Any person that has a grounding in reason and reality can easily ascertain that postmodernists and deconstructive “scholarship” is dominated by a circle jerk of self-promoting empty suits.
In 1996, Alan Sokal, a physics professor at New York University and University College London, was curious to see whether the then-non-peer-reviewed postmodern cultural studies journal “Social Text” (published by Duke University Press) would publish a submission that “flattered the editors’ ideological preconceptions.” Sokal submitted a grand-sounding but completely and deliberately nonsensical paper titled “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity.”
The staff published it in the “Science Wars” issue as a relevant contribution. Shortly thereafter, Sokal revealed that the article was a hoax arguing that the left and social science would be better served by intellectual underpinnings based on reason.
In his book Fashionable Nonsense Sokal examines the allegedly incompetent and pretentious usage of scientific concepts by a small group of influential philosophers and intellectuals.
In reading the literature of eggheadism, one aspect stands out in their sparring: Criticism is deflected by claiming that their approach has been “misunderstood.”
A key tenet of the Sokal message is dear to my heart: “If the text seem incomprehensible, it’s for the excellent reason that they mean precisely nothing.”
Another key Sokal tenet ties into Orwellianism that uses pseudo-scientific and double-think terminology without bothering much with technical meanings – aka “making shit up.”
Also, in Sokal’s words, “manipulating meaningless words and phrases and displaying superficial erudition by using technical terms where they are irrelevant is to presumably impress and intimidate non-specialist readers” (aka “blowing your pipes.)
And be weary of self-assurance on topics far beyond the competence of the author by exploiting the prestige of science to give their discourses a veneer of rigor.
For example, the nonsensical Belgian feminist Luce Irigaray is criticized for asserting that E=mc2 is a “sexed equation” because “it privileges the speed of light over other speeds that are vitally necessary to us”; and for asserting that fluid mechanics is unfairly neglected because it deals with “feminine” fluids in contrast to “masculine” rigid mechanics.
This all reminds me of sessions with several of my brighter friends back in the day. We called it “free associating.” We would go off on fashionable nonsense ad nauseam, usually under the influence of Mary Jane or mushrooms. Disparaging words were discouraged. One had to cheer-lead. And sometimes, it seemed, brilliant observations were made. Later, after sobering up, most of the absurdity was laid bear.
It seems this postmodern eggheadism overlays the drug culture and like-minded agenda driven cheer-leading quite closely. It can be fun, but a sober mind isn’t such a bad thing after all. I’ve tried a version of this game with my son, but now I just get annoyed. There must be a scientific reason for this.
Winter Watch takes this eggheadism a step further and holds it’s an aspect of the cartoon world black magik and spells being hoisted on the general public through the “intelligentsia.”
The realists, like Sokal, argued that large swaths of scholarship, amounting to a rejection of objectivity and realism, had been influenced by major 20th century post-structuralist philosophers (such as Jacques Derrida, Gilles Deleuze, Jean-François Lyotard and others), whose work they declare to be incomprehensible or meaningless.
Takeaway: If you try to digest those philosophers, you will find this assertion to be correct.
In particular the strong programme, or strong sociology, was in the cross-hairs. This school of thought is so arrogant that it holds that a scientific community bound together by allegiance requires a shared paradigm as a prerequisite for “normal” scientific activity. Social factors or conditions, such as cultural context and self-interest, predominate.
The strong programme has adhered to a form of radical relativism. It argues that – in the social study of institutionalized beliefs about “truth” – it would be unwise to use “truth” as an explanatory resource.
Sokal highlights that in the rising tide of cognitive relativism, there are no objective truths but only local beliefs.
Solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist. Anything outside one’s own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind. In the extreme position, the solipsist believes himself to be the only true authority, all others being creations of their own mind.
Bruno Latour got to the heart of these issue: “Scientists always stomp around meetings talking about ‘bridging the two-culture gap,’ (Takeaway: notice the controlled Hegelian dialectic) but when scores of people from outside the sciences begin to build just that bridge, they recoil in horror and want to impose the strangest of all gags on free speech since Socrates: Only scientists should speak about science!”