• Kenosha Kid
    2.9k
    What he proved is that a leading pomo journal could not distinguish sense from nonsense. And that's a fact.Olivier5

    As I said dude, not here to change minds, just gathering thoughts. Your take is yours, and I don't really have any questions about it.
  • ssu
    4.6k
    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.Kenosha Kid
    Starting from people studying the social sciences, which ought to use similar questioning, objectivity and try to refrain from subjectivity even if the answers cannot be gotten by performing laboratory tests as in the natural sciences. At least that I was taught in the university while studying economics and economic history.

    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.Kenosha Kid

    And how was genetics in the Soviet Union with Trofim Lysenko? Prime example of what "politically correct" science becomes in the end: total bogus science with no scientific value. Lysenko's practices created literally famines. Lysenko stayed in "power" from 1940 to 1965, which basically stopped genetics research in the Soviet Union for the time.

    And even if there is a very important debate to be had about what are the limits of good science, still, how many times in the US has the religious right made bans on science based on religious views? Let's not forget that the US is a country where the legislator in Indiana tried to get through the Pi Bill to get a legal court decision that it is possible to square the circle in 1897.

    goodwin-cartoon.jpg?w=825
    Doesn't matter that von Lindemann had proved this impossible in 1882 (and anybody with their right sense would notice the error). Even mathematics isn't off limits to politics and the American legislator.

    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
    Philosophical movements seldom have clear aims or objectives. Their impact comes from basically how they effect or alters the debate / discourse and just what kind of studies, investigations and research is done. What kind of research it crowds out. That still can have a major effect.
  • Olivier5
    2.9k
    Good for you.

    Once again I am not anti-pomo, I'm rather sympathetic to a lot of what they say. I just think it is unwise to reject empirical validation (or refutation) as it turns philosophy into a freewheeling imaginative discourse. I see the idea by Rorty et aliquem (e.g. Quine, so it was not just a pomo idea) that we should dispose of a representationalist account of knowledge and language as literally beyond philosophy and science, as an invitation to treat philosophy and science as just another branch of scifi.
  • Kenosha Kid
    2.9k
    Philosophical movements seldom have clear aims or objectives.ssu

    Then I'm glad you've got the pomo state on your list of concerns, saves me the hassle. The third quote in your response answers your reply to the second, so I'll leave that.

    Starting from people studying the social sciences, which ought to use similar questioning, objectivity and try to refrain from subjectivity even if the answers cannot be gotten by performing laboratory tests as in the natural sciences.ssu

    This seems to be the sort of totalitarianism of metanarrative that's in dispute. I'm not sure that can be the answer. If the objection is that it's called 'science' (however soft), yeah I agree.

    I just think it is unwise to reject empirical validation (or refutation) as it turns philosophy into a freewheeling imaginative discourse. I see the idea by Rorty et aliquem (e.g. Quine, so it was not just a pomo idea) that we should dispose of a representationalist account of knowledge and language as literally beyond philosophy and science, as an invitation to treat philosophy and science as just another kind of literature.Olivier5

    If your objection is to the "science is a social construct" line, I have bad news for you. Science is most definitely a social construct. Personally this doesn't injure my ego any: I had no illusions that science was anything other than something people do, disseminated via language. Perhaps your conception is closer to divine revelation.

    In terms of literature, scientists also call it "the literature", but more broadly "text" doesn't just mean words.

    Not only do I agree with you that empirical validation is essential, I'd say that postmodernism has nothing at all to say about facts generally, and Rorty agrees. It only concerns texts, including texts about facts. If facts are critical -- and we agree that they are -- then it is all the more important that we minimise the bullshit in our narratives about those facts. This is why people like Kuhn and Latour are important. Irrespective of their bullshit, they did out us on ours.

    Because postmodernism is centred around diverse discourse, it doesn't really matter about a particular piece of pomo BS. Scientific BS is much more important to science though.
  • ssu
    4.6k
    This seems to be the sort of totalitarianism of metanarrative that's in dispute. I'm not sure that can be the answer. If the objection is that it's called 'science' (however soft), yeah I agree.Kenosha Kid
    What according to you then is the scientific method?

    Or you think the scientific method is a totalitarian metanarrative? Very postmodernist.
  • Olivier5
    2.9k
    Science is most definitely a social construct. Personally this doesn't injure my ego any: I had no illusions that science was anything other than something people do, disseminated via language. Perhaps your conception is closer to divine revelation.Kenosha Kid

    LOL. Evidently science is a social construct, but
    it is constructed via a certain method, which combines observations, hypotheses building aka modeling, and sharing and critiquing. Not everything goes. One has to anchor one's models in observations aka facts.

    In terms of literature, scientists also call it "the literature"Kenosha Kid
    Ok, I edited my text to say scifi instead of literature.


    Not only do I agree with you that empirical validation is essential, I'd say that postmodernism has nothing at all to say about facts generally, and Rorty agrees. It only concerns texts, including texts about facts. If facts are critical -- and we agree that they are -- then it is all the more important that we minimise the bullshit in our narratives about those facts.Kenosha Kid

    This I agree with. That is precisely the value of Pomo to me: to make scientists (and others) better aware of the permanent presence of cultural a priori and biases in their own mind, as unsaid, unarticulated présuppositions, as these permeates their work more that they sometime should. Hence I am also totally in favour of diversity at school, work and politics, including in my own work.

    No time now but intends to bring a piece of historical data to buttress your OP sometime later.
  • ssu
    4.6k
    Evidently science is a social construct, but
    it is constructed via a certain method, which combines observations, hypotheses building aka modeling, and sharing and critiquing. Not everything goes. One has to anchor one's models in observations aka facts.
    Olivier5
    Yes.

    Engineering is a social construct too.

    Go tell that to engineers, btw. :joke:
  • Kenosha Kid
    2.9k
    What according to you then is the scientific method?

    Or you think the scientific method is a totalitarian metanarrative? Very postmodernist.
    ssu

    Ha ha thanks I think? No, as I said above, imo Lyotard confused an algorithm for a narrative. I'm not making the same mistake. The narrative here is that science is the best and only way to do anything, and so social studies and science studies should be scientific, right? That's a totalitarian metanarrative (as Lyotard would have it, and I'd agree).

    Evidently science is a social construct, but
    it is constructed via a certain method, which combines observations, hypotheses building aka modeling, and sharing and critiquing. Not everything goes. One has to anchor one's models in observations aka facts.
    Olivier5

    I agree. But the question is on how we interpret, discuss and represent those facts or, as Latour pointed out, how we ignore them if they're not the right facts. (Or in my area -- computational physics -- stop debugging when you get the right answer.)

    That is precisely the value of Pomo to me: to make scientists (and others) better aware of the permanent presence of cultural a priori and biases in their own mind, as unsaid, unarticulated présuppositions, as these permeates their work more that they sometime should.Olivier5

    Well that's one value, and one that science has done very well out of despite the Sokals of the world. But pomo isn't limited to science, it's any text or discourse.
  • Manuel
    1.4k


    I mean, would speaking about science be necessarily a narrative? It can take the form of a narrative, but I don't think it's strictly necessary. Describing what photons do when they hit the eye or why the Earth goes around the sun is an explanation of observable facts.

    Yes, I'd agree that the stance and methodology a person takes is what makes them fit into a specific group of people or school of thought. This however doesn't clear up why postmodern lenses are an improvement over mitigated skepticism, for example.

    If you want to go beyond science to other aspects of life, like culture and society, then I could see why postmodernism might be more useful as it is broader than skepticism.
  • Kenosha Kid
    2.9k
    I mean, would speaking about science be necessarily a narrative? It can take the form of a narrative, but I don't think it's strictly necessary. Describing what photons do when they hit the eye or why the Earth goes around the sun is an explanation of observable facts.Manuel

    You're hitting on precisely the sort of thing we have to be careful about. I've recycled this story a lot on here but I find it genuinely insightful and I like to share the love.

    There was a conference quite a few years ago that aimed toward a sort of state-of-the-nation for physics. One of the questions to cover was: What is a photon? The answer the conference reached was: A photon is a click in a photon detector.

    That's how you make sure you're speaking of facts, not theories. I found this distinction really important as a postgrad, it's rather helped define my outlook and is probably partly the reason why I, with a physics background, am somewhat receptive to pomo.

    That a photon exists in spacetime between its creation event and its destruction event is a story we tell ourselves. It's a very good story, and may well approximate reality better than any other story we ever tell ourselves about photons, but it also might not be true.

    Empirical facts like clicks in photon detectors or observations of bodies in the solar system are not stories, it's true, but they have to be communicated and that _is_ a story, and as part of the scientific method they should feed back into theory and that too is a story.

    I see a click in a photon detector but that's not science. Consensus about facts is necessary. Or, at least, I need to tell a good enough story to convince an editor and two referees that consensus is obtainable such that I wouldn't lie about it.

    The story I tell about a scientific fact, e.g. that I heard a click in a photon detector, might be trivially undone by three lab assistants saying that there was no click. It's my story against theirs. I might know they're lying, but I might be lying, or mistaken. Ultimately we have to narrate.

    This however doesn't clear up why postmodern lenses are an improvement over mitigated skepticism, for example.Manuel

    I don't think it has to be an improvement in terms of a particular criticism, but the idea is that we have diverse discourses each sceptical about each other, which ought to yield diverse criticisms, not just of science but science criticism. Also if we're counting deconstruction, which I think we should, it is an improvement to have another methodology by which to do so.
  • Olivier5
    2.9k
    Well that's one value, and one that science has done very well out of despite the Sokals of the world.Kenosha Kid
    And occasionally, thanks to the Sokals of this world. As you recognized, it's important to minimize the level of bullshit. It cuts both ways: humanities can occasionally humble scientists and scientists (such as Sokals) can occasionally humble humanities... :-)

    If facts are critical -- and we agree that they are -- then it is all the more important that we minimise the bullshit in our narratives about those facts.Kenosha Kid

    But pomo isn't limited to science, it's any text or discourse.
    Sure. Even Derrida himself can be deconstructed.
  • Olivier5
    2.9k
    Engineering is a social construct too.ssu

    Pretty much everything on earth is. Even the landscape in most places is anthropic.
  • 180 Proof
    5.7k
    Even Derrida himself can be deconstructed.Olivier5
    :up: And therein lies p0m0's self-subsuming self-refutation just like relativism, global skepticism, nihilism – categorical deflations, or negations, which necessarily apply to themselves as well. Derrida deferred.
  • Manuel
    1.4k


    I can see why you say we have to be careful in this specific area. I don't have my mind made up on this topic, and you would know more about the actual details than I would.

    Nevertheless, it's not completely clear to me that when we communicate to other people on what a photon does we are telling a story. We may be, but not necesarilly.

    Yes, you are right, future discoveries might point out that what's actually going on is not that photons are hitting a detector but "Ztons", a smaller component we had not been able to discover.

    It looks to me as if you are describing what you see to a person or an audience when you speak of photons hitting detectors, the issue is if descriptions are stories.

    But I can also well see the point that when submitting an article to a journal, it becomes a story of sorts. So I think that much of this hinges on how ample we take stories to be.

    Fair enough on deconstruction.
  • ssu
    4.6k
    The narrative here is that science is the best and only way to do anything, and so social studies and science studies should be scientific, right? That's a totalitarian metanarrative (as Lyotard would have it, and I'd agree).Kenosha Kid
    Right. Of course, who here is saying that science is the only way to do anything, Kenosha Kid?

    Absolutely nobody.

    A literary novel can depict history well, but it's not history, however well the imaginary characters might be based on and describe actual people, events and historical times. There's still the obvious difference of the author using his or her imagination or trying to explain what happened in reality. Yes, art can depict reality, but that doesn't make it science or an academic study. And nobody should have any problem with this.

    The basic problem in my view is that postmodernism is basically criticism of something depicted vaguely as modernism, yet unfortunately to understand it one should first clearly know and understand what is criticized in the first place. That usually is what is missing.

    Hence here is the giant pitfall where the academia can fall into and has fallen into: that this so-called "modernism" isn't taught at all, it's only criticized. Because if what you are taught only is what Foucault, Derrida and etc. have written without starting from those "age old white men from the Enlightenment" (as how they are depicted sometimes) you hardly can put the criticism into a proper context. Yet the university student who has come from high school / the gymnasium is wired to take in the lessons just like he or she did it in the seventh grade and ready to regurgitate the proper line from the proper author.

    Far too easily, and I can remember this from decades ago, the student who had studied contemporary social history (with postmodernism or similar ideas) would use the observation that "science is a social construct" as a refutation, something that questions a scientific hypothesis.

    Just like when you KK says that "social studies and science studies should be scientific" is "a totalitarian metanarrative", many might think of that as a criticism, because "totalitarianism" doesn't seem to go well with the open mindedness and curiosity that science should have. It sounds negative, something you should avoid.

    Of course for some, at least me, the sentence "social studies and science studies should be scientific" is simply a tautology. A sentence like "birds are animals" would have an equally "totalitarian metanarrative" going far back to Aristotle.
  • Saphsin
    353
    Sorry for the pause, but do you have anything to recommend by Raymond Tallis?
  • Joshs
    2k
    art can depict reality, but that doesn't make it science or an academic study. And nobody should have any problem with this.ssu

    Tell me what you think the relation is between science and the progress of knowledge , and then compare it with your sense of whether philosophy progresses and if so , how is this progress different from the progress of science. Once i get a sense of your views on this matter, I can expand the terrain to include the arts and literature.
  • Manuel
    1.4k


    Aping Mankind, The Knowing Animal, On The Edge of Certainty, Epimethean Imaginings are all good for intro stuff.

    Not that he has anything much more complex, just longer or more specialized in terms of topics.
  • ssu
    4.6k

    Oh, I'm a boring type. I think science is a method: the use of the scientific method.

    Philosophy and science? I've sometime even myself heard scientists say, when their guard is down, that they aren't interested so much in philosophy, they just do science. Of course, then their scientific philosophy view is there in the age of Enlightenment (which likely they don't know) and they likely won't understand Kant or any philosopher after Kant. But, if you don't take the Philosophy course 1.0, you then don't take it.

    how is this progress different from the progress of science.Joshs
    Science uses the same method again and again. Philosophy looks back at what has been pondered in philosophy and builds on that. Hence the German romanticism or even postmodernism are quite logical ways to try to think about reality in a different way. Yet many times these new ideas don't overthrow anything that has become before, even if some people think that they have done so.
  • Kenosha Kid
    2.9k
    Sure. Even Derrida himself can be deconstructed.Olivier5

    And therein lies p0m0's self-subsuming self-refutation just like relativism, global skepticism, nihilism – categorical deflations, or negations, which necessarily apply to themselves as well. Derrida deferred.180 Proof

    I was hoping to come onto this. If one can deconstruct Of Grammatology, does that mean one cannot deconstruct Of Grammatology? Is "One cannot deconstruct Of Grammatology" a possible reading of Of Grammatology?

    I think the accusation that pomo is self-refuting isn't that well thought out. Another example: is postmodernism a totalitarian narrative? In other words, can an argument for a diversity of discourses be a dominating discourse? I'd say: only if you're doing it wrong.
  • Kenosha Kid
    2.9k
    Pretty much everything on earth is. Even the landscape in most places is anthropic.Olivier5

    The mosquitoes near my house are very misanthropic, and I have red lumpy legs to prove it.

    Right. Of course, who here is saying that science is the only way to do anything, Kenosha Kid?

    Absolutely nobody.
    ssu

    Then you lost me here:

    Starting from people studying the social sciences, which ought to use similar questioning, objectivity and try to refrain from subjectivity even if the answers cannot be gotten by performing laboratory tests as in the natural sciences.ssu

    The basic problem in my view is that postmodernism is basically criticism of something depicted vaguely as modernism, yet unfortunately to understand it one should first clearly know and understand what is criticized in the first place. That usually is what is missing.ssu

    I'll be honest, if we're talking the worst of pomo anti-science, of which there is a lot, I'm not sure there's even a lot of interest. Saying that E=mc^2 is an androcentric, misogynistic narrative for favouring the male lightspeed over more feminine constant speeds isn't exactly trying to engage with the field. It's just pointing at things and shouting MONSTERS!!! aka feminism.

    But that's not true of Kuhn, Latour, people like that who actually studied science or studied scientists in situ.

    I do wonder though how well deconstruction works on something that requires specialist knowledge of a difficult field. Do you include the bibliography or not? Technically you shouldn't, but then how can you follow the text? Might make an interesting exercise. I'd say that keeping an open mind about a text means being able to approach it from all angles, including a scientific one. But it doesn't follow that you have to be doing science to critique science.

    Because if what you are taught only is what Foucault, Derrida and etc. have written without starting from those "age old white men from the Enlightenment"...(ssu

    Then already you have a scarcity of discourse. If that is the state of social studies across universities, then it seems we have a totalitarian metanarrative on our hands :yikes:

    Far too easily, and I can remember this from decades ago, the student who had studied contemporary social history (with postmodernism or similar ideas) would use the observation that "science is a social construct" as a refutation, something that questions a scientific hypothesis.ssu

    But likewise you'll still find today people who see "science is a social construct" as a blasphemy or assault. Whatever their view of science is, that really is refuted. Including by me, pomo or no pomo #nopomo
  • Tom Storm
    2k


    "The Postmodernists' tyranny wears people down by boredom and semi-literate prose.”
    ― Christopher Hitchens

    "Simplifying to the extreme, I define postmodern as incredulity toward metanarratives."
    ― Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition

    Note Lyotard's use of the word 'incredulity' rather than, say, 'skepticism'.

    It's fairly obvious that people who prefer prose to have Orwellian clarity (an English bias, perhaps) dislike postmodernism on the basis that meaning is hard enough to convey without the use of jargon and needlessly convoluted theoretical language. It's also clear some people appreciate the complex language and theoretical conceits viewing this as part of the post-modern process and praxis.

    Postmodernism has contributed to making certainty problematic and this generates enemies, especially amongst conservatives (in the broadest sense of this word) who rely upon sacred presuppositions to support their worldview.

    What I'd be interested to hear is how post-modernism has changed people's thinking or enhanced their experience of art/culture/philosophy/knowledge in any way.
  • ssu
    4.6k
    . If that is the state of social studies across universities, then it seems we have a totalitarian metanarrative on our handsKenosha Kid
    Well, that is the actual worry.

    It's not something absolutely horrifying as Lysenkoism, which was really literally totalitarian with a genuine totalitarian narrative, it's just simply lousy academic work. Still, lousy, mediocre academic work can have bad effects. It won't create famines like Lysenkoism did, but still.

    I remember my professor sighing deeply when someone of her students had the idea of make their Masters about something to do with Foucault. Those degree works would just take time and more time. (But that was a quarter of a Century ago, so I have no idea how it is now, just have some educated guesses.)

    But likewise you'll still find today people who see "science is a social construct" as a blasphemy or assault.Kenosha Kid
    Yes, you do find those types too. Those are the ones who get angry at you if you refer to philosophy when they are talking about science. Usually they, as sometimes happens here in PF, simply assume to know already where the discussion is going when the words "social construct" are uttered, and they assume they have to take a stance to defend their cherished science. It's no wonder strawman arguments are so popular.
  • Manuel
    1.4k


    There was bad prose prior to postmodernism. Just look at German Idealism or the Cambridge Platonists and many others. The problem here is the content behind the obscurity. If there is content, then the obscurity can be tolerated, if there isn't or if there is very little content, obscurity serves no purpose. But I know some think that the writing itself already indicates "different modes of thought". Okay.

    As to your question, all one can do is to look at postmodern art. Consider Warhol's paintings, Pynchon's prose and much of contemporary "literary theory". I can't speak for other people, but I personally enjoy Warhol's paintings and I think Pynchon is excellent.

    However, I'm not a fan of "literary theory", I don't see any "theory" worthy of the name. As to a broader cultural impact, that's hard to say. I think it mostly leads to bad writing, rather than good art, but pomo can lead to both.
  • Janus
    10.7k
    What I'd be interested to hear is how post-modernism has changed people's thinking or enhanced their experience of art/culture/philosophy/knowledge in any way.Tom Storm

    One significant effect in the arts was to open up the field to a new kind of eclecticism, once the modernist obsession with formal innovation had run its course.
  • Janus
    10.7k
    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.Manuel

    I agree; it's a matter of personal taste, just as it is with literature. I don't look at philosophy as a whole as one system or conceptual schema refuting others at all, but as a myriad of ways of imagining and understanding things. It is the exercise of Peirce's 'abductive reasoning' to produce theories that may not be able to be tested in the way scientific theories may be.
  • Manuel
    1.4k


    Yes, if they can be tested, then you have a better philosophy or system that should be clear.

    As an aside, I also think it's interesting to see what system most convinces you, evidence aside. Which is to say that things like idealism, physicalism, skepticism, determinism etc., can't be refuted (or confirmed) by evidence, only evaluated based on reasoning.

    In the end it is as you say "a myriad of ways of imagining and understanding things".
  • 180 Proof
    5.7k
    In MoDo, reason is inadequate yet indispensable. Abduction (translation) and defeasibility (contextuality^).

    In p0m0, meaning^ is indefinite yet socially de/constructable. Interpretation (narration) and irony (ambiguity).

    MoDo – gradual / radical essays in (attempts at) emanicipation from cultural-socioeconomic enchantments, mystifications, reifications, etc – is also the problem of (with) MoDo and thereby p0m0 functions only as a 'fashionable' synecdoche^, or tedious exercise in philosophical parody.

    My question for the apologists: What has p0m0 proposed in philosophy that e.g. atomists, skeptics, kynics, freethinkers, anarchists, fallibilists, critical rationalists or absurdists have not already proposed more clearly, cogently and also that is less co-optable – commodifiable – by late capitalism (i.e. Neoliberal "post-truth" populism)? Asking for an old friend. :cool:
  • Olivier5
    2.9k
    The mosquitoes near my house are very misanthropic, and I have red lumpy legs to prove it.Kenosha Kid

    On the contrary, your red lumpy legs indicate that mosquitoes like you quite a lot.
  • Amity
    2.1k
    On the contrary, your red lumpy legs indicate that mosquitoes like you quite a lot.Olivier5

    It's all about the blood, the blood, baby. :wink:
    No 2 of 7 reasons why mosquitoes love you.
    https://www.verywellhealth.com/reason-mosquitoes-bite-some-people-more-others-4858811

    Nothing about attacks on post-modernists ?
    Unless they are hot, sweaty, heavy-breathing beer drinkers with lively skin.
    Or are pregnant :scream:
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