped by philosophical reflection or scientific discovery, postmodernism vigorously rejected this belief and replaced it with radical pluralism. Ironically, postmodernism reduced any attempt to think categorically to a culturally relative power-grab. To think categorically, in other words, was to exercise control over “others” (i.e. those who do not meet the socio-cultural conditions requisite to being a member of one’s group), specifically by ignoring supposed irreducible differences between individuals or groups constituting the “others.” This resulted in the fragmentation of virtually all academic disciplines, rendering categorical headings such as “Philosophy” or “Religion” virtually meaningless. For if there is no unifying concept of what a “religion” is, then in what way can one say that Christianity and Islam, for instance, are both members of the universal category “Religion”? Does it not seem to follow, given the rejection of universals and universal categories, that there is not one concept of “Religion” which can apply to all supposed religions?
Though the postmodernist movement has died, its deleterious intellectual and sociological effects are still being felt, even in the field of apologetics. For instance, it is common to hear the assertion “Not all proponents of x believe that x is y,” an assertion that gives the appearance of charitability but is, ultimately, an empty phrase. If John is a proponent of x, and Joe is a proponent of x, then both are proponents of x. To be blunt — John’s x and Joe’s x are identical at some point. There is no irreducible difference between John’s x and Joe’s x; therefore, it is not merely allowable but necessary to assert that John and Joe, because they believe x share certain beliefs about x in common. So far, we have spoken only of two individuals believing x. However, the same is true of a group of innumerable persons who subscribe to x. The assertion that believers in x share some core of beliefs in common is a logical necessity that can only be denied upon pain of absurdity and self-contradiction.
Consider the following excerpt from Ro Waseem’s article “A Monolithic Islam? Forget About It!” Waseem writes —