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CRIM 2650
Anita Lam

Postmodern criminology Brief Recap  Timeline of critical criminology:  1960-1970: Marxist criminology Foucault (in France)  Late 1980s: postmodern criminology  Critical criminology  Impossible to separate values from research agenda  Progressive agenda that favours underprivileged or marginalized people  Form of critical theory: limitations of our knowledge What is postmodernism? (After modernity)  Multiple meanings  Opposed to ‘modern’ assumptions (i.e. ‘modern’ as form of thought that developed during the Enlightenment)  Post-modern Friedrich Nietzsche (themes that happen in post-modernism)  Becoming— We cannot be understood in static terms because we are always in the process of becoming—we are in a continual process of change and movement th  Scepticism—towards modern society. In the 19 century, Nietzsche was a skeptic (everything is open to suspicion) he questioned every possible thing. He was th skeptic about modern 19 century European civilization. He thought it was a product of 2 things: first being Christian values, and second being the enlightenment. In questioning the foundations of modern civilization, he asked an original question. Below is the question.  Why do human beings have this craving for eternal transcendent truths that cannot possibly exist, and why are they so ready to deceive themselves with fantasy? For him, fantasy isn’t negative; he would say that we do need fantasy in our lives and some illusion so long as those fantasies and illusions are useful to human survival. They are useful in the sense that they are relevant to our experience as human beings in a particular historical period. He is critical of Christianity because he doesn’t find it relevant as a useful fantasy. He therefore makes the proclamation that god is dead.  ‘God is dead’—he is not making a factual claim. The Christian god is not a viable source of absolute moral values in modern society. If there is no god, then we no longer have a universal moral law that binds all individuals. And we have to truths that we can obtain. With the dead of god we also have the death of absolute meaning. Nietzsche  Perspectivism: no absolute Truth, only interpretations  No truth outside a particular perspective –no such thing as a value free truth then.  No single privileged reference point (God) –all we are left with are small T truths.  Enlightenment belief in reason and science  Scientific knowledge always serves some human interest or purpose  not absolute Truth –humans create a new god to replace the Christian god which was science and reason. Both of which were products from the enlightenment. Reason was a universal quality that made us human. It was also objective and it would allow science and society to progress. They believed they could discover these universal big T truths that could be applied to everyone. Nietzsche disputes scientific truths. Humans create truths for themselves just like they create fantasies. He believes that one group will always attempt to impose their values on other groups bc we are always striving for power and control. He believes conflict is inevitable.  Science requires some leaps of faith – they are not completely rational. We think they are true but we cannot prove them to be true. For example, we assume that there actually exists a physical world we are living in that is separate from our mental images. He was against scientism.  Scientism: belief that science can solve all human problems –like a religious belief. He thought it was dangerous bc it made us forget that science is actually a human invention. Nietzsche  Centrality of language  Correspondence theory of truth –truth corresponds to a fact out there in the world.  Words are useful to us, but they are not reflections of reality  Language controls the organization of our thoughts, and also determines what sorts of thoughts we can possibly have –language shapes our reality through words/grammar. We organize our thoughts according to grammatical rules. Words constrain what we can think bc they are the tools of our expression. Our thoughts are trapped inside our language.  We cannot think outside language  Subject-predicate grammar: I (unified, stable self) for ex: she cooks, we liste
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