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Theosophy and Postmodernism

Dec 03, 1996 11:42 PM
by Maxim Osinovsky

This is regarding Jerry Hejka-Ekins' article on Theosophy and
Postmodernism published in Theosophy World #8.

I believe it deserves a thorough discusssion.

Before the actual discussion starts, however, Jerry has to define
his version of postmodernism (PM). He gives various descriptions
of PM, e.g. this one:

 much of what we hear about postmodernism does not seem to me
 to be a very good representation of it. First of all,
 postmodernism is an approach to address the complexity of
 viewpoints values and needs in our world without creating an
 authoritative dogma of its own. Its purpose is to explore
 the values and structure that underlies every system of
 thought. Our interpretation of what we perceive is laden
 with our own experiences that may differ from others.

that make a wrong impression that PM is a coherent approach. In
fact, of course, it is not, spanning over a disjointed field from
its radical variety to "acid-free" so called constructive PM,
with Rorty's attempted synthesis of French PM and American
pragmatism being somewhere in between. French PM generally
eludes any definition clinging to aconceptual, impressionist

That this is so (i.e. that Jerry has in mind his own version of
PM) follows from Jerry's matter-of-fact remark about Holocaust as
an outcome of "the terrible damage achieved from Hitler's notion
of the superiority of the Germanic races." However, this is
exactly where opinions of postmodernists diverge widely (see e.g.
Gertrude Himmelfarb's On Looking into the Abyss. NY: Knopf,
1994). What Jerry states was not so obvious to some
postmodernist historians who, in strict accordance with the above
appproach, considered the traditional version of Holocaust
(evidently shared by Jerry) a particular narrative constructed by
Jews, the Nazi version being another, equally legitimate
narrative, along with many other possible ones.

So before we embark upon more difficult discussion of relation
between Theosophy and PM, we need to understand what Jerry
exactly means by PM.


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