Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science

Paperback | December 15, 1999

byAlan Sokal, Jean Bricmont

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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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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 ...

Alan Sokal is a professor of physics at New York University.Jean Bricmont is a theoretical physicist with the Université de Louvaine in Belgium.

other books by Alan Sokal

Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture
Beyond the Hoax: Science, Philosophy and Culture

Kobo ebook|Feb 11 2010

$13.09 online$16.99list price(save 22%)
Format:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8.26 × 5.49 × 0.88 inPublished:December 15, 1999Publisher:PicadorLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0312204078

ISBN - 13:9780312204075

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Customer Reviews of Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Physics/Analytic Philosophy vis-a-vis Sociology/Continental Philosophy I would have given it five-stars if not for all the semantically incoherent non-sequiturs quoted ad nauseum. But that's just me being post-postmodernism in seminal abrasiveness of the complacence of fashionable academia and all its derivatives (e.g. math, physics, chemistry; i.e. anything non contained within the set of non-humanities or social sciences {i.e. set of non-humanities conjoined with the set of non-social-sciences}). Neither complete or consistent due to the implications of Godel's theorem. Deal with it! Or, more aptly, Derrida with it! On a more serious note Sokal most certainly did ruffle some academic feathers with his paper (found here: http://www.physics.nyu.edu/sokal/transgress_v2/transgress_v2_singlefile.html). Prima facie, the paper seems intermediating and overly verbose. This is the exact criticism Sokal wishes to leave against "post-modern" thinkers; they say something while saying nothing, with far too many words and theoretical concepts/frameworks. Moreover, Sokal gives a breakdown of the proper applications of the mathematics/physics that are utilized in the writings presented. I have a vague knowledge of some (e.g. Godel's Incompleteness Theorem, quantum mechanics, Relativity) whilst others I am entirely ignorant of (e.g. topology and fluid mechanics). Sokal makes these seemingly highly technical concepts rendered easily lucid and understandable to the layman. On the whole I'm on the fence about my feelings of this dissection. Sokal is likely right in his criticisms of the cited passages, which typically speak for themselves not needing Sokal's dismemberment. But there is a certain curious inquisitiveness I repititiously find myself with, in regards to post-modern thinkers. Though this is likely from my own cognitive dissonance and wishful-thinking. Given the current tendency amongst modern academic sociologists, Sokal has not done much to buck the trend. Needless to say, Sokal is preaching to the choir. Most individuals opposed with the current trend of thinkers are seemingly rather outspoken in their opposition. Sokal just adds further gasoline to the already explosively ignitable flame.
Date published: 2013-07-12

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Editorial Reviews

"Although Sokal and Bricmont focus on the abuse and misrepresentation of science by a dozen French intellectuals, their book broaches a much larger topic--the uneasy place of science and understanding of scientific rationality in contemporary culture." -Thomas Nagel, The New Republic"An excellent discussion . . . a plea for a sensible understanding of science and a welcome antidote to irrationality." -Simon Moss, Houston Chronicle