Gravity's Rainbow

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Why postmodernism isn’t all bad


… here is a salute to the postmodernists.  As today’s celebrants of corybantic Romanticism, they enrich culture.  They say to the rest of us: Maybe, just maybe, you are wrong.  Their ideas are like sparks from firework explosions that travel away in all directions, devoid of following energy, soon to wink out in the dimensionless dark.  Yet a few will endure long enough to cast light on unexpected subjects.  That is one reason to think well of postmodernism … Still another, the one that counts the most, is the unyielding critique of traditional scholarship it provides.  We will always need postmodernists or their rebellious equivalents.  For what better way to strengthen organized knowledge than continually to defend it from hostile forces? … And if somehow, against all the evidence, against all reason, the linchpin falls out and everything is reduced to epistemological confusion, we will find the courage to admit that the postmodernists were right, and in the best spirit of the Enlightenment, we will start over again.  Because …. We must know, we will know.

From Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge

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