Postmodernism and Language

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The use of language in postmodern works appears to express a radically new view of the nature of the social sciences in society. Modernist were interested in the depiction of the experience of modernity. A central area of concern among many postmodern geographers is language, and it is commonly asserted that we are in a crisis of representation, where the meaning of terms seems fluid, or disconnected. In the past, it was believed that there was a "book of nature," and that our scientific knowledge was doubly "anchored" in it and in the "invisible" ideas that constitute our theories. Our knowledge was seen to be an attempt to grasp or capture that reality, and language was the medium through which that capturing occurred. The crisis of representation has occurred because it is no longer believed that signs or language more generally have the ability adequately to reflect that reality. Rather, they are now seen as both arbitrary and volatile. For Lyotard, as a result, The social subject itself seems to dissolve in this dissemination of language games. The social bond is linguistic, but is not woven with a single thread. It is a fabric formed by the intersection of at least two (and in reality an indeterminate number) of language games, obeying different rules (1984, 40) Fundamental here is the adoption of Witgenstein's (1968) notion of a "language game,” where [Each] of the various categories of utterance can be defined in terms of rules specifying their properties and the uses to which they can be put-in exactly the same way as the game of chess is defined by a set of rules determining the properties of each of the pieces, in other words, the proper way to move them (Lyotard 1984, 10) For Lyotard Language games are related, to "speech communities" or "forms (or ways) of life, the communities within which language is used. The discussion of this crisis
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