The Matrix (1999) Series: The Three Mindsets

Last updated: June 21st 2023

(Excerpted from my forthcoming The Matrix (1999) analysis.)

What is postmodernism? #

Unfortunately, once again I can't just reduce this to one little paragraph.

So let's take a detour into the differences between Pre-modernism, Modernism, and Postmodernism.

The three mindsets #

Pre-Modern mindset is the one we assign to Those Silly People From The Past, who would explain the world using constructions and reported phenomena which we now call "Supernatural" or "Spiritual," almost always in a derogatory sense.

Modern mindset is your Francis Bacon, Descartes, and John Locke type thinking. Muh Reason. Muh Enlightenment. Muh Naturalism. And when we say Reason ™ we mean the capacity to Understand Nature ™. And when we say "Nature" we mean things like cells and stuff we can perceive directly or through devices.

Postmodern mindset is a reaction to the limitations of Modernism, particularly in the aftermath of WWII. It basically attacks, as thoroughly as it can, the foundations of Reason and Evidence and anything claiming Objectivity independent from Observer subjectivity.

Mindsets subdivided #

The pre-moderns debate over their philosophies and deities. (Most of what you've heard about this comes from Modern historians with a strong anti-pre-Modern bias, though.)

The moderns debate over forms of knowledge. "Rationalism" versus "Empiricism." (eg. Descartes vs. Locke.) Individual rights versus collectivism and shit. "Free Markets" versus Government Intervention.

The postmoderns debate over who is truly punk rock and willing to Deconstruct™ Literally Everything versus those who cherry-pick and deconstruct only the things that are contrary to, say, their Marxism, while leaving the tenets of said Marxism intact.

Fruits of the three mindsets #

23 "When you come into the land and plant any kind of tree for food, then you shall regard its fruit as forbidden. Three years it shall be forbidden to you; it must not be eaten.
24 And in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy, an offering of praise to the LORD.
25 But in the fifth year you may eat of its fruit, to increase its yield for you: I am the LORD your God."
Leviticus 19:23-35

Pre-Modern thinking gave us holistic world views. Modes of thought that took into account the interconnectedness of all aspects of life. Ways to talk about (and/or to) others non-human forms of agency. Storytelling that carried wisdom (as you can find in that Leviticus quote.) Knowledge beyond propositional claims. Religions and traditions that made people go the extra mile and build communities with shared values. Philosophy as a life style (ie. not just mental wankery.)

Modern thinking gave us (according to the Modern view) all of these things: Realism, Naturalism in metaphysics. Objectivity, Experience, and Reason in formal epistemology. Individualism in Ethics. Liberal capitalism in economics. The wonders of modern engineering and science. The practice of measuring stuff to accurately predict events. The culture of talking about everything Quantitatively. Basically all the common forms of "reductionism" to matter-related explanations. Many tools for acquiring and Propositional Knowledge (one of at least four kinds of Knowledge.)

(The above is according to Stephen Hicks, who, from his claim about the Bible that "much in that text is barbaric and written by and for barbaric peoples," you can tell is a cookie-cutter example of a Modern Man.)

Postmodern thinking gave us Deconstruction of familiar notions, "Queer Theory," "non-traditional" visual arts and architecture. New (and even more retarded) ways to promote Marxism.

Dreams of the three mindsets #

Pre-modern dreams were the dreams of either some harmony with Nature ("Nature" understood in the full sense that included gods and the whole cosmos.) Or some path to either a glorious Afterlife of greater participation on The Creation, like eg. in Christianity. Or some Ragnarok-y end-of-the-world type of pagan thing.

Modern dreams are mostly the idea that the physical (more specifically: Physico-chemical) sciences can provide theories for everything. In fact, a Theory of Everything. The dream that our gadgets and math we will one day calculate literally everything: Best economic organization, best wealth distribution, best morality, etc. It's The Martian's "Science the shit out of this!" where "this" is "everything."

Postmodern dreams are exemplified by, well, The Matrix (1999) (you know, that movie I should be talking about right now). The dream that all these things that bother you and hurt you and exploit you are just a "system" that you can tear apart. All you have to do is make all those Fools around you (or at least enough of them) Wake Up to the fact that Reality is an Illusion. Let's just change the definitions of some words, ban others, invent new ones, and boom: Better Illusion, thus Better Reality.

Pre-modern technicians #

Pre-modern mathematics and engineering and technical knowledge were no joke, by the way.

Modern thinkers have to acknowledge the genius of eg. pre-Modern titan Archimedes:

"If we consider what all other men accomplished in mathematics and physics, on every continent and in every civilization, from the beginning of time down to the seventeenth century in Western Europe, the achievements of Archimedes outweighs it all. He was a great civilization all by himself."
Alfred North Whitehead and George F. Simmons

So, if I say "200 BC" and you picture some idiot "primitive" human shouting "Me angry because neighbor has different god of mountain! So I beat him with stick!" you should stop watching Atheist Pop-Sci YouTubers.

Decadence in the three modes #

Pre-Modern decadence basically takes the form of idolatry and magic. Attempts to interact with gods and spirits in a transactional form. Invoking them to ask them for favors.

Modern decadence is technology which we don't have the moral rigor to use for greatness. It's depression due to loss of meaning due to the loss of religion and tradition. It's the feminist telling you a baby in the womb is "a clump of cells." (Which, so is a newborn. And so is an adult, for that matter. But OK.)

Postmodern decadence is basically intellectual chaos. Because this mindset is unique in that it ultimately doesn't build anything, it's purely destructive. It destroys family and tradition and stories. And ultimately it starts destroying wealth too. It's fundamentally revolutionary deconstruction. It doesn't know or care what replaces that which it destroys.

Hubris in all mindsets #

Pre-Modern hubris results in condescending shamans, God-kings, and all kinds of belief in magical abilities to dominate spirits like genies in a lamp. It's superstition. It's spirituality for spirituality's sake, as if the physical body is a "prison" for "eternal souls."

Modern hubris results in condescending, proud Scientific regimes. It's Darwin fan boys using Darwinism for everything. "Science says your facial features indicate that you will tend toward criminality in adulthood." It's the Metric Karens. The "Software Methodology" manager playing Imaginary Physics with some made-up metric ("Guys, 3rd derivative of Bug Velocity is accelerating. What's going on?") It's Sam Harris "debunking Heaven" by saying it doesn't exist because we've had many telescopes pointing at space and none has seen it. Yes, I shit you not, he said that.

Postmodern hubris results in proud nihilism. It's the Titanic tourist submarine company boasting about not hiring "50-year-old white guys" for their engineering team, and then having his submarine fail and get lost. It's the soy boy boasting (for a while at least, before the inevitable depression kicks in...) about having jumped into the bottomless pit of meaninglessness.

Insanity in the three mindsets #

Pre-Modern insanity is the pagan God-king engaging in sexual rituals with animals and/or prostitutes with the intent to give birth to a giant. It's the Mayan bloodletting, the Aztec heart extractions, and decapitation. Because pre-modernism can easily fall into idolatry and magic, ie. attempts to interact with gods transactionally.

Modern insanity is the Nazis experimenting on Jews. It's the Soviets executing 106,300 Russian clergymen between 1937 and 1941 to rid the country of religion and enforce "Scientific Atheism." It's the US Government intentionally infecting more than 5000 uninformed and unconsenting Guatemalan people with sexually transmitted diseases, for research. Because modernism can yield power and technology, but not morality.

Postmodern insanity is basically what we're seeing in many parts of the Developed West. It's the margin, the fringe, the "queer," somehow trying to make become the norm. It's the Deconstruction of the notion of Normal itself. The result being layers of contradictions. (How do you remain Punk and Queer and Fringe if you are The New Normal?) Because postmodernism doesn't build, it's purely destructive.

References #

  1. (Text/HTML) Postmodernism and Its Critics @
  2. (Text/HTML) Rationalism vs. Empiricism @ Plato.Stanford.Edu
  3. (Text/HTML) Why Intervention Persists @ Mises.Org
  4. (Text/HTML) Archimedes @ Wikipedia
  5. (Text/HTML) Alfred North Whitehead @ Wikipedia
  6. (Text/HTML) George F. Simmons @ Wikipedia
  7. (Text/HTML) The US STD Experiments in Guatemala @ PubMed
  8. (Video) Sam Harris: Trump, Religion, Wokeness @ YouTube
  9. (Text/HTML) OceanGate not hiring 50-year-old white guys @ Twitter
  10. (Text/HTML) 2023/06/20: Titanic tourist submersible goes missing @ BBC
  11. (Text/HTML) Maya Bloodletting and the Cultural Evolution of Religious Rituals @ PubMed
  12. (Text/HTML) Persecution of Christians in the Soviet Union @ Wikipedia
  13. (Text/HTML) Marxist–Leninist atheism @ Wikipedia
  14. (Text/HTML) On Natural Morality and Religious Amoralism @
  15. (Text/HTML) Vervaeke’s 4P/3R Metatheory of Cognition @