Dictionary of Arguments


Philosophical and Scientific Issues in Dispute
 
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Entry
Reference
Postmodernism Sokal I 30
Postmodernism/Sokal/Bricmont: we criticize the use of scientific terms by authors who have not understood the scientific meaning of these terms themselves. VsSokal/VsBricmont: We have been accused that the authors critizised by us as "postmodern", (Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Félix Guattari, Luce Irigaray, Jacques Lacan, Bruno Latour, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Michel Serres and Paul Virilio) are not postmodern at all.
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I 31
SokalVsVs/BricmontVsVs: the idea that there is a certain "postmodern" school is less widespread in France than in the English-speaking world. It is really about the underlying irrationalism. VsSokal/VsBricmont: people have asked why we do not criticise other authors such as Penrose, Haewking, Hume, La Mettrie, D' Holbach, Helvetius, Condillac, Comte, Durkheim, Pareto, Engels and many others.
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I 32
SokalVsVs/BricmontVsVs: All of these authors have mistakes in their works, but we were not interested in proving individual mistakes, but in criticizing the attitude of bringing famous sources into play.

Sokal I
Alan Sokal
Jean Bricmont
Fashionabel Nonsense. Postmodern Intellectuals Abuse of Science, New York 1998
German Edition:
Eleganter Unsinn. Wie die Denker der Postmoderne die Wissenschaften missbrauchen München 1999

Sokal II
Alan Sokal
Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science New York 1999

Science Sokal I 10
Science/Sokal/Bricmont: our book is directed against the notion that modern science is only a "myth", a "narrative" or "social construction". ---
I 11
1. SokalVsRelativism: against an "epistemic relativism". 2. SokalVsPostmodernism/SokalVsPostmodernism.
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I 12
Our book does not criticize the humanities as a whole. Those who claim this are showing their own disdain for these areas of expertise. ---
I 17
Sokal's Hoax/Sokal's Joke: in 1996, Sokal submitted a non-serious text to the journal "Social Text" for publication, which absurdly linked scientific terms in a completely meaningless context. Surprisingly, the text was accepted for publication by this journal. It is the text "Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity" - Subsequently, Sokal made public in the magazine Lingua Franca that it was a parody. ---
I 18
Contents of the parody: he derides the outdated "dogma" that there is "an outer world whose properties are independent of the individual and even of the entire human race" and then categorically claims that the "physical 'reality'[would be] no less than the social, basically a social and linguistic construct." - ..."the pi by Euclid and the G by Newton, which were once considered constant and universal, are seen today in their inevitable historicality". ---
I 19
The quotes from authors appearing in the text are authentic. Sokal's parody consisted of linking them together in an absurd way. The authors parodied by Sokal are Gilles Deleuze, Jacques Derrida, Félix Guattari, Luce Irigaray, Jacques Lacan, Bruno Latour, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Michel Serres and Paul Virilio.
The completion of the parody consisted in the surprising fact that the absurd text was actually accepted for publication by the magazine "Social Text".
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I 21
Examples of the pointless use of scientific terms by some authors who call themselves postmodern authors: Subject/psychology/Jacques Lacan: Lacan claims that the structure of the neurotic subject corresponds exactly to the torus.
Poetry/Mathematics/Julia Kristeva: claims that the poetic language can be theoretically grasped by the powerfulness of the continuum.
War/topology/Jean Baudrillard: claims that modern warfare takes place in a non-euclidean space.
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I 22 Footnote
VsSokal/VsBricmont: some critics compared Sokal and Bricmont with teachers who give their students poor grades in mathematics and physics. SokalVsVVS/BricmontVsVs: in school, children have to learn these subjects - but no one has forced these authors to use scientific terms they have no idea about.
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I 23
Sokal/Bricmont: our doing was not concerned with accusing authors of "minor mistakes" in quotations, but this is about a deep indifference, if not contempt for facts and logic. What needs to be defended is a canon of rationality and intellectual honesty that should be inherent in all disciplines.

Sokal I
Alan Sokal
Jean Bricmont
Fashionabel Nonsense. Postmodern Intellectuals Abuse of Science, New York 1998
German Edition:
Eleganter Unsinn. Wie die Denker der Postmoderne die Wissenschaften missbrauchen München 1999

Sokal II
Alan Sokal
Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science New York 1999