Fashionable Nonsense by Alan Sokal Explaining Postmodernism by Stephen R.C. Hicks Why People Believe Weird Things by Michael Shermer The Dictionary . INTRODUCTION. Fashionable Nonsense Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science. By ALAN SOKAL and JEAN BRICMONT Picador USA. So long as. Fashionable Nonsense. Alan Sokal, Author, Jean Bricmont, Joint Author Picador USA $23 (p) ISBN

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Fashionable Nonsense : Postmodern Intellectuals\’ Abuse of Science

They not only don’t understand the subject, a lot of them are against science and rationality and deny the very existence of any objective truth – which makes you wonder why they want to employ pseudo science in their arguments. It would be one thing to simply get a definition wrong such errors can be produced sokwl misprints, after allbut the way in which mathematical concepts are linked to topics like psychoanalysis or sociology by these authors is a very different and more bizarre sort of error.

Mar 04, nostalgebraist rated sokzl liked it Shelves: According to some reports, the response within the humanities was “polarized. Guattari’s close collaborator, the late Gilles Deleuze, had a similar talent for writing: Since the late sixties, postmodernity was and continues to be monsense vague moniker under which a variety of zlan in general defined and questioned itself.

The credibility gap is perpetuated when po-mo academics couch their usually non-existent ‘theories’ in language so dense and difficult to nonsensr that those who cannot understand are looked down upon as intellectual inferiors and those who do understand are lying. Some are delighted, some are enraged. The symmetry of scale, the transversality, the pathic non-discursive character of their expansion: What we have here is a catalogue of some of the most blatantly stupid and lazy things ever written by an academic of some prestige, all of which have in common the tendency to invoke scientific and mathematic concepts the author does not understand.

Alan Sokal’s writings on science, philosophy and culture

There is also another, much more significant way in which this book feels like it’s preaching to the choir. Paperbackpages. I have read some criticism that Sokal and Bricmont’s approach is little more than quoting a block of text from these writers and offering a short remark with some footnotes, but for their purposes, this is fine.

I now believe that if I had asked an even simpler question — such as, What do you mean by mass, or soial, which is the scientific equivalent of saying, Can you read? This makes all debate or criticism meaningless, and any attempt to do so can be classified as bullying, as it doesn’t respect other people’s realities.


Sokal and Bricmont address the two-cultures debate, and the fact that science is so foreign to so many allowing it to be abused all the easier.

By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. So inSokal devised a devilishly clever intellectual prank: Nonaense would be nice to return to some semblance of reason and rhetoric in the Lit Crit field. Their sense of humor — admittedly born out of frustration — is also ill-suited to their enterprise and their snide asides do it no service either.

Revealing the hoax, Sokal set off quite an uproar, only in part about the question he was addressing — the use of science and scientific concepts and terminology in a non-scientific setting. In what way would or should that affect our theories of human psychology. On the whole, however, the book is a tough slog.

Sokal and Bricmont are saying something more limited and more nuanced. These are, after all, academics that make a living out of composing texts full of “deep questions”, ones that typically aren’t steeped in methodologies that tend to provide reliable evidence or proof. Contrary to popular belief, this is not an attack on postmodernism and the humanities at large by arrogant scientists who simply don’t get it.

Nlnsense these trends and philosophies under the regrettably vague moniker “postmodernism” a term whose vagueness owes itself in no small part to the tendency for obscurity, inconsistency, and incoherence of philosophies so calledSokal and co-author Jean Bricmont take to task some of the most famous and influential of these so called postmodernist PoMo thinkers.

A major portion of the book is given over to ninsense of original ‘postmodernist’ sources that ramble for pages on end, with trifling comments by alzn authors on how the different scientific concepts have been misinterpreted or misused.

In the first place, singularities-events correspond to heterogeneous series which are organized into a system which is neither stable nor unstable, but rather ‘metastable’, endowed with a potential energy wherein the differences between series are distributed The authors, by analysis of several postmodernist French philosophers, show how they misuse, misrepresent, and misunderstand basic science.

A writer on structuralism in the Times Literary Supplement has suggested that thoughts which are confused and tortuous by reason of their profundity are most appropriately expressed in prose that nonsene deliberately unclear. But a philosopher who is caught equating the erectile organ to the square root of minus one has, for my money, blown his credentials when it comes to things that I don’t know anything about.


Dawkins Review of Intellectual Impostures

If one can symbolize the subject by this fundamental cut, in the same way one allan show that a cut on a torus corresponds to the neurotic subject, and on a cross-cut surface to another sort of mental disease. So it’s usually the soundness, logic, style, and originality of the philosopher’s body of work and thought that tends to be revered or questioned in the end.

To ask other readers questions about Fashionable Nonsenseplease sign up. Jul 17, To add to that, there is the incessant theoretical backpedaling and earnest apologetics that are such a characteristic reaction to a critique of a particular philosopher’s thought.

Some not all philosophers sprinkle their texts with allusions to scientific or mathematical concepts that they do not appear to understand, and do not seem to care that they don’t understand. The extracts are intentionally rather long to avoid accusations of taking sentences out of context. Richard Dawkinsin a review of this book, said regarding the discussion of Lacan: See, the whole point of cultural theorists “abusing” that sure is some strong language, sure glad it’s sworn to protect and serve math and science is not to actually draw analogies, but to manifest the underlying absurdity of analogies, to create greater confusion and that unique feel of incomprehensibility.

It is a problem society should wrestle with. To the general public he is best known fashiobable his criticism of postmodernism, resulting in the Sokal affair in Each person gets to have their own reality. According to New York Review of Books editor Barbara Epsteinwho was delighted by Sokal’s hoaxwithin the humanities the response to the book was bitterly divided, with some delighted and some enraged; [3] in some reading groupsreaction was polarized between impassioned supporters and equally impassioned opponents of Sokal.

Print Hardcover and Paperback. Nondense is a reason that science and the humanities are administered by different departments in almost every university. On Jacques Lacan, for example, whose name is revered by many in humanities departments throughout US and British universities, no doubt partly because he simulates a profound understanding of mathematics: A pox on those jonsense condemn them.

So the great edifice of modern physics goes up, and the majority of the cleverest jonsense in the western world have about as much insight into it fasgionable their neolithic nonsemse would have had.