ScumBag wrote:PhilSandifer wrote:BlackSails wrote:I dont have much to add other than:
1) Read Fashionable Nonsense, By Sokal and Bricmont
Oh God, please don't do this. As someone who both knows the theory they're talking about and knows or knows how to follow up on the science, this book is an utter trainwreck of missing the point. It's worthwhile to look at it in terms of a particular historical moment in the tension between the sciences and humanities, but this book is complete trash.
And why not? I've quoted this book (In Britain it's called 'Intellectual Impostures') for nearly every Philosophy of Science paper I wrote. Although, admittedly only for its poised attacks on both Popper and Feyerbend, the rest of the book however is worth reading.
How can it, in your words 'miss the point'? I keep hearing this from the detractors of the book, but never with any elucidation. If someone is trying to sell a paper by making claims like Newton's Laws amount to a 'Rape Manual', or to establish a link between Nietzsche's life and works with the discovery of the atom and the arbitrary (as well as incorrect) use of mathematical symbols to make a point - is that not as the title of the book suggests, 'nonsense'?
The guys who wrote it aren't trying to make claims on the whole subject of literacy criticism (your field of expertise, not mines, so I won't bother to make any claims like some of these supposedly 'know all' engineers) but rather poised right at the guys who made their name big with such garbage, even if the rest of their output (for all I know) is academically sound.
Well, let's see - they open with a bunch of ridiculous assumptions about why the people they're criticizing could possibly be using references to math or science. (Most hilariously, that the only reason you'd ever use an analogy so as to use a clearer idea to explain a less clear one) Then they selectively quote passages where they clearly do not understand what is going on, and, in doing so, fail to think of why or how the math and science could be being employed. And they often don't even understand the passages well enough to make sound analyses of the math and science - since, for instance, critics who understand both (like Arkady Plotnitsky, who has degrees in both literary studies and mathematics) have said that, for example, their attack on Lacan is totally off the mark, and that his use of math isn't actually problematic at all.
So yeah - I'd say it's a pretty wretched book.