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  1. #1
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    Richard Dawkins disrobes postmodernism

    This probably won't appeal to everyone, and it's a long article, but worth the read. I've just posted an extract below, but the rest can be found at the link.

    http://www.physics.nyu.edu/faculty/sokal/dawkins.html

    In similar manner, Sokal and Bricmont expose Bruno Latour's confusion of relativity with relativism, Jean-François Lyotard's 'post-modern science', and the widespread and predictable misuses of Gödel's Theorem, quantum theory and chaos theory. The renowned Jean Baudrillard is only one of many to find chaos theory a useful tool for bamboozling readers. Once again, Sokal and Bricmont help us by analysing the tricks being played. The following sentence, "though constructed from scientific terminology, is meaningless from a scientific point of view":

    Perhaps history itself has to be regarded as a chaotic formation, in which acceleration puts an end to linearity and the turbulence created by acceleration deflects history definitively from its end, just as such turbulence distances effects from their causes.
    I won't quote any more, for, as Sokal and Bricmont say, Baudrillard's text "continues in a gradual crescendo of nonsense". They again call attention to "the high density of scientific and pseudo-scientific terminology -- inserted in sentences that are, as far as we can make out, devoid of meaning". Their summing up of Baudrillard could stand for any of the authors criticized here and lionized throughout America:

    In summary, one finds in Baudrillard's works a profusion of scientific terms, used with total disregard for their meaning and, above all, in a context where they are manifestly irrelevant. Whether or not one interprets them as metaphors, it is hard to see what role they could play, except to give an appearance of profundity to trite observations about sociology or history. Moreover, the scientific terminology is mixed up with a non-scientific vocabulary that is employed with equal sloppiness. When all is said and done, one wonders what would be left of Baudrillard's thought if the verbal veneer covering it were stripped away.
    But don't the postmodernists claim only to be 'playing games'? Isn't the whole point of their philosophy that anything goes, there is no absolute truth, anything written has the same status as anything else, and no point of view is privileged? Given their own standards of relative truth, isn't it rather unfair to take them to task for fooling around with word games, and playing little jokes on readers? Perhaps, but one is then left wondering why their writings are so stupefyingly boring. Shouldn't games at least be entertaining, not po-faced, solemn and pretentious? More tellingly, if they are only joking, why do they react with such shrieks of dismay when somebody plays a joke at their expense? The genesis of Intellectual Impostures was a brilliant hoax perpetrated by Sokal, and the stunning success of his coup was not greeted with the chuckles of delight that one might have hoped for after such a feat of deconstructive game playing. Apparently, when you've become the establishment, it ceases to be funny when someone punctures the established bag of wind.

    As is now rather well known, in 1996 Sokal submitted to the US journal Social Text a paper called "Transgressing the boundaries: towards a transformative hermeneutics of quantum gravity". From start to finish the paper was nonsense. It was a carefully crafted parody of postmodern metatwaddle. Sokal was inspired to do this by Paul Gross and Norman Levitt's Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and its Quarrels with Science (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1994), an important book that deserves to become as well known in Britain as it is in the United States. Hardly able to believe what he read in this book, Sokal followed up the references to postmodern literature, and found that Gross and Levitt did not exaggerate. He resolved to do something about it. In the words of the journalist Gary Kamiya:

    Anyone who has spent much time wading through the pious, obscurantist, jargon-filled cant that now passes for 'advanced' thought in the humanities knew it was bound to happen sooner or later: some clever academic, armed with the not-so-secret passwords ('hermeneutics,' 'transgressive,' 'Lacanian,' 'hegemony', to name but a few) would write a completely bogus paper, submit it to an au courant journal, and have it accepted... Sokal's piece uses all the right terms. It cites all the best people. It whacks sinners (white men, the 'real world'), applauds the virtuous (women, general metaphysical lunacy)... And it is complete, unadulterated bullshit -- a fact that somehow escaped the attention of the high-powered editors of Social Text, who must now be experiencing that queasy sensation that afflicted the Trojans the morning after they pulled that nice big gift horse into their city.
    Sokal's paper must have seemed a gift to the editors because this was a physicist saying all the right-on things they wanted to hear, attacking the 'post-Enlightenment hegemony' and such uncool notions as the existence of the real world. They didn't know that Sokal had also crammed his paper with egregious scientific howlers, of a kind that any referee with an undergraduate degree in physics would instantly have detected. It was sent to no such referee. The editors, Andrew Ross and others, were satisfied that its ideology conformed to their own, and were perhaps flattered by references to their own works. This ignominious piece of editing rightly earned them the 1996 Ig Nobel prize for literature.

  2. #2
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    Re: Richard Dawkins disrobes postmodernism

    would you like to "jist' it down for us, your take, as it were!? plain talk for laymen!? i see a basic claim of a social/self tendency to fashionable nonsense!? i'm doing homework on the word postmodernism and it seems very interesting!? :freak3: :spin2: :
    Last edited by lexx; 06-11-2009 at 10:45 PM.
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  3. #3
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    Re: Richard Dawkins disrobes postmodernism

    ok,let's take this paragraph for instance....

    "If one examines capitalist theory, one is faced with a choice: either reject neotextual materialism or conclude that society has objective value. If dialectic desituationism holds, we have to choose between Habermasian discourse and the subtextual paradigm of context. It could be said that the subject is contextualised into a textual nationalism that includes truth as a reality. In a sense, the premise of the subtextual paradigm of context states that reality comes from the collective unconscious."

    if we remove some of the superfluous adjectives we have.....

    "If one examines capitalist theory, one is faced with a choice: either reject materialism or conclude that society has objective value. If dialectic holds, we have to choose between discourse and the paradigm. It could be said that the subject is nationalism that includes truth as a reality. In a sense, the premise states that reality comes from the collective unconscious."

    does it make more "sense" this way!? :freak3: :spin2: :
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  4. #4
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    Re: Richard Dawkins disrobes postmodernism

    Enlightening and amusing.

    The world needs more people like Dawkins to loudly and openly blast holes in rediculous religious superstition. etwhore: Even a half-wit can see that the vast majority of religious writings were written by men to control mankind (and women really got the shit end of the stick in that deal).
    People usually get the gods they deserve -Terry Pratchett

    Grouch Happens!

  5. #5
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    Re: Richard Dawkins disrobes postmodernism

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Man River View Post
    Enlightening and amusing.

    The world needs more people like Dawkins to loudly and openly blast holes in rediculous religious superstition. etwhore: Even a half-wit can see that the vast majority of religious writings were written by men to control mankind (and women really got the shit end of the stick in that deal).
    Have you read McLuhan's "Understanding Media" or Leonard Shlain's more recent "The Alphabet And The Goddess"?

    http://www.alphabetvsgoddess.com

    Both explore the effects of literacy on civilization. McLuhan points out that typography of the written alphabet, with its focus on linearity produced societies that were able to add individual to individual in a vast agglomeration.

    Shlain, a surgeon, points out that the alphabet, with its focus on linearity and interchangeability, causes the left brain to dominate, which is more a one-at-a-time process than the right, feminine, multitasking side of the brain.

    Shlain proposes that the medium of the alphabet itself created great strides in understanding and allowed the idea of space as continuous and homogeneous, being broken up into geometric segments, but it also had the effect of favoring male dominant, left brain patterns over female dominant right brain patterns.

    Before literacy, the goddess generally ruled. After literacy, the god ruled.

    In the rise of Islam, the Koran produced an emphasis on literacy among all people, and the works of Aristotle was discovered, along with Greek science and philosophy, giving rise to a renaissance in mathematical concepts.

    Even with the rise of such ideas, however, literate religion, religion "of the book", dropped to the most unconscious processes of organization: male dominance over linear, one-thing-at-a-time process shaping ideologies, and wars were fought only over ideas.

    Shlain points out that Gutenberg's printing of the bible, with its standardized, repeatable and reproducible message, actually contributed to increased war and bloodshed in those countries where it was printed, but not in those countries where it was not introduced.

    While the "content" may have preached peace, the medium itself contributed to the opposite.

    Two forces in opposition, one conscious, one unconscious, driving men toward truth but never quite arriving.

  6. #6
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    Re: Richard Dawkins disrobes postmodernism

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Man River View Post
    Enlightening and amusing.

    The world needs more people like Dawkins to loudly and openly blast holes in rediculous religious superstition. etwhore: Even a half-wit can see that the vast majority of religious writings were written by men to control mankind (and women really got the shit end of the stick in that deal).
    the SHIT end of the STICK as you SAY!? what about the THRIVING business of sewer cleaning!? IS god OF no EFFECT!? depends as it were?
    /is!? how can YOU in YOUR own ADMINISTRATION of the GOOD effect a CHANGE in WHAT IS!? if you SEE it as DEFAULTED /defective!? what can you CONTRIBUTE to the GOOD we ALL DESIRE!(YOU'D THINK!?) as a good person!? i se you as a GOOD person desiring the GOOD for ALL people!? thast is, as long as i'm DRUNK!? WHO KNEW !? your ON your OWN!? so much/SO LITTLE , FOR OWN ,i might ASK in the HAPPY JEST of the MOMENT!? for the HUMBLE precious lasting moment of truth eternal in kind/god/regard!? NOT ME i DELARE LIKE THE FOOL OF DISREGARD for my END as PROMISED by all the FICTION of reality as SENSED?REALIZED in utter hollywood STYLE!? you got it RIGHT BAY-BE-MAYBE? i want what YOU want and am DAMNED PLEASED to GET it!? welcome to the NEW america UNHINGED!? isn't the internet WONDERFUL!? mas a PLACE of CONFRONTING the PROMISE with SAME!?OK, i HOPE you GOT that as i just FOLDED under the PRESSURE!? bless us all, thank god!? :freak3: :spin2: :
    Last edited by lexx; 06-15-2009 at 11:54 PM.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Richard Dawkins disrobes postmodernism

    lexx, you need to post your replies before you smoke that weird shit.
    People usually get the gods they deserve -Terry Pratchett

    Grouch Happens!

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