Postfoundationalism and the Other

In my previous post, Is Truth absolutely relative?, I wrote about three worldviews and how they see the truth. In a few words:

1) Foundationalism – Truth is objective, absolute and universal.

2) Anti-foundationalism – Truth is subjective, relative and context-bound. There is no Truth- only truths.

3) Postfoundationalism – Truth is something or lies somewhere in-between 1) and 2).

In this post we will ask the following question: How is the relationship between the Same and the Other addressed in the three above-mentioned worldviews?

1)      Foundationalism tends to over-emphasise the Same. This results in a monistic/dualistic way of thinking. Everything has to be black or white. It’s either/or. Typical of foundationalism is the need for binary opposition (following Derrida). To name only a few examples of binary oppositions: Presence/Absence, Being/Nothingness, Mind/Body, Rational/Emotional and The Same/The Other. The first term in the opposition receives primary attention and the second term is suppressed.

2)      Anti-foundationalism insofar as it is a reaction against foundationalism tends to over-emphasise the Other. Now the second, repressed, term of the binary opposition receives all the attention and the first term is suppressed if not outright renounced. In the end this whole exercise is futile. The binary opposition only gets reversed. The Same that has been repressing the Other now gets repressed by the Other. Because the Other has become the oppressor it is, ironically, no better than the Same.

3)      Postfoundationalism attempts to maintain a creative tension between the Same and the Other. By doing so it tries to avoid the exclusivism of both foundationalism and anti-foundationalism.

So what?! I said in my previous post that I will address this question. For all intents and purposes I will equate the words “worldview” and Peter Berger’s term “symbolic universe”. A symbolic universe, in short, puts everything into perspective. The symbolic universe, still following Berger, determines how we form the social universe. In other words, the way in which we see the world (i.e. our worldview) determines the world we create.

In a world where most Christians, to my mind, are modernists/foundationalists I feel a particular need to talk about worldviews. If most Christians adhere to foundationalism it means that they also tend to over-emphasise the Same and suppress (or even renounce) the Other. A worldview that suppresses the Other has no place for “others”. Adorno and Horkheimer believed fascism and Nazi Germany were direct descendants of the Enlightenment. The Enlightenment gave birth to foundationalism. Thus, foundationalists are responsible for the creation of binary oppositions such as Us/Them, Pure (Arian) race/Impure (especially Jewish) race. Then it goes without saying that foundationalists are also responsible for sexism (Man/Woman), racism (One race/Another race), imperialism, Eurocentrism, xenophobia and homophobia.

I am not a particular fan of foundationalism. Nor am I a fan of anti-foundationalism. Both worldviews are exclusivist and, among many faults, extremely susceptible to ideology.

Relevant enough for you?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s