• Kenosha Kid
    18
    This seems to have always been p0m0's raison d'etre to occult, or obfuscate (i.e. "defer"), any distinctions180 Proof

    That doesn't seem accurate. Deconstruction (if we're counting post-structuralism) is to a large degree about discovering distinctions that the author has obfuscated.
  • Olivier5
    9
    Then yes, in my opinion.Kenosha Kid

    Okay, so how would you make this distinction between sensical Pomo and nonsensical one? What criteria would you use?
  • Olivier5
    9
    Personally, I would count clarity of expression as a criteria to distinguish sense from nonsense. As Boileau once put it:

    Ce qui se conçoit bien s'énonce clairement
    Et les mots pour le dire arrivent aisément.


    (What is well conceived is expressed clearly
    And the words to say it should come easily)

    The verses above have been drilled in every French pupil ever since Boileau, for good reasons. If you can't express yourself clearly and succinctly, you don't really know what you're talking about.

    Another criteria I use is whether the text is logically coherent, internally, and logically argued. Likewise the logical consequences of the thesis are important to consider.

    Originality of thought is another key criteria for me. I hate to spend time reading banal yada yada. And what's the point of writing things everybody already knows about?

    Yet another is appropriate referencing of authors who influenced one's work. It's fine to climb on the shoulders of giants but do quote the giants once in a while.

    Last but not least, whether the text resonates with my own experience or bring verifiable evidence is key. Empirical evidence does apply to a lot of what philosophers talk about, metaphysics aside.
  • 180 Proof
    41
    I refer to distinctions between sense and nonsense, not between sense and sense – p0m0 is notoriously lacking, or avoiding, (in/formal) standards of intelligibility.
  • Kenosha Kid
    18
    Okay, so how would you make this distinction between sensical Pomo and nonsensical one? What criteria would you use?Olivier5

    The same criteria as any other publication: internal consistency, language that is parsable and referable if not plain, and has some relevance to a broader context. This isn't a pomo distinction, it's just the distinction between sense and nonsense.
  • Kenosha Kid
    18
    I refer to distinctions between sense and nonsense, not between sense and sense – p0m0's botorious lack, or avoidance, of (in/formal) standards of intelligibility.180 Proof

    Specifically in the part I quoted you were referring to an obfuscation of distinctions. And I'm arguing that clarifying others' distinctions is part of the pomo toolkit. Whether something makes sense to you or not is not something I'd weigh in on.

    Even shit pomo (like the aforementioned social psychology) is perfectly intelligible. That's how you know how shit it really is.
  • ssu
    29
    The Sokal affair seemed to me pretty stupid on both sides. Sokal got his paper rejected from several journals before finding one stupid enough to publish it. I don't think it says much of anything at all other than Sokal was an arsehole with a conservative axe to grind and Social Text had trouble unpacking his paper and ill-advisedly published it anyway.Kenosha Kid
    Only that similar equivalent "Sokal hoaxes" have gone through very well, which just shows how adrift the whole field is. And it's telling that you describe Sokal to be a conservative, which he isn't. As typical, anybody criticizing postmodernism has to be from the right.

    I've been on a cinema binge since the beginning of the pandemic so might I recommend Mulholland DriveMaw
    Now that's a great metaphor for post-modernism or simply an example of a postmodern film. It Has enough cues and enough of traditional story telling that you try to find a logical string that will make sense of the story. Yet then look at Inland Empire from the same director and yeah, then it's just "postmodernism".
  • Kenosha Kid
    18
    And it's telling that you describe Sokal to be a conservative, which he isn't. As typical, anybody criticizing postmodernism has to be from the right.ssu

    No, I'm not talking about his politics, I'm talking about his position on science. Sokal and many like him considered criticism of science practice as an attack designed to undermine the rightness and truth of scientific realism. In reality, science only really gets stronger through criticism.
  • ssu
    29
    Ok, conservative meaning he's for those old ideas about science from the age of Enlightenment. Got it.

    (Still Sokal was a leftist, similar to actually others that are politically on the left and worried about postmodernism.)

    In reality, science only really gets stronger through criticism.Kenosha Kid
    How does it get stronger, if you don't believe in the goal of objectivity in science, but start from the idea that it's just a subjective power play?
  • Joshs
    21
    Still Sokal was a leftist, similar to actually others that are politically on the left and worried about postmodernism.)ssu

    It should be mentioned that Sokal’s brand of leftism identifies itself with classical Marxism, which is a central object of critique by French postmodernists. So we are talking about two distinctly different ideologies of leftism, as different as classical liberalism ( now dubbed economic conservatism ) and social democratic liberalism.
  • Kenosha Kid
    18
    Ok, conservative meaning he's for those old ideas about science from the age of Enlightenment. Got it.ssu

    Again, no. Conservative meaning he feels he needs to defend those ideas from other ideas that might undermine them. I get that this wasn't the answer you wanted, but you don't need to rewrite my arguments for me.

    How does it get stronger, if you don't believe in the goal of objectivity in science, but start from the idea that it's just a subjective power play?ssu

    I'm not sure that question makes sense. How science gets stronger has nothing to do with what a non-scientist believes, at least not in this instance. As mentioned above, Latour was very anti-science and saw (wrongly) an opportunity to make religion's candle glow comparatively by dimming science's. His criticism, however motivated, whatever his beliefs, was valid when it was valid and invalid when it was not. Invalid criticism isn't something to fear: it can be met quite simply to the scientist's satisfaction, if not the critic's. Valid criticism needs to be taken on board, and it was, to science's betterment hopefully.
  • ssu
    29
    His criticism, however motivated, whatever his beliefs, was valid when it was valid and invalid when it was not. Invalid criticism isn't something to fear: it can be met quite simply to the scientist's satisfaction, if not the critic's. Valid criticism needs to be taken on board, and it was, to science's betterment hopefully.Kenosha Kid
    ?
    That's not the most explanatory or easiest to understand answers that I've had read, Kenosha Kid.

    Yet isn't the problem when those that should use the scientific method reject it as being part of the modernist agenda? You assume it doesn't matter if this is invalid criticism. Who do you think decides what just is valid or invalid criticism? Or you think that the correct answer will just prevail somehow?

    When religion trumps science, science doesn't get stronger, it simply loses. A great example in history is what happened to science in Islam after "the Golden Age" in medieval times. People are people, even scientists. If they are accused of being heretics and will be punished for that, they will shut up and tinker at the sidelines something that is politically correct.
  • Manuel
    7
    @Kenosha Kid

    There's something that's not clear to me, which may be relevant for the thread.

    What specifically is there in pomo that is of use to thinking about science that stands out as opposed to say, Humean skepticism or some other variety of common sense?

    As typical, anybody criticizing postmodernism has to be from the right.ssu

    I assume this is meant as ironic?

    I mean, it's easy to sound "leftier" than anybody if no one understand what you're saying...
  • ssu
    29
    I mean, it's easy to sound "leftier" than anybody if no one understand what you're saying...Manuel
    Have you read German philosophical texts from the 19th Century? Many of them were quite conservative/right wing and still extremely difficult to understand. So being difficult to understand isn't something that post-modernists have invented.

    Basically what I meant was that when conservatives, like let's say Jordan Peterson, criticize postmodernism, it's easy then for many to simply assume that all those who criticize postmodernism have to share the values/arguments/political opinions of Peterson. Sokal as mentioned by is a Marxist, hence the lines for or against post-modernism don't go along the typical culture war lines people assume. And basically should not go.
  • Manuel
    7


    Yes, that's correct. The German Idealists got lots of prestige in university positions and were lauded by many. Schopenhauer speculated that part of the reason they glorified the state was due to the positions they had in universities, of course, this criticism most heavily levied at Hegel.

    It is legitimate to say that Schopenhauer said this out of jealousy, there may be some truth to this, but I just think he really disliked obscurity, making a notable exception for Kant.

    Ah, I see, you're going down the Peterson line. Ugh, he's so mediocre and his understanding of most things he talks with confidence about is so low, it's a bit surprising he's so popular. He just calls "Postmodern Marxist" to anybody he disagrees with, usually mentioning no one who fits that category, as you point out.

    I was thinking about Chomsky specifically, whose met with Kristeva, Lacan and Foucault.

    In either case, I think it's fair to call most of them leftist. How far left is an open question. But Lacan's leftism I suspect is a ruse.

    Did not know that about @Joshs, but was aware that Derrida wrote a book on Marx.
  • Janus
    35
    If some of our great minds, who are sympathetic to the French writers, don't get it right, what chance for the rest of us?Tom Storm

    When reading so-called "obscure" writers such as Heidegger, Derrida, Deleuze, Badiou, and so on, I don't think the point is "getting it right", but rather gleaning insight and novel perspectives. If you don't get the latter from reading an author then you will probably not find much motivation to continue reading them.

    It is legitimate to say that Schopenhauer said this out of jealousy, there may be some truth to this, but I just think he really disliked obscurity, making a notable exception for Kant.Manuel

    I haven't found Kant obscure. For me his work is complex rather than obscure.
  • Manuel
    7
    I haven't found Kant obscure. For me his work is complex rather than obscure.Janus

    I mean, it can be both. I think certain passages in Kant can be called obscure, by this simply meaning hard to understand, not occult or him trying to be hard for the sake of it.

    But a lot of his distinctions can be called sophisticated too.

    Peirce, for instance, can be obscure in some areas and quite clear in others. Being obscure in itself is not bad, what matters is if there's content behind the phrases. Whitehead is a perfect example. I think he has plenty of interesting things to say, but his jargon is very difficult to understand, at least in Process and Reality.
  • Janus
    35
    For me, obscurity in literature consists in writings that remain ambiguous no matter how much analysis is applied to them. But ambiguity is not without value; it may lead to insight; think poetry for example. Passages which are merely complex may be explained by breaking them down into simpler units; they can be summarized in other words.

    It's probably wiser to tackle complex texts, such as Critique of Pure Reason and Process and Reality by reading secondary analyses first. The latter is also obscure in my view: Whitehead's notion of God has remained ineluctably ambiguous to me. Which is not to say I think it to be without worth.
  • StreetlightX
    58
    the fact that so much additional 'infrastructure' is needed to excavate the few scattered diamond-splinters from mountains of frenchified turds indicates that one's time will be better spent shoveling up the muck prospecting for precious gems in the other "movements" "schools" "traditions" of philosophy & critical theory.180 Proof


    Sounds like a you problem.

    Might I suggest a time management app? We have those too now.
  • Manuel
    7


    I entirely agree with your analysis. There's also the aspect of being cryptic, which is somewhat different from obscurity which is found numerous times in Wittgenstein. This too has much value. I think Heidegger's obscurity can be valuable on occasion too.

    But I do think it's person dependent, in terms of getting value of certain philosophers. Some get lots of value from Levinas others from Quine or Carnap. Likewise with Derrida or Husserl or Hegel. It's not even that continental is obscure whereas analytic is clear, that's often not true.

    I'm aware that this criticism of saying someone is obscure for the sake of it is bound to be controversial. I think this is clear with Lacan. Derrida's style is not for me at all.
  • Olivier5
    9
    This isn't a pomo distinction, it's just the distinction between sense and nonsense.Kenosha Kid

    A distinction which is now blurred in modern gender studies, queer studies, fat studies, etc. i.e. the industry of grievience studies stemming from Pomo.

    I note the absence of factuality / empirical evidence in your list... Was that intentional?
  • Kenosha Kid
    18
    Yet isn't the problem when those that should use the scientific method reject it as being part of the modernist agenda?ssu

    Do you have a sort of person in mind? Scientists should use the scientific method. In my view more things should take a scientific approach. But it can't be forced on people.

    Who do you think decides what just is valid or invalid criticism?ssu

    I was talking from the scientist's point of view. Science rolls on pretty merrily amid, for instance, every thread you've seen on here declaring that science doesn't work! It's pretty resilient. Which only makes it more unwise to go off on one when it is criticised. The threat of 'science being undermined' was just never credible imo.

    When religion trumps science, science doesn't get stronger, it simply loses. A great example in history is what happened to science in Islam after "the Golden Age" in medieval times. People are people, even scientists.ssu

    I don't think postmodernism is aiming to take over the running of the state and, if it did, my principle concern wouldn't be for the health of scientific research. Postmodernism concerns discourse. Religion's need to dominate and crush doesn't obviously translate.
  • Kenosha Kid
    18
    What specifically is there in pomo that is of use to thinking about science that stands out as opposed to say, Humean skepticism or some other variety of common sense?Manuel

    Good question. I don't think the difference generally lies in the form the criticism might take, although I think certain preoccupations are present, such as a) whether the narrative science uses to describe itself is apt, it b) whether a given scientific narrative is biased. I'd say probably the stance/motive of the critic and their methodology in reaching their criticism is more what makes it pomo. What do you think?
  • Olivier5
    9
    The threat of 'science being undermined' was just never credible imoKenosha Kid

    That was precisely Sokal's position, that pomo does NOT represent a significant threat to science at all. Rather, he saw it as corrosive to the credibility and sanity of the political left, as I think @Josh said already.
  • Kenosha Kid
    18
    A distinction which is now blurred in modern gender studies, queer studies, fat studies, etc. i.e. the industry of grievience studies stemming from Pomo.Olivier5

    Yeah I kind of figured this is where you were going. So all along you were asking me what _my_ criteria were distinguishing between what _you_ consider sense and nonsense. Which is, of course, a nonsense question. I'm not here as a missionary; I'd rather listen to your argument as to why diversity is nonsense than try to convince you that it's not.
  • Olivier5
    9
    But factuality / empirical evidence was absent from your criteria for making sense... So what am I supposed to tell you about diversity? Non factual stuff? A mix of facts and non facts?

    You see, you keep avoiding my question of what constitutes the boundaries of sensical discourse. It's hard for me to make sense to you if I don't know what makes sense to you.
  • Kenosha Kid
    18
    That was precisely Sokal's position, that pomo does NOT represent a significant threat to science at all.Olivier5

    And I'm sure he really understood that and didn't just say it to seem less petty. Nonetheless a) he was inspired to it by a pre-existing animosity toward criticism of scientific realism and scientific objectivity (Gross & Levitt), and b) since all his hoax proved is that a non-peer-reviewed journal isn't peer-reviewed, he clearly had no hopes of demonstrating much of anything at all. It seems like pure retaliation to me.
  • Olivier5
    9
    What he proved is that a leading pomo journal could not distinguish sense from nonsense. And that's a fact.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.