Sunday, 3 December 2000

From "The Shape of the Signifier"

By Walter Benn Michaels.

Posthistoricist thinkers often criticize the appeal to universality as an attempt to compel agreement, and they remind us that standards of universality are themselves only local. But, of course, the fact that people have locally different views about what is universally true in no way counts as a criticism of the universality of the true. Just the opposite; if we cannot appeal to universal truths as grounds for adjudicating our disagreements, that is only because the idea of truth's universality is nothing but a consequence of our disagreement. The universal does not compel our agreement; it is implied by our disagreement, and we invoke the universal not to resolve our disagreement but to explain the fact that we disagree.

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