Author Archives : Hanzi Freinacht


Death to the Individual 1

In modern society there is a widespread idea about “the individual”. The idea of the individual is actually an ingenious solution to a difficult social-philo­sophical problem: should we focus on society as a whole, or on its diff­er­ent parts and singular processes? This view has served us greatly in the past and made it possible to avoid the totalitarian, oppressive and very pathological form of modernity we’ve encountered in the 20th century. But individualism doesn’t really seem to cut in any longer, it doesn’t fulfill its function as an effective unit of society’s self-organization, it can’t solve many of social problems and often it even stands in the way of an adequate resolution of these. But entering the opposite ditch of collectivism evidently has its fair share of problems too. So as a solution to transcend this dilemma, without compromising one or the other, allow me to introduce the transpersonal perspective: a way to go beyond the individual without suffocating it.

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The following is a slightly edited extract from Hanzi Freinacht’s book ‘The Listening Society: a metamodern guide to politics, book one’. This is the first book in a series on metamodern thought, a

19) Death to the individual

18) The Difference Between Post- And Metamodernism

The Difference Between Post- and Meta-modernism 2

Lately I have written a great deal about metamodernism which is the overall philosophical school of thought this blog and my books are devoted to. I have introduced the notion of the metamodern aristocracy, proposed what’s going to be the meta-ideology of metamodern society, showed how we have progressed from pre-modern to metamodern thinking throughout history, and in series of posts presented the metamodern stance towards life, its view of science, reality, existence, society and the human being (you can read the first one here). However, to some it may still be rather unclear what exactly the difference between postmodernism and metamodernism is. And since there’re other interpretations and uses of the term “metamodernism”, mostly in terms of a cultural phase, which diverge significantly from how I use it to describe a developmental stage, a philosophical paradigm – and – perhaps most importantly, a political ideology; because of that there seems to be a great deal of confusion about the term. So in order to alleviate this inconvenience I’ll attempt to clarify the distinction, how I use the term and why you should bother.

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The following is a slightly edited extract from


Metamodern View of the Human Being 3

We began this series of six articles with the aim of conquering the term “metamodernism” by arguing that metamodernism must be more than a “cultural phase”. I hold that we should not be satisfied with a metamodernism that only describes certain shifts in culture, arts and architecture, but that the promise of metamodernism is much greater: we are shifting from one historical epoch to another and I think that metamodernism can offer a general and universal worldview that people can adopt to partake successfully in its historical development. In this last article I turn to the metamodern view of humanity itself. Not only does the view of humanity evolve through different historical epochs, but so do the ideas about how humanity can and should be transformed.

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At the heart of the metamodern view of humanity and the human being lies a simple both-and scheme; if you like, the marriage of science and humanities.

In the scientific view humans

Human

Society

Metamodern View of Society 1

“What is society?” is the classical question of sociology. The question could easily be asked within anthropology, economics, political science, psychology or philosophy and the humanities. But it has stayed within the field of sociology; it is this discipline that purports to wrestle and at least provisionally answer the question. It is a question that grows out of a developed “naturalistic” worldview, in which humans have acquired a 3rd person view of reality, as something to be viewed “from the outside”, beginning from the Copernican, Baconian and Newtonian revolutions of cosmology, scientific method and physics. Once nature began to be differentiated as a category and described (“it is a set of objects locked in mechanical motion through space” (Newton)), so society itself began to appear as a category that “is something”. But as society and our perspectives evolve, so does the perspective from which we can “see society itself”; new ways of asking what society is appear and new answers and intuitions emerge.

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Metamodern Spirituality, Existence and Aesthetics

In modern life, spiritual, existential and aesthetic aspects of life have all taken a backseat. Of course there’s lots of these things going on, but there’s still a sense of woo-woo, pretentiousness, silliness, embarrassment, light-headedness, fake, fraud, self-aggrandizement and so forth. Physics, economics and possibly sexual drives and desires are viewed as “most real” – and the rest as epiphenomena, as fluff. Already Kant observed that we’re embarrassed to be found on our knees praying, as the modern worldview has an inherent difficulty reconciling the spiritual sides of life and its own necessarily religious foundations. The metamodern path is not to let in the spiritual woo-woo and artsy pretention, but to struggle to reconnect to the fundamental religious core of reality.

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Let us approach the topic in our own not-so-artsy manner, a bullet point list. To adopt a metamodern stance to spirituality, existence and aesthetics is…

  • To take existential and spiritual matters very seriously; to view human­ity, intelligence
Spirituality

Reality

Metamodern View of Reality 2

One’s understanding of science is intertwined with, but distinguishable from, one’s view of reality at large. There’s the classical distinction made between physics (the study of the natural realm and the relative interrelations of its parts) and metaphysics (the relation to reality as an absolute and the idea that reality in itself is beyond any particular fact or pattern). So what is the metamodern view of not only science (this particular category of human endeavor), but of reality itself? Let’s delve in there (beware, this one is dense).

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Insights about reality itself can sometimes be gleaned from key findings in the sciences – from Newtonian physics to relativity and quantum mechanics to cosmology and topology to the mathematics of chaos and complexity, to the emergence of Darwinism and ecological science – all of these have informed how we conceptualize the fundamental, underlying assumptions about reality that lie beyond all specific scientific endeavors, that lie at the heart of


Metamodern View of Science 1

Every self-respecting (and in this case, self-ironic) philosophy must relate to knowledge. What can we know? How can we know it? What knowledge should count as most fundamental and valuable? What to make of subjective experience, social constructions, religions and spirituality in the face of scientific inquiry?

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Without further ado, let’s jump to the bullet list of insights. The metamodern view of science is:

  • To respect science as an indispensable form of knowing.
  • To see that science is always contextual and truth always tenta­tive; that reality always holds deeper truths. All that we think is real will one day melt away as snow in the sun.
  • To understand that different sciences and paradigms are simul­tan­eously true; that many of their apparent contradictions are superficial and based on misperceptions or failures of translation or integration.
  • To see that there are substantial insights and relevant knowledge in all stages of human and societal development, including tribal life, poly­theism, traditional theology,
Science

MM Philosophy

Metamodernism: The Conquest of a Term

Now for the million dollar question: What is metamodernism? There are three different ways of viewing this, each of which is related to the other two. We’ll delve into the deepest and most significant of these three meanings. We’ll dive deep and fast, so please hold on to your mouse or smartphone. Also, the definition of metamodernism is contested, and yours truly is admittedly a contestant. En garde.

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Metamodernism as a Cultural Phase

The first and most widely known understanding involves seeing metamodernism as a cultural phase: you know, like when they study different phases in arts and literature: romanticism, realism, futurism, cubism and so on. This kind of cultural phase is said to be showing up in artists like LaBeouf, Rönkkö & Turner (yes, Shia LaBeouf as in the movie star from Transformers and dancer in Sia’s music video for Elastic Heart ), and in a wide array of painters and architects as famously described


From Premodern to Metamodern Mind: a Brief History of Human Evolution 2

Metamodernism is destined to beat postmodernism in the long run, just like postmodernism is currently beating modernism and modernism won over the ancient regime of its pre-modern predecessor. But we’re not just talking about philosophical schools here, we’re talking about entire mindsets, paradigms if you like, that have emerged from the intricate and reciprocal processes between societal developments and human psychology. Accordingly the emergence of metamodernism and its predecessors has a historical dimension that would serve as an insightful and pedagogical point of departure to understand it before one ventures into a more comprehensive investigation of its societal, philosophical and psychological facets.

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The following is a slightly edited extract from Hanzi Freinacht’s book ‘The Listening Society: a metamodern guide to politics, book one’. This is the first book in a series on metamodern thought, a work of popular philosophy that investigates the nature of psychological development and its political implications. What you will read below is from the chapter on symbol-stages, the evolution of our shared symbolic toolkits.

”Beyond all human affairs, beyond all of our dramas and pass­ions, lies something far more abso­lute, a reality more real than our everyday lives.” —The Premodern Mind

10) From Premodern to Metamodern Mind

9) Beyond Left and Right (delete alt-left static)

Beyond Left and Right, at Long Last 9

It has become increasingly commonplace in our days to speak of the classical Left-Right scale as outdated, but somehow few people seem to be able to clearly articulate what that means. Sometimes you will hear about an econ­omic scale (high or low redistribution) and a social one (trad­itional vs. liberal values), a space with four quadrants. Sometimes people will pitch progress­iveness against conservativeness – but then in reality the nationalist conserv­atives often team up with welfare defending left-wingers. Jona­than Haidt shows us how liberal and conservative values seem to match each other and create a sum greater than its parts. Anthony Giddens tried to synthesize Left and Right in order to create a dynamic economy that was able to support progressive welfare and solid­arity (Tony Blair’s New Labour showed us the results of that – hardly a satisfying radicalization of politics, from a Left per­spective). Although there are some merits to each of these developments – per­haps Haidt especially, who looks at how conservative and liberal senti­ments create a whole greater than the sum of its parts – none of them sufficiently expl­icate the philosophical underpinnings and political consequ­ences of an ideo­logy that genuinely lies beyond Left and Right.

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