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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen The postmodern emperors have no clothes
I'm a reader of Lingua Franca and was interested to see Jim Holt's full page review of this book in the NY Times Book Review (Holt writes for Lingua Franca). Sokal and Bricmont have been at the center of the ongoing debate about relativism and whether science can accurately describe certain aspects of the world. In this book they argue against bad science, and...
Am 25. November 1998 veröffentlicht

versus
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3.0 von 5 Sternen Day of the Curmudgeons
Sokal and Bricmont certainly come to the rescue of anyone who has tried to sift through the (often intentionally) opaque writings of many postmodern thinkers. And this book is not without its uses. If nothing else, it teaches us not to attempt to bamboozle our readers into submission by pretending to a knowledge we do not possess. There will, one could hope, always...
Veröffentlicht am 22. Januar 2000 von Neal Stanifer


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5.0 von 5 Sternen The postmodern emperors have no clothes, 25. November 1998
Von Ein Kunde
I'm a reader of Lingua Franca and was interested to see Jim Holt's full page review of this book in the NY Times Book Review (Holt writes for Lingua Franca). Sokal and Bricmont have been at the center of the ongoing debate about relativism and whether science can accurately describe certain aspects of the world. In this book they argue against bad science, and specifically against the use of science as "proof" of concepts,theories, metaphors, and shaky arguments about social sciences, psychology, literary studies, and so on. They also argue for the ability of science to establish a truth, to literally prove something (this in response to the postmodern notion that truth is simply a social construct, and is therefore relative to the perspective, language, culture, circumstance, etc. of the person seeking to establish a given truth.) I found the book to be well argued, often funny, at times dense (because the authors take pains to explain why the science of Kristeva, Baudrillard, Latour, etc. is bad),overall lively and interesting.
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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen One of the Best Exposes in Many Years, 7. Dezember 1998
Von Ein Kunde
Sokal has performed a valuable service to the cause of rational thought. While far from exhaustive in discussing each of his targets, he provides enough information to allow readers to judge for themselves. He does exactly what he promises, not to analyze the philosophical ideas but rather to assess the competence of assorted thinkers to draw upon scientific thought in their work. The querulous disciples of the thinkers he targets are too cowardly and dishonest to seriously engage with the issues raised. Look at some of the other reader comments to get an idea of how freely people merely change the subject rather than confront the grotesque failings of a variety of "postmodern" pseudo-intellectuals to understand the terms and ideas they casually trash. Every thinking person should read this book!!!
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7 von 9 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Intellectual Morons, 20. November 2004
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science (Taschenbuch)
Fashionable Nonsense grew out of the famous hoax in which Alan Sokal published a parody article in the American post-modern journal Social Text. The article was filled with non-sequiturs and nonsensical quotations about maths and physics by prominent French and American intellectuals, yet it was published unaltered. Sokal then revealed that it was a deliberate parody, to the great consternation of the editors of Social Text.
This book extends the investigation to show how intellectuals such as Lacan, Kristeva, Irigaray, Baudrillard, Deleuze and Guattari have repeatedly abused scientific concepts and terminology. They have either used these ideas completely out of context without justification or they have thrown scientific jargon around with no regard for its meaning or relevance, obviously to try to impress their readers.

The introduction provides the history of the Sokal Hoax and the response to it. The major part of the book consists of an analysis of various texts by Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, Bruno Latour, Jean Baudrillard, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, and Paul Virilio. Brief explanations of the relevant scientific concepts plus references to popular and explanatory texts are provided. Sokal and Bricmont also investigate certain philosophical and scientific confusions behind much of postmodernist thinking, like cognitive relativism, certain misunderstandings concerning chaos theory plus so-called postmodern science.
Appendix A provides the full text of the famous hoax article: Trangressing The Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity. Appendix B consists of comments on the parody and Appendix C serves as an afterword on the hilarious incident. This amusing and illuminating book concludes with a 14-page bibliography and an index. Intellectual Impostures is an amusing read that will have you rolling on the floor at times. I also highly recommend The Illusions Of Postmodernism by Terry Eagleton, The Anti Chomsky reader by David Horowitz and Peter Collier, and Intellectual Morons : How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas by Daniel J. Flynn.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen devastating critique of intellectual dishonesty, 3. Januar 1999
Von Ein Kunde
Sokal presents a notion that in most circles would be self evident, but in the world of post modern philosophers is apparently novel - that if you are to cite scientific sources and ideas and then criticise scientific methods one should:
a. have some minimal knowledge of these ideas, and b. have some minimal knowledge of scientific methods.
That he could submit an article of his own which was replete with the errors he exposes, and have it published in a prestigious journal, drives home the point that these "philosophers" haven't a clue.
A breath of fresh air that deflates intellectual terrorism and pomposity.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen at last, 15. Dezember 1998
Von Ein Kunde
At last a thorough and funny attack on postmodern nonsense. Looking at the reactions from the postmodern world, you can't help but feel that no matter how hollow and preposterous the articles or books of a writer are, there will always be people to defend him or her. Why? Do they hate reason? Do they think complicated things can only be described in a complicated way? Are they looking for a substitute for religion? Here's a subject sociologists should dive into.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Should be read by everyone into social science., 26. Mai 1999
Von Ein Kunde
At first, I have to admit I enjoyed this book because of some personal reasons: as History graduate I was concerned and disappointed by the effects of posmodern theories in the social sciences. As Sokal and Bricmont say, natural sciences have nothing to fear from all that, but History! Sokal and Bricmont have commented the main and most important works of the posmodern doctrine, but maybe they haven't read the kind of stupidities and nonsenses arranged by the average posmodern followers, not to talk about the surrealistic discussions you can have with some of them. All that is on its way to destroy humanities and transform them into some kind of incomprehensible mystifications.
Maybe worst are the consequences in pedagogy: I've read that students errors shoulnd't be corrected by teachers, they simply express the "internal dynamic" of the student. An that in an official regulation for secondary teachers! Everyone can imagine what kind of education will outcome from that. Seeems like someone want us to be as stupid as possible.
But if that wasn't all, I am, as a progressist, even more worried about epistemological relativity. I couldn't and still cannot see what's progressive in the statement that there's no absolute truth and that every social or cultural group has his own relative truth. I simply haven't heard any better argument to justify ideas like negation of holocaust or white suprematism or any other absurds and evident falsehoods in the same or similar way. If neonazis defend and are convinced by those "theories", are they in the same level of truth than the victims of the holocaust? To be crude: is the holocaust a social discourse, only referable to their victims? To answer fast and clear: NO, there is a real and verifiable truth. Rationality is good, everything else is bad and dangerous, lets say it without any kind of irony.
That's why I would recommend this book to any social concerned person, it helps in the needed task of "deconstructing" the posmodern nonsense. It demonstrates, as some guessed before, that the posmodern discourse is full (and based on) falsehoods, misinterpretations, non-sequiturs, empty pomposities and is, in clear words, a big intellectual dishonesty. I can only wonder what results would outcome from a complete syntactical (not grammatical) analysis from Derrida's, Irigaray's, not to mention Lacan's works. They seem full of completely meaningless but impressive assertions which no one could explain what they are trying to say, supposing they try to say something.
The only thing I can blame on this book is not being destructive enough and not going as far as it could have gone. Maybe in a next book, for which I propose a new and better title to Sokal and Bricmont (maybe with the help of a good linguist): The Great Posmodern Swindle.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen This good book could have been better, 16. Februar 1999
Von Ein Kunde
Sokal and Bricmont's project was long overdue: exposing the fraudulent use of scientific jargon by a number of our most prominent contemporary theorists. Of course, even without references to science, the language of post-modernism would still be a hopelessly turgid mish-mash of pretentious jargon, but you have to start somewhere, so I welcomed the appearance of this book.
Having just finished it, I think Fashionable Nonsense is well worth reading, but it's not quite the triumph I had pictured. The chapters vary greatly in quality and in general Sokal and Bricmont should have spent less time quoting and more time explaining and analyzing. The sections on specific intellectuals are more sucessful when they follow this approach. I thought the demolitions of Bruno Latour and Luce Irigay were quite convincing. However, as a couple of readers have already pointed out, the chapter on Deleuze & Guattari is a decided letdown: interminable quotations followed by almost no substantive commentary. I know Sokal and Bricmont aren't professional writers, but it doesn't appear that they had much editorial help, either.
In a way, the more general chapters are the most impressive ones here: the first "Intermezzo" has a useful analysis of the shortcomings of Karl Popper's work and the overreaction it produced (by Feyerabend and others). The "Epilogue" is in many ways the strongest and most convincing statement Sokal has yet made about the damage and mistrust created by the aggressive mindlessness of postmodernism. After all, Sokal and Bricmont are really doing two different things in this book: exposing those who appropriate scientific ideas without knowing what they are discussing (i.e., Lacan, Kristeva, et al), and arguing against those advocating the "strong program" in the Sociology of Science (i.e., Latour). It's in the "Epilogue" where I think they make a plausible case that these things are not only related but harmful intellectual practices.
In sum, then, Fashionable Nonsense is enjoyable enough, but should have been more smoothly developed. Sokal and Bricmont are in a position of great strength, but didn't take full advantage of it.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Something all philosophers should read, 5. Januar 1999
Von Ein Kunde
This book sets itself a couple of goals: to critique the lack of intellectual honesty amoung "postmodern" authors and thinkers (in that they are not honest about their lack of knowledges in technical fields) and to reply to those who would hold that scince is a modern myth, no more "true" than any ancient one.
It cannot be denied that Sokal and Bricmont are often simplistic and naive in their treatment of the diffucult subject of "postmodernism." But therin lies the strength of their argument. Suppose a relativist philosopher who claimed that science was no more true than ancienct shamanistic myths was arrested for murder, and faced execution if convicted. Would that philosopher consider a shaman's accusation, based as it was on divination or on the interpretation of holy texts, a sufficient grounds for conviction? Would they allow their life be ended by a means consistent with the beliefs they propound? Or would they demand a "proper" investigation, based on reason, evidence, and (gasp!) science? This is a refreshingly simple, and yes, naive, question, which must be answered by Sokal's critics. I am reminded by the philosopher in Hitchcock's "Rope" who was horrified to see his published "beliefs" put in to practice. For the quality of thought and straightforward writing style, I highly recommend the introduction, the epilouge, and the two "intermissions." These sections I give five stars.
However, something is lacking in the sections which deal with individual thinkers. Another reviewer comments that Sokal and Bricmont often do not restate the theses of those they criticize. I would say that they do so about half of the time. This is only 50% as often as they should. My training in physics and mathematics allows me to spot errors in the thinking of the "postmoderists" easily; a non-technical reader will have more trouble. Though the authors attempt to explain complicated concepts simply, and succeed to a certain degree, a reader who is totally unfamliar with the subjects under discussion is likely to come away unconvinced. The extensive references could provide the interested with a solid background, but reading that volume of material is more the task of the academic than the average person. I give these sections only 3 stars.
Overall, I think that this book is something that every philosopher should read, if only because sometimes the simple, naive questions are the hardest ones to answer.
This review is based on the French-language edition of this book
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Physics vs. verbal acrobatics nicely defined, 9. Dezember 1998
Von Ein Kunde
First, one must know and understand some physics and mathematics to grasp what the authors are talking about. Science is not jargon and jargon is not science. An opportunistic professor of sociology may invoke, say, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle to propose that all science and therefore all life is uncertain, but if challenged to discuss the principle itself he will quickly run out of intellectual gas. In other words, he won't have a clue, even though the set of words "Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle" seems to hold all kinds of adventuresome promise (Aha! Another publication! Can tenure be far away?). The hebetude and duplicity of the postmodernist sect is not apparent to the members ot the sect themselves because they have not been trained to comprehend even the basic laws they invoke (nor perhaps do they wish to be so trained); to the rest of us, the notion of supporting radical social/literary/philosphical theory using physics or mathematical axioms remains patently (and justifiably) absurd. This seems to me to be the main point of Sokal and Bricmont's effort. One can ask is science so abused, and what is "science abuse" anyway? Well, the authors take their physics seriously and they think it is.
Hiding behind academic credentials is of course the last resort of scoundrels, and no careful thinker would entertain seriously (as Irigaray is quoted on page 109 of this book) the notion that Einstein's mass-energy equation is somehow "sexed". But that's not how things work in the murky, self-assured world of "soft" Ph.D.s, faculty cliques, weird academic journals, deconstruction, postmodernism or for that matter astrology or psychic readings over the telephone. One may wish to believe that Newton's Law of Universal Gravition is a sexist construct design to keep women subservient, but it would be unwise to walk off a cliff to prove the point. Gravity works whether you want it to or not. Unless you have tenure.
Is this book so complicated it makes your hair hurt? Are the authors pulling our collective leg? Yes. Yes.
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4.0 von 5 Sternen Well-reasoned and timely, 29. Mai 2000
Von 
Michael Bulger (Rochester, NY, USA) - Alle meine Rezensionen ansehen
(REAL NAME)   
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science (Taschenbuch)
Alan Sokal endeared himself to rationalists everwhere when in 1996 he published an article entitled "Transgressing the Boundaries" in the journal Social Text, a leading American publication of work in the social sciences that falls under a catch-all term of "postmodernist" thought. Unfortunately for the editors of this journal, however, Sokal was anything but a serious postmodernist scholar; his article was a hoax in which he intentionally misrepresented concepts from science and mathematics to make entirely specious arguments relating to the social sciences. The point was more than clear: that the intellectuals producing similar garbage for publication, when using science or mathematics as support for their superficially erudite but fundamentally meaningless discussions, simply do not know what they are talking about.
"Fashionable Nonsense," which includes both "Transgressing the Boundaries" and its follow-up article as appendices, is an extension of this message, and the devastating critiques of the use of science and mathematics in the "work" of "postmodernist" theorists is one of the book's major strengths. One cannot come away from this book and fail to wonder how such intellectually fraudulent work could have gained such currency in the social sciences; Sokal and Bricmont's discussion of just this issue is also well reasoned. Another strength of the book is found in the additional critiques brought to bear on the currently popular ideas of Thomas Kuhn, relating to the progress of science, and the work of Karl Popper, relating to "falsifiability" as a fundamental property of scientific theories.
If there are weaknesses in the text, they are mostly of omission. In some cases the authors choose to let the postmodernists' words speak for themselves with relatively little comment other than a well-worded version of name-calling, for example in the section on Deleuze and Guattari. Still, even here the basic message--that if a passage seems impenetrable, it is probably so for a reason, namely the obfuscation of intellectually vacant discourse--is unavoidable.
It is distinctly refreshing to read a critique such as this without the politically right-wing baggage that so often accompanies it (i.e. Dinesh D'Souza et. al.) Sokal and Bricmont are admitted leftists, and their critique is intended to strengthen the political left in academia by encouraging a return to rational thought. Thus, while the postmodernist screeds they critique are arguably of little real importance outside of academia, "Fashionable Nonsense" is of genuine importance. Even if you have never encountered the work dealt with here, this book is worth reading.
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Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science von Jean Bricmont (Taschenbuch - 1. November 1999)
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