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Wikipedia article

Jean Baudrillard and the simulation

April 24, 2012 1 comment

Jean Baudrillard was a French sociologist, philosopher, cultural theorist, political commentator and photographer that was born in 1929 in Reims and died in 2007.  He used to move around the area of postmodernism and post-structuralism. In the next lines, some of his most important ideas about reality will be explained.

Jean Baudrillard wrote many books and “Simulacra and simulation” (1981) is one of the most important. His book begins with an phrase of the Eclesiastes (a book of the Old Testament):

The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth–it is the truth which conceals that there is none. The simulacrum is true

In this book he  makes an attempt to seek the relationship among reality, symbols, and society. In Simulacra and Simulation Jean Braudrillard explains how the reality has been replaced by symbols and signs, and as a consequence, he thinks that now humans live in a “simulation of reality”. In this world, the reality has become irrelevant for our understanding of life. In the opinion of the author, the society is saturated with all these simulacra and as al being are mutable now, they have become meaningless. In the next fragment of his word, he explains our actual situation, “The age of simulation” and what this means:

 The transition from signs which dissimulate something to signs which dissimulate that there is nothing, marks the decisive turning point. The first implies a theology of truth and secrecy (to which the notion of ideology still belongs). The second inaugurates an age of simulacra and simulation, in which there is no longer any God to recognize his own, nor any last judgment to separate truth from false, the real from its artificial resurrection, since everything is already dead and risen in advance

As we have seen, Jean Baudrillard is quite known and has developed a huge work with a lot of books. However he has also been critizized by some scholars as for example from Alan Sokal, famous due to his criticism to postmodernism:

Baudrillard is not disputing the trivial issue that reason remains operative in some actions, that if I want to arrive at the next block, for example, I can assume a Newtonian universe (common sense), plan a course of action (to walk straight for X meters, carry out the action, and finally fulfill my goal by arriving at the point in question). What is in doubt is that this sort of thinking enables a historically informed grasp of the present in general. According to Baudrillard, it does not. The concurrent spread of the hyperreal through the media and the collapse of liberal and Marxist politics as the master narratives, deprives the rational subject of its privileged access to truth. In an important sense individuals are no longer citizens, eager to maximise their civil rights, nor proletarians, anticipating the onset of communism. They are rather consumers, and hence the prey of objects as defined by the code.

Probably there are many different type of opinions about the works of this scholar, but it is clear that he offered different ideas. Jean Baudrillard left us the 6 March of 2007 but his works remain with us, always offering the ideas of their father. Moreover, it has to be said that there is an International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, which  is an “international, peer-reviewed, open access , non-profit, transdisciplinary publication” edited by Gerry Coulter that is dedicated to engaging the thought and writing of Jean Baudrillard.

Apart from that, and if we analyze the relevance of the sources about the author, we can say that they are relevant because both The European Graduate School and The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy are well known and respetable sources. Morevoer, his own book, Simulacra and Simulation, is also a first choice source with his own thoughts.



Jean Baudrillard photo. Retrieved 23/04/2012 from

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