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Created: March 11, 2002
Latest Update: March 11, 2002

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postmodern philosophy in epistemic view of vagueness

Discussion question by Masaeli Mahmoud

Copyright: Jeanne Curran and Susan R. Takata and Individaul Authors, February 2002.
"Fair use" encouraged.

This teaching essay is based on a request by Masaeli Mahmoud on the postmodern influence on epistemic vagueness.

On Monday, March 11, Masaeli Mahmoud wrote:

Subject: A question please

Dear professor Jeanne
Good morning

It is my pleasure to send you this message in which I ask you a question. I am a student of philosophy. I would like to know about the possibility of any relationship or influence of postmodern philosophy in the epistemic view of vagueness. Do you think that such an influence could be imaginable? I think some ideas of indeterminacy occur in both traditions. Let me please explain my reasons.


  1. If we accept that the source of indeterminacy stems from our ignorance, such an epistemic ignorance could be applied for understanding of a reality in the world. For instance, knowing about the sharp boundary between a democratic regime and the others. I donít know whether it is a proper question, but it is a highly controversial question for me. My reason is that our inability to draw a sharp distinctness between two regimes comes from our ignorance. The postmodern thoughts may have the same position about this indeterminacy but in the other shape. Indeterminacy about democratic or non-democratic regimes, at the first step comes from our epistemic ignorance. There seems a similar position in both traditions. However, at the second immediate step, epistemic conception of vagueness emphasize on the bivalent dichotomy of democracy (truth) and non-democracy (falsity). Postmodernism completely goes in contrast way by insisting on not-dichotomy and I think in a trichotomy.

  2. The other point seems to me is that if according to epistemic view of vagueness, indeterminacy of an object comes from our ignorance then, postmodern thoughts could also have the same stance; indeterminacy occurs through intermediation in relation between our intention and objection. So, the source of indeterminacy in this case places again in our intention, but not due to our inability to draw a sharp distinctness, rather due to insisting on dichotomy.

  3. The assumption of both epistemic conception and postmodern about indeterminacy seems to be the same. Epistemic conception of vagueness emphasize on reality and being in contrast to conventional view, post modern philosophy is also based on the criticism of conventional scientific thought and replacing reality with the illusion of truth.

  4. Anyway, I think concerns of both traditions about source of indeterminacy is the same, but outcomes are in contrast to one another. So, I would like to ask the question again. Donít you think that there is a kind of influence of postmodern thoughts on the epistemic conception of vagueness? Your kind answer would greatly be appreciated.

    With the best regards,
    Mahmoud Masaeli