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Description de l’éditeur
In 1996 physicist Alan Sokal published an essay in Social Text--an influential academic journal of cultural studies--touting the deep similarities between quantum gravitational theory and postmodern philosophy. Soon thereafter, the essay was revealed as a brilliant parody, a catalog of nonsense written in the cutting-edge but impenetrable lingo of postmodern theorists. The event sparked a furious debate in academic circles and made the headlines of newspapers in the U.S. and abroad.
Now in Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science, Sokal and his fellow physicist Jean Bricmont expand from where the hoax left off. In a delightfully witty and clear voice, the two thoughtfully and thoroughly dismantle the pseudo-scientific writings of some of the most fashionable French and American intellectuals. More generally, they challenge the widespread notion that scientific theories are mere "narrations" or social constructions.
The authors of this audacious debunking apparently want nothing less than to embarrass some of the foremost academic stars of the postwar period--including Jacques Lacan, Luce Irigaray and Paul Virilio, among other luminaries in the humanities--for their "abuse of science." Sokal, a professor of physics at NYU, and Bricmont, a theoretical physicist with the Universite de Louvain in Belgium, offer an argument that's an offshoot of Sokal's notorious 1996 prank in which he submitted an article, high in jargon and low in logic, to a cultural studies journal, which accepted it immediately. After Sokal revealed the hoax, bitter debates raged within academia. Here, he and Bricmont continue where the hoax left off, waging a war of wits with thinkers who, they say, adopt science as a metaphor for their own more literary purposes. The authors also attack critics who fabricate pseudoscientific theories of their own, and much of their book is dedicated to building methodical cases against the academics' principles and logical flaws. The authors fervor and the precision of their writing makes this a most engaging read.