Issue #19, Winter 2011

The Science Wars Redux

Fifteen years after the Sokal Hoax, attacks on “objective knowledge” that were once the province of the left have been taken up by the right.

I may perhaps here remind you of the extent to which in certain societies the roles of men and women are reversed, not only regarding domestic and social duties but also regarding behavior and mentality. Even if many of us, in such a situation, might perhaps at first shrink from admitting the possibility that it is entirely a caprice of fate that the people concerned here have their specific culture and not ours, and we not theirs instead of our own, it is clear that even the slightest suspicion in this respect implies a betrayal of the national complacency inherent in any human culture resting in itself.

So why does Sokal single out this passage for mockery? Is it as patently ridiculous as the idea that there is no external world? In the follow-up book Fashionable Nonsense, co-written with Jean Bricmont and published in 1998, Sokal argued that his target was humanists’ “fondness for the most subjectivist writings of Heisenberg and Bohr, interpreted in a radical way that goes far beyond their own views (which are in turn vigorously disputed by many physicists and philosophers of science).” Sokal ascribed that fondness to “postmodern philosophy,” which “loves the multiplicity of viewpoints, the importance of the observer, holism, and indeterminism.” Yes, very well. But in dismissing Bohr’s attempt to apply the principle of complementarity to social life, Sokal ducks the question of whether a multiplicity of viewpoints might in fact be more adequate to the phenomenon at hand. What if postmodern philosophy turns out to have good reasons for its love of the multiplicity of viewpoints? Why wouldn’t it be useful to understand cultural conflicts in terms of “complementarity”? What counts as a legitimate inference from the world of the physical sciences, and what is just a sloppy analogy or a metaphor?

The Left and Science

Those were not, of course, the questions Sokal wanted to raise. He wasn’t concerned with this relatively obscure academic circle; he was trying to call attention to what he saw as its pernicious effects on the larger world of progressive politics. In his Lingua Franca essay, “A Physicist Experiments with Cultural Studies,” he wrote, “the results of my little experiment demonstrate, at the very least, that some fashionable sectors of the American academic Left have been getting intellectually lazy.” At the very least, indeed: for Sokal claimed that his hoax proved much more. He had proven, he wrote, that in the realm of theory, “Incomprehensibility becomes a virtue; allusions, metaphors, and puns substitute for evidence and logic. My own article is, if anything, an extremely modest example of this well-established genre.” And then he threw down the gauntlet. Sokal was not, as he explained, trying to embarrass Social Text; his broader aim was political, for he believed–and he was not alone–that postmodernism and theory were bad for the left, and that the academic wing of the left was aggressively undermining the foundations of progressive politics:

For most of the past two centuries, the Left has been identified with science and against obscurantism; we have believed that rational thought and the fearless analysis of objective reality (both natural and social) are incisive tools for combating the mystifications promoted by the powerful–not to mention being desirable human ends in their own right. The recent turn of many “progressive” or “leftist” academic humanists and social scientists toward one or another form of epistemic relativism betrays this worthy heritage and undermines the already fragile prospects for progressive social critique.

Sokal’s own left credentials were quite strong; as he noted, he spent part of the 1980s teaching math in Sandinist Nicaragua. But here was an argument worth having, particularly with regard to the phrase “objective reality (both natural and social),” which makes the terrible mistake of conflating two different things, and of suggesting that the analysis of social reality should proceed like the analysis of physical reality–as if the pursuit of social justice is a matter of discovering the physical properties of the universe. Of all the contemporaneous responses–and there were hundreds–only Village Voice writer and cultural critic Ellen Willis honed in on this notion, arguing that the idea that “the left” should see politics in Sokal’s terms was thoroughly self-defeating, inasmuch as the belief that morality and justice are a matter of immutable natural law is far more congenial to conservatism than to a movement trying to imagine that another world is possible. More, Sokal’s essay spoke to a strain of leftist thought, Willis wrote, in which “cultural analysis is a waste of time.”

But Willis was also right to argue that the essay saw the light of day because the editors of Social Text “belong to an intellectual community in which certain linguistic tics and brands of glib relativism are such a taken-for-granted part of the conversation that they are barely noticed, let alone criticized” (a remarkable admission, not least because Willis’s longtime partner was Stanley Aronowitz). Like Willis, I didn’t think Sokal’s hoax showed that we should think in terms of “objective reality (both natural and social).” But I did think that it exposed something important about the hermetic intellectual milieu of that wing of academe, and its imperviousness to critique from without. As physicist David Albert put it one year later, “the article pointed to something alarming about standards of scholarship in certain quarters, and standards of argument, and highlighted how much could be gained by simply declaring allegiance to certain kinds of agendas. There was an enormous gap between what [Sokal] presented himself as doing and what was actually interesting about what he was doing.”

In that gap, Sokal’s admirers have projected almost anything they desire–and they have desired many things. In early 1997, Sokal came to the University of Illinois, and quite graciously offered to share the stage with me so that we could have a debate about the relation of postmodern philosophy to politics. It was there that I first unveiled my counterargument, namely, that the world really is divvied up into “brute fact” and “social fact,” just as philosopher John Searle says it is, but the distinction between brute fact and social fact is itself a social fact, not a brute fact, which is why the history of science is so interesting. Moreover, there are many things–like Down syndrome, as my second son has taught me–that reside squarely at the intersection between brute fact and social fact, such that new social facts (like policies of inclusion and early intervention) can help determine the brute facts of people’s lives (like their health and well-being). The debate drew a crowd of 1,000; the only other time in my life I have appeared in front of so many people, my college-era band was opening for the Ramones. But the feedback afterwards was not nearly so gratifying. “We didn’t want to see a debate about brute fact and social fact,” said one of my colleagues. “We just wanted to see blood on the floor.” I did not ask whose.

Enter the Right

But what of Sokal’s chief post-hoax claim that the academic left’s critiques of science were potentially damaging to the left? That one, alas, has held up very well, for it turns out that the critique of scientific “objectivity” and the insistence on the inevitable “partiality” of knowledge can serve the purposes of climate-change deniers and young-Earth creationists quite nicely. That’s not because there was something fundamentally rotten at the core of philosophical anti-foundationalism (whose leading American exponent, Richard Rorty, remained a progressive Democrat all his life), but it might very well have had something to do with the cloistered nature of the academic left. It was as if we had tacitly assumed, all along, that we were speaking only to one another, so that whenever we championed Jean-François Lyotard’s defense of the “hetereogeneity of language games” and spat on Jürgen Habermas’s ideal of a conversation oriented toward “consensus,” we assumed a strong consensus among us that anyone on the side of heterogeneity was on the side of the angels.

But now the climate-change deniers and the young-Earth creationists are coming after the natural scientists, just as I predicted–and they’re using some of the very arguments developed by an academic left that thought it was speaking only to people of like mind. Some standard left arguments, combined with the left-populist distrust of “experts” and “professionals” and assorted high-and-mighty muckety-mucks who think they’re the boss of us, were fashioned by the right into a powerful device for delegitimating scientific research. For example, when Andrew Ross asked in Strange Weather, “How can metaphysical life theories and explanations taken seriously by millions be ignored or excluded by a small group of powerful people called ‘scientists’?,” everyone was supposed to understand that he was referring to alternative medicine, and that his critique of “scientists” was meant to bring power to the people. The countercultural account of “metaphysical life theories” that gives people a sense of dignity in the face of scientific authority sounds good–until one substitutes “astrology” or “homeopathy” or “creationism” (all of which are certainly taken seriously by millions) in its place.

The right’s attacks on climate science, mobilizing a public distrust of scientific expertise, eventually led science-studies theorist Bruno Latour to write in Critical Inquiry:

Entire Ph.D. programs are still running to make sure that good American kids are learning the hard way that facts are made up, that there is no such thing as natural, unmediated, unbiased access to truth…while dangerous extremists are using the very same argument of social construction to destroy hard-won evidence that could save our lives. Was I wrong to participate in the invention of this field known as science studies? Is it enough to say that we did not really mean what we meant? Why does it burn my tongue to say that global warming is a fact whether you like it or not? Why can’t I simply say that the argument is closed for good?

Why, indeed? Why not say, definitively, that anthropogenic climate change is real, that vaccines do not cause autism, that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and that Adam and Eve did not ride dinosaurs to church?

At the close of his “Afterword” to “Transgressing the Boundaries,” Sokal wrote:

No wonder most Americans can’t distinguish between science and pseudoscience: their science teachers have never given them any rational grounds for doing so. (Ask an average undergraduate: Is matter composed of atoms? Yes. Why do you think so? The reader can fill in the response.) Is it then any surprise that 36 percent of Americans believe in telepathy, and that 47 percent believe in the creation account of Genesis?

It can’t be denied that some science-studies scholars have deliberately tried to blur the distinction between science and pseudoscience. As I noted in Rhetorical Occasions and on my personal blog, British philosopher of science Steve Fuller traveled to Dover, Pennsylvania, in 2005 to testify on behalf of the local school board’s fundamentalist conviction that Intelligent Design is a legitimate science. “The main problem intelligent design theory suffers from at the moment,” Fuller argued, “is a paucity of developers.” Somehow, Fuller managed to miss the point–that there is no way to develop a research program in ID. What is one to do, examine fossils for evidence of God’s fingerprints?

So these days, when I talk to my scientist friends, I offer them a deal. I say: I’ll admit that you were right about the potential for science studies to go horribly wrong and give fuel to deeply ignorant and/or reactionary people. And in return, you’ll admit that I was right about the culture wars, and right that the natural sciences would not be held harmless from the right-wing noise machine. And if you’ll go further, and acknowledge that some circumspect, well-informed critiques of actually existing science have merit (such as the criticism that the postwar medicalization of pregnancy and childbirth had some ill effects), I’ll go further too, and acknowledge that many humanists’ critiques of science and reason are neither circumspect nor well-informed. Then perhaps we can get down to the business of how to develop safe, sustainable energy and other social practices that will keep the planet habitable.

Fifteen years ago, it seemed to me that the Sokal Hoax was making that kind of deal impossible, deepening the “two cultures” divide and further estranging humanists from scientists. Now, I think it may have helped set the terms for an eventual rapprochement, leading both humanists and scientists to realize that the shared enemies of their enterprises are the religious fundamentalists who reject all knowledge that challenges their faith and the free-market fundamentalists whose policies will surely scorch the earth. On my side, perhaps humanists are beginning to realize that there is a project even more vital than that of the relentless critique of everything existing, a project to which they can contribute as much as any scientist–the project of making the world a more humane and livable place. Is it still possible? I don’t know, and I’m not sanguine. Some scientific questions now seem to be a matter of tribal identity: A vast majority of elected Republicans have expressed doubts about the science behind anthropogenic climate change, and as someone once remarked, it is very difficult to get a man to understand something when his tribal identity depends on his not understanding it. But there are few tasks so urgent. About that, even Heisenberg himself would be certain.

 

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Andrea OL:

The rise of pseudo-science has something to do with the leftist emphasis on DIVERSITY and INCLUSION. Since most great scientists have been 'evil white males' and since Western Civilization produced most of modern knowledge, many leftists, femininsts, and 'people of color' advocates felt left out and 'marginalized'. If Western white male science is correct, then it must mean that most non-white cultures & paradigms are superstitious, backward, stupid, ignorant, etc. It doesn't do much for non-white or female self-esteem, does it?

So, in order to vilify the 'evil racist white male' and to boost the esteem among 'oppressed' women and people-of-color, the left decided to promote an anthropological view of reality that said REALITY is really a matter of culture and empowerment. In other words, it is 'racist' to say western science is true while Eastern Mysticism is bogus. It is 'intolerant' to say Western medicine is real science while African tribal medicine is just voodoo superstition. We needed to be 'nice', 'inclusiveness', and 'sensitive'. We need to say Eastern medicine has just as much value as Western medicine.

Just as Germans rejected 'Jewish science' as it damaged 'Aryan' intellectual pride, the left, feminists, and people of color rejected 'white male western science' as a 'racist' all-white-boys-club.

Similar thing happened with history. As Mary Lefkowitz explained in her book BLACK ATHENA, white leftists ignored the horribly bad and false histories peddled by Afro-centrists since, well, such was good for black self-esteem and in challenging Euro-centric 'racist' white male power and privilege.
Even though many white leftists knew that postmodern science and history were bogus, they endorsed or tolerated the program in the name of 'progressive politics', of making non-whites feel better and more EMPOWERED.

There was a lot of this leftist Maoist China too. With its cult of the PEOPLE, it chose 'red over expert', especially during the Great Leap Forward when an illiterate was deemed the scientific equal of an elitist college educated egghead. Leftism is contradictory in its elitism and egalitarianism. Its dedication to rationalism favors the most intelligent and best educated; but its commitment to 'social justice' and equality promotes the notion that the oommon man knows just as much as the 'exploitative and privileged' elites.

And then came the horribly anti-intellectual Cultural Revolution, which charmed a good many leftists in the West.

Also, there is no such thing as a 'social fact'. There is a 'social truth'. Fact is a fact, like table is a table. It is materialist and scientific. Social matters are truths, not facts. They are about perspectives, subjectivity, emotions, interests, etc as well as observed facts. Thus, they are 'truths'. Facts cannot be both A and B, but truths can be both A and B. That Jews moved into Palestine and pushed out native Arabs is a fact. But Palestinians and Jews interpret those facts differently and have arrived at and embrace different 'truths'. Truth is an interpretation of facts embellished with emotions.

As for global warming, it is real enough, but the problem is less stupid pseudo-science on the right but the stupid sensationalism and greed on the left. Al Gore is to be lauded for his commitment on the matter, but his movie INCONVENIENT TRUTH was filled with so many half-truths, exaggerations, outright lies, and know-it-all arrogance and sanctimonious that it just gave ammo to his critics that the whole crisis is just a cult cooked up to serve Al's hot air ego. Also, too many politicians, investors, and operatives are lining up to amass great fortune and power by exploiting the crisis, which makes for bad publicity. It's like the Holocaust really happened--and deniers are disgusting vermin--, but too many Jews have turned Holocaust into a vast themepark cashcow pop religion for political and financial gain. If the left doesn't criticize these vulgarians and vultures, its causes will foster only more cynicism among the already weary masses.

Another problem is the left operates too 'conspiratorially', with the elites telling us they know and we should just follow them since they know what's good for us.
Even though experts need to be respected, they should talk to the people(intelligently than condescendingly) than just amongst themselves, only to hand out orders to the rest of us. The left should be like Wikileaks. Greater openness and transparency ON EVERYTHING. But what did we get under Obama? We got bailouts for Wall Street that happened behind closed doors and under the table. Obamacare, good or bad, was pushed throught without proper debate. This isn't a leftism that engages and educates the people but holds them in contempt, with an attitude that says, 'we know, you don't, we speak, you listen'.

Another thing. Science has to be about the search for facts, not about social progressivism. Now, the findings of science can be used for social good via technology. Our knowledge of biology allows better medical technology. Technology must be 'socially moral', but science must only be science. There is a place for the 'noble lie' in religion, politics, folklore, mythology, friendship, social relations, etc. I mean it's not nice to call an ugly person 'ugly'. It's better to compliment his or her looks just to be on nice terms. But science must only be about facts, even if those facts may upset us. When Darwin came up with his theories, it deeply upset many social moralists, and rightfully so. What if man was not created by God but evolved from vicious animals? What if there is no soul or spirit and man is really motivated by naked animal instincts? Disturbing to moralists, to be sure. Such discoveries understandably cause anxiety within the social and moral context, but Darwin, as a scientist, had ONLY ONE responsibility. His research pointed to the fact of evolution. When Galileo observed that the planets revolved around the Sun, that too was deeply upsetting to the moral/spiritual leaders of his time. What if Man was not special in the eyes of God but merely creatures on one planet among many others all over the galaxy? But Galileo's only duty as a scientist to was to reveal the facts of what he observed.

Today, a fact that cannot be mentioned is the reality of differences among basic geographical populations. We are supposed to believe there's no general IQ differences between Ashkenazi Jews and African pygmies, no general differences in physical attributes between indigeneous Mexicans and West Africans. The anxiety over these facts is understandable given horrors like the Holocaust, but facts are facts, and some of the social differences in the world can only be properly understood when we take certain racial or biological differences into account. And keep in mind that while 'gender' is a social construct, there really are sexual differences between men and women.

In society and politics, there's left, middle, and right. In science, there can only be search for facts regardless of whose feathers get ruffled in the social realm. Otherwise, it's not science. It's an agenda.

Jan 27, 2011, 5:33 PM
Andrea OL:

Lefkowitz's book was NOT OUT OF AFRICA, not BLACK ATHENA, which was by Martin Bernal. My bad.

Jan 27, 2011, 5:42 PM
Jonathan Badger:

"And in return, you’ll admit that I was right about the culture wars, and right that the natural sciences would not be held harmless from the right-wing noise machine."

No, as a biologist I can't do this. For the simple reason that the current attacks on science are coming from both wings' noise machine. Yes, from the right in regard to evolution and climate change, but largely from the left on vaccines, animal research, and medical science in general.

"And if you’ll go further, and acknowledge that some circumspect, well-informed critiques of actually existing science have merit (such as the criticism that the postwar medicalization of pregnancy and childbirth had some ill effects)"

Yes, many critiques of science have merit. However, the only reasonable way to make these critiques is *through* science, not obscurantist postmodernism.

"Then perhaps we can get down to the business of how to develop safe, sustainable energy and other social practices that will keep the planet habitable."

So in other words, we scientists will do the work, and you'll cheer us on? Better than critiquing, I suppose.

Jan 28, 2011, 10:57 PM
Walter Sobchak:

Those of us who do not believe in AGW, do not accept any of the cultural critique of science, and it is a libel for Mr. Berube to say that we do.

We believe in science, we believe in objective truth and we believe that the small coterie of so called "climate scientists" have spent the last 20 years peddling a political line not conducting science.

We believe that they have fudged and misinterpreted data, used computer models as inappropriate substitutes for real world scientific investigation, corrupted the peer review and grant making processes, and pretended to a moral and intellectual authority to which they are not entitled.

The entire notion of "the science is settled" is simply post modernism at its worst.

Mr. Berube may want to agree with the "climate scientists" because it matches his other political commitments and his leftist colleagues will not tolerate anybody straying off the plantation in any respect. But, he is going to have allow that somebody might not agree with the PC line and have good scientific reasons for it.

Jan 31, 2011, 11:20 PM
Eli Rabett:

Michael, given the comments you wasted ink

Feb 1, 2011, 8:14 AM
Mark:

One of the problems with the battle for scientific legitimacy is that scientists are not very careful in explaining the limits of our knowledge. Let's use the climate debate as an example. The fact that the earth has gotten warmer is a fact. No reasonable person can dispute it. The fact that humans are responsible for some portion of the increase in temperatures is a fact. Again, the variety of evidence is such that the proposition that humans are responsible for some of the climate change (warming in this example) is not disputable by rational persons. But how much are humans responsible for and what activities cause what portion of the impact. On this, we don't know for certain. We have some evidence as to the overall extent of human impact, but it is hardly conclusive in the way that the first fact of warming and the second fact of human impact are pretty conclusively proven. Well, we say, we have climate models. Speaking frankly, there is too much we do not know about how to model such systems to say more than that the models are consistent with the evidence for human impact on climate. If scientists said only what I have just outlined, the public would have very little to argue with and the "deniers" (a term that I hate because it equates anyone who disagrees with the position of the author with holocaust deniers, for which there is MUCH more conclusive proof) would be seen as fringe elements. The opinions would be then what do we do given the uncertainty -- how much do we accept in terms of risk? That is the real debate, the political debate, which is made harder by those who insist that we "know" (the way we "know" the laws of quantum mechanics or basic astrophysics) what the impact of greenhouse emissions or changes in land-use mean for climate -- especially long term climate trends.
The point, I think, is that science needs to be humble and acknowledge what we really are pretty certain of in scientific terms and what the limits of our knowledge really are. For example, for all the work done on superstring theory and as elegant as it is (see Brian Greene's new book), it may not be true, even though it is consistent and solves a number of problems in reconciling various branches of science. Listen to your opponents respectfully. Point out what is known, what is probable and what is uncertain. Listen to their responses and respond where reasonable and possible. Surprisingly, most people are reasonable when they are not talked down to or treated as the great unwashed. Some are not reasonable (and that is not only the right wingnuts either). If we lose an argument, think about what we did to lose the argument, the appeal of the arguments to which we lost and try to address the weaknesses in our arguments. Do as trial lawyers do, acknowledge weaknesses and try to take the sting out of them.

Feb 11, 2011, 6:38 PM
Michael Bérubé:

Michael, given the comments you wasted ink

Thank heavenly Moloch no ink was used in the production of this essay! But at least I've learned that John Searle was wrong about the existence of social facts, and that claiming that the science is settled is the worst form of postmodernism. Now I will impose my evil moderate-Republican cap-and-trade scheme on the planet, and vengeance will be mine!

As for Jonathan Badger:

"Then perhaps we can get down to the business of how to develop safe, sustainable energy and other social practices that will keep the planet habitable."

So in other words, we scientists will do the work, and you'll cheer us on? Better than critiquing, I suppose.

And here I learn that scientists have exclusive domain over the development of new social practices. I was unaware of this.

Feb 17, 2011, 9:19 AM
Michael Bérubé:

Dang, the penultimate paragraph -- "So, in other words..." -- should have been in italics as well. That's Jonathan Badger assuming that "sustainable energy and other social practices" are all going to be devised by scientists.

And Mr. Sobchak, just let me add that I love your work in that movie, but I marked your comment zero.

Feb 17, 2011, 9:24 AM
PDN:

Mr. Bérubé,

After reading your essay with great interest, I was anticipating a lively debate in your comments section discussing the areas of agreement and disagreement with your well thought out positions. Indeed, a few people did provide thoughtful responses to your thesis, which I read alacrity. I am the great unwashed trying to understand the complex issues involved in climate science (my niece is getting her Ph D in environmental science). I was a little dismayed that you did not respond with the same thoughtfulness found in your essay to those who provided counter perspectives. Your flippancy has made me, one of the great unwashed, to question your genuine desire to discuss climate change with others, putting aside your own presuppositions and addressing the genuine differences between fellow academics.

I still enjoyed your essay, and it definitely has heuristic value, but you kind of defeated your purpose of open, intelligent, civil inquiry in you comments section.

Mr. Rabett, more readers are interested in the exchange of ideas to a well written essay than in a sycophant response. A well written essay should generate critical thought, and is never a waste of ink when people disagree with a major or minor premise. The disagreement just generates more opportunity for thoughtful apologetics.

Mar 2, 2011, 9:25 PM
James Rogerson:

We seem to have restated Gottfried Leibnitz'theory of monads. These are self-contained bodies that can only communicate with others if they contain within themselves a common property. If a person does not believe in natural science, Leibnitz would say that there is no way to convince him of its validity. I am an optimistic follower of Leibnitz: I think that all of us have common meeting grounds, at least enough to carry on meaningful, mutual and civil dialogue with others. The key is to listen and take the others' views seriously. It does not mean that we should surrender our beliefs, only that we should value their ideas within their context.

I certainly do not want an aborigine to build skyscrapers with "bungie cord" engineering, but I can respect his "life myths".

Mar 14, 2011, 7:41 AM
JT:

"the belief that morality and justice are a matter of immutable natural law is far more congenial to conservatism than to a movement trying to imagine that another world is possible"

But what a Conservative sees intuitively, and what a Progressive often fails to see at all, is that the only other worlds which are possible are those worlds to which leads a chain of cause and effect from this one world in which we actually live. What this world is, regardless of the category of description - material, social, ethical, aesthetic - is a fact: such that it is entirely necessary that any opinion pertaining thereto will be right, or wrong, correct or incorrect, true or false, regardless of the gender, race, erotic proclivity, wealth or political agenda of the one who holds it. The fact that it may not be possible to determine prior to experience which opinion is correct does not mean that there is no fact of the matter. A plethora of points of view may generate a plethora of opinions so a method of sorting, assessing and falsifying them is needed. For the processes of cause and effect it exists and is called Science. If no such method exists for the purpose of classification and evaluation within the categories other than "cause and effect" then perhaps those categories have no referents, and opinions regarding them are all, not equally valid but, equally vacuous. If that conclusion is welcome then you are a Nihilist; if unwelcome then, by the argument quoted above, you are a Conservative. It is here that the poor Progressive attempts to deny the law of the excluded middle and contends for a plethora of equally valid, logically contradictory, facts of the matter to serve as referents for the world's conflicting opinions. No doubt one can continue to live and breath in this state of confusion but one's expectations of future possible worlds will almost inevitably be disappointed if they are founded upon wrong opinions, though happy accidents may occur.

Apr 8, 2011, 3:51 PM
T. McDonald:

There is an intelligible reason why the social constructivism of the Left and the social traditionalism of the Right make a natural alliance of concern about the dominance of modern science and technology. Both of these social phenomena are together predictable from Kant's philosophical critique of human reason which shows: natural science in its methods and knowledge cannot understand human beings and cannot ascertain knowledge of human value. If science is our only standard it leads us to nihilism about human value. Heidegger is one of the few philosophers willing to consider how to carry out in practice an acceptance of this fate, instead of attempting to put various liberal fig leafs over the clear conclusions of science: the human being is of no value as such.

May 1, 2012, 1:58 PM
Neil Craig:

Since Mr Berube is a liar who has publicly lied for the purpose of helping Nazis, whom he admires, to commit racial genocide, his qualification to speak about integrity in science is more more than lacking.

What a pity Pol Poy is dead or he could be invited to write on medical care.

Jun 29, 2012, 9:15 AM

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