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Postmodernity and the Vicissitudes of Truth

Abstract : Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason is the most accomplished theory of modernity and at the same time the invention of postmodernity: it opens with the Copernican revolution, which substitutes the subject for reality and nature, and closes with the sketching of a history of pure reason, whose even more revolutionary character can only be explained by the recognition of an illusion at the very heart of reason — the transcendental illusion whose discovery gives a second birth to dialectics, signals the end of metaphysics and ontology, and clears the path for critique. As for truth, it remains hidden at the bottom of the well of Democritus, among the ruins of the edifices of the past (of pure reason). This is journey’s end, while waiting for new Critiques, new methods, new paths, leading from illusion to fiction or fable — as when Nietzsche, in a chapter of The Twilight of the Idols (How the “True World” Finally Became a Fable), renames Kant’s history of pure reason “the history of an error”, in which Kant’s Critique is only the third of the six moments of the becoming of the idea. Does then postmodernity need to find its place or its truth between illusion and fiction, history and becoming, system and deconstruction, or is it already a thing of the past, of an idealistic past that will necessarily give way to new realisms? Are these revolutions mere turns of the wheel of fortune, mere vicissitudes which may well bring us back to pre-modern (and self-destructing) conceptions of time and truth, or do they form a history whose events never reproduce an always mythical past and whose moments never end up coinciding with any line of development? We cannot simply say goodbye to Kant, as has been once again recently suggested, as if the ruins left by metaphysics had disappeared, as if natural illusion could help us escape fiction; we must go on reading and as readers, according to Kant’s own final suggestion, rediscover the pleasure of traveling in his company.
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Contributor : Serge Trottein <>
Submitted on : Monday, January 6, 2020 - 12:39:05 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 3:57:49 AM

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Serge Trottein. Postmodernity and the Vicissitudes of Truth. APL 2019 Conference - Truth, Fiction, Illusion: Worlds and Experience, Association for Philosophy and Literature; Theory, Culture & Society; and Alpen-Adria Universität Klagenfurt, May 2019, Klagenfurt, Austria. ⟨halshs-02428954⟩

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