Thursday, November 08, 2007


This echoes my sentiments perfectly:
"There are lots of things I don't understand -- say, the latest debates over whether neutrinos have mass or the way that Fermat's last theorem was (apparently) proven recently. But from 50 years in this game, I have learned two things: (1) I can ask friends who work in these areas to explain it to me at a level that I can understand, and they can do so, without particular difficulty; (2) if I'm interested, I can proceed to learn more so that I will come to understand it. Now Derrida, Lacan, Lyotard, Kristeva, etc. --- even Foucault, whom I knew and liked, and who was somewhat different from the rest --- write things that I also don't understand, but (1) and (2) don't hold: no one who says they do understand can explain it to me and I haven't a clue as to how to proceed to overcome my failures. That leaves one of two possibilities: (a) some new advance in intellectual life has been made, perhaps some sudden genetic mutation, which has created a form of "theory" that is beyond quantum theory, topology, etc., in depth and profundity; or (b) ... I won't spell it out."- Noam Chomsky
Postmodernists positively irk me (like they did a few days ago) when they contend that science is "just another way of knowing the world" and that other ways of "knowing" the world have equal validity. For them scientific truth holds no overwhelming importance, because it is as much a product of culture as anything else.

Fine, I say. Next time you get a bacterial infection, don't take antibiotics because they constitute just one particular approach of looking at the world advocated by one particular school of thought. After all, the fact that antibiotics kill bacteria does not constitute "truth", right? Instead, just pray, or visit shamans, or rub lotion all over your body.

See you later if you stay alive.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the way to reply to postmodernist relativism :)

7:41 PM  
Blogger Ashutosh said...

Good one! Thanks

8:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Glad you liked it.

Also, have you heard of the Sokal affair, where a physicist purposefully wrote a rubbish and nonsensical article on the postmodernistic interpretation of math and physics, and sent it to a famous journal on post modern cultural studies? Of course, it was published, and even though the author revealed that it was nonsense, the journal still defends the interpretative validity of the article!

Finally, here's an interesting website. The online Postmodernism Generator


6:06 AM  
Blogger Ashutosh said...

Yes, I am familiar with the Sokal affair and I think that still illustrates the absurdities of postmodernism. The website is interesting, thanks. In the end, I sometimes think that the matter is psychological; no one can doubt the immense contributions science has made to the world, and some humanities scholars find this disconcerting. Plainly, I think they are jealous of scientists.

3:23 PM  

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