02 December 2013

Fear not deconstruction

The incredulity of postmodernity toward metanarratives derives from the fact that modernity denies its own commitments, renounces its faith, while at the same time never escaping it. … In contrast to this auto-legitimation, modern scientific culture externalizes the problem of legitimation. …. As such, modern legitimation has recourse to a universal criterion: reason—a (supposedly) universal stamp of legitimation. This move generates what Lyotard famously describes as metanarratives: appeals to criteria of legitimation that are understood as standing outside any particular language game and thus guarantee universal truth 
In this sense, the postmodern critique described by Lyotard as incredulity toward metanarratives represents a displacement of the notion of autonomous reason as itself a myth. And that is a project with which Christians ought to ally themselves, particularly once we have clarified that such an alliance does not require jettisoning the biblical narrative. By calling into question the idea of an autonomous, objective, neutral rationality, I have argued that postmodernity represents the retrieval of a fundamentally Augustinian epistemology that is attentive to the structural necessity of faith preceding reason, believing in order to understand—trusting in order to interpret. While this Augustinian structure is formalized—in the sense that there is a plurality of faiths, as many as there are language games—the structure (of faith preceding reason) remains in place, in contrast to modern (and perhaps even Thomistic) epistemologies (theories of knowledge). 
— James A. Smith, "Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? Taking Derrida, Lyotard, and Foucault to Church."

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