Peter Leithart on the Wisdom and Folly of Postmodernism

I just read Peter Leithart’s excellent little book, Solomon among the Postmoderns. It is, as the name implies, a Christian investigation of postmodernism, using Solomon and the book of Ecclesiastes as a tool for comparing the postmodern way to the biblical one. I just wrote a review of it on Goodreads, which I would encourage you to read to see if you might be interested in what I think is a very helpful assessment of the current phase of the world. Here’s the beginning of my review:

Postmodernism gets a really bad rap in conservative Christian circles, and while some of this is justified, much seems to stem from caricatures and misunderstanding. I’ve suspected this for some time, thinking that perhaps postmodernism actually has some helpful things to say, and Peter Leithart has essentially confirmed that suspicion in Solomon among the Postmoderns. In it, he seeks to examine postmodernity/postmodernism carefully by comparison with the biblical book of Ecclesiastes.

Read the full review here. And here’s a quote from the book’s introduction:

When I started Solomon among the Postmoderns, I was aiming it mainly at anti-postmodern Christians (let’s call them APCs). By presenting central postmodern themes in a way that postmodernists would recognize, I hoped to isolate the specific places where Christians must challenge postmodern theory. Many of the most vocal APCs highlight epistemological issues, challenging what they perceive as postmodern “relativism.” Epistemology is not, however, as central as many APCs suggest, and at least the most sophisticated postmodern writers rarely mean to say the outlandish things APCs attribute to them (e.g., “texts can mean whatever we want them to mean”). Simon Blackburn has wisely commented that there is no “recent philosophical movement that could have been stopped in its tracks by pointing out that it is easier to find your way about in daylight than in the dark, or that if someone tells you that a bottle contains gin and you act accordingly, you have a beef against him if it contains kerosene.” While admitting that some postmoderns “might have carelessly let loose remarks that seem to imply the opposite,” he suggests that “they probably misspoke themselves as they tried to say something more interesting.” I’ve wanted to discover those more interesting things that postmodernists are trying to say, and as I pursued those more interesting things I increasingly found that eschatology is far more central to postmodernism, and to the Christian response to postmodernism, than epistemology.

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So what do you think?