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June 14, 2005

Posted by fajita in Uncategorized.

Dualism Posted by Hello

So much of our certainty is derived from the modern usage of dualism. I will define dualism as that which has two opposing realities. For example, day and night, light and dark, winner and loser, man and woman, adult and child. In short, it is an either/or perspective on life.

Of course there are opposites, but when the opposites are offered as the only possibilities for all things considered, then we can get into trouble real fast. When everything in life is an either/or proposition, then we feel compelled to choose. Furthermore, there is an underlying sense which choosing one way will be the right way and the other way is necessarily the wrong way.

So, when someone does not choose the same way we do, they are automatically wrong and are to be opposed or converted. And when people choose as we do, then they are automatically right and are to be celebrated or in-grouped.

Enter postmodernism. One of the great strengths of postmodern thought is that it dethrones dualism and lets lots of different options sit at the round table. Yes there is black, and yes there is white, but there is gray, yellow, purple infra-red, etc. Postmodernism does not say either/or, but rather it says both/and. This expansion of options is truly good news. At the same time it exposes complexity and can create uncertainty. Postmoderns sometimes seem to get real certain about their uncertainty a dilemma.

So, modern dualism is narrow-minded when it comes to the number of options and acceptable options in a given situation. However, and here is the evil twin part of the story, when postmodernism uses a knee jerk both/and response to dualisms either/or posture, a strangely familiar and equally hideous metadualism emerges.

When I say metadualism, what I mean is dualism on the next higher level such that the only two options are modernism and postmodernism working as ying and yang.

Although postmoderns would never admit to participating in any kind of dualism as it is to them very narrow minded and unenlightened, their strict adherence to all things nondualistic plays right into the hand of what I am calling metadualism. It is the evil twin.

This plays out in churches, in generational cohorts, in politics, and any other way people gather or organize. So much of academic allegiance to postmodernism is out of either fear or frustration of modern thought, or worse, down right hatred for it. Yet the postmoderns overplay their hand such that their antidogma dogma acts, in process, the very same way the thing that they so vehemently criticize acts. Its like violent protesters at a peace march.

The truth is that there are some dualisms, but not as many as moderns think. There are vast numbers of options, but not for everything. There are limits and there is no static system by which to know everything. Learning, discovery, and creativity must not become slave to certainty in any of its forms, modern or postmodern.



1. DJG - June 14, 2005

I think you are saying while I criticize my friend for only seeing in black and white I must realize that some things are not GREY! Some things are black and white! I must not try to enforce seeing all sides of everything any more than they should limit seeing that there is sometimes more than one side.

I am not sure what confused me more, your post or my comment…sorry!

2. Fajita - June 14, 2005

Yes, I think.

The risk is being confusing is potentially high. Either I’m a genius or an idiot, or something in between or something else or some combination inclusive or exclusive of various sets and/or subsets of the above.

3. john alan turner - June 15, 2005

One of the problems with modernism is that is elevates human reason to an improper place. Certainty not only becomes attainable, it becomes normative as subjectivity is passed off as objectivity.

Unfortunately, postmodernism shares this flaw and actually presses it to its illogical conclusion. So, in some respects, postmodernism is ultra-modernism.

4. Gabe - June 15, 2005

Oh if we could just define that nasty word postmodernism!!!

Great post. I think your observation of ‘meta-dualism’ in pomo-thought is a good one.

Certainly some things that are ‘postmodern’ are just ‘ultra-modern’ or the ‘vomit of monderism’ (as my theology prof put it.) Still, I think something different is growing of the modern world-view that admits the flaws of purely modern view (High view of human reason, dualism, belief that humans can save the world/create a utopia) and allows for uncertainty, truth to be emobodied in experience, and holistic/systematic understanding of the world. Unfortunately, the only word we have to describe both developments is ‘postmodernism.’

5. David U - June 15, 2005

You lost me at hello. 🙂 Just teasing……kinda. If I understood you correctly, I agree (dualism) with everything you said. And I MUST agree with everything, or none…..right? 🙂

I don’t know if it is postmodern or Swahili……but I like the language that is used to today in discussions concerning theology. What I mean by that is this: For the most part, the generation that went before us used language like “you are dead wrong”, and our generation has leaned more to language like “I disagree with you”. There is a HUGE difference between the two. “I disagree with you” communicates “I don’t see it your way, but I could be wrong.” The “dead wrong” communication says “You are an idiot and a fool, so go back and study that again and get it right this time”.

So, I am thankful for the approach that expresses that I am still searching and have not “Arrived” yet, but here is where I am on my walk. And oh yeah, there are some absolutes that will never change. There just aren’t that many……..not as many as we were led to believe.

Great post, Chris. Too many like this and I will have to start reading them in a smoky room with folks sitting around me smoking left handed cigarettes with Santana playing the background! 🙂


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