Postmodernism is an intellectual stance or mode of discourse defined by an attitude of skepticism toward what it characterizes as the "grand narratives" of modernism, opposition to notions of epistemic certainty or the stability of meaning, and emphasis on the role of ideology in maintaining systems of socio-political power. Claims to objective fact are dismissed as naive realism, with attention drawn to the conditional nature of knowledge claims within particular historical, political, and cultural discourses. Thus, the postmodern outlook is characterized by self-referentiality, epistemological relativism, moral relativism, pluralism, irony, irreverence, and eclecticism; it rejects the "universal validity" of binary oppositions, stable identity, hierarchy, and categorization.
Initially emerging from a mode of literary criticism, postmodernism developed in the mid-twentieth century as a rejection of modernism and has been observed across many disciplines. Postmodernism is associated with the disciplines deconstruction and post-structuralism. Various authors have criticized postmodernism as promoting obscurantism, as abandoning Enlightenment rationalism and scientific rigor, and as adding nothing to analytical or empirical knowledge.