Tracing the vicissitudes of the subject in present-day society, Baudrillard claims that contemporary subjects are no longer afflicted with modern pathologies like hysteria or paranoia. In other words, an individual in a postmodern world becomes merely an entity influenced by media, technological experience, and the hyperreal. Thus, Baudrillard's categories of simulation, implosion, and hyperreality combine to create an emergent postmodern condition that requires entirely new modes of theory and politics to chart and respond to the novelties of the contemporary era.
His style and writing strategies are also implosive i. His writing attempts to itself simulate the new conditions, capturing its novelties through inventive use of language and theory. Such radical questioning of contemporary theory and the need for new theoretical strategies are thus legitimated for Baudrillard by the large extent of changes in the current era.
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For instance, Baudrillard claims that modernity operates with a mode of representation in which ideas represent reality and truth, concepts that are key postulates of modern theory. A postmodern society explodes this epistemology by creating a situation in which subjects lose contact with the real and fragment and dissolve. This situation portends the end of modern theory that operated with a subject-object dialectic in which the subject was supposed to represent and control the object.
In the story of modern philosophy, the philosophic subject attempts to discern the nature of reality, to secure grounded knowledge, and to apply this knowledge to control and dominate the object e. And the narcoticized and mesmerized some of Baudrillard's metaphors media-saturated consciousness is in such a state of fascination with image and spectacle that the concept of meaning itself which depends on stable boundaries, fixed structures, shared consensus dissolves.
In this alarming and novel postmodern situation, the referent, the behind and the outside, along with depth, essence, and reality all disappear, and with their disappearance, the possibility of all potential opposition vanishes as well. As simulations proliferate, they come to refer only to themselves: a carnival of mirrors reflecting images projected from other mirrors onto the omnipresent television and computer screen and the screen of consciousness, which in turn refers the image to its previous storehouse of images also produced by simulatory mirrors.
Baudrillard claims that henceforth the masses seek spectacle and not meaning. Fixed distinctions between social groupings and ideologies implode and concrete face-to-face social relations recede as individuals disappear in worlds of simulation — media, computers, virtual reality itself. Social theory itself thus loses its object, the social, while radical politics loses its subject and agency.
Nonetheless, he claims, at this point in his trajectory i. Hovering between nostalgia and nihilism, Baudrillard at once exterminates modern ideas e. This desperate search for a genuinely revolutionary alternative was abandoned, however, by the early s. Henceforth, he develops yet more novel perspectives on the contemporary moment, vacillating between sketching out alternative modes of thought and behavior and renouncing the quest for political and social change.
In a sense, there is a parodic inversion of historical materialism in Baudrillard. For Baudrillard, sign values predominate over use values and exchange values; the materiality of needs and commodity use-values to serve them disappear in Baudrillard's semiological imaginary, in which signs take precedence over the real and reconstruct human life.
Turning the Marxist categories against themselves, masses absorb classes, the subject of praxis is fractured, and objects come to rule human beings. Revolution is absorbed by the object of critique and technological implosion replaces the socialist revolution in producing a rupture in history. For Baudrillard, in contrast to Marx, the catastrophe of modernity and eruption of postmodernity is produced by the unfolding of technological revolution. Consequently, Baudrillard replaces Marx's hard economic and social determinism with its emphasis on the economic dimension, class struggle, and human praxis, with a form of semiological idealism and technological determinism where signs and objects come to dominate the subject.
Baudrillard's thought from the mids to the present challenges theories in a variety of disciplines. During the s, Baudrillard's major works of the s were translated into many languages and new books of the s were in turn translated into English and other major languages in short order. Consequently, he became world-renown as one of the most influential thinkers of postmodernity. Baudrillard became something of an academic celebrity, travelling around the world promoting his work and winning a significant following, though more outside of the field of academic theory than within his own discipline of sociology.
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At the same time that his work was becoming extremely popular, Baudrillard's own writing became increasingly difficult and obscure. In , Baudrillard published Seduction , a difficult text that represented a major shift in his thought. The book marks a turning away from the more sociological discourse of his earlier works to a more philosophical and literary discourse.
Whereas in Symbolic Exchange and Death a  , Baudrillard sketched out ultra-revolutionary perspectives as a radical alternative, taking symbolic exchange as his ideal, he now takes seduction as his alternative to production and communicative interaction. Seduction, however, does not undermine, subvert, or transform existing social relations or institutions, but is a soft alternative, a play with appearances, and a game with feminism, a provocation that provoked a sharp critical response.
Baudrillard interprets seduction primarily as a ritual and game with its own rules, charms, snares, and lures. His writing mutates at this point into a neo-aristocratic aestheticism dedicated to stylized modes of thought and writing, which present a set of categories — reversibility, the challenge, the duel, — that move Baudrillard's thought toward a form of aristocratic aestheticism and metaphysics. Baudrillard's proliferating metaphysical speculations are evident in Fatal Strategies , translated in , another turning point in his career.
His scenario concerns the proliferation and growing supremacy of objects over subjects and the eventual triumph of the object. Ecstasy is thus the form of obscenity fully explicit, nothing hidden and of the hyperreality described by Baudrillard earlier taken to another level, redoubled and intensified. His vision of contemporary society exhibits a careening of growth and excrescence croissance et excroissance , expanding and excreting ever more goods, services, information, messages or demands — surpassing all rational ends and boundaries in a spiral of uncontrolled growth and replication.
Yet growth, acceleration, and proliferation have reached such extremes, Baudrillard suggests, that the ecstasy of excrescence i. The process of growth presents a catastrophe for the subject, for not only does the acceleration and proliferation of the object world intensify the aleatory dimension of chance and non-determinacy, but the objects themselves come to dominate the exhausted subject, whose fascination with the play of objects turns to apathy, stupefaction, and inertia.
In retrospect, the growing power of the world of objects over the subject has been Baudrillard's theme from the beginning, thus pointing to an underlying continuity in his project. In his early writings, he explored the ways that commodities were fascinating individuals in the consumer society and the ways that the world of goods was assuming new and more value through the agency of sign value and the code — which were part of the world of things, the system of objects.
His polemics against Marxism were fuelled by the belief that sign value and the code were more fundamental than such traditional elements of political economy as exchange value, use value, production and so on in constituting contemporary society. Then, reflections on the media entered the forefront of his thought: the TV object was at the center of the home in Baudrillard's earlier thinking and the media, simulations, hyperreality, and implosion eventually came to obliterate distinctions between private and public, inside and outside, media and reality.
Henceforth, everything was public, transparent, and hyperreal in the object world that was gaining in fascination and seductiveness as the years went by. Previously, in banal strategies, the subject believed itself to be more masterful and sovereign than the object. A fatal strategy, by contrast, recognizes the supremacy of the object and therefore takes the side of the object and surrenders to its strategies, ruses and rules. In these works, Baudrillard seems to be taking his theory into the realm of metaphysics, but it is a specific type of metaphysics deeply inspired by the pataphysics developed by Alfred Jarry.
For Jarry:. Like the universe in Jarry's Ubu Roi , The Gestures and Opinions of Doctor Faustroll , and other literary texts — as well as in Jarry's more theoretical explications of pataphysics — Baudrillard's is a totally absurd universe where objects rule in mysterious ways, and people and events are governed by absurd and ultimately unknowable interconnections and predestination The French playwright Eugene Ionesco is another good source of entry to this universe. Like Jarry's pataphysics, Baudrillard's universe is ruled by surprise, reversal, hallucination, blasphemy, obscenity, and a desire to shock and outrage.
Thus, in view of the growing supremacy of the object, Baudrillard wants us to abandon the subject and to side with the object. Pataphysics aside, it seems that Baudrillard is trying to end the philosophy of subjectivity that has controlled French thought since Descartes by going over completely to the other side. Descartes' malin genie , his evil genius, was a ruse of the subject that tried to seduce him into accepting what was not clear and distinct, but over which he was ultimately able to prevail. Henceforth, for Baudrillard, people live in the era of the reign of the object.
Thus, according to Baudrillard, the society of production was passing over to simulation and seduction; the panoptic and repressive power theorized by Foucault was turning into a cynical and seductive power of the media and information society; the liberation championed in the s had become a form of voluntary servitude; sovereignty had passed from the side of the subject to the object; and revolution and emancipation had turned into their opposites, trapping individuals in an order of simulation and virtuality.
For Adorno and Horkheimer, within the transformations of organized and hi-tech capitalism, modes of Enlightenment become domination, culture becomes culture industry, democracy becomes a form of mass manipulation, and science and technology form a crucial part of an apparatus of social domination. Baudrillard follows this concept of reversal and his paradoxical and nihilistic metaphysical vision into the s where his thought becomes ever more hermetic, fragmentary, and difficult. During the decade, Baudrillard continued playing the role of academic and media superstar, travelling around the world lecturing and performing in intellectual events.
These texts combine reflections on his travels and experiences with development of his often recycled ideas and perceptions. Baudrillard's fragmentary diaries often provide revealing insights into his personal life and psychology, as well as capturing experiences and scenes that generate or embody some of his ideas. Retiring from the University of Nanterre in , Baudrillard subsequently functioned as an independent intellectual, dedicating himself to caustic reflections on our contemporary moment and philosophical ruminations that cultivate his distinct and always evolving theory.
From June through May , he published reflections on events and phenomena of the day in the Paris newspaper Liberation , a series of writings collected in Screened Out  and providing access to a laboratory for ideas later elaborated in his books. Baudrillard's retirement from a sociology faculty seems to have liberated his philosophical impulses and in addition to his diary collections and occasional forays into engagement of issues of the day, Baudrillard has turned out a series of increasingly philosophical and densely theoretical texts.
These texts continue his excursions into the metaphysics of the object and defeat of the subject and ironical engagement with contemporary history and politics. While the books develop the quasi-metaphysical perspectives of the s, they also generate some new ideas and positions. They are often entertaining, although they can also be outrageous and scandalous. These writings can be read as a combination of cultivation of original theoretical perspectives along with continual commentary on current social conditions, accompanied by a running dialogue with Marxism, poststructuralist theory, and other forms of contemporary thought.
Yet after his fierce and focused polemics of the s against competing models of thought, Baudrillard's dialogue with theory now consists mostly of occasional asides and recycling of previous ideas, a retro-theory that perhaps ironically illustrates Baudrillard's theses about the decline of theory and politics in the contemporary moment. In The Transparency of Evil , Baudrillard described a situation in which previously separate domains of the economy, art, politics, and sexuality, collapsed into each other.
He claims that art, for instance, has penetrated all spheres of existence, whereby the dreams of the artistic avant-garde for art to inform life has been realized. Yet, in Baudrillard's vision, with the realization of art in everyday life, art itself as a separate and transcendent phenomenon has disappeared. The result is a confused condition where there are no more criteria of value, of judgement, or of taste, and the function of the normative thus collapses in a morass of indifference and inertia.
In the postmodern media and consumer society, everything becomes an image, a sign, a spectacle, a transaesthetic object — just as everything also becomes trans-economic, trans-political, and trans-sexual. Examples of the paradoxical and ironic style of Baudrillard's philosophical musings abound in The Perfect Crime b.
Driven toward virtualization in a high-tech society, all the imperfections of human life and the world are eliminated in virtual reality, but this is the elimination of reality itself, the Perfect Crime. Baudrillard has entered a world of thought far from academic philosophy, one that puts in question traditional modes of thought and discourse. His search for new philosophical perspectives has won him a loyal global audience, but also criticism for his excessive irony, word play, and intellectual games. Yet his work stands as a provocation to traditional and contemporary philosophy that challenges thinkers to address old philosophical problems such as truth and reality in new ways in the contemporary world.
Baudrillard continues this line of thought in his text Impossible Exchange He attacks philosophical attempts to capture reality, arguing for an incommensurability between concepts and their objects, systems of thought and the world. He identifies this dichotomy with the duality of good and evil in which the cultivation of the subject and its domination of the object is taken as the good within Western thought, while the sovereignty and side of the object is interwoven with the principle of evil.
Baudrillard's thought is radically dualistic and he takes the side of the pole within a series of dichotomies of Western thought that has generally been derided as inferior, such as siding with appearance against reality, illusion over truth, evil over good, and woman over man. In The Perfect Crime b , Baudrillard has declared that reality has been destroyed and henceforth that people live in a world of mere appearance. Most controversially, Baudrillard also identifies with the principle of evil defined as that which is opposed to and against the good. There is an admittedly Manichean and Gnostic dimension to Baudrillard's thought, as well as deep cynicism and nihilism.
His thought is self-avowedly agonistic with the duel presented in tandem with his dualism, taking on and attacking rival theories and positions. Contradictions do not bother Baudrillard, for indeed he affirms them. It is thus tricky to argue with Baudrillard on strictly philosophical grounds and one needs to grasp his mode of writing, his notion of theory fictions see Section 5 , and to engage their saliency and effects.
The current situation, he claims, is more fantastic than the most fanciful science fiction, or theoretical projections of a futurist society. Thus, theory can only attempt to grasp the present on the run and try to anticipate the future. However, Baudrillard has had a particularly poor record as a social and political analyst and forecaster.
As a political analyst, Baudrillard has often been superficial and off the mark. Shortly thereafter, rather significant events destroyed the wall that Baudrillard took as permanent and opened up a new historical era. The Cold War stalemate was long taken by Baudrillard as establishing a frozen history in which no significant change could take place. For Baudrillard, the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York also symbolized the frozen history and stasis between the two systems of capitalism and communism. On the whole, Baudrillard sees history as the unfolding of expanding technological rationality turning into its opposite, as the system incorporates ever more elements, producing an improved technological order, which then becomes irrational through its excesses, its illusions, and its generating unforeseen consequences.
This mode of highly abstract analysis, however, occludes more specific historical determinants that would analyze how technological rationality is constructed and functioned and how and why it misfires.
It also covers over the disorder and turmoil created by such things as the crises and restructuring of global capitalism, the rise of fundamentalism, ethnic conflict, and global terrorism which were unleashed in part as a response to a globalized rationalization of the market system and to the breakup of the bipolar world order. Baudrillard's reflections on the Gulf war take a similar position, seeing it as an attempt of the New World Order to further rationalize the world, arguing that the Gulf war really served to bring Islam into the New World Order Baudrillard does not help us to understand much about the event and does not even help us to grasp the role of the media in contemporary political spectacles.
Reducing complex events like wars to categories like simulation or hyperreality illuminates the virtual and high-tech dimension to media events, but erases all their concrete determinants. And yet Baudrillardian postmodern categories help grasp some of the dynamics of the culture of living in media and computer worlds where people seem to enjoy immersing themselves in simulated events witness the fascination of the Gulf war in , the O.
Simpson trials during , the Clinton sex scandals, and various other media spectacles throughout the s, and the September 11 terror attacks in the early days of the third millennium.
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In The End of the Illusion b , Baudrillard attacks head-on what he sees as current illusions of history, politics, and metaphysics, and gamely tries to explain away his own political misprognoses that contemporary history appeared in a frozen, glacial state, stalemated between East and West, that the system of deterrence had congealed, making sure that nothing dramatic could henceforth happen, that the Gulf war couldn't take place, and that the end of history had occurred.
These myths, these strong ideas, are exhausted, he claims, and henceforth a postmodern era of banal eclecticism, inertial implosion, and eternal recycling of the same become defining features. For Baudrillard by the end of the s with the collapse of communism, the era of the strong ideas, of a conflicted world of revolution and universal emancipation, is over.
Communism, in Baudrillard's reading, collapsed of its own inertia, it self-destructed from within, it imploded, rather than perishing in ideological battle or military warfare. With the absorption of its dissidents into power, there is no longer a clash of strong ideas, of opposition and resistance, of critical transcendence. With the embedding of the former communist regimes into the system of the capitalist world market and liberal democracy, the West no longer has an Other to battle against, there is no longer any creative or ideological tension, no longer any global alternative to the Western world.
Baudrillard celebrated the coming of the new millennium with a recycling of some his old ideas on cloning, the end of history, and the disappearance of the real in a series of lectures collected as The Vital Illusion For Baudrillard , cloning is connected to the fantasy of immortality, to defeating the life-cycle.
Thus, it is no surprise that cryogenics — the freezing of dead human beings in the hope they might be regenerated in the future through medical advances — is a booming global industry. Likewise, in a digital era, Baudrillard claims that history has come to an end and reality has been killed by virtualization, as the human species prepares itself for a virtual existence.
Baudrillard complained that the contemporary era was one of weak events, that no major historical occurrences had happened, and that therefore life and thought were becoming increasingly boring. He quickly responded with the Le Monde article, soon after translated and expanded into one of the more challenging and controversial books on the terror spectacle, The Spirit of Terrorism: And Requiem for the Twin Towers a. That is, the terrorists in Baudrillard's reading used airplanes, computer networks, and the media associated with Western societies to produce a spectacle of terror.
The moral condemnation and the sacred union against terrorism are directly proportional to the prodigious jubilation felt at having seen this global superpower destroyed. Each one brought us progressively closer to the single world order of today, which is now nearing its end, everywhere opposed, everywhere grappling with hostile forces. This is a war of fractal complexity, waged worldwide against rebellious singularities that, in the manner of antibodies, mount a resistance in every cell. That the entire world without exception had dreamed of this event, that nobody could help but dream of the destruction of so powerful a Hegemon — this fact is unacceptable to the moral conscience of the West.
And yet it's a fact nevertheless, a fact that resists the emotional violence of all the rhetoric conspiring to cover it up. In the end, it was they who did it, but we who wished it. Terrorism is not a contemporary form of revolution against oppression and capitalism. No ideology, no struggle for an objective, not even Islamic fundamentalism, can explain it.
One should not confuse the messenger with his message. Indeed, Baudrillard has also produced some provocative reflections on globalization. Deregulation ends up in a maximum of constraints and restrictions, akin to those of a fundamentalist society. Many see globalization as a matrix of market economy, democracy, technology, migration and tourism, and the worldwide circulation of ideas and culture. Baudrillard, curiously, takes the position of those in the anti-globalization movement who condemn globalization as the opposite of democracy and human rights.
This position, however, fails to note the contradictions that globalization simultaneously produces homogenization and hybridization and difference, and that the anti-corporate globalization movement is fighting for social justice, democratization, and increased rights, factors that Baudrillard links with a dying universalization. In fact, the struggle for rights and justice is an important part of globalization and Baudrillard's presenting of human rights, democratization, and justice as part of an obsolete universalization being erased by globalization is theoretically and politically problematical.
In a Nietzschean mode, he suggests that henceforth truth and reality are illusions, that illusions reign, and that therefore people should respect illusion and appearance and give up the illusory quest for truth and reality. Ideological apologists of globalization such as Thomas Friedman have been forced to acknowledge that globalization has its dark sides and produces conflict as well as networking, interrelations, and progress.
It remains to be seen, of course, how the current Terror War and intensified global conflicts will be resolved. Baudrillard has never been as influential in France as in the English-speaking world and elsewhere. He is perhaps most important as part of the postmodern turn against modern society and its academic disciplines. Baudrillard's work cuts across the disciplines and promotes cross-disciplinary thought. He challenges standard wisdom and puts in question received dogma and methods.
While his early work on the consumer society, the political economy of the sign, simulation and simulacra, and the implosion of phenomena previously separated can be deployed within critical philosophy and social theory, much of his posts work quite self-consciously goes beyond the classical tradition and in most interviews of the past decade Baudrillard distances himself from critical philosophy and social theory, claiming that the energy of critique has dissipated.
Baudrillard thus emerges in retrospect as a transdisciplinary theorist of the end of modernity who produces sign-posts to the new era of postmodernity and is an important, albeit hardly trustworthy, guide to the new era. One can read Baudrillard's posts work as science fiction that anticipates the future by exaggerating present tendencies, and thus provides early warnings about what might happen if present trends continue Kellner A view among contemporary sociologists is that there are no great unifying 'laws of history', but rather smaller, more specific, and more complex laws that govern society.
Philosopher and politician Roberto Mangabeira Unger recently attempted to revise classical social theory by exploring how things fit together, rather than to provide an all encompassing single explanation of a universal reality. He begins by recognizing the key insight of classical social theory of society as an artifact, and then by discarding the law-like characteristics forcibly attached to it.
Unger argues that classical social theory was born proclaiming that society is made and imagined, and not the expression of an underlying natural order, but at the same time its capacity was checked by the equally prevalent ambition to create law-like explanations of history and social development.
The human sciences that developed claimed to identify a small number of possible types of social organization that coexisted or succeeded one another through inescapable developmental tendencies or deep-seated economic organization or psychological constraints. Marxism is the star example. Unger, calling his efforts "super-theory", has thus sought to develop a comprehensive view of history and society.
Unger does so without subsuming deep structure analysis under an indivisible and repeatable type of social organization or with recourse to law-like constraints and tendencies. Unger begins by formulating the theory of false necessity, which claims that social worlds are the artifact of human endeavors. There is no pre-set institutional arrangement that societies must adhere to, and there is no necessary historical mold of development that they will follow. We are free to choose and to create the forms and the paths that our societies will take.
However, this does not give license to absolute contingency. Unger finds that there are groups of institutional arrangements that work together to bring about certain institutional forms—liberal democracy, for example. These forms are the basis of a social structure, which Unger calls formative context. In order to explain how we move from one formative context to another without the conventional social theory constraints of historical necessity e.
This variety of forms of resistance and empowerment make change possible. Unger calls this empowerment negative capability. However, Unger adds that these outcomes are always reliant on the forms from which they spring. The new world is built upon the existing one. Thomas , Ernest W. Burgess , Robert E. The Chicago school focused on patterns and arrangement of social phenomenon across time and place , and within context of other social variables.
Critical theorists rejected the "objective", scientific approach, and sought to frame theories within ideologies of human freedom. Karl Marx wrote and theorized about the importance of political economy on society, and focused on the "material conditions" of life. British social thought, with thinkers such as Herbert Spencer , addressed questions and ideas relating to political economy and social evolution. The political ideals of John Ruskin were a precursor of social economy Unto This Last had a very important impact on Gandhi 's philosophy.senrei-exorcism.com/images/software/top-smartphone-track-program-honor.php
Social theory seeks to question why humans inhabit the world the way they do, and how that came to be by looking at power relations, social structures, and social norms,  while also examining how humans relate to each other and the society they find themselves in, how this has changed over time and in different cultures  , and the tools used to measure those things. Social theory looks to interdisciplinarity , combining knowledge from multiple academic disciplines in order to enlighten these complex issues,  and can draw on ideas from fields as diverse as anthropology and media studies.
Social theory guides scientific inquiry by promoting scientists to think about which topics are suitable for investigation and how they should measure them. Selecting or creating appropriate theory for use in examining an issue is an important skill for any researcher. Important distinctions: a theoretical orientation or paradigm is a worldview, the lens through which one organizes experience i.
A theory is an attempt to explain and predict behavior in particular contexts. A theoretical orientation cannot be proven or disproven; a theory can. Having a theoretical orientation that sees the world in terms of power and control, one could create a theory about violent human behavior which includes specific causal statements e.
This could lead to a hypothesis prediction about what one expects to see in a particular sample, e. One can then test the hypothesis by looking to see if it is consistent with data. One might, for instance, review hospital records to find children who were abused, then track them down and administer a personality test to see if they show signs of being violent or shy. The selection of an appropriate i. Philosophical questions addressed by social thinkers often centered around modernity , including:.
Other issues relating to modernity that were addressed by social thinkers include social atomization , alienation , loneliness , social disorganization , and secularization. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. For the journal, see Social Analysis journal. This article has multiple issues. Please help improve it or discuss these issues on the talk page. Learn how and when to remove these template messages.
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Main article: Critical theory. Main article: Marxism. Main article: Postmodernism. Sociology portal. Contested knowledge: Social theory today. Social Theory: A Historical Introduction. New York University Press. The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Sociology. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub. A Global Introduction 3rd ed. Harlow: Pearson Education.
The Rise of Social Theory. Cambridge University Press. Mowlana Akhtar Politics and History. Economics and Ideology and Other Essays. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. Retrieved 19 October — via Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Sociological Perspectives. Tamara Journal of Critical Organisation Inquiry. International Affairs. Social Theory: Its situation and its task. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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London: Verso. Social Forces. University of North Carolina Press. Karl Marx ". Retrieved The Postmodern Condition.