Postmodernism, Pragmatism, and the Possibility of an Ethical Relation to the Past

in Theoria
Author: Gideon Calder
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Much recent theory of an anti-foundationalist or ‘post-ist’ hue has made a point of returning us to historicity. If modern theory sought the universal, then postmodern theory has favoured the particular, the situated, and the historically contextual: the little narrative, the silenced voice, the marginalised other. This is, to be sure, a simplification of both sides of the comparison. But it opens up a pressing question. What kinds of relationship to historicity are opened up by postmodern theory? In an age when relations with the past have taken on a particular kind of resonance—through truth commissions, retrievals of underplayed or silenced events, commemorative projects, and in a more general sense, a concern for the historical contexts of group and individual identities—what help does such theory offer us in seeking a grasp of such relations?

Theoria

A Journal of Social and Political Theory

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