Friday, May 21, 2004

Blogs and Postmodernism

My favorite quote from the survey noted below occurs as part of the caveat that these results are not particularly scientific:

But remember also that the blogosphere is all about biases and conversations and boot-strapping and not waiting for some patron -- a newspaper editor or university dean or foundation officer or venture capitalist or government agent -- to tell you something but figuring it out yourself, and, finally, about sharing fragments of imperfect data with peers to arrive at some useful collective knowledge.

That strikes me as very well put more than a little profound. It resonates with themes that I find very helpful: Hayek's (or Burke's) preference for England's common law tradition over France's utopianism; America's can-do mentality versus the UN's quibbling about proprieties; the biblical and medieval focus on wisdom versus the enlightenment's demand for rationalistic proof; in general the superiority of induction over deduction for most of the questions that really matter.

I don't wish to make too much of an off-hand comment, but I wonder if this isn't a key reason that conservatives are more dominant in the blogosphere than liberals. Our proclivity for muddling through to a livable arrangement, in contrast to the left's insistence on abstract principle that can be rationally defined and defended, is more suitable to the free-for-all of competing worldviews in a global marketplace of ideas.

This kind of thinking could properly be called post-modern, if the term had not already been co-opted by the burnt-out-modernists on the far left. But I prefer to avoid the chronological snobbery of the whole premodern->modern->postmodern continuum. I prefer to characterize the distinction in terms of "the reasonable" versus "the rational" (or "rationalistic" if I'm in a bad mood).

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