A Case for Postmodernism




Author’s note: There are already some excellent books and websites devoted to explaining postmodernism*, so I thought rather than try to condense a very complex topic into a few paragraphs, I would share with you a problem that I’m currently working through, and show you how I’m trying to use postmodernism to open doors to thinking otherwise about my own work.

You can read more from Professor David A. Nicholls on ParaDoxa.

To begin

It would be reasonable to argue that every entity, thing, form, or substance can only be said to be moving because it moves in relation to something else.

But the idea of movement — in the Western scientific sense, at least — implies that there is also a static state from which movement departs. The static state is the referent from which movement can be said to occur.

The idea of movement … implies that there is also a static state from which movement departs. 

But this immediately creates a problem, because for an entity to be static, it must be both spatially and temporally immobile. In other words, it must be frozen in space and time in relation to everything else around it.

But, can anything ever be like this? Or is this just a convenient allusion to make it easier to explain how things ‘appear’?

I certainly recognise this image of a static body in healthcare. My professional training showed me images of anatomical bodies and physiological processes that seemed entirely static. “Here is the adductor longus muscle, and it attaches here and here… This is a fact and it never changes.” Even when we explicitly studied movement as students, it was always made up of static bodies moving in a series, like the galloping horses in Eadweard Muybridge photographs.

The lesson I was taught as a physiotherapist was that the body was a static ‘thing’, with fixed structures and a stable identity. Movement followed. You needed a body first before you could have movement, and when the structural elements failed, movement went awry. Function followed form. Bodies begat movement, never the other way around.

We reassert the same static image of things when we talk about almost everything in healthcare, from identity to the body, ground-force reactions to named emotions. We even have a specific word for this linguistic ossification: homeostasis.

Now, I can appreciate the inherent logic in trying to keep things simple by breaking them down into component parts, and giving everything a sense of stability. It makes it much easier to convey what things are and how they might interact when they appear to stand still for a minute. But there are two big problems with this: 1) it gives the illusion that this is how things are in reality, when they actually aren’t, and 2), it’s a pain when you come to practice your craft in the real world, because nothing in healthcare, or in life in general, is ever static.

The static illusion can never work …

Originally appeared on Daily Philosophy Read More



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