Analysis of Baudrillard’s Philosophy

Baudrillard is a postmodern, post-structural philosopher known for his unique contributions to the world. His contextualizing concepts rule many concepts like technology, fuzzy logic, functionality, hyper-functionality, end of the symbolic, hypermarket, simulacra and simulation.

Most notable is Baudrillard’s reading into technology. Technology in the postmodern world is structured on the grand narratives of opposition and contrast. There is a debate going on in the world whether should resort to eco-farming or farming with genetically engineered seeds. The environmentalists and the technologists are on warpath with each other. Does technology invade the privacy of the self? Yes, in a way it does. Cyber firms like Google and Yahoo collect personal information and pass it on to generate advertisements. In a technological society we are not free from surveillance. There are also positive impacts of technology like the spread of social media and its use by individuals. Twitter, Facebook and blogs like WordPress and Blogger help to generate public opinion and they also help to report news that has been ignored by the mainstream media.

For Baudrillard there are three levels of simulation and they are the first, second and the third. The first level of simulation is an obvious copy of reality. This can be exemplified by the reporting of news on current events like for example: the coup d’ etat in Zimbabwe. The second level of simulation blurs the boundary between reality and representation. An example that could be used is a model depicting the structure of the DNA model. The third type of reality is the one that is produced in virtual space. To illustrate with an example: let us take the Blue Whale game, a virtual game that leads teenagers into suicide. Another example: would be the editorial comment in a newspaper. For Baudrillard all these simulations work together to create a hyper-technological society.

Next concept used by Baudrillard is fuzzy logic. This could be explained with an example; for example air-conditioning in cars can be set up to function in an auto-mode. Pilots can set flight patterns into an auto-driven mode. These are examples of fuzzy logic. Another example would be war simulated games operated with a computer.

The next concept used by Baudrillard is hyper-functionality. A classic example of hyper-functionality is hypermarkets. In a hypermarket we get to buy all sorts of consumer goods. Today’s postmodern societies are fond of using gizmos. A gizmo is a technological construct made to provide pleasure and utility to consumers.

The next concept used by Baudrillard is the end of the symbolic. I would like to disagree with Baudrillard. As an example I would like to use language. Language is a symbolic construct of signs and signs are made up of the signifier and the signified. A signified is an abstract idea and a signifier is a concrete sensible thing and belongs to the sensate realm. Editorials of a newspaper are symbolic as they belong to the realm of ideas. All our communication through the process of using language is symbolic.

The next concept used by Baudrillard is the simulacra. A simulacra is defined as an original for which no copies exist. An example would be that of the media giving an opinion on current affairs. Depending on whether the media is right or left opinions as a simulacra would vary.