Transmodernism

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Transmodernism is a philosophical and cultural movement which was founded by Argentinian-Mexican philosopher Enrique Dussel.[1] A critic of postmodernism, he instead refers to himself as a transmodernist and wrote a series of essays criticising the postmodern theory and advocating a transmodern way of thinking. Transmodernism is a development in thought following the periodisation of postmodernism; as a movement, it also develops from modernism, and, in turn, critiques modernity and postmodernity,[2] viewing them as the end of modernism.

Transmodernism is influenced by a great deal of philosophical movements. Its emphasis on spirituality can be said to have been influenced by the many esoteric movements during the Renaissance. Transmodernism is also highly influenced by transcendentalism and idealises different figures from mid-19th century United States, most notably Ralph Waldo Emerson. Transmodernism also seems to be related to different aspects of Marxist philosophy, having much common ground with the Roman Catholic Church's liberation theology wing.[3]

Transmodernism's philosophical views contain elements of both modernism and postmodernism; it has been heralded as "new modernism" and admires avant-garde styles.[4] It bases much of its core beliefs on the Integral Theory, those of creating a synthesis of "pre-modern", "modern" and "postmodern" realities; in transmodernism, there is a place for both tradition and modernity, and it seeks as a movement to re-vitalise and modernise tradition rather than destroy or replace it. The honouring and reverence of antiquity and traditional lifestyles is very important in transmodernism, unlike modernism or postmodernism. Transmodernism criticises pessimism, nihilism, relativism and the counter-Enlightenment, yet embracing, all to a limited extent, optimism, absolutism, foundationalism and universalism. It has an analogical way of thinking,[5] viewing things from the outside rather than the inside. As a movement, transmodernism puts a strong emphasis on spirituality, alternative religions and transpersonal psychology. Unlike its postmodern counterpart, it disagrees with the secularisation of society, putting an emphasis on religion, and it criticises the rejection of worldviews as false or of no importance. Transmodernism places a strong emphasis on xenophily and globalism, promoting the importance of different cultures and cultural appreciation; it seeks for a worldview on cultural affairs, and is anti-Eurocentric and anti-imperialist.[6] Environmentalism, sustainability and ecology are important aspects of the transmodern theory; not only does transmodernism embrace environmental protection, yet it also stresses the importance of neighbourhood life, building communities as well as order and cleanliness. It accepts technological change, yet only when its aim is that of improving life or human conditions.[7] Other prominent aspects of transmodernism are those of democracy and listening to the poor and suffering. Transmodernism on addition takes strong stances on feminism, health care, family life and relationships, promoting the emancipation of women and female rights, yet also promoting several traditional moral and ethical family values; the importance of the family is particularly stressed.

Today, whilst transmodernism still remains a minor philosophical movement in comparison to postmodernism, and is relatively new to the North, it has a large set of leading figures and philosophers. Enrique Dussel, its founder, is indeed an important philosophical figure. Ken Wilber, the inventor of Integral Theory, argues from a transpersonal point of view, Paul Gilroy, a cultural theorist, has also "enthusiastically endorsed" transmodern thinking,[8] and Ziauddin Sardar, an Islamic scholar, is a critic of postmodernism and in many cases adopts a transmodernist way of thinking. Several acclaimed essays and works arguing from a transmodernist point of view have been published throughout the years.[9]

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