It’s Not Bragging If It’s True

Sendai Anonymous picks up the ball from where my post on “Smug Atheists” left off and draws some of the further implications.  She kicks off her post with an illustration from recent intellectual history.

Many years ago, Alan Sokal epically owned stupid pomos* by submitting a ridiculous parody article* to their prized journal, Social Text. The article was titled “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”. Its most characteristic features was that it was stupid, ridiculous and also completely idiotic as long as taken seriously.

When it was finally revealed that the article was a parody of pomo “thought”, all hell broke loose in the pomo virtual reality, and Sokal was  criticised by the numerous disgruntled pomos, who were, naturally, wounded to the core***.

Among the vapid and spurious criticisms of Sokal the stupidest was that “wah wah wah HE IS SO SMUUUUG“.

(By the way: I read Sokal’s Beyond the Hoax, but not his first book — yet. I too, thought he was rather full of himself. However:)

Allow me to enlighten you: he pwned the pomos* epically. It was a one-in-a-hundred-years, Iliad-scale epic pwnage. Probably no one will get to pwn anybody like that for years, if ever.  It was awesome. It was spectacular. It was effective.

Therefore, Sokal has a right to be smug.

Read the rest of her hilarious corrective in favor of deserved self-satisfaction.

In my own pomo days I remember reading a book that whined a great deal about the Sokal hoax without offering any substantive counter to the obvious inferences about what it meant about the credibility of postmodernism.  Unfortunately it still took me a couple years to give up on that philosophical dead end anyway.  There are some good and important things going on in the texts of Derrida and Foucault and some of the other postmodern giants from whom I have retained valuable influence.  But ultimately I think whatever of value is there in their critical insights and in their critical example can be reformulated in less obfuscatory, more rigorous, more productive, and eminently less punkable ways.

Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • http://sendaianonymous.wordpress.com sendaianonymous

    In my own pomo days

    OMD YOU HAVE DARK PAST YOU’RE LIKE BATMAN.

    Sorry, couldn’t resist!

  • Daniel Fincke

    you never have to apologize for calling me Batman. Just don’t say it in public, I can’t let the word out or my enemies will exploit knowledge of my true identity to destroy me.


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