Published Humanitas, Volume XXI, No. 1, 1999

Fleeing the Universal: The Critique of Post-rational Criticism, by Carl Rapp. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1998. 272 pp. $65.50 cloth. $21.95 paper.

Are we all postmodernists now? At first glance, it seems implausible: most Americans persist in believing in an external reality, assume there is a difference between truth and falsehood, and even claim to believe in the God of traditional monotheism. American culture, however, may be postmodernist even if those who explicitly subscribe to postmodernist precepts are few. The thesis that contemporary society is postmodernist does not assert that most people consciously accept postmodernist doctrines but that these doctrines reflect the working assumptions that most of us live by but refuse to acknowledge. It seems clear that there is little public support for the theoretical notion that there is no significant distinction between truth and falsehood, but it is unclear to what extent we remain willing to acknowledge the authority of objective truth when such acknowledgement is politically or personally inconvenient.


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