When Worlds Collide: The Global Exportation of Anti-Enlightenment Scholarship (Prophets Facing Backward: Postmodern Critiques of Science and Hindu Nationalism in India ) (Book Review) When Worlds Collide: The Global Exportation of Anti-Enlightenment Scholarship (Prophets Facing Backward: Postmodern Critiques of Science and Hindu Nationalism in India ) (Book Review)

When Worlds Collide: The Global Exportation of Anti-Enlightenment Scholarship (Prophets Facing Backward: Postmodern Critiques of Science and Hindu Nationalism in India ) (Book Review‪)‬

Social Theory and Practice, 2005, July, 31, 3

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Publisher Description

[Review Essay: Meera Nanda, Prophets Facing Backward: Postmodern Critiques of Science and Hindu Nationalism in India (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 2003), xvii + 308 pp.; and Robert Figueroa and Sandra Harding (eds.), Science and Other Cultures." Issues in Philosophies of Science and Technology (New York: Routledge, 2003), viii + 276 pp.] Not too long ago, the field of science studies and related areas like feminist epistemology, postmodernism, and postcolonial scholarship were all swept up in what the more popular presses referred to as the "science wars." This ideological battle reached a frenzied climax when New York University physicist Alan Sokal published his 1996 hoax article in the postmodern journal Social Text. (1) Sokal's intent was to show that postmodernism and other antirealist philosophies of science fundamentally lacked norms or standards of evidence. His paper, "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermenutics of Quantum Gravity," was a mixture of faux physics and Freudian psychoanalysis, and contained notable errors in physical theory. Once the article was published in Social Text, Sokal came out publicly to say that it had been a hoax, thereby demonstrating the shabby standards of postmodernist scholarship. Though Sokal may have seemingly engaged with antirealist scholarship and then offered a refutation, he did so just barely (as I have argued elsewhere (2)), and the hoax only obscured the opportunity for realists and antirealists in science to engage in fruitful debate. The science wars, like other nebulous politically charged conflicts such as the war on drugs, the war on crime, and the war on terror, have no clearly identifiable enemy, no obvious endpoint, no decisive event for which one side can confidently say "we won." In the science wars particularly, polarized opposites committed to reading the other side as dogmatic and illegitimate continue to set up straw-man arguments and then proceed to knock them down with intellectual bluster.

GENRE
Religion & Spirituality
RELEASED
2005
1 July
LANGUAGE
EN
English
LENGTH
18
Pages
PUBLISHER
Social Theory and Practice-Florida State University
SIZE
243.8
KB

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