Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science

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Macmillan, Oct 29, 1999 - Philosophy - 300 pages
3 Reviews

In 1996, Alan Sokal published an essay in the hip intellectual magazine Social Text parodying the scientific but impenetrable lingo of contemporary theorists. Here, Sokal teams up with Jean Bricmont to expose the abuse of scientific concepts in the writings of today's most fashionable postmodern thinkers. From Jacques Lacan and Julia Kristeva to Luce Irigaray and Jean Baudrillard, the authors document the errors made by some postmodernists using science to bolster their arguments and theories. Witty and closely reasoned, Fashionable Nonsense dispels the notion that scientific theories are mere "narratives" or social constructions, and explored the abilities and the limits of science to describe the conditions of existence.

 

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Fashionable nonsense: postmodern intellectuals' abuse of science

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With unabashed criticism, physicists Sokal and Bricmont analyze the abuse of physical and mathematical concepts found in the confusing and superficial writings of several prominent postmodern ... Read full review

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An interesting discussion of the intellectual emptiness of postmodernism. Sokal and Bricmont are at their best when they simply quote the absurdities in question and you can gaze in wonder at the cobbling together of two completely unrelated topics with nary a justification. A bit long for what they were saying, but until you've seen several examples, you don't realize just how...dumb so much of it is. 

Contents

Introduction
1
Jacques Lacan
18
Julia Kristeva
38
Intermezzo Epistemic Relativism in the Philosophy of Science
50
Luce Irigaray
106
Bruno Latour
124
Intermezzo Chaos Theory and Postmodern Science
134
Jean Baudrillard
147
Paul Virilio
169
Godels Theorem and Set Theory Some Examples of Abuse
176
Epilogue
182
Transgressing the Boundaries Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity
212
Some Comments on the Parody
259
Transgressing the Boundaries An Afterword
268
Bibliography
281
Index
297

Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari
154

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About the author (1999)

Alan Sokal is a professor of physics at New York University.

Jean Bricmont is a theoretical physicist with the Université de Louvaine in Belgium.

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