Ali Rattansi
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Legislators and Interpreters
Extending the critique of Bauman’s first exposition of postmodernity and postmodernism
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Zygmunt Bauman's first foray into a postmodernist evaluation of Western modernity is undoubtedly a tour de force. For Bauman, modernism was all of a piece with modernity's guiding assumptions of rationalism and the cultivation of order. The contradictoriness of modernity and modernism, and the blurring of boundaries between what is to count as modernist and what as postmodernist, are indicative of a notable oversimplification by Bauman in his descriptions of both. Bauman was only one among many who erroneously regarded the concept of postmodernism as having its origins in architecture rather than literary criticism. Bauman's pluralism and relativism in Legislators derive from both Gadamer's hermeneutical Truth and Method and Rorty's neo-pragmatist critique of the universalist philosophical pre-suppositions underlying the Western tradition of philosophy, especially what Rorty variously calls the 'Cartesian-Kantian' tradition and the 'Descartes-Locke-Kant' tradition.

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Bauman and contemporary sociology

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