Ralf Wadenström


A Dissertation on Our Postmodern Europe

The dissertation represents a study in the philosophy of culture and history as well as the history of ideas. Its main thesis is that the postmodern culture is a condition for European integration in general and for a Finnish membership in the European Union in particular. By postmodern culture is here primarily understood, following the definition given by Jean-François Lyotard in La condition postmoderne, a culture characterized by disbelief in "grand narratives" or in a philosophy of history. The notions 'grand narrative' and 'postmodern' are however ambiguous concepts. A great part of the dissertation is, in fact, devoted to an analytical and a historical study of these concepts. The dissertation applies postmodern hermeneutical and perspectivistic methodologies.

The postmodern culture is essentially a product of the electronic media. The consequences of postmodernity are especially significant in the Nordic countries where the printed word, Lutheranism and state absolutism have been principal formative influences. Postmodern culture and theory have created possibilities for European integration by undermining the legitimacy of the sovereign national state. The European Union does not base its legitimacy on a philosophy of history or a singular (hi)story. The postmodern cultural condition and the postmodern society create, however, room for a multitude of "small" partial and contradictory stories which offer possibilities for many different interpretations of Europe.

The postmodern condition does not provide any first starting point, universal method, stable frame or absolute truth of history. By acknowledging this "fact", postmodernism liberates marginalized viewpoints and stories. This dissertation looks upon "our" postmodern Europe from many different perspectives, including the author's very particularistic point of view.