For the past several years I’ve observed with keen interest the elusive passing of a paradigm. For all its significance, such a thing is easy to miss. For a paradigm passes at such a rate as to be near imperceptible to those within it. One year we’re all confident that X is simply self evident. Then the next year Y becomes so obvious it’s barely worth mentioning, while we look back on X with a chuckle and a smile, wondering how we could have got it so wrong.
And so it is with the passing of postmodernism, and the belief in the blank slate.
Just this morning I read a review of The Art Instinct, by antipodean philosopher, Denis Dutton. Dutton joins a growing list of individuals busting the blank slate myth, this time when it comes to our artistic propensities.
Oh, to even mention that art was anything but socially constructed when I was at university in the early 1990s was to be mercilessly ridiculed by perpetually-outraged Marxists. Yet, at the time, I thought that was normal. But it was only the norm. Such is the irony of a movement such as postmodernism that is supposed to encourage thinking outside the square only to smack you straight back in it.
My only concern is that we’ll go too far with the evolutionary explanations, and they’ll wear thin on an easily distracted public, only to be replaced by something less efficacious. Let’s hope that doesn’t happen – and work to make sure it doesn’t.