What is Metamodernism?


Metamodernism is the philosophy and view of life that corresponds to the digitalized, postindustrial, global age. This can be contrasted against modern and postmodern philosophies.

Modern philosophy is the general mechanistic, reductionist worldview that is still today the common “mainstream” narrative people learn in schools and that has most adherents in Western societies and in other developed economies. The modern worldview first blossomed with the Scientific Revolution of the 17th century (Newton’s physics, Descartes’ philosophy and Francis Bacon’s scientific method). It holds that physics is the basis of reality and that science and rationality set people free. It is tied to such things as democracy, capitalism, socialism and human rights. It corresponds to the living conditions of industrial society within the frames of a nation state.

Postmodern philosophy is the critical perspective that has grown from social science and the humanities over the last century and it has taken a firm hold of universities and social movements during the last few decades. Postmodernism involves a critical stance towards knowledge and science, and holds that power structures, unconscious drives, cognitive biases and arbitrary social constructions enthrall human minds. We are not nearly as rational as we think. Hence, the story of science and progress is not necessarily true: viewed from the perspective of the oppressed and weak, the progress of civilization often amounts to little more than exploitation, smoke screens, excuses and a more systematized oppression. The postmodern mind grows from late modern societies in which mass media and cultural distinctions often cause more suffering in people’s lives than do direct economic inequalities.

Metamodern philosophy enters the scene only once the Internet and the social media have become truly dominant factors in people’s lives and when many of us no longer partake directly in the production and distribution of industrial goods. It is a worldview which combines the modern faith in progress with the postmodern critique. What you get then, is a view of reality in which people are on a long, complex developmental journey towards greater complexity and existential depth. The metamodern philosophy is a whole world of ideas and suppositions that are counter-intuitive to modern and postmodern people alike. But since both the modern and postmodern philosophies are increasingly outdated, these metamodern ideas are set to develop, take hold, and spread. One day, they may become as dominant as the modern philosophy is today.

To sum up, one can contrast the metamodern ideas against the modern and postmodern ones:

Modern ideas:

  • Faith in science
  • Development and progress
  • Democracy
  • The individual
  • A meritocratic social order
  • Humanity can recreate nature by virtue of her reason

Postmodern ideas:

  • Critical questioning of all knowledge and science
  • Suspicion towards all grand narratives about “progress”
  • Emphasis on symbols and contexts
  • Ironic distance
  • Cultures have been oppressed and ruined by modern society
  • Reveals injustice in “democratic” societies
  • Relations create the individual
  • A multicultural order where the weak are included
  • Humanity has destroyed the biosphere

Metamodern ideas:

  • How can we reap the best parts of the other two?
  • Can we create better processes for personal development?
  • Can we recreate the processes by which society is governed, locally and globally?
  • Can the inner dimensions of life gain a more central role in society?
  • How can modern, postmodern and premodern people live together productively?
  • How can politics be adjusted to an increasingly complex world?
  • What is the unique role of humanity in the ecosystems of nature?

 

 


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