Postmodernism, John Gray once wrote, is simply the latest fad in anthropocentrism. Gray (the LSE philosopher, not the Men are from Mars guy) is sympathetic to the Gaia hypothesis, but you do not have to agree with that hypothesis (or with much else in Gray’s eclectic thought) in order to reject the idea, associated with some postmodern thinkers (perhaps, pre-eminently, Richard Rorty), that the world exists only insofar as it figures in our preferred descriptions. The last decade or so should have done a lot to diminish the appeal of the idea that truth and reality are simply artifacts of human ideology: after all, as The Daily Show and Colbert make all too clear, it is Fox and friends who now live this idea, and it is up to Jon and crew to defend reality-based policy, and up to Stephen to lampoon “truthiness.” The Right-wing’s reality-denial on the environment, on the economy, and on foreign policy (the list goes on and on) has brought home the suffocating horror of Rortian postmodernism: meanwhile the truth (even if inconvenient) of climate change has demonstrated (for those who had doubts) that there is, indeed, a world beyond the nets of language.


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