When Modern philosophy emphasises uniformity, post-modernity appreciates diversity. The emphasis of modernity (period from 16th century roughly till early 20th century) on uniformity is also reflected in the growth of science. The ball which goes up will come down, great scientific laws assume uniformity. Some things may be uniform, but not everything.
Acceptance of diversities and differences characterises Post Modernity. I consider post modernism as one part of that great trend of post-modernity. The developments in Quantum Physics, which questioned the absolute certainty of science is as an influential aspect promoting post modernity. The contextual aspects of the person (time and space) are important. The Catholic church has started encouraging inculturation.(surely there were attempts before too). Some critics (though I don’t agree) would say postmodernism means anything can go or it is absolute relativism. This narrow understanding is due to the reluctance to accept that absolute certainty is not alwyas required. When I say God is a mystery, God is love,they are post-modern understandings than modern.
Now I would like to compare two statements. First one says that post-modernism is the celebration of differences. Second one states that over-emphasis on difference increase the height of the walls between them. At the first look, conclusion seems like post modernity helps to build walls. Is it true?
The right wing nationalism, religious fundamentalism and narrow understanding of human identity (like only Christians are saved) try to establish the superiority of oneself based on their differences. They find it difficult to tolerate any other with a different view. The over-emphasis of identity helps in differentiation and exclusivity.
But post-modernism is not over-emphasis of differences, but celebration of differences. There is a sea of differences in the meaning of the terms over-emphasis and difference. Understanding the differences between children’s play and adult’s game can be a help here. Child’s play is with the friends; it is much more than winning or loosing; it is about playing and having fun. Adult’s game is against the other. More than fun, it is about winning. Celebration is more like the child play than an adult game.
With globalization, there is a trend to make one globalized village. Everything needs to be uniform. Many ideologies have used this feature of globalization for their benefit. (I don’t deny many benefits of globalization). India, my country, was (and ‘is’ to a greater extend)a place where there is celebration of differences. Today there are attempts from some sections of the society to use differences to oppress, lynch and dominate others.
We journeyed from ‘Everything should be same’ to ‘Diversity is to be accepted’ to ‘celebration of diversity’. Globalization, conservative definitions of various identities, differences as means of oppression, are trying to take the journey back to square one. We shouldn’t allow it and it is not a growth or development.
(Much of what I said was inspired by the class of Fr. Johnson Puthenpurackal, whom I consider an authentic philosopher, a person who teaches philosophy as the development of human thinking)
(This is also published in medium)