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On the Future of HistoryThe Postmodernist Challenge and Its Aftermath$
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Ernst Breisach

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780226072791

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226072814.001.0001

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Two Versions of the Postmodernist Future

Two Versions of the Postmodernist Future

Chapter:
5 Two Versions of the Postmodernist Future
Source:
On the Future of History
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226072814.003.0005

Formative thinking for an early version of postmodernism occurred well before the actual postmodernist moment, when two seminal thinkers elaborated its core ideas: Antoine Augustin Cournot, a scholar of the French Second Empire, and Alexandre Koj`eve, a Russian exile living in Paris in the 1930s. Both men affirmed progress, but they stipulated that its end stage would be far from the expected dynamic society of fully rational and free people. The proponents of progress, including Condorcet, had failed to grasp the real outcome of the modern quest for absolute knowledge and its correlate, absolute control. Instead of the ideal union of reason and freedom, a life with a narrow-gauged routine would mark the static or quasi-static postmodernity. The historical nexus would be dominated by continuity as the future would become an extended present. The crisis that was thought to have befallen the progressive view was only a crisis of our wrong expectations of progress. History, progressive in its course, found its true ending in a stage of dominant continuity with minimal change.

Keywords:   postmodernism, postmodernist moment, Antoine Augustin Cournot, rationality, progressive view, continuity

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