Postmodernism is anti-reason and anti-modernity.

Is postmodernism also against the philosophy of naturalism, against the natural sciences and against technology?

Here I define postmodernism as an intellectual movement which questions the legacy of European Enlightenment philosophy and starts from Nietzsche, and goes to Heidegger, to the "French Theory" (Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze, Lacan).

  • 1
    "That postmodernism is indefinable is a truism." Having said that, we can say that the movement aims "to destabilize other concepts such as presence, identity, historical progress, epistemic certainty, and the univocity of meaning." See Lyotard: all are "language games", included sciences. This does not mean that they reject "usefulness" of science and technology. Feb 15, 2023 at 10:24
  • @MauroALLEGRANZA So they play with ambiguity with regard to science and reason, as in Nietzsche's philosophy. They decribilized science and reason, but in a way that you can not really say they opposed to them. They "put into question"....
    – Starckman
    Feb 15, 2023 at 10:35
  • Same for truth. They did only "put into question" our access to truth. But if you say they were radical relativists, you just did not understand they profound writings.
    – Starckman
    Feb 15, 2023 at 10:36
  • I don't know much about it, because the writing I have seen is even greater gibberish than existentialism, but a charitable description might be: anti-story.
    – Scott Rowe
    Feb 15, 2023 at 11:55
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    @ScottRowe Anti-story is how they see themselves. Their point is to decribilize everything by reducing them to simple "stories"
    – Starckman
    Feb 15, 2023 at 12:07

2 Answers 2


As far as philosophy of naturalism - yes, all the thinkers you mentioned did not think naturalist / empirical / positivist philosophy () should be taken seriously.

As far as science and technology, the dominant trend is anti-scientific, with some interesting exceptions. I would say postmodernism is 70% anti-scientific, and 30% pro-scientific.

Nietzsche was pretty ignorant of modern science and technology, Schelling and Hegel lived 50 years before him, but they understood it better.

Heidegger was very anti science and anti technology. He thought that scientific / mathematical investigation of nature that Husserl was so excited about is artificial, it is a result of 2000 year long distortion of the understanding being. Authentic understanding of being is by looking at phenomena and how they unfold themselves to us in experience. Any other approach (especially Plato's forms / ideas) covers up being, and leads to mistaken doctrines such as scholasticism, platonism, modern mathematics and analytic philosophy. In "Being and time" he starts with Dasein, which is the foundation of ontology as he saw it, then there is the question of being as equipment, and finally there is being as substance, on which mathematics and modern science are based. This last way of accessing being is derived, artificial, and not primordial, we only get it when our equipment breaks / does not work as expected. Also Heidegger wrote an big essay on technology and all the negative ways affects everything.

Foucault was a Nietzsciean, and for him knowledge is always linked to power. Science is yet another way that the non-elites get oppressed. It is always hierarchical and dominant. Especially psychiatry. Technology is as such is oppressive, he would probably think of modern day IT as an extension of the all seeing eye. As far as I know he did not talk about modern physics / maths.

It is hard to classify Lacan as a postmodernist, and he was neutral towards technology. In seminar 3 he says that the Symbolic order does function in ways that resemble some advanced calculating machines (those early computers). He did not care about physics, but he was interested in topology, game theory and set theory.

Deleuze was pro-science. He was very knowledgeable in biology. He was against oppression and vertical control, but he was for "horizontal" technology that does not oppress. Interestingly, his concept of rhizomatic organization anticipates the internet. This de-centralized network is a perfect example of technology that Deleuze was for. In his Anti-Oedipus" he described humans as 'desire-machines'.

Derrida was not interested in the subject of technology, and it is probably safe to say his view was close to Heidegger's.

  • Foucault isn't Nietzchean in any essential way. Whilst Nietzsche would regard minorities, the weak, the oppressed with contempt, Foucault did the opposite. Feb 15, 2023 at 19:01
  • yes, you are correct, but for both of them knowledge=power. foucault was a nietzsciean just like deleuze was Feb 15, 2023 at 19:39
  • "Also Heidegger wrote an big essay on technology and all the negative ways it affects everything."?
    – Starckman
    Feb 16, 2023 at 4:49
  • I read commentaries which explain that science is seen by Foucault as torture, and that scientific and technical reason is seen only in its instrumental dimension. What does that mean?
    – Starckman
    Feb 16, 2023 at 5:01

Nietzsche was questioning Christianity and not modernity. It was Foucault who rehabilitated his legacy after WWII when his reputation was mud. Personally, I think he should have left it there.

Post-modernity is not anti-reason but nor is it anti-modern. It questions modernity critically as it sees that as another grand narrative and it sees all grand narratives as suspect. It is a modern form of scepticism.

Post-modernity is not anti-technology but it critically evaluates our relationship with technology and especially the modern religion of eulogising technology as well as progress.

  • Yes, so it reflects my response to Mauro above.
    – Starckman
    Feb 15, 2023 at 12:57
  • Nietzsche was against democracy, against liberalism, against many forms of equality, including the modern movements of socialism and feminism (since he was misogynist). He was for aristocracy. So Nietzsche was against modernity.
    – Starckman
    Feb 15, 2023 at 14:17
  • @Starckman Sure, but was it the same "modernity" as targeted by Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze? There is a big time difference.
    – Frank
    Feb 15, 2023 at 14:50
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    The latter. In your original post, you mention Nietzsche, then Foucault, ... but those are really two different epochs, with two world wars in between, and many ideas before "post-modernism". Nietzsche could be distantly seminal for "post-modernism", but he couldn't "mean" the same thing as those later French philosophers.
    – Frank
    Feb 15, 2023 at 15:55
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    @Frank Indeed, Nietzsche's postmodernism is not the same as "French Theory" postmodernism, but I believe there is sufficiently a continuity and a familiarity between the two so that all can be embraced inside a larger "postmodernism" category, which would not have exactly the same meaning as "postmodernism" as referring to the writings of the "French Theory"
    – Starckman
    Feb 16, 2023 at 3:26

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