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C.S. Lewis on Postmodernism
Although C.S. Lewis (1898- 1963) lived before the full flowering of postmodernism, some of its roots were already present in his day. While Lewis would certainly be an opponent of postmodernists’ denial of objective truth and morality, at many points he makes observations similar to postmodern philosophers. Perhaps, then, he can help us see both what is right and what is wrong with postmodernism.
What is Postmodernism?
Postmodernism has both philosophical and cultural aspects. I can only touch on the former here. Jean-François Lyotard, French postmodern philosopher defines postmodernism as an “incredulity towards metanarratives.” In other words, this school of thought is suspicious of any narrative, story, or account of the world that claims to be absolute or all-encompassing—a “meta”-narrative. Postmodernists are suspicious of such claims not only because of the limits of reason, but also because such perspectives have been oppressive. For instance, Nazism and Marxism give a comprehensive account of the world, and both have been extremely oppressive. Consider the atrocities committed by Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao Tse-tung. Christianity also provides a comprehensive story that proceeds from eternity to creation, fall, redemption, the Second Coming of Christ, a new heaven and a new earth, and eternal life. Certainly, there have been times of oppression such as the Crusades and the Inquisition. Could it be that all metanarratives necessarily lead to oppression? This is what postmodernists suggest. Note here that oppression is believed to be objectively evil. They are right. However, on what grounds can postmodernists claim that it is evil? . . . .