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8.18.2006 

who's afraid of postmodernism?

Over the next week or so, I'm hoping to blog my way through James Smith's new book Who's Afraid of Postmodernism? My desire to read the book is really a convergence of several different interests. For one, James Smith is one of the American writers involved in a theological conversation termed Radical Orthodoxy -- something I've heard bits and pieces about but haven't really been able to look into in any detail. (Interesting sidenote--Ami and I both had classes with John Milbank's wife, Alison, in the literature department while they were teaching at Virginia. At the time I had no idea who her husband was. She was one of the kindest professors I knew at UVA).
In addition to this, I don't really feel that I've thought or read about postmodernism (in the philosophic, not cultural sense) in any kind of systematic way, though I have a great deal of interest in reading postmodern thinkers as I share their concern (because of Polanyi and Newbigin) regarding the enlightenment assumptions about epistemic certainty and "objective truth." So my purpose in reading Smith is to both gain some familiarity with Radical Orthodoxy (which I understand to be based on a fairly sympathetic reading of postmodern thinkers) and to begin to consider how postmodernism might converge with and help develop the epistemological convictions I've come to hold by reading Michael Polanyi and others.

Finally, Peter Leithart calls the book both "very fine" and "lucid," which makes it all the more appealing.

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