Metamodernism as a Paradigm of Integration

In 2005, three years after the publication of Eliott’s study, metamodernism appears in the title of an article by Canadian scholar Stephen Feldman: “The Problem of Critique: Triangulating Habermas, Derrida, and Gadamer within Metamodernism”.1 Feldman endeavours to show that Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics, Habermas’s communication theory, and Derrida’s deconstruction all fit together within one philosophical paradigm: metamodernism” (296).

In doing so, Feldman captures an important feature of metamodernism: integration. Like Elliott, he starts from reflection on and uneasiness with twentieth-century concepts, most of which have been handed down by tradition, and therefore need to be reconsidered, since “traditional (modernist) political categories of liberalism and conservatism do not suitably reflect” contemporary tendencies:

Gadamer, Habermas, and Derrida are far more concerned with explaining the possibility and techniques of interpretive and social critique, while remaining true to the metamodernist paradigm, rather than fitting themselves into the traditional liberal or conservative political camps. (Feldman 296)

Feldman describes metamodernism as a paradigm of thought, “a world-view, a set of presupposed beliefs that pervasively shapes one’s perceptions of and orientation toward the world” (297), by which he outlines the genus proximus rather than the specific difference of metamodernism.

The disagreements between the three philosophers – Gadamer, Habermas, and Derrida – arise from their having “different aims” and asking “different questions” (297), but these do not make their systems incommensurable,2nor do they preclude their sharing “certain fundamental presuppositions about our being-in-the-world” (297). Such dissimilarities “are those that might arise within a shared paradigm” (297).

While a re-evaluation of liberalism and conservatism is timely, one may feel uneasy with his attempt to prove that the three philosophers mentioned are “concerned with remaining true to the metamodernist paradigm” (296). Here Feldman tries to suggest a third term, neither liberal nor conservative, which is quite a remarkable proposition, but the question which arises is whether it is possible for anyone to remain true to something if they are not even aware that it exists. This stylistic – or, rather, cognitive – lapse aside, Feldman’s article is a good attempt at showing thatHans-Georg Gadamer’s philosophical hermeneutics, Jürgen Habermas’s communication theory, and Jacques Derrida’s deconstruction all fit together within one philosophical paradigm: metamodernism” (276).

Feldman’s essay is significant in that it makes two claims regarding metamodernism: an explicit and an implicit one.

The explicit one is that metamodernism is a paradigm of thought, and the implicit one is that integration stands at its very core.

Therefore, although the term has sporadically been used in the previous century, and texts describing features of metamodernism have been published before, the twenty-first century carries the promise and actualization of metamodernism.

As the twentieth century was the century of modernism and postmodernism, the twenty-first has a good chance of being metamodern.

1 Stephen M. Feldman, “Problem of Critique: Triangulating Habermas, Derrida, and Gadamer within Metamodernism,” Contemporary Political Theory 4.3 (2005).

2 In the article on metamodernism quoted above Feldman refutes Ernst Behler’s argument with regard to “the incommensurability and incompatibility” of deconstruction and philosophical hermeneutics (144). See Ernst Behler and Steven Taubeneck, Confrontations: Derrida, Heidegger, Nietzsche, trans. Steven Taubeneck (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1991).

© Copyright note. The text above is an excerpt from Alexandra Dumitrescu, Towards a Metamodern Literature, PhD thesis manuscript


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