Coda: philosophy and history
We are told that we live in a “postmodern era,” though the force and meaning of that claim are hardly clear and uncontentious. Even where there is agreement that this is the case, there is generally little agreement about just what it is that is supposed to be the case. Much debate has been directed toward the question of how to characterize post-modernity, or the “modernity” that it is thought to have superseded and supplanted. There have been deeper questions raised, too, about the nature and point of this proposed historical characterization and division. Just what is it dividing? Just what is its proper function and its area of operation? Is there indeed one notion at all, or a whole range of notions with different functions and with different criteria of application, trying to tell us different things? Even the reality of the notion of the “postmodern” has been questioned and the suggestion has been made that it is a piece of mystification and ideology only, a turning our eyes away from serious matters, a distraction in time of trouble.