Postmodern philosophy is a philosophical direction which is critical of the foundational assumptions and structures of philosophy. Beginning as a critique of Continental philosophy, it was heavily influenced by phenomenology, structuralism and existentialism, including writings of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Søren Kierkegaard, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Martin Heidegger. Postmodern philosophy is skeptical or nihilistic toward many of the values and assumptions of philosophy that derive from modernity, such as humanity having an essence which distinguishes humans from animals, or the assumption that one form of government is demonstrably better than another.
Postmodern philosophy is often particularly skeptical about simple binary oppositions characteristic of structuralism, emphasizing the problem of the philosopher cleanly distinguishing knowledge from ignorance, social progress from reversion, dominance from submission, and presence from absence.
Postmodern philosophy has strong relations with the substantial literature of critical theory.
History of postmodern philosophy
Early influences on postmodern philosophy
While the idea of postmodernity had been around since the 1940s, postmodern philosophy originated primarily in France during the mid-20th century. However, several philosophical antecedents inform many of postmodern philosophy's concerns.
It was greatly influenced by the writings of Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche in the 19th century and other early-to-mid 20th-century philosophers, including phenomenologists Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger, psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan, structuralist Roland Barthes, and the language/logic philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein. Postmodern philosophy also drew from the world of the arts and architecture, particularly Marcel Duchamp and artists who practiced collage, and the architecture of Las Vegas and the Pompidou Centre.
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