• Physics and language—science and rhetoric: Reviewing the parallel evolution of theory on motion and meaning in the aftermath of the Sokal Hoax

    Author(s):
    Gregory Desilet (see profile)
    Date:
    2009
    Subject(s):
    Communication, Rhetoric, Science--Philosophy
    Item Type:
    Article
    Permanent URL:
    https://doi.org/10.17613/r491-c991
    Abstract:
    Alan Sokal's concern about a decline in intellectual standards includes an indictment of what he calls current “subjectivist” trends accompanying a general erosion of “objectivity “ stemming from postmodern views such as deconstruction. This erosion is identified most importantly in postmodern claims about the instability of rigorous distinctions between opposites. This study argues that the deconstructive practice of disturbing the status quo between opposites extends as far back as Newton and constitutes one of the central themes of physics since the Enlightenment. Parallel developments in physics and language studies are summarized from Aristotle to Einstein and quantum theory‐all in support of the contention that to question postmodern language theory exemplified in deconstruction necessitates questioning also the parallel developments in physics from Newton to the present time. Both physics and language theory make rigorous distinctions between opposites a thing of the past. This circumstance necessitates, contrary to what Sokal argues and consistent with current themes in the rhetoric of science, a construction of reality in language and experience which is nevertheless not essentially subjectivist, objectivist, nor relativist.
    Metadata:
    Published as:
    Journal article    
    Status:
    Published
    Last Updated:
    3 months ago
    License:
    Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives
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