By Alan D Sokal & Jean Bricmont
Whilst highbrow Impostures used to be released in France, it despatched surprise waves throughout the Left financial institution institution. while it used to be released in Britain, it provoked vicious debate. Sokal and Bricmont study the canon of French postmodernists - Lacan, Kristeva, Baudrillard, Irigaray, Latour, Virilio, Deleuze and Guattari - and systematically reveal their abuse of technological know-how.
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Extra resources for Intellectual Impostures: postmodern philosophers' abuse of science
10 We are aware that these philosophical questions are subtle – much more subtle than the ‘impostures’ part of the book – and we would be happy if our arguments were subjected to rigorous criticism. But, so far, nothing. The third type of reaction – which purports to discuss our ideas but in fact does something quite different – takes various forms; here are a few: 1. Name-calling. 11 And the insults are legion: ‘little schoolteachers’12, ‘cowboy and pharmacist’13, ‘Francophobes’ and ‘purveyors of disinformation’14, ‘gendarmes’15, ‘thought-cops’16, ‘censors’17 and even ‘dwarfs [who] resemble teenagers playing Game Boy all day long’18.
But when intellectual dishonesty (or gross incompetence) is discovered in one part – even a marginal part – of someone’s writings, it is natural to want to examine more critically the rest of his or her work. We do not want to prejudge the results of such an analysis, but simply to remove the aura of profundity that has sometimes intimidated students (and professors) from undertaking it. When ideas are accepted on the basis of fashion or dogma, they are especially sensitive to the exposure even of marginal aspects.
8 And people sometimes purport to ‘refute’ us by exhibiting examples of useful metaphors or of philosophers who don’t abuse science. But, like everyone, we are favourable to the use of metaphors and to philosophical analysis. We are simply opposed to mystification, which is quite a different matter. Still other reviewers accuse us of being philosophical ignoramuses: they portray us as ‘naive realists’ or as extreme supporters of ‘common sense’ who neglect a century of debates in epistemology and philosophy of science.