Pre-Modern Right Weds Post-Modern Left - Ugly Children Predicted

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catshark

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Apr 22, 2006, 10:18:10 AM4/22/06
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There is a very good editorial by Peter McKnight in the _Vancouver Sun_
that takes as a springboard the recent decision of the Social Science and
Humanities Research Council of Canada not to fund a study by McGill
University's Brian Alters into the detrimental effects of popularizing
"Intelligent Design Theory" on Canadian students to discuss the wider issue
of the "unholy alliance" between the Intelligent Design Movement and the
Post-Modernist academic left.

. . . Arizona Sen. John McCain, who I long thought was the only
hope to rescue the Republican party from the talons of the
theocrats, says that all points of view should be represented.
The postmodern left couldn't have said it any better.

Indeed, at the root of these complaints is the postmodern
ideal -- the notion that the religious right's knowledge claims
are as valid as the claims of science, that all truth, and all
methods for arriving at truth, are equal.

By learning to speak the language of postmodernism, the religious
right has therefore succeeded in gaining a foothold in the academy,
and in influencing funding decisions in the social sciences and
humanities. But it has paid a great price, a price that involves
denying the existence of absolute truth.

"Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows," wrote William
Shakespeare, and nowhere is the truth of that nugget more in
evidence than in the unhappy marriage of the postmodern left and
the premodern right, a marriage made not in heaven, but consummated
by the parties' mutual commitment to the relativity of truth.

<http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/editorial/story.html?id=37e9e9ac-c035-4f04-823e-e5e2d2a6960f>
Or: <http://tinyurl.com/e5czh>

The editorial mentions two other articles but without links. They can be
found here:

"Science Fiction" by Noam Scheiber
<http://www.tnr.com/doc.mhtml?i=20050905&s=scheiber090505>

"Steve Fuller and The Hidden Agenda of Social Constructivism" By Norman
Levitt
<http://www.talkreason.org/articles/Fuller.cfm>

--
---------------
J. Pieret
---------------

We've been attacked by the intelligent,
educated segment of the culture.

- Local Pastor defending Dover School Board action
(name withheld to protect the clueless)

Robert Carnegie

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Apr 22, 2006, 11:56:44 AM4/22/06
to

catshark wrote:
> [quote]

> "Misery acquaints a man with strange bedfellows," wrote William
> Shakespeare, and nowhere is the truth of that nugget more in
> evidence than in the unhappy marriage of the postmodern left and
> the premodern right, a marriage made not in heaven, but consummated
> by the parties' mutual commitment to the relativity of truth.
>
> <http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/editorial/story.html?id=37e9e9ac-c035-4f04-823e-e5e2d2a6960f>
> Or: <http://tinyurl.com/e5czh>

Well, on the fundies' side, it's a commitment to the superiority of
their spiritual "truth" over mere facts and conclusions. Is that
relativity? I suppose that it assigns relatively greater or lesser
value to different kinds of truth.

catshark

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Apr 22, 2006, 1:10:49 PM4/22/06
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On 22 Apr 2006 08:56:44 -0700, "Robert Carnegie" <rja.ca...@excite.com>
wrote:

Well, if that were the case, then the greater truth would simply over ride
other methodologies. The fact that they are playing the academic game is,
itself, relativism toward the truth as they see it. As McKnight said
elsewhere in the article:

This is more than a little ironic, since the religious right was
once the main critic of leftist relativism, and ID godfather
Phillip Johnson specifically promoted ID as an alternative to
the relativism he wrongly believed stemmed from Darwinism.

BTW, here is a better link to the Noam Scheiber article:
<http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1487654/posts>

--
---------------
J. Pieret
---------------

[I]n its relation to Christianity, intelligent design
should be viewed as a ground-clearing operation . . .

- William A. Dembski -

Alexander

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Apr 22, 2006, 4:15:46 PM4/22/06
to

Except that it's not relativism either as envisaged by post-modern
thinkers currently or even during the 'relativistic' heyday during the
70's. The fact that the discourse is strongly threaded through with
Christian dialectic gives the lie to this all the way down. If they
were honest 'relativists' with respect to ID then they would confess to
agnosticism. Instead we have a barrage of committed Christians
commenting that although we can't (apparently) comment about who the
designer is they all seem to have a pretty good idea of who it might in
fact be (Behe and Johnson being the classic example). This is not
relativism - it's absolutism occluded with the same veneer of academic
hyperbole as IC is by ID adherents before being foisted on the public.

Even relativism demands a degree of intellectual honesty if you are to
follow through with some of the philisophical assumptions behind it.

What DI and ID proponents are relying on is not post modern thinking in
relation to relativism, but contemporary attitudes toward political
pluralism. In part this was generated by post-modern thinking over
attitudes toward race and sex discrimination, but the term has
currently become meaningless in the manner it's being suggested it
should be deployed.

The writer Lyotard expressed the concept of the post-modern best and it
has little or nothing to do with the concept of 'all things are
relative'. Post-modernity is about the disruption and re-writing of
social norms (and the term was initially used to describe architecture,
rather than social behaviours).

I would stress that current thinking in sociology emphasises the
function of the social rather than the evidential basis of our senses.
People like Fuller are very, very, old school and in a strange minority
of sociologists. I would also point out that Fuller, despite some
idiot granting him residency here, is a yank and had ties to the ID
crew even before Dover. You lot seem so much more susceptible to
faddish modes of thought.

What lies behind ID policy is a cynical manipulation of political
aspiration and behaviours. Saying that 'ID is deploying post-modern
tactics' is like saying 'Evolution is just a theory'. It's an empty
comment that does nothing to actually understand either post-modernism,
the history of the movement, the manner in which it benefited attitudes
and behaviours we take for granted nowadays or its continuing legacy in
challenging authority - or that the vast majority of thinkers no longer
adopt the strictly phenomenological approach.

Frank J

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Apr 22, 2006, 5:57:04 PM4/22/06
to

NEW Alliance? Paul Gross noted it at least 6 years ago. As you probably
know, he co-authored with Levitt "Higher Superstition: The Academic
Laft and its Quarrels with Science."

And I mentioned it here just yesterday:

http://groups.google.com/group/talk.origins/browse_frm/thread/15aedd7be1526b9a/1b8135110e3d2fb5?hl=en#1b8135110e3d2fb5

or

http://tinyurl.com/etgpe

catshark

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Apr 22, 2006, 6:52:18 PM4/22/06
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On 22 Apr 2006 13:15:46 -0700, "Alexander" <alexand...@btinternet.com>
wrote:

I don't think there was any question that the IDeologists are cynically
using this relativism as a ploy to improve their acceptance in certain
academic circles. Also, Norman Levitt's article in particular raises
questions about the bona fides of at least some versions of what is known
as "postmodernism."
<http://www.talkreason.org/articles/Fuller.cfm>

>
>Even relativism demands a degree of intellectual honesty if you are to
>follow through with some of the philisophical assumptions behind it.
>
>What DI and ID proponents are relying on is not post modern thinking in
>relation to relativism, but contemporary attitudes toward political
>pluralism. In part this was generated by post-modern thinking over
>attitudes toward race and sex discrimination, but the term has
>currently become meaningless in the manner it's being suggested it
>should be deployed.
>
>The writer Lyotard expressed the concept of the post-modern best and it
>has little or nothing to do with the concept of 'all things are
>relative'. Post-modernity is about the disruption and re-writing of
>social norms (and the term was initially used to describe architecture,
>rather than social behaviours).

Terminology evolves. I won't claim to be any sort of expert on sociology
but if there is a distinction to be made between this epistemological
relativism and "postmodernism", then the postmodernists have to do a better
job of making that distinction widely known if they want to rescue the
term.

>
>I would stress that current thinking in sociology emphasises the
>function of the social rather than the evidential basis of our senses.
>People like Fuller are very, very, old school and in a strange minority
>of sociologists.

I don't think anyone thinks Fuller represents all sociologists anymore than
than they think the creationist engineer predicted by the Salem hypothesis
represents all engineers.

>I would also point out that Fuller, despite some
>idiot granting him residency here, is a yank and had ties to the ID
>crew even before Dover. You lot seem so much more susceptible to
>faddish modes of thought.

Really? No "lot" who thinks cricket is a spectator sport have any basis to
boast!

>
>What lies behind ID policy is a cynical manipulation of political
>aspiration and behaviours. Saying that 'ID is deploying post-modern
>tactics' is like saying 'Evolution is just a theory'. It's an empty
>comment that does nothing to actually understand either post-modernism,
>the history of the movement, the manner in which it benefited attitudes
>and behaviours we take for granted nowadays or its continuing legacy in
>challenging authority - or that the vast majority of thinkers no longer
>adopt the strictly phenomenological approach.

The articles I referenced gave extensive and detailed descriptions of what
*they* meant when using the terms they did, exactly contrary to those who
want to confuse people over the meaning of "theory". If you don't like the
connection of postmodernism to epistemological relativism, that's fine.
But then you'll have to do a better job of separating them than just saying
they are different.



--
---------------
J. Pieret
---------------

The devil is in the details.
Science explains them.
Intelligent design explains them away.

- Mark VandeWettering -

catshark

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Apr 22, 2006, 7:11:56 PM4/22/06
to

Levitt mentions that in his article.

I don't think I said it was new. The action of Canada's Social Science and
Humanities Research Council was recent but that was just one manifestation
of the phenomenon.

Keep up the good work.

--
---------------
J. Pieret
---------------

The devil is in the details.

Alexander

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Apr 22, 2006, 9:33:26 PM4/22/06
to

I wouldn't dispute that. Fuller is a social constructionist - not the
most widely supported branches of sociology going. There remain some
hardliners but they are inevitably trying to cling on to some precursor
ideology such as Marxism or, in Fullers case, some bizarre idea that ID
is somehow valid. The fact that Fuller prefers to champion ID to, say,
cold fusion, speaks volumes about his possible bias rather than any
real interest in addressing any social aspects of science.

>
> >
> >Even relativism demands a degree of intellectual honesty if you are to
> >follow through with some of the philisophical assumptions behind it.
> >
> >What DI and ID proponents are relying on is not post modern thinking in
> >relation to relativism, but contemporary attitudes toward political
> >pluralism. In part this was generated by post-modern thinking over
> >attitudes toward race and sex discrimination, but the term has
> >currently become meaningless in the manner it's being suggested it
> >should be deployed.
> >
> >The writer Lyotard expressed the concept of the post-modern best and it
> >has little or nothing to do with the concept of 'all things are
> >relative'. Post-modernity is about the disruption and re-writing of
> >social norms (and the term was initially used to describe architecture,
> >rather than social behaviours).
>
> Terminology evolves. I won't claim to be any sort of expert on sociology
> but if there is a distinction to be made between this epistemological
> relativism and "postmodernism", then the postmodernists have to do a better
> job of making that distinction widely known if they want to rescue the
> term.

I won't argue that the precise definition isn't widely disputed.
However, the idea that it reduces to some sort of 'it's all relative'
concept is not only superficial but virtually non-existent. It has
been written and discussed about extensively but what it eventually
gets translated as is the concept you've described. This is like
saying that the scientific meaning of the word 'theory' should be
discussed more widely - same principle, same conditions.

It's not even a question of 'evolving' - the idea of things being
relative to each other is simply one aspect of a much wider discussion.
Always has been and always will be - yet opponents of the movement
become obsessively fixated on this one aspect.

I can keep repeating the fact that PoMo ideology doesn't reduce to the
terms as defined in popular literature but for some reason no-one is
listening. Does sound like that thing that happens when you tell
certain quarters that 'theory' under scientific terms implies more than
'just a guess'.

Maybe more reading is required.

>
> >
> >I would stress that current thinking in sociology emphasises the
> >function of the social rather than the evidential basis of our senses.
> >People like Fuller are very, very, old school and in a strange minority
> >of sociologists.
>
> I don't think anyone thinks Fuller represents all sociologists anymore than
> than they think the creationist engineer predicted by the Salem hypothesis
> represents all engineers.

Which is encouraging - but rarely, if ever, represented as such.

>
> >I would also point out that Fuller, despite some
> >idiot granting him residency here, is a yank and had ties to the ID
> >crew even before Dover. You lot seem so much more susceptible to
> >faddish modes of thought.
>
> Really? No "lot" who thinks cricket is a spectator sport have any basis to
> boast!

Ah - you've obviously never tried to translate Baseball into any sort
of meaningful terms. Just as arcane and even more obscure in terms of
being a complicated version of rounders.

>
> >
> >What lies behind ID policy is a cynical manipulation of political
> >aspiration and behaviours. Saying that 'ID is deploying post-modern
> >tactics' is like saying 'Evolution is just a theory'. It's an empty
> >comment that does nothing to actually understand either post-modernism,
> >the history of the movement, the manner in which it benefited attitudes
> >and behaviours we take for granted nowadays or its continuing legacy in
> >challenging authority - or that the vast majority of thinkers no longer
> >adopt the strictly phenomenological approach.
>
> The articles I referenced gave extensive and detailed descriptions of what
> *they* meant when using the terms they did, exactly contrary to those who
> want to confuse people over the meaning of "theory". If you don't like the
> connection of postmodernism to epistemological relativism, that's fine.
> But then you'll have to do a better job of separating them than just saying
> they are different.

Sorry - but Scheiber's article is absolute pants when it comes to the
PoMo elements. he cites the 'postmodern left' as being a unified
entity to begin with (it's not - was never singly assoicated with
social movements as it covers architecture, art, music and eventually
sociology). Then invokes Kuhn as some sort of demigod of the PoMo left
(not true). Same goes for McKnight's article - the PoMo movement
becomes some sort of cypher for relativism. Rather than actually
define terms it's become a homogenous whipping boy under which all left
wing intellectual thought can be 'shown' as non-rigourous and
'relativistic' (in other words - whatever you want it to be). Not the
case, never has been, read the actual literature.

As I've pointed out - they (the ID crew) are not 'speaking the language
of post-modernism' - they are political opportunists who rely on
pluralised concepts of democracy in order to get 'equal time'. The
fact that contemporary ideals of equality and egalitarianism borrow
heavily from civil rights movements and other areas and then picked up
by the modern ID movement is co-incidence - not design.

I certainly won't disagree that there has been (still is) some
appalling writing and articles under the banner of PoMo thought. I
wouldn't for a second argue that social constructionism (Fuller et al)
aren't respected in certain circles - all I'm doing is to point out
that before the term 'post-modernism' is used (again) as code for 'it's
all relative' try actually reading up on the subject first.

catshark

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Apr 22, 2006, 10:49:02 PM4/22/06
to
On 22 Apr 2006 18:33:26 -0700, "Alexander" <alexand...@btinternet.com>
wrote:

[...]

>I can keep repeating the fact that PoMo ideology doesn't reduce to the
>terms as defined in popular literature but for some reason no-one is
>listening.

Well, I'll remember that there is a question about what pomo really means
and will be a bit more precise about it, if that makes you happy.

>Does sound like that thing that happens when you tell
>certain quarters that 'theory' under scientific terms implies more than
>'just a guess'.

No. The intended effect of the creationists is to *confuse* the discussion
by taking advantage of the definition commonly used by the average person
arguing in a bar. The creationists intentionally don't describe "theory"
so that that happens.

OTOH, the discussion in these articles is about epistemological relativism.
No one is confused *within* this discussion by the use of the term "pomo"
to describe that, since all the articles make clear that is what they mean.
Any confusion is only as to things that that aren't being directly
discussed that you say are the "correct" interpretation of pomo. While I
understand your frustration at having something you are obviously in favor
of being tarred by a brush it may not deserve, these articles are not doing
the same as the creationists.

>
>Maybe more reading is required.

Almost undoubtably. But you haven't given much reason to adjust my already
limited reading time. What is so *good* about pomo?

>
>>
>> >
>> >I would stress that current thinking in sociology emphasises the
>> >function of the social rather than the evidential basis of our senses.
>> >People like Fuller are very, very, old school and in a strange minority
>> >of sociologists.
>>
>> I don't think anyone thinks Fuller represents all sociologists anymore than
>> than they think the creationist engineer predicted by the Salem hypothesis
>> represents all engineers.
>
>Which is encouraging - but rarely, if ever, represented as such.
>
>>
>> >I would also point out that Fuller, despite some
>> >idiot granting him residency here, is a yank and had ties to the ID
>> >crew even before Dover. You lot seem so much more susceptible to
>> >faddish modes of thought.
>>
>> Really? No "lot" who thinks cricket is a spectator sport have any basis to
>> boast!
>
>Ah - you've obviously never tried to translate Baseball into any sort
>of meaningful terms. Just as arcane and even more obscure in terms of
>being a complicated version of rounders.

Ah, But I don't think *my* lot is any less irrational than any other.

Basically, you are arguing that pomo is more nuanced that what is being
portrayed in articles of a few thousand words that are mostly concerned
with what you admit is one aspect of it. Okay. But that is bound to
happen in anything less than a complete history of human thought which
would exceed the capacity of every library on Earth if anyone could write
it.

>
>As I've pointed out - they (the ID crew) are not 'speaking the language
>of post-modernism' - they are political opportunists who rely on
>pluralised concepts of democracy in order to get 'equal time'.

No, they are *mimicing* certain practitioners of something that is
generally known as postmodernism. Mimicry doesn't work unless there is
some fidelity to the target of the disguise.

>The
>fact that contemporary ideals of equality and egalitarianism borrow
>heavily from civil rights movements and other areas and then picked up
>by the modern ID movement is co-incidence - not design.
>
>I certainly won't disagree that there has been (still is) some
>appalling writing and articles under the banner of PoMo thought. I
>wouldn't for a second argue that social constructionism (Fuller et al)
>aren't respected in certain circles - all I'm doing is to point out
>that before the term 'post-modernism' is used (again) as code for 'it's
>all relative' try actually reading up on the subject first.

Can you give any reference concerning postmodernism epistemology?

--
---------------
J. Pieret
---------------

Consistency we should expect of philosophies,
but perhaps not of philosophers.

- Neal C. Gillespie -

catshark

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Apr 22, 2006, 10:56:18 PM4/22/06
to
On Sat, 22 Apr 2006 19:11:56 -0400, catshark <cats...@yahoo.com> wrote:

[...]

>>NEW Alliance? Paul Gross noted it at least 6 years ago. As you probably
>>know, he co-authored with Levitt "Higher Superstition: The Academic
>>Laft and its Quarrels with Science."
>
>Levitt mentions that in his article.
>
>I don't think I said it was new.

Ah, but the title of the editorial was "A new alliance against science,"
wasn't it? Sorry, I don't usually pay much attention to headlines, which
are not often chosen by the author and frequently fail to accurately
reflect the article. It may also reflect the Canadians' relative newness
to this kind of controversy.

--
---------------
J. Pieret
---------------

The peril of negative arguments is that they may rest on
our lack of knowledge, rather than on positive results.

- Michael J. Behe -

Mujin

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Apr 23, 2006, 12:18:31 AM4/23/06
to
In article <cunl421oj8hmdq3lh...@4ax.com>,
cats...@yahoo.com says...

> What is so *good* about pomo?

And then:

> Ah, But I don't think *my* lot is any less irrational than any other.

Exactly.

Alexander

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Apr 23, 2006, 8:05:46 AM4/23/06
to
catshark wrote:
> On 22 Apr 2006 18:33:26 -0700, "Alexander" <alexand...@btinternet.com>
> wrote:
>
> [...]
>
> >I can keep repeating the fact that PoMo ideology doesn't reduce to the
> >terms as defined in popular literature but for some reason no-one is
> >listening.
>
> Well, I'll remember that there is a question about what pomo really means
> and will be a bit more precise about it, if that makes you happy.

It's not a case of being happy about what you do - just apply the same
rigour to areas such as these as I know you do to others.

>
> >Does sound like that thing that happens when you tell
> >certain quarters that 'theory' under scientific terms implies more than
> >'just a guess'.
>
> No. The intended effect of the creationists is to *confuse* the discussion
> by taking advantage of the definition commonly used by the average person
> arguing in a bar. The creationists intentionally don't describe "theory"
> so that that happens.

Precisely. So deployment of the term here is just as confusing by the
authors of the articles you've quoted. I'll show why in a bit.

>
> OTOH, the discussion in these articles is about epistemological relativism.
> No one is confused *within* this discussion by the use of the term "pomo"
> to describe that, since all the articles make clear that is what they mean.
> Any confusion is only as to things that that aren't being directly
> discussed that you say are the "correct" interpretation of pomo. While I
> understand your frustration at having something you are obviously in favor
> of being tarred by a brush it may not deserve, these articles are not doing
> the same as the creationists.

No? Well let's look at the comments from McKnight:

"The SSHRC, it seems, has adopted wholesale the postmodern
epistemological relativism that has for years been promoted in many
university humanities and social science faculties.

Central to the project of epistemological relativism is the notion
that, contrary to popular belief, science doesn't occupy a privileged
position, that it doesn't have any special claim to truth. Rather,
science maintains its authority through power rather than truth --
through carefully controlling access to resources and bullying its
opponents into submission."

Then on the following page:

"Consequently, the postmodernists arrogate to themselves the
responsibility to "deconstruct" this scientific monopoly, to show that
other forms of "knowledge," whether they come from religious texts,
conspiracy theorists or UFO cultists, are just as valid as scientific
knowledge."

Before concluding:

"For the postmodernists, then, all truth is relative, and all attempts
at finding it ought to be equally valued. This fits in nicely with the
lefty postmodernists' warm-and-fuzzy egalitarianism."

I'm a post-modernist in certain respects but I neither maintain that
'all truth is relative' or adopt a 'warm and fuzzy' egalitarianism.
There is no context for these assertions, no support for why it has
apparently been adopted across social science academe (it has not - and
there are many who argue against any validity for PoMo in the first
place) and more importantly no academic reference for such a claim.
You seem content to just accept this at face value. This is more than
defining a single 'aspect' of PoMo thinking - this is stating that ALL
social science has succumbed to this line of thought. It defines
(possibly) one US based school of thought in relation to science -
social constructivism - which is neither widespread nor generally
accepted. It is extremely unfortunate that the SSHRC either seems to
have adopted one or that Halliday has ID sympathies in a more direct
fashion. It seems every discipline is problematicised by this appeal
of ID to pseudo-intellectual values (and yes I do put Fuller in that
category - his testimony at Dover wasn't convincing at a sociological
level, never mind philisophical) but PoMo seems to enjoy a unique cause
celebre amongst certain circles for justifying all of this kind of
thought. I do wonder how creationism managed to be popular before PoMo
came along.

>From Scheiber:

"The animating principle of the postmodern left is the notion that
truth follows from power and not from its intrinsic rightness."

Uh ... is it? Power relationships are important but as described this
is the animating principle behind Marxist structuralist thought not
post-modernity. For example Chomsky maintained that language had a
permanent embedded structure that would be true regardless of where you
were in the world. You could argue about the inherent symbolism behind
those words and that meaning was relative but this would never actually
be an impediment to understanding. His view was relativistic (a Marx
influenced author maintaining that power relationships define meaning
within modern capitalist societies) but had nothing to do with PoMo.
In fact Chomsky remains a staunch critic of PoMo (mainly because PoMo
deconstructs and gets rid of Marxist assumptions about society) and in
some respects he points out some critical fallacies but he was also
wrong about a number of things that PoMo thought has helped establish
as being correct.

The biggest example is that language with Chomsky is strictly
Grammarian (i.e. it is spoken word and very precise in meaning). What
followed was a whole series of disciplines looking at discourse which
demonstrates that not only culture changes conceptual frameworks but
that language relies on a whole series of cues and structures that
Chomsky never considered. Harvey Sacks for example showed how that you
can not only analyse language within an empirical framework but make
certain predictions in various circumstances (and showed as such) but
that these predictions had nothing to do with the structuralism of
Chomsky's grammarian views. Instead Sacks showed that language is
predicated by rules over turn taking, pauses, repairs, breaths,
intonations and other aspects which (for example) don't appear in this
text.

This has nothing to do with 'truth follows from power' for the
postmodern left. It's true of Chomsky, who is not PoMo, but not true
for a large number of post-modern writers and certainly not true in the
manner Scheiber describes.

To adopt a nomothetic model such as 'truth follows from power' is to
adopt an attitude which is the antithesis of post-modern thinking. You
cannot ignore power structures or the role they play in defining
opinions or socialised values, but this is different to saying that you
believe it's defining 'truth'.

Neither Scheiber or McKnight make any particular effort to articulate
these differences or explain how the essential concepts behind the idea
of science (especially capitalist science) being a power driven process
is essentially a structuralist one.

>
> >
> >Maybe more reading is required.
>
> Almost undoubtably. But you haven't given much reason to adjust my already
> limited reading time. What is so *good* about pomo?

Never said it was 'so' good - just that it is being mis-represented
here.

There are two important 'PoMo' lines of thought however - post-modern
feminist theory and post-colonialism.

PoMo feminist theory has been critical in undermining a number of
concepts inherited from 2nd wave feminists (1st wave being the
suffragette movement essentially). What this argument boils down to is
that the feminists during the 70's while they were busy burning their
bras and trying to get some semblance of genuine equality, overlooked
their own capacity to discriminate. The movement was dominated by
writers who adopted a white, middle class, socialist outlook. Quite a
large number of disenfranchised female ethnic groups had to point out
that this form of feminism wasn't discussing either their backgrounds,
needs, political aspirations or cultural values (unless you wanted to
be subsumed into the white, female, socialist world view).

Post Modernism is not so much what galvanized these groups into
redefining those relationships but what that movement became (this is
how PoMo works - it isn't a particular locus but a specific moment or
conceptual framework that presents the 'shock of the new'). While
androcentrism is strongly acknowledged within PoMo feminist writing it
also challenges the way in which women look at each other. Both Butler
and Haraway invite their readers to discard the concepts of 'right' and
'left' and instead look for an affinity of ideas and common causes.
Butler also gave us the critical definition of how we socially examine
gender as opposed to 'sexes'. Ideas which are now quite pervasive at
one level or another. Neither Butler or Haraway are very accessible as
authors however - which is shame because they have a lot to say that's
important (although I'm critical of certain aspects - but the detail of
that is not important here).

Post-Colonialism in a similar way tackles issues to do with racism and
the portrayal of ethnic groups in the light of the dominance of
European nations during the 19th century. One of the big problems has
been how a particular groups can be said to have an 'authentic'
identity in light of colonialism - instead of just a romanticised or
idealised concept of what it is to be 'black' for example. It also
seeks to redress the historical revisionism inherent within european
histories of the colonies. India, for example, was more than the Raj -
but the majority of history books generally available within the UK
focus exclusively on that tiny part of the countries history. Writers
like Edward Said and Homi Bahba expose this problem and the west's
continuing obssession in trying to define the middle east/africa/asia
in ways that make it seem less alien to them - how to westernise
something that is different.

Within all of that is the search to actually create a definitive ethnic
culture that can incorporate multi-cultural/pluralistic values without
mythologising the cultures past - this becomes important when you start
to consider the dis-enfranchised and ghettoised nature of a lot of
ethnic groups across the west. Identity and the search for meaning has
violent consequences if not addressed correctly.

>
> >
> >>
> >> >
> >> >I would stress that current thinking in sociology emphasises the
> >> >function of the social rather than the evidential basis of our senses.
> >> >People like Fuller are very, very, old school and in a strange minority
> >> >of sociologists.
> >>
> >> I don't think anyone thinks Fuller represents all sociologists anymore than
> >> than they think the creationist engineer predicted by the Salem hypothesis
> >> represents all engineers.
> >
> >Which is encouraging - but rarely, if ever, represented as such.
> >
> >>
> >> >I would also point out that Fuller, despite some
> >> >idiot granting him residency here, is a yank and had ties to the ID
> >> >crew even before Dover. You lot seem so much more susceptible to
> >> >faddish modes of thought.
> >>
> >> Really? No "lot" who thinks cricket is a spectator sport have any basis to
> >> boast!
> >
> >Ah - you've obviously never tried to translate Baseball into any sort
> >of meaningful terms. Just as arcane and even more obscure in terms of
> >being a complicated version of rounders.
>
> Ah, But I don't think *my* lot is any less irrational than any other.

Ahem ... ID is the US's problem. The fact that the US tries to make
its problems the worlds problems hardly makes us more or less
irrational.

Well ok - next time you want to challenge anyone when it comes to
nuance (about anything that you believe to be important) hold on to
that thought.

>
> >
> >As I've pointed out - they (the ID crew) are not 'speaking the language
> >of post-modernism' - they are political opportunists who rely on
> >pluralised concepts of democracy in order to get 'equal time'.
>
> No, they are *mimicing* certain practitioners of something that is
> generally known as postmodernism. Mimicry doesn't work unless there is
> some fidelity to the target of the disguise.

No - it's not mimicry, or even any relation to PoMo. It's a
charicature of 'relativism' which has multiple sources. There seems to
be an obssession with linking it exclusively to post modern left wing
intellectualism though - which is patently wrong. Any society that
contends to be a modern democracy actively encourages indivduals to
accept the validity of anothers view or political aspiration. Doubly
so in the US where the constitution guarantees such egalitarian notions
as freedom of speech and political/religious expression. The roots of
pluralism did not suddenly begin during some 60's cabal of elite social
theorists deciding that if they put it about a bit that all things are
relative and they called it 'post-modern' they could suddenly justify
any activity.

The roots of what ID are deploying lie within the foundation of all
modern democracies - that of the right to an equal voice. The canard
of social constructivism being overlayed as justification for ID's
current resurgence and popularity (as though it's part of some very
cleverly contrived project ... it's not - it's just PR) is absurd.
What is pushing the ID agenda is the broad religious support for the
concept, the notion within the US that everyone deserves equal time (a
demand made well before ID materialised) to be heard out and a genuine
unwillingness by the US public to engage with what it sees as
'intellectuals'. An anti-intellectual creed within the US has always
existed and this is the anima for the rejection of ID - the fact that
ID is relying on common misunderstandings about terms such as the
application of 'theory' and the notion of 'fair play' has nothing to do
with post-modernism.


>
> >The
> >fact that contemporary ideals of equality and egalitarianism borrow
> >heavily from civil rights movements and other areas and then picked up
> >by the modern ID movement is co-incidence - not design.
> >
> >I certainly won't disagree that there has been (still is) some
> >appalling writing and articles under the banner of PoMo thought. I
> >wouldn't for a second argue that social constructionism (Fuller et al)
> >aren't respected in certain circles - all I'm doing is to point out
> >that before the term 'post-modernism' is used (again) as code for 'it's
> >all relative' try actually reading up on the subject first.
>
> Can you give any reference concerning postmodernism epistemology?

Seeing as the term is essentially meaningless no. There is no canon of
post-modern thought but I can give you reference for a good little
history which details the principle movements and some of the
incredibly complex arguments that underlie it:

The Postmodern
Simon Malpas (2005)
Routledge

Frank J

unread,
Apr 23, 2006, 9:43:30 AM4/23/06
to

catshark wrote:
> On Sat, 22 Apr 2006 19:11:56 -0400, catshark <cats...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> [...]
>
> >>NEW Alliance? Paul Gross noted it at least 6 years ago. As you probably
> >>know, he co-authored with Levitt "Higher Superstition: The Academic
> >>Laft and its Quarrels with Science."
> >
> >Levitt mentions that in his article.
> >
> >I don't think I said it was new.
>
> Ah, but the title of the editorial was "A new alliance against science,"
> wasn't it? Sorry, I don't usually pay much attention to headlines, which
> are not often chosen by the author and frequently fail to accurately
> reflect the article. It may also reflect the Canadians' relative newness
> to this kind of controversy.
>

Even in the US, it's so seldom spoken that it's one of the best-kept
secrets in the "controversy." It's just another part of my rant of the
last few years that, with all the effort put into telling people either
what they know or refuse to admit (that anti-evolution positions are
religious, not scientific, ID promotes classic creationism, etc.) we
keep missing the things that might actually turn off both fence-sitters
and incorrigible Biblical literalists to the latest pseudoscientific
anti-evolution strategies. That being that they are not in line with
either mainstram religion (catch God red-handed? A designer that might
not be God, or no longer even exist? horrors!) or mainstream
conservativism (teach something - revisionist history no less - that
hasn't earned the right to be taught? more horrors!)

catshark

unread,
Apr 23, 2006, 11:12:01 AM4/23/06
to
On 23 Apr 2006 05:05:46 -0700, "Alexander" <alexand...@btinternet.com>
wrote:

> catshark wrote:


> > On 22 Apr 2006 18:33:26 -0700, "Alexander" <alexand...@btinternet.com>
> > wrote:
> >
> > [...]
> >
> > >I can keep repeating the fact that PoMo ideology doesn't reduce to the
> > >terms as defined in popular literature but for some reason no-one is
> > >listening.
> >
> > Well, I'll remember that there is a question about what pomo really means
> > and will be a bit more precise about it, if that makes you happy.
>
> It's not a case of being happy about what you do - just apply the same
> rigour to areas such as these as I know you do to others.

I'm confused. I'm supposed to be rigorous about a concept that you define
as something that "isn't a particular locus but a specific moment or
conceptual framework that presents the 'shock of the new'"? Just how is
rigor applied to that?

> > >Does sound like that thing that happens when you tell
> > >certain quarters that 'theory' under scientific terms implies more than
> > >'just a guess'.
> >
> > No. The intended effect of the creationists is to *confuse* the discussion
> > by taking advantage of the definition commonly used by the average person
> > arguing in a bar. The creationists intentionally don't describe "theory"
> > so that that happens.
>
> Precisely. So deployment of the term here is just as confusing by the
> authors of the articles you've quoted. I'll show why in a bit.
>
> >

[Snip interesting stuff but which does not make a case that the authors of
the referenced articles are *trying* to confuse the discussion over what
*type* of non-religious academic support for ID there is, the way
creationist attempt to confuse what science is by playing off the public's
definition of "theory"]

And how would we apply that to the cultural values of fundamentalist
evangelical Christianity?

> > >> >I would stress that current thinking in sociology emphasises the
> > >> >function of the social rather than the evidential basis of our senses.
> > >> >People like Fuller are very, very, old school and in a strange minority
> > >> >of sociologists.
> > >>
> > >> I don't think anyone thinks Fuller represents all sociologists anymore than
> > >> than they think the creationist engineer predicted by the Salem hypothesis
> > >> represents all engineers.
> > >
> > >Which is encouraging - but rarely, if ever, represented as such.
> > >
> > >>
> > >> >I would also point out that Fuller, despite some
> > >> >idiot granting him residency here, is a yank and had ties to the ID
> > >> >crew even before Dover. You lot seem so much more susceptible to
> > >> >faddish modes of thought.
> > >>
> > >> Really? No "lot" who thinks cricket is a spectator sport have any basis to
> > >> boast!
> > >
> > >Ah - you've obviously never tried to translate Baseball into any sort
> > >of meaningful terms. Just as arcane and even more obscure in terms of
> > >being a complicated version of rounders.
> >
> > Ah, But I don't think *my* lot is any less irrational than any other.
>
> Ahem ... ID is the US's problem. The fact that the US tries to make
> its problems the worlds problems hardly makes us more or less
> irrational.

Funny, I heard somewhere that you lot were much less susceptible to such
stuff somehow. My mistake.

What is so hard about that? Most discussions in t.o., be they scientific,
legal, religious or otherwise, are not on the level of specialists. Nuance
is always lost. If that nuance is important to the particular point under
discussion, then it is right to delve deeper. In this case, the only
point I've seen that might be worth bringing up is that pomo is not only or
even essentially epistemological relativism.

Conversely, whatever non-religious academic support for ID is certainly
coming from epistemological relativists, who are, in turn, often (always?)
associated with *something* being called postmodernism.

In fact, given how little the term "postmodern" actually apparently means,
it might just be best for anyone who doesn't like its current connotations
(which are certainly widespread in the US, at least) to simply abandon it
and invent a new name.

> > >As I've pointed out - they (the ID crew) are not 'speaking the language
> > >of post-modernism' - they are political opportunists who rely on
> > >pluralised concepts of democracy in order to get 'equal time'.
> >
> > No, they are *mimicing* certain practitioners of something that is
> > generally known as postmodernism. Mimicry doesn't work unless there is
> > some fidelity to the target of the disguise.
>
> No - it's not mimicry, or even any relation to PoMo.

Frankly, I don't know how you can deny anyone membership in a club you
can't seem to define.

> It's a
> charicature of 'relativism' which has multiple sources. There seems to
> be an obssession with linking it exclusively to post modern left wing
> intellectualism though - which is patently wrong.

I did not see any attempt to link it *exclusively* to pomo but as you have
admitted that there is this streak in pomo, I can't see how you can deny
*any* connection between pomo and this sort of epistemological relativism.

> Any society that
> contends to be a modern democracy actively encourages indivduals to
> accept the validity of anothers view or political aspiration. Doubly
> so in the US where the constitution guarantees such egalitarian notions
> as freedom of speech and political/religious expression. The roots of
> pluralism did not suddenly begin during some 60's cabal of elite social
> theorists deciding that if they put it about a bit that all things are
> relative and they called it 'post-modern' they could suddenly justify
> any activity.
>
> The roots of what ID are deploying lie within the foundation of all
> modern democracies - that of the right to an equal voice. The canard
> of social constructivism being overlayed as justification for ID's
> current resurgence and popularity (as though it's part of some very
> cleverly contrived project ... it's not - it's just PR) is absurd.

Indeed it is. I can't imagine where you got the notion that the authors of
these articles (or I) were saying any such thing.

> What is pushing the ID agenda is the broad religious support for the
> concept, the notion within the US that everyone deserves equal time (a
> demand made well before ID materialised) to be heard out and a genuine
> unwillingness by the US public to engage with what it sees as
> 'intellectuals'. An anti-intellectual creed within the US has always
> existed and this is the anima for the rejection of ID - the fact that
> ID is relying on common misunderstandings about terms such as the
> application of 'theory' and the notion of 'fair play' has nothing to do
> with post-modernism.

No one I have seen is saying that pomo is "pushing" the ID agenda in that
sense.

> > >The
> > >fact that contemporary ideals of equality and egalitarianism borrow
> > >heavily from civil rights movements and other areas and then picked up
> > >by the modern ID movement is co-incidence - not design.
> > >
> > >I certainly won't disagree that there has been (still is) some
> > >appalling writing and articles under the banner of PoMo thought. I
> > >wouldn't for a second argue that social constructionism (Fuller et al)
> > >aren't respected in certain circles - all I'm doing is to point out
> > >that before the term 'post-modernism' is used (again) as code for 'it's
> > >all relative' try actually reading up on the subject first.
> >
> > Can you give any reference concerning postmodernism epistemology?
>
> Seeing as the term is essentially meaningless no. There is no canon of
> post-modern thought

Is there any fair definition of what "post-modern thought" is? Or is it a
historical catch-all for those multiple movements and arguments you
mention?

> but I can give you reference for a good little
> history which details the principle movements and some of the
> incredibly complex arguments that underlie it:
>
> The Postmodern
> Simon Malpas (2005)
> Routledge

Thanks.

--
---------------
J. Pieret
---------------

One cannot conceive anything so strange and so implausible
that it has not already been said by one philosopher or another.

- Rene Descartes -

Alexander

unread,
Apr 23, 2006, 1:27:12 PM4/23/06
to
catshark wrote:
> On 23 Apr 2006 05:05:46 -0700, "Alexander" <alexand...@btinternet.com>
> wrote:
>
> > catshark wrote:
> > > On 22 Apr 2006 18:33:26 -0700, "Alexander" <alexand...@btinternet.com>
> > > wrote:
> > >
> > > [...]
> > >
> > > >I can keep repeating the fact that PoMo ideology doesn't reduce to the
> > > >terms as defined in popular literature but for some reason no-one is
> > > >listening.
> > >
> > > Well, I'll remember that there is a question about what pomo really means
> > > and will be a bit more precise about it, if that makes you happy.
> >
> > It's not a case of being happy about what you do - just apply the same
> > rigour to areas such as these as I know you do to others.
>
> I'm confused. I'm supposed to be rigorous about a concept that you define
> as something that "isn't a particular locus but a specific moment or
> conceptual framework that presents the 'shock of the new'"? Just how is
> rigor applied to that?

In the same way you might examine any other term. You read the
literature and examine the claims made by the authors and see if they
stand up philisophically or otherwise.

However, simply labelling something post-modern because it in some way
conforms to a pre-conceived notion of relativism doesn't cut it. The
various movements within PoMo are both much broader and incorporate a
deeper range of thinking than just assuming that the be-all and end-all
of the movement is some sort of left wing intellectual well of wishful
thinking about how all things are equal or that 'truth' is defined
through regimes of power.

I might be confused over various disciplines within biology - genetics,
cladistics and so on - it doesn't mean I would automatically assume
that each division within biology conforms to precisely the same
methodology or practice without actually studying the area in question.
If I was to make a sweeping generalisation about how biologists
conduct their work or how all biologists _must_ belong to a particular
political or ideological persuasion I know exactly what would happen.
Which is why I neither make that assumption or statement about
biologists or any other field for that matter until I at laest
understand something about its history and practice.

I just don't see the same courtesy being extended within the articles
quoted and this is - I suspect - because it is more comforting to
assume that what you read is correct because it confirms your
prejudices about how sociology works in this regard.

>
> > > >Does sound like that thing that happens when you tell
> > > >certain quarters that 'theory' under scientific terms implies more than
> > > >'just a guess'.
> > >
> > > No. The intended effect of the creationists is to *confuse* the discussion
> > > by taking advantage of the definition commonly used by the average person
> > > arguing in a bar. The creationists intentionally don't describe "theory"
> > > so that that happens.
> >
> > Precisely. So deployment of the term here is just as confusing by the
> > authors of the articles you've quoted. I'll show why in a bit.
> >
> > >
>
> [Snip interesting stuff but which does not make a case that the authors of
> the referenced articles are *trying* to confuse the discussion over what
> *type* of non-religious academic support for ID there is, the way
> creationist attempt to confuse what science is by playing off the public's
> definition of "theory"]

I agree there is a difference, but it is one of degree rather than
intent. If creationists are guilty of willfully manipulating terms and
popular understanding then the article authors are guilty of simply
applying a prejudice about the nature of the movement and the roots of
relativistic values. The manner in which ID is manipulating the public
within the US has nothing to do with being post-modern or even 'using'
PoMo ideology.

It is about utilising the mechanisms that exist within society to
further their agenda which, again, are not post-modern - they owe both
their foundation and history to concepts we all hold close which is
essentially about how modern democracies should function.. We don't
honestly know whether the SSHRC has been motivated by PoMo thought and
not a great deal of evidence has been advanced for that - for a social
constructivist agenda perhaps, but as I keep pointing out this owes
more to Marxist structuralism rather than post modernism.

They do ask the important question in why the funding was turned down -
but don't seem to get very far beyond their own claims of PoMo
influence.

First of all understand that Fundamentalism has nothing do with being
post-modern.

I've rambled about issues to do with identity on and off on TO for some
time - all of those observations and my own studies tie directly to the
post-structuralist and PoMo influences that drove current thinking
about identity and the sense of self. I'd link the threads but am
really crap at tracking relevant threads down on Google. Essentially
they've allowed me to both understand the extensive social history
behind th movement, the political and cultural landscape the debate
grew within and to deconstruct the language used by creationists in an
attempt to isolate patterns of behaviour and thinking.

One of the principle observations is in relation to how history is
defined and shaped by authors - not a stunning thought these days but
that's essentially because thinkers like Foucault helped bring those
concepts to the fore during the 60's/70's. Without Foucault the way in
which we look and understand history and power relationships probably
would bear little resemblance to what it is today. 'History of the
Present' for example is a specific movement within sociology that looks
at exactly those kind of issues such as the historical rise of
fundamentalism from an a-political perspective. Then sees how the
historical impact influences current social trends and cultural norms.
It questions what we regard as 'normal' within society and why we've
come to consider it as such.

While these functions of sociology aren't post-modern in themselves,
they owe their existence to the PoMo movement within literature and
philosophy that laid the foundation for the studies practical
application.

>
> > > >> >I would stress that current thinking in sociology emphasises the
> > > >> >function of the social rather than the evidential basis of our senses.
> > > >> >People like Fuller are very, very, old school and in a strange minority
> > > >> >of sociologists.
> > > >>
> > > >> I don't think anyone thinks Fuller represents all sociologists anymore than
> > > >> than they think the creationist engineer predicted by the Salem hypothesis
> > > >> represents all engineers.
> > > >
> > > >Which is encouraging - but rarely, if ever, represented as such.
> > > >
> > > >>
> > > >> >I would also point out that Fuller, despite some
> > > >> >idiot granting him residency here, is a yank and had ties to the ID
> > > >> >crew even before Dover. You lot seem so much more susceptible to
> > > >> >faddish modes of thought.
> > > >>
> > > >> Really? No "lot" who thinks cricket is a spectator sport have any basis to
> > > >> boast!
> > > >
> > > >Ah - you've obviously never tried to translate Baseball into any sort
> > > >of meaningful terms. Just as arcane and even more obscure in terms of
> > > >being a complicated version of rounders.
> > >
> > > Ah, But I don't think *my* lot is any less irrational than any other.
> >
> > Ahem ... ID is the US's problem. The fact that the US tries to make
> > its problems the worlds problems hardly makes us more or less
> > irrational.
>
> Funny, I heard somewhere that you lot were much less susceptible to such
> stuff somehow. My mistake.

OK - I'm confused about who 'us' is now - never mind.

Which considering the claims made in the article - and the suppositions
that go behind it are fairly significant. If it's not a culturally
significant point to make (the PoMo movement of the left is providing
ground to the ID argument) then why make it at all? You seem to be
arguing both ends against the middle here - that the story and articles
show how the influence of post-modern thought is being used by the ID
proponents to justify their academic stance, but at the same time that
the 'nuance' involved in what exactly PoMo is, isn't worth discussing
or considering. I'm confused on that score.

>
> Conversely, whatever non-religious academic support for ID is certainly
> coming from epistemological relativists, who are, in turn, often (always?)
> associated with *something* being called postmodernism.

Can you provide a citation for that? I dont doubt that it happens but
am not personally aware of it. All the reports of where PoMo is given
as the reason for relativism being supported tend to be 3rd party
assertions, rather than claims from the academic circles concerned.
Being 'associated' with something called PoMo doesn't make it PoMo - in
the same way that if a physicist hangs out with mathmetician doesn't
mean that all the maths currently has a practical application in the
physicists work. Elements can be burrowed or used or transferred but
the physicist isn't a mathmetician just because he uses maths.

>
> In fact, given how little the term "postmodern" actually apparently means,
> it might just be best for anyone who doesn't like its current connotations
> (which are certainly widespread in the US, at least) to simply abandon it
> and invent a new name.

Rather pointless ... why don't we call 'theories' something else given
the widespread mis-use of the term?

>
> > > >As I've pointed out - they (the ID crew) are not 'speaking the language
> > > >of post-modernism' - they are political opportunists who rely on
> > > >pluralised concepts of democracy in order to get 'equal time'.
> > >
> > > No, they are *mimicing* certain practitioners of something that is
> > > generally known as postmodernism. Mimicry doesn't work unless there is
> > > some fidelity to the target of the disguise.
> >
> > No - it's not mimicry, or even any relation to PoMo.
>
> Frankly, I don't know how you can deny anyone membership in a club you
> can't seem to define.

It's not a club - which is where I think the confusion stems from.
Neither can it be defined in terms of a sequential movement going from
modernism to post-modernism. Yet it still conforms to certain specific
aspects and criterion which do shape it and is the principle reason why
other movements are excluded - see below.

>
> > It's a
> > charicature of 'relativism' which has multiple sources. There seems to
> > be an obssession with linking it exclusively to post modern left wing
> > intellectualism though - which is patently wrong.
>
> I did not see any attempt to link it *exclusively* to pomo but as you have
> admitted that there is this streak in pomo, I can't see how you can deny
> *any* connection between pomo and this sort of epistemological relativism.

No more of a connection than there is from contemporary society to
democratic values and pluralism. The kind of things that ID utilises
within its discourse has more to do with 'common sense' values than any
intellectual application of some PoMo concept (which deconstruct those
kind of values in the first place).

If you want to point to the particular PoMo ideology that is deployed
by ID proponents then be my guest. If you can't define the term for
your own purposes then what do you see PoMo as being - if it's like the
authors of the articles you've quoted then you are simply accepting
something you've admitted yourself is an opaque area of knowledge to
you.

If it's another variation on how society values 'equal time' then you
are not presenting anything which hasn't already pre-dated the PoMo
movements and schools of thought.

I've tried (and obviously failed) to show how the articles place the
blame pretty much at the door of social science academe (ignoring the
fact that the proposal for the study - clearly from an evolutionary
proponent - was from that same academe and background - why wasn't that
sociologist influenced by PoMo relativism?). Apparently I can quote,
juxtapose and indicate how the articles specifically say that this is
all down to postmodernism but if it doesn't cut any ice then I can't do
much else really.

I've also tried to show how the kind of thing discussed in the article
owes more to structuralism in terms of overarching power regimes
dictating terms about who and how work is completed and who dictates
the 'truth' of a 'fact'. I've provided a potted history of the same
and some examples of the differences in the movements - but apparently
that doesn't mean anything either.

I can't do much more than that to be honest.

>
> > Any society that
> > contends to be a modern democracy actively encourages indivduals to
> > accept the validity of anothers view or political aspiration. Doubly
> > so in the US where the constitution guarantees such egalitarian notions
> > as freedom of speech and political/religious expression. The roots of
> > pluralism did not suddenly begin during some 60's cabal of elite social
> > theorists deciding that if they put it about a bit that all things are
> > relative and they called it 'post-modern' they could suddenly justify
> > any activity.
> >
> > The roots of what ID are deploying lie within the foundation of all
> > modern democracies - that of the right to an equal voice. The canard
> > of social constructivism being overlayed as justification for ID's
> > current resurgence and popularity (as though it's part of some very
> > cleverly contrived project ... it's not - it's just PR) is absurd.
>
> Indeed it is. I can't imagine where you got the notion that the authors of
> these articles (or I) were saying any such thing.

Phrases such as:

"By contrast, today's IDers have gone further and adopted the
epistemology of the left--the idea that ostensibly scientific truths
may be relative."

As though we all bow down to this particular creed. Social
interactions are relative - facts are not. The above sentence pretty
much epitomises the attitude that is prevalent ... an assumption that
the 'epistemology of the left' is somehow totalising, all-encompassing
and specific to post-modern thought.

>
> > What is pushing the ID agenda is the broad religious support for the
> > concept, the notion within the US that everyone deserves equal time (a
> > demand made well before ID materialised) to be heard out and a genuine
> > unwillingness by the US public to engage with what it sees as
> > 'intellectuals'. An anti-intellectual creed within the US has always
> > existed and this is the anima for the rejection of ID - the fact that
> > ID is relying on common misunderstandings about terms such as the
> > application of 'theory' and the notion of 'fair play' has nothing to do
> > with post-modernism.
>
> No one I have seen is saying that pomo is "pushing" the ID agenda in that
> sense.

Then why don't the articles address those issues then, instead of
saying that PoMo provides some foundation for ID thought (regardless of
whether this is complicit with those who put forward a PoMo agenda or
not)?

Instead what we have is the usual blanket assertions about how PoMo
provided relativism and little else beyond that.

>
> > > >The
> > > >fact that contemporary ideals of equality and egalitarianism borrow
> > > >heavily from civil rights movements and other areas and then picked up
> > > >by the modern ID movement is co-incidence - not design.
> > > >
> > > >I certainly won't disagree that there has been (still is) some
> > > >appalling writing and articles under the banner of PoMo thought. I
> > > >wouldn't for a second argue that social constructionism (Fuller et al)
> > > >aren't respected in certain circles - all I'm doing is to point out
> > > >that before the term 'post-modernism' is used (again) as code for 'it's
> > > >all relative' try actually reading up on the subject first.
> > >
> > > Can you give any reference concerning postmodernism epistemology?
> >
> > Seeing as the term is essentially meaningless no. There is no canon of
> > post-modern thought
>
> Is there any fair definition of what "post-modern thought" is? Or is it a
> historical catch-all for those multiple movements and arguments you
> mention?

Lyotard came up with the best all round definition of what constitutes
post-modern (it's still several pages long and Lyotard was terrified of
technology ... PoMo thinkers like Haraway embrace it). It's called
'What is Post-Modernism' - I think - and should be easy to get hold
of. Malpas does a good job of outlining the problems in defining
precise terms - not just because the different disciplines use the term
in different ways but simply because the whole aim of PoMo is to defy
convention.

This is why 'relativism' is not PoMo (or at the very most only a small
fraction of it in terms of the mundane application of alternative view
points). Therefore contemporary feminism can be described as 'post
modern' because it's not looking at the problem of gender from a
specific encultured view point. Literary thinkers such as Barthes and
Derrida can be described as post modern because they challenged the
established method of looking at how we make assumptions within
literature.

However, and this is Lyotard's point, once the view or expression of
ideology becomes established it is no longer 'post modern' - it doesn't
represent anything out of the ordinary and is no longer in contention
with established society or modes of thought.

So Kuhn is not a PoMo thinker and is not deployed as such.
Constructivists such as Fuller deploy concepts of 'relativism' but is
not PoMo in any way shape or form - finally, ID are not using PoMo
because they are not saying, doing or deploying anything other than a
perpetuation of old style religious autocratic values.

This is why ID proponents do not talk about 'relativism' and why the
articles critically miss the point in how ID propogates and
disseminates its message. They are not appropriating some half-arsed
concept of intellectual elitism - they are relying on already embedded,
socialised concepts of 'equal time' and the enforcement of Christian
values - something that predates any known introduction of PoMo
strategies. Why would ID get into bed with a notoriously complex and
hard to define area such as post-modernism when they have a formula
that already works? Appeal to popular opinion and keep mentioning how
a theory is just a theory.

The same arguments used currently by the Creationists/ID crew are the
same ones at the introdcution of Modernism - and in terms of populist
appeal they have never changed their tactics.

If you really want to look at what is causing so much trouble in
dealing with ID then the PoMo/epistemological relativism branch is a
false lead. Look at the history of the creationist movement - they
have always called for equal time, always stated that evolution was
'just a theory'. There has been no change in this approach - at all.
There may be a new slogan 'teach the controversy' but it owes it's
entire history and practice to the consistency of creationist thought
over the issue - it has nothing to do with PoMo ideology either being
appropriated or deployed as the articles claim.

>
> > but I can give you reference for a good little
> > history which details the principle movements and some of the
> > incredibly complex arguments that underlie it:
> >
> > The Postmodern
> > Simon Malpas (2005)
> > Routledge
>
> Thanks.

No worries - think Malpas does a better job of explaining it than I
ever could.

John Wilkins

unread,
Apr 23, 2006, 9:56:42 PM4/23/06
to

Coming from the anaytic tradition, but now finding myself in a department
evenly split between that and the postmodern tradition, I am struck by two
things. One is that when I read people like Foucault, once I get past the
style (which is very different from the analytic style - allusions play a much
greater role in the postmodern argument than in the analytic) a lot of what he
says (in Les mots et les choses, anyway) is very much like, and precedes in
time, the evolutionary phylogenetic account of knowledge that I and others
came up with in ignorance of his views. There are differences, of course, but
he makes more sense than he ought to, based on prior prejudice, even if his
historical method is weak.

The other is that presentations of a lot of this material in talks and the
papers I have read strike me as arbitrary, depending on the personal style of
the speaker or author. For instance, a lot is made of "critique", but so far
as I can tell, mostly this seems to rely on argument by assertion - which is
to say, a "critique" consists of saying that something is "problematic".

I don't know how to reconcile these two observations. But I wills ay there is
more substance in postmodernism than I had previously thought, even if its
practitioners are sometimes just generating words, and I suppose the same can
be said for the analytic tradition too. Much of academic discourse is playing
a game according to tacit rules one picks up while learning how to do it.

Fundamentalists, as so often with academic discourses, be they scientific,
mathematical, or philosophical, clothe themselves in the vestiges of those
disciplines. They are not motivated by a knowledge of the subject, but the
employment of anything that seems, however, superficially, to support what is
really an absolutist set of beliefs.


>
> While these functions of sociology aren't post-modern in themselves,
> they owe their existence to the PoMo movement within literature and
> philosophy that laid the foundation for the studies practical
> application.
>

...

>>>> Basically, you are arguing that pomo is more nuanced that what is being
>>>> portrayed in articles of a few thousand words that are mostly concerned
>>>> with what you admit is one aspect of it. Okay. But that is bound to
>>>> happen in anything less than a complete history of human thought which
>>>> would exceed the capacity of every library on Earth if anyone could write
>>>> it.
>>> Well ok - next time you want to challenge anyone when it comes to
>>> nuance (about anything that you believe to be important) hold on to
>>> that thought.
>> What is so hard about that? Most discussions in t.o., be they scientific,
>> legal, religious or otherwise, are not on the level of specialists. Nuance
>> is always lost. If that nuance is important to the particular point under
>> discussion, then it is right to delve deeper. In this case, the only
>> point I've seen that might be worth bringing up is that pomo is not only or
>> even essentially epistemological relativism.
>
> Which considering the claims made in the article - and the suppositions
> that go behind it are fairly significant. If it's not a culturally
> significant point to make (the PoMo movement of the left is providing
> ground to the ID argument) then why make it at all? You seem to be
> arguing both ends against the middle here - that the story and articles
> show how the influence of post-modern thought is being used by the ID
> proponents to justify their academic stance, but at the same time that
> the 'nuance' involved in what exactly PoMo is, isn't worth discussing
> or considering. I'm confused on that score.

I think the problem is one of generalisation. We often find creationists
claiming that because an evolutionist X was racist, or a Nazi (and both
certainly existed), therefore evolution is racist and Nazi. Here we find that
some PoMo adherents (notably Fuller, but arguably others) claim that the
episteme that licenses evolution is not the only episteme, and that there is
no privileged episteme, therefore ID is a legitimate alternative. So we
overgeneralise to all PoMo adherents. We should, I agree, return the same
courtesy to PoMo that we ask of creationists for science.

That said, it strikes me that epistemological relativism, as a metathesis,
doesn't thereby validate all epistemes equally, because there is also an
extra-societal measure of success that science (in general) has and others
(like ID) don't. Science *is* privileged in that way. In the metaepistemology
one takes as an analysis of knowledge, you might say this is question-begging
- why should, for example, empirical adequacy be the test of a science unless
one already privileges scientific values? And that answer can't be given
noncircularly. But we *do*, as a matter of fact, give that value primary
virtue. And the naming of a discipline as "science" presumes this. So when
IDers are claiming to be "scientific" we can defeat that claim noncircularly.
Fuller's analysis was extremely weak in the Dover case.


>
>> Conversely, whatever non-religious academic support for ID is certainly
>> coming from epistemological relativists, who are, in turn, often (always?)
>> associated with *something* being called postmodernism.
>
> Can you provide a citation for that? I dont doubt that it happens but
> am not personally aware of it. All the reports of where PoMo is given
> as the reason for relativism being supported tend to be 3rd party
> assertions, rather than claims from the academic circles concerned.
> Being 'associated' with something called PoMo doesn't make it PoMo - in
> the same way that if a physicist hangs out with mathmetician doesn't
> mean that all the maths currently has a practical application in the
> physicists work. Elements can be burrowed or used or transferred but
> the physicist isn't a mathmetician just because he uses maths.

Wigner's argument about the unreasonable success of mathematics makes this
point - physicists take the math that works, which is why the math they take,
well, works.


>
>> In fact, given how little the term "postmodern" actually apparently means,
>> it might just be best for anyone who doesn't like its current connotations
>> (which are certainly widespread in the US, at least) to simply abandon it
>> and invent a new name.
>
> Rather pointless ... why don't we call 'theories' something else given
> the widespread mis-use of the term?

There are a number of alternative suggestions - models, hypotheses,
explanatory frameworks. But "theory" is embedded in the history of science;
it's going to be hard to change.
>
<much snipped>

I appreciate your contributions here. It still doesn't make me a postmodernist
(I'm whatever it was one was before postmodernism - a prepostmodernist, or as
someone called me, a preposterist), but it pays to understand one's
interlocutors better. Thanks.

Sorry for interrupting you and John.

--
John S. Wilkins, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Biohumanities Project
University of Queensland - Blog: evolvethought.blogspot.com
"He used... sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor, bathos,
puns, parody, litotes and... satire. He was vicious."

catshark

unread,
Apr 23, 2006, 11:25:39 PM4/23/06
to
On 23 Apr 2006 10:27:12 -0700, "Alexander" <alexand...@btinternet.com>
wrote:

>catshark wrote:
>> On 23 Apr 2006 05:05:46 -0700, "Alexander" <alexand...@btinternet.com>
>> wrote:
>>
>> > catshark wrote:
>> > > On 22 Apr 2006 18:33:26 -0700, "Alexander" <alexand...@btinternet.com>
>> > > wrote:
>> > >
>> > > [...]
>> > >
>> > > >I can keep repeating the fact that PoMo ideology doesn't reduce to the
>> > > >terms as defined in popular literature but for some reason no-one is
>> > > >listening.
>> > >
>> > > Well, I'll remember that there is a question about what pomo really means
>> > > and will be a bit more precise about it, if that makes you happy.
>> >
>> > It's not a case of being happy about what you do - just apply the same
>> > rigour to areas such as these as I know you do to others.
>>
>> I'm confused. I'm supposed to be rigorous about a concept that you define
>> as something that "isn't a particular locus but a specific moment or
>> conceptual framework that presents the 'shock of the new'"? Just how is
>> rigor applied to that?
>
>In the same way you might examine any other term. You read the
>literature and examine the claims made by the authors and see if they
>stand up philisophically or otherwise.

No, I mean rigorous about the *definition* of "postmodernism", which is,
after all, what you are demanding. Your claim is that critics are
misdefining epistemological relativism as postmodernism but you seem to be
having difficulty giving a definition of pomo yourself. There also seems
to be a lumper/splitter problem here, as mentioned in the following
Wikipedia article, as well as the use of pomo as a pejorative, which I
admit will also cause problems.

<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-modernism>

There is also the possible problem of "ideological drift":

<http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2005/05/the_new_postmod.html>

You want to exclude people like Fuller from pomo but, so far as I can see,
haven't been able to give a reason why he should be excluded in the face of
the widespread perception that he is pomo.

>
>However, simply labelling something post-modern because it in some way
>conforms to a pre-conceived notion of relativism doesn't cut it. The
>various movements within PoMo are both much broader and incorporate a
>deeper range of thinking than just assuming that the be-all and end-all
>of the movement is some sort of left wing intellectual well of wishful
>thinking about how all things are equal or that 'truth' is defined
>through regimes of power.

Yes. I think I've already stipulated that pomo is more than and not even
defined by epistemological relativism. That doesn't absolve it of its
contributions to such relativism.

>
>I might be confused over various disciplines within biology - genetics,
>cladistics and so on - it doesn't mean I would automatically assume
>that each division within biology conforms to precisely the same
>methodology or practice without actually studying the area in question.
> If I was to make a sweeping generalisation about how biologists
>conduct their work or how all biologists _must_ belong to a particular
>political or ideological persuasion I know exactly what would happen.
>Which is why I neither make that assumption or statement about
>biologists or any other field for that matter until I at laest
>understand something about its history and practice.
>
>I just don't see the same courtesy being extended within the articles
>quoted and this is - I suspect - because it is more comforting to
>assume that what you read is correct because it confirms your
>prejudices about how sociology works in this regard.

I hope your assumption that I have any prejudices about sociology is
comforting to you.

>> > > >Does sound like that thing that happens when you tell
>> > > >certain quarters that 'theory' under scientific terms implies more than
>> > > >'just a guess'.
>> > >
>> > > No. The intended effect of the creationists is to *confuse* the discussion
>> > > by taking advantage of the definition commonly used by the average person
>> > > arguing in a bar. The creationists intentionally don't describe "theory"
>> > > so that that happens.
>> >
>> > Precisely. So deployment of the term here is just as confusing by the
>> > authors of the articles you've quoted. I'll show why in a bit.
>> >
>> > >
>>
>> [Snip interesting stuff but which does not make a case that the authors of
>> the referenced articles are *trying* to confuse the discussion over what
>> *type* of non-religious academic support for ID there is, the way
>> creationist attempt to confuse what science is by playing off the public's
>> definition of "theory"]
>
>I agree there is a difference, but it is one of degree rather than
>intent. If creationists are guilty of willfully manipulating terms and
>popular understanding then the article authors are guilty of simply
>applying a prejudice about the nature of the movement and the roots of
>relativistic values. The manner in which ID is manipulating the public
>within the US has nothing to do with being post-modern or even 'using'
>PoMo ideology.

One more time: *no* one is saying that ID is pomo or sincerely using PoMo
ideology! ID is using it as "a deceitful and hypocritical marketing
strategy":

<http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/08/wapo_on_the_pre.html>

Unfortunately, certain people who are known as postmodernists may be doing
exactly the same thing back (e.g. Steve Fuller).

>
>It is about utilising the mechanisms that exist within society to
>further their agenda which, again, are not post-modern - they owe both
>their foundation and history to concepts we all hold close which is
>essentially about how modern democracies should function.. We don't
>honestly know whether the SSHRC has been motivated by PoMo thought and
>not a great deal of evidence has been advanced for that - for a social
>constructivist agenda perhaps, but as I keep pointing out this owes
>more to Marxist structuralism rather than post modernism.

Splitter!

>
>They do ask the important question in why the funding was turned down -
>but don't seem to get very far beyond their own claims of PoMo
>influence.

The suspicion of social constructivism at work is reasonably well founded,
I think. Why social constructivism isn't pomo is the real question here.

[...]

>> > Within all of that is the search to actually create a definitive ethnic
>> > culture that can incorporate multi-cultural/pluralistic values without
>> > mythologising the cultures past - this becomes important when you start
>> > to consider the dis-enfranchised and ghettoised nature of a lot of
>> > ethnic groups across the west. Identity and the search for meaning has
>> > violent consequences if not addressed correctly.
>>
>> And how would we apply that to the cultural values of fundamentalist
>> evangelical Christianity?
>
>First of all understand that Fundamentalism has nothing do with being
>post-modern.

No, what I meant was, treating fundamentalist evangelical Christianity as a
culture that *perceives* of itself as dis-enfranchised and ghettoised, how
do we, in implementing public school policy avoid the violent consequences
of not addressing their culture correctly? If there is a difference
between ethnic cultures and the fundamentalist evangelical Christian
culture, what is it? If we should treat them differently from an ethnic
culture, why?

How do we enfranchised and de-ghettoised these poor people excluded from
science?

I have no idea of what that was supposed to have to do with this
discussion. But bully for pomo!

[...]

>> > > Basically, you are arguing that pomo is more nuanced that what is being
>> > > portrayed in articles of a few thousand words that are mostly concerned
>> > > with what you admit is one aspect of it. Okay. But that is bound to
>> > > happen in anything less than a complete history of human thought which
>> > > would exceed the capacity of every library on Earth if anyone could write
>> > > it.
>> >
>> > Well ok - next time you want to challenge anyone when it comes to
>> > nuance (about anything that you believe to be important) hold on to
>> > that thought.
>>
>> What is so hard about that? Most discussions in t.o., be they scientific,
>> legal, religious or otherwise, are not on the level of specialists. Nuance
>> is always lost. If that nuance is important to the particular point under
>> discussion, then it is right to delve deeper. In this case, the only
>> point I've seen that might be worth bringing up is that pomo is not only or
>> even essentially epistemological relativism.
>
>Which considering the claims made in the article - and the suppositions
>that go behind it are fairly significant. If it's not a culturally
>significant point to make (the PoMo movement of the left is providing
>ground to the ID argument) then why make it at all? You seem to be
>arguing both ends against the middle here - that the story and articles
>show how the influence of post-modern thought is being used by the ID
>proponents to justify their academic stance, but at the same time that
>the 'nuance' involved in what exactly PoMo is, isn't worth discussing
>or considering. I'm confused on that score.

It is fairly simple. We all know ID supporters are not a advocating pomo
as you conceive it. They certainly don't advocate epistemological
relativism. They use it/them, at most, as cover . . . a handy disguise
they found hanging around the halls of academia. THERE IS NO INFLUENCE OF
POMO IN ID AND NO ONE THINKS THERE IS.

Some academics are certainly epistemological relativists as described in
the articles. In the absence of a clear way to distinguish epistemological
relativism from pomo, I can't get very exercised about the conflation of
the two, if that is what it is.

>> Conversely, whatever non-religious academic support for ID is certainly
>> coming from epistemological relativists, who are, in turn, often (always?)
>> associated with *something* being called postmodernism.
>
>Can you provide a citation for that? I dont doubt that it happens but
>am not personally aware of it.

Phil Johnson tells the story himself that, in 1995:

After a morning of writing I met Political Science professor
Patricia Boling who hosted a noon colloquium for the
department faculty and grad students. I told them I was
a postmodernist and deconstructionist just like them, but
aiming at a slightly different target. - from Robert T.
Pennock's _Tower of Babel_, p. 210

Also, Richard Sternberg suggested he published Stephen C. Meyer's paper on
the basis of at least *his* understanding of pomo:

<http://www.wsws.org/articles/2005/jun2005/smit-j20.shtml>

And Fuller, of course, is considered pomo by many.

>All the reports of where PoMo is given
>as the reason for relativism being supported tend to be 3rd party
>assertions, rather than claims from the academic circles concerned.
>Being 'associated' with something called PoMo doesn't make it PoMo - in
>the same way that if a physicist hangs out with mathmetician doesn't
>mean that all the maths currently has a practical application in the
>physicists work. Elements can be burrowed or used or transferred but
>the physicist isn't a mathmetician just because he uses maths.
>
>>
>> In fact, given how little the term "postmodern" actually apparently means,
>> it might just be best for anyone who doesn't like its current connotations
>> (which are certainly widespread in the US, at least) to simply abandon it
>> and invent a new name.
>
>Rather pointless ... why don't we call 'theories' something else given
>the widespread mis-use of the term?

"Theory" means something *very* specific in science which, so far, I can't
say about pomo. In any case, scientists and educators have to live with
the consequences of the problem and have developed no end of explanations
of the *difference* between theory and wild-assed guess. I think you
should do the same for the difference between epistemological relativism
and pomo. It would be useful for the Archive.

Ah, so pomo is *against* democratic values and pluralism when it comes to
what should be taught in subjects such as science? Good. Now we are
getting somewhere. Can you cite me to some pomo authors who point out that
multi-cultural/pluralistic values don't apply to science?

>
>If you want to point to the particular PoMo ideology that is deployed
>by ID proponents then be my guest. If you can't define the term for
>your own purposes then what do you see PoMo as being - if it's like the
>authors of the articles you've quoted then you are simply accepting
>something you've admitted yourself is an opaque area of knowledge to
>you.

Whoa! *You're* the one claiming that these authors (and many more besides)
are wrongly characterizing pomo. I have no reason to doubt them and the
numerous other people who have made the connection, though I am willing to
(and have at length) listen to your explanation. But ultimately it is
*your* burden to prove all these people wrong and, frankly, you are rather
short in that regard.

>
>If it's another variation on how society values 'equal time' then you
>are not presenting anything which hasn't already pre-dated the PoMo
>movements and schools of thought.
>
>I've tried (and obviously failed) to show how the articles place the
>blame pretty much at the door of social science academe (ignoring the
>fact that the proposal for the study - clearly from an evolutionary
>proponent - was from that same academe and background - why wasn't that
>sociologist influenced by PoMo relativism?).

This is very weird. No one thinks every sociologist is an epistemological
relativist, much less a pomo, much less a supporter of ID. Those articles
point out, at most, that some aspects of what *they* think pomo is can lead
*some* academics to support ID. The only way that Alder's lack of
relativism is relevant as a counter to those articles is if you are
painting with a brush as broad as you claim *they* are.


>Apparently I can quote,
>juxtapose and indicate how the articles specifically say that this is
>all down to postmodernism but if it doesn't cut any ice then I can't do
>much else really.

Nobody Thinks ID Can Be Put Down To Postmodernism!!!!!!!

The authors of these articles do not, as far as I can see, say that ID
arose out of pomo.

>
>I've also tried to show how the kind of thing discussed in the article
>owes more to structuralism in terms of overarching power regimes
>dictating terms about who and how work is completed and who dictates
>the 'truth' of a 'fact'. I've provided a potted history of the same
>and some examples of the differences in the movements - but apparently
>that doesn't mean anything either.

Umm, sorry. You made a lot of assertions about Chomsky and his view of
language and his Marxism in response to a single sentence out of
Scheiber's article. But you didn't show that pomo excludes epistemological
relativism. At best, you showed that pomo didn't get it from Chomsky . . .
as long as you assume pomo is a coherent school of thought.

>
>I can't do much more than that to be honest.

Then I can't say I'm convinced.

>
>>
>> > Any society that
>> > contends to be a modern democracy actively encourages indivduals to
>> > accept the validity of anothers view or political aspiration. Doubly
>> > so in the US where the constitution guarantees such egalitarian notions
>> > as freedom of speech and political/religious expression. The roots of
>> > pluralism did not suddenly begin during some 60's cabal of elite social
>> > theorists deciding that if they put it about a bit that all things are
>> > relative and they called it 'post-modern' they could suddenly justify
>> > any activity.
>> >
>> > The roots of what ID are deploying lie within the foundation of all
>> > modern democracies - that of the right to an equal voice. The canard
>> > of social constructivism being overlayed as justification for ID's
>> > current resurgence and popularity (as though it's part of some very
>> > cleverly contrived project ... it's not - it's just PR) is absurd.
>>
>> Indeed it is. I can't imagine where you got the notion that the authors of
>> these articles (or I) were saying any such thing.
>
>Phrases such as:
>
>"By contrast, today's IDers have gone further and adopted the
>epistemology of the left--the idea that ostensibly scientific truths
>may be relative."

Adopted, not utilized. ID is a *sham*, not an actual intellectual
exercise.

But I was wondering where you got the idea that anyone thought that ID's
current "resurgence and popularity" came from social constructivism. The
popularity of ID is solely the result of the support it ostensibly gives to
certain religious beliefs.

>
>As though we all bow down to this particular creed. Social
>interactions are relative - facts are not. The above sentence pretty
>much epitomises the attitude that is prevalent ... an assumption that
>the 'epistemology of the left' is somehow totalising, all-encompassing
>and specific to post-modern thought.

Or it is that they are being specific about which *part* of leftist thought
and pomo they are criticizing.

>> > What is pushing the ID agenda is the broad religious support for the
>> > concept, the notion within the US that everyone deserves equal time (a
>> > demand made well before ID materialised) to be heard out and a genuine
>> > unwillingness by the US public to engage with what it sees as
>> > 'intellectuals'. An anti-intellectual creed within the US has always
>> > existed and this is the anima for the rejection of ID - the fact that
>> > ID is relying on common misunderstandings about terms such as the
>> > application of 'theory' and the notion of 'fair play' has nothing to do
>> > with post-modernism.
>>
>> No one I have seen is saying that pomo is "pushing" the ID agenda in that
>> sense.
>
>Then why don't the articles address those issues then, instead of
>saying that PoMo provides some foundation for ID thought (regardless of
>whether this is complicit with those who put forward a PoMo agenda or
>not)?

Because the articles are about the source of support for ID in
*non-religious* academia, not about ID overall.

>
>Instead what we have is the usual blanket assertions about how PoMo
>provided relativism and little else beyond that.

Again. The articles are about the source of support for ID in
non-religious academia. Relativism is the only aspect of that that is,
well, relevant.

>> > > >The
>> > > >fact that contemporary ideals of equality and egalitarianism borrow
>> > > >heavily from civil rights movements and other areas and then picked up
>> > > >by the modern ID movement is co-incidence - not design.
>> > > >
>> > > >I certainly won't disagree that there has been (still is) some
>> > > >appalling writing and articles under the banner of PoMo thought. I
>> > > >wouldn't for a second argue that social constructionism (Fuller et al)
>> > > >aren't respected in certain circles - all I'm doing is to point out
>> > > >that before the term 'post-modernism' is used (again) as code for 'it's
>> > > >all relative' try actually reading up on the subject first.
>> > >
>> > > Can you give any reference concerning postmodernism epistemology?
>> >
>> > Seeing as the term is essentially meaningless no. There is no canon of
>> > post-modern thought
>>
>> Is there any fair definition of what "post-modern thought" is? Or is it a
>> historical catch-all for those multiple movements and arguments you
>> mention?
>
>Lyotard came up with the best all round definition of what constitutes
>post-modern (it's still several pages long and Lyotard was terrified of
>technology ... PoMo thinkers like Haraway embrace it). It's called
>'What is Post-Modernism' - I think - and should be easy to get hold
>of.

Give me a hand here. At least hunt down the correct title, as I can't find
anything of Lyotard's going by 'What is Post-Modernism'.

>Malpas does a good job of outlining the problems in defining
>precise terms - not just because the different disciplines use the term
>in different ways but simply because the whole aim of PoMo is to defy
>convention.
>
>This is why 'relativism' is not PoMo (or at the very most only a small
>fraction of it in terms of the mundane application of alternative view
>points).

Huh? How can you say defying the convention of a non-relativistic
epistemology is not part of pomo given its "problems in defining precise
terms"?

>Therefore contemporary feminism can be described as 'post
>modern' because it's not looking at the problem of gender from a
>specific encultured view point.

WTF is a "specific encultured view point"? And does science have a
"specific encultured view point"? If so, can ID be said to be looking at
the scientific problem of origins from other than a specific encultured
view point?

>Literary thinkers such as Barthes and
>Derrida can be described as post modern because they challenged the
>established method of looking at how we make assumptions within
>literature.
>
>However, and this is Lyotard's point, once the view or expression of
>ideology becomes established it is no longer 'post modern' - it doesn't
>represent anything out of the ordinary and is no longer in contention
>with established society or modes of thought.

So there can't be any study of postmodernism because once you have
something established and ordinary enough to constitute a subject of study
it isn't postmodernism anymore? Let's just say you aren't doing much to
convince me that pomo is unfairly equated with relativism.

>
>So Kuhn is not a PoMo thinker and is not deployed as such.
>Constructivists such as Fuller deploy concepts of 'relativism' but is
>not PoMo in any way shape or form -

You have asserted that. I don't see how you come to that assertion.

>finally, ID are not using PoMo
>because they are not saying, doing or deploying anything other than a
>perpetuation of old style religious autocratic values.

Nobody Thinks ID Is Doing Anything Other Than Imitating Epistemological
Relativism Which May Or May Not Be Fairly Equated With
Postmodernism!!!!!!!!!!

The complaint is that some academics, either out of their own stupidity, a
misunderstanding of pomo, laziness, a desire to sell books to the ID crowd
or *whatever* are using the form of pomo to give academic cache to ID.

[...]

--
---------------
J. Pieret
---------------

It is the mark of the marvelous toleration of the Athenians ...
that it wasn't till Socrates turned seventy that they
broke down and forced him to drink poison.

- Isaac Asimov -

catshark

unread,
Apr 24, 2006, 12:27:24 AM4/24/06
to

John Wilkins wrote:
> Alexander wrote:
> > catshark wrote:
> >> On 23 Apr 2006 05:05:46 -0700, "Alexander" <alexand...@btinternet.com>
> >> wrote:
> >>
> >>> catshark wrote:
> >>>> On 22 Apr 2006 18:33:26 -0700, "Alexander" <alexand...@btinternet.com>
> >>>> wrote:

[...]

>


> Sorry for interrupting you and John.

Sure! Just drop in. be *reasonable* all over the place and then run
away.

But have you told Myhertz that you've gone all soft and cuddly about
pomo? Do it carefully or you could kill him . . .

--
---------------
J. Pieret
---------------

Nunc Id Vides, Nunc Ne Vides

- Unseen University Motto -

Alexander

unread,
Apr 25, 2006, 5:28:29 PM4/25/06
to

They are misrepresenting. As though epistemological relativism was the
be-all and end-all of PoMo literature and philosophy. I can say that
again if you like, but it'll still come out the same way. PoMo is
virtually impossible to reduce to these kind of generalisations and the
links are fairly tenuous anyway (I'll get to the Johnson quote shortly)

There also seems
> to be a lumper/splitter problem here, as mentioned in the following
> Wikipedia article, as well as the use of pomo as a pejorative, which I
> admit will also cause problems.
>
> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Post-modernism>
>
> There is also the possible problem of "ideological drift":
>
> <http://prawfsblawg.blogs.com/prawfsblawg/2005/05/the_new_postmod.html>
>
> You want to exclude people like Fuller from pomo but, so far as I can see,
> haven't been able to give a reason why he should be excluded in the face of
> the widespread perception that he is pomo.

You will have to do a little better than providing a link to a single
blog as being evidence that Fuller is 'widely regarded' as PoMo. As it
happens some of the commentary is also challenging the assertion of
PoMo being utilised as well.

I can provide a critique of Fuller's testimony and deposition if you
like - that will take a little longer however.

What it boils down to is that social constructivism - as a movement -
is not a PoMo movement. It deploys elements of relativism but the
foundation of construcivism is found within psychology - not something
normally associated with PoMo of any stripe. The building blocks of
constructivism is pretty much as the name suggests - that knowledge is
a process of negotiation between two parties, constructed. Where
social constructivism went wrong is taking that to an extreme and
assuming that all relationships worked in the same way as within a
teacher-student relationship or participant-psychologist study.

The aim was to show how knowledge was produced - within that social
interaction, but as a result of that no authentic knowledge could be
achieved - quite clearly pants as a concept.

The eventual melding of that understanding with Marxist dialectic
eventually produced the idea of capitalist manipulation of the
structures of science and allowed them to justify the production of
actual 'science' as an artefact of that relationship and nothing more.

One, and only one, of the reasons for rejecting social constructivism
as a PoMo movement is this influence of Marxist thought - itself a
construct which is consistently challenged as just another power
structure vying for control. Foucault rejected the Marxist argument
and you simply don't find these kind of overarching assertions within
PoMo literature or thought.

>
> >
> >However, simply labelling something post-modern because it in some way
> >conforms to a pre-conceived notion of relativism doesn't cut it. The
> >various movements within PoMo are both much broader and incorporate a
> >deeper range of thinking than just assuming that the be-all and end-all
> >of the movement is some sort of left wing intellectual well of wishful
> >thinking about how all things are equal or that 'truth' is defined
> >through regimes of power.
>
> Yes. I think I've already stipulated that pomo is more than and not even
> defined by epistemological relativism. That doesn't absolve it of its
> contributions to such relativism.

As long as it makes you happy.

>
> >
> >I might be confused over various disciplines within biology - genetics,
> >cladistics and so on - it doesn't mean I would automatically assume
> >that each division within biology conforms to precisely the same
> >methodology or practice without actually studying the area in question.
> > If I was to make a sweeping generalisation about how biologists
> >conduct their work or how all biologists _must_ belong to a particular
> >political or ideological persuasion I know exactly what would happen.
> >Which is why I neither make that assumption or statement about
> >biologists or any other field for that matter until I at laest
> >understand something about its history and practice.
> >
> >I just don't see the same courtesy being extended within the articles
> >quoted and this is - I suspect - because it is more comforting to
> >assume that what you read is correct because it confirms your
> >prejudices about how sociology works in this regard.
>
> I hope your assumption that I have any prejudices about sociology is
> comforting to you.

We all have prejudices. I don't necessarily draw any comfort from that
thought - I do like to see where mine lie though.

Not sure what this has to do with anything - I've been making the point
that it's about somewhat confused notions about free speech for a
little while now.

As for the claims of the articles - I'll quote from Scheiber again:

"The animating principle of the postmodern left is the notion that
truth follows from power and not from its intrinsic rightness."

It's not

"In making their arguments, the postmodernists rely heavily on the work
of historians of science like Thomas Kuhn."

They don't

"Unfortunately, these postmodernist ideas have become a staple of the
ID movement."

They haven't

In writing Schieber has presented the idea that post-modernists - as a
group ... a whole entity ... have this view. You would be hard pressed
to find Kuhn referenced in this way by anything picking up on Foucault,
in the works of Haraway, Butler, Balsamo, Nikolas Rose, Post
Colonialists like Said, or Bahba or more literary PoMo authors like
Barthes, Boudrillard, Derrida and others.

Schieber has pointedly chosen phrases such as 'the animating principle
of the postmodern left' which implies all post-modern thinkers - not
'the animating principle behind post modern sociologists writing about
science' or 'the animating principle behind the left inspired post
mdoern writers on science' but the phrase 'the post modern left' - all
of it.

The lead up in Scheiber's article is about how ID adopts the
'epistemology of the left' as well - again as though its some sort of
heterogenous catch all application used by everybody.

In talking about Kuhn Scheiber states 'the postmodernists rely heavily
on the work of historians of science like Thomas Kuhn' ... sorry which
postmodernists were those? Some of them? A specific subset applying a
singular interpretation of PoMo thinking? No ... apparently it's 'THE
postmodernists' ... another homogeonised entity it seems.

Which PoMo thinkers are these anyway? We are left to wonder -
apparently a random reference to Kuhn and we are assured that PoMo
thinkers used him in some fashion in order to get their wicked way and
we are off again on the PoMo safari (bag 2 and you can claim to be
rational).

As long as we all have the understanding that the left just regard
science as a negotiated structure and that 'the' postmodernists
misinterpreted Kuhn then we can be happy the argument has been made.

Please.


>
> Unfortunately, certain people who are known as postmodernists may be doing
> exactly the same thing back (e.g. Steve Fuller).

He's not a Post Modernist - he's not using it and I'm not aware of him
claiming it as such. Could be wrong there - he's an odd bloke and
talks so fast it's hard to keep up some times - even on the transcripts
and essays he's written.

As for 'using' PoMo as a tactic I'm surprised that you can't see what's
happening here - everyone is _saying_ they are using PoMo tactics
...and they simply aren't.

I've already pointed out what they _are_ doing which is relying on the
notions of free speech and the democratic principle supported through a
highly autocratic belief system. The fact that a few pundits get
overexcited about being able to link the 'left', 'postmodernism' and
irrational and fanatical devotion to Christian 'science' says more to
the agenda of the authors rather than any genuine sociological
observation about the ID movement.

>
> >
> >It is about utilising the mechanisms that exist within society to
> >further their agenda which, again, are not post-modern - they owe both
> >their foundation and history to concepts we all hold close which is
> >essentially about how modern democracies should function.. We don't
> >honestly know whether the SSHRC has been motivated by PoMo thought and
> >not a great deal of evidence has been advanced for that - for a social
> >constructivist agenda perhaps, but as I keep pointing out this owes
> >more to Marxist structuralism rather than post modernism.
>
> Splitter!

Don't even go there - there's a whole other argument over post
modernism and post structuralism and that's a headache in its own
right.

>
> >
> >They do ask the important question in why the funding was turned down -
> >but don't seem to get very far beyond their own claims of PoMo
> >influence.
>
> The suspicion of social constructivism at work is reasonably well founded,
> I think. Why social constructivism isn't pomo is the real question here.

See above for its links to a totalising model (something which seeks to
explain all subsets of the 'real' within a single model or theory) -
PoMo thought will resist these kinds of explanations - note that I'm
still talking about social models here ... not the 'challenge' to
science. Outside of die hard phenomenologists and a few acid scarred
pot head relics from the 60's I don't know of any authors studying the
sociology of science who would declare that what science studies isn't
'fact'.

The rather entertaining social interaction of scientists on the other
hand is a whole different ball game ...

>
> [...]
>
> >> > Within all of that is the search to actually create a definitive ethnic
> >> > culture that can incorporate multi-cultural/pluralistic values without
> >> > mythologising the cultures past - this becomes important when you start
> >> > to consider the dis-enfranchised and ghettoised nature of a lot of
> >> > ethnic groups across the west. Identity and the search for meaning has
> >> > violent consequences if not addressed correctly.
> >>
> >> And how would we apply that to the cultural values of fundamentalist
> >> evangelical Christianity?
> >
> >First of all understand that Fundamentalism has nothing do with being
> >post-modern.
>
> No, what I meant was, treating fundamentalist evangelical Christianity as a
> culture that *perceives* of itself as dis-enfranchised and ghettoised, how
> do we, in implementing public school policy avoid the violent consequences
> of not addressing their culture correctly?

Ah - sorry - I mis read. It's also a very good question.

If there is a difference
> between ethnic cultures and the fundamentalist evangelical Christian
> culture, what is it? If we should treat them differently from an ethnic
> culture, why?
>
> How do we enfranchised and de-ghettoised these poor people excluded from
> science?

OOooook - how long have you got?

As far as being an 'ethnic' culture then technically you _could_ study
them from within a discipline called ethnography (anthropology for
people who don't like jungles or going very far from their University
to look at people) which would involve mingling with them,
understanding the culture, specific language use and so on - that could
take place over a number of years but it would look at a particular
group of evangelicals as a distinct grouping within society so I
suppose that would be as close as you'd get.

I'd resist the term 'ethnic' as that generally has separate
implications about being from a non-WASP background which would be
quite difficult to apply to ... well ... any US evangelical baptist
fundamentalists of note that I know of.

My own study and disciplines relates to discourse (not just written
discourse but all forms of personal communication) including the
psychology of the same (although I'm hardly the poster boy for
effective communication practices on this topic - sorry about that).

I'm not going to run through my usual screed about the problems with
identity and the sense of self as I've written about that before here.
What it comes down to though is something very simple which I'll try
and strip of sociological jargon. In terms of getting a fundamentalist
to accept scientific definitions and terms and conceding that literal
biblicism is not actually sustainable you are, not to put too fine a
point on it, completely fucked. Totally screwed ... not going to
happen. The problem is that while the scientist is discussing, quite
rationally, the evidence for a particular evolutionary point the
creationists are listening in the language of religion. Religious
thought is driven by the language of polemic, allegory, metaphor all
supported by an innate insecurity about the world they are trying to
map that language onto. The only way a literalist will ever listen to
a scientist in terms of accepting the rational arguments for evolution
is if they first surrender the literalist religious position. So the
answer to a religious problem is ... more religion ... but more
moderate, tolerant, secularised religion.

You can argue with a fundamentalist about science and create the most
incredible persuasive argument you can - won't work. The religion has
to change first.

I was just explaining how PoMo influenced my own school of knowledge,
and how I applied it - you asked, but I misinterpreted what you were
requesting.

Umm - that really isn't what Schieber was saying - he's stated quite
clearly that's were it's all lifted from. The point is that if
'there's no influence of pomo in ID and no on thinks there is what on
earth are all these articles about? I do understand that what is being
said is that PoMo _tactics_ are being used to generate a veneer of
academic credibility.

However the implication provided is that PoMo left the door open for ID
to deploy it's own agenda by nicking bits of it for its own dubious and
deceitful purposes. What I'm saying is that even _that_ claim is
bogus. ID is not even using PoMo - a few pundits are _claiming_ that's
what they are doing (even as a scam) and not backing it up.

Also - from TalkReason:

"There is an obvious nod to the epistemic relativism that is central to
the postmodernist view of things, notwithstanding the fact that Fuller
indignantly refuses the "postmodernist" label."

Hardly very PoMo of him ... and it seems there is only a 'nod' to PoMo
here - not really the excoriating influence of PoMo thought hijacked by
ID for it's own nefarious purposes that Schieber would have us believe
really is it?

The point is that the PoMo thought quoted isn't even being used by ID -
even as a smokescreen - it's not there ... at all - except in the
imaginations of a few writers.


>
> Some academics are certainly epistemological relativists as described in
> the articles. In the absence of a clear way to distinguish epistemological
> relativism from pomo, I can't get very exercised about the conflation of
> the two, if that is what it is.

I'll grant you that. I don't think that, without reading the relevant
literature, I'll ever be able to explain the difference satisfactorily
for you - certainly not without having to write a book on the subject -
which rather defeats the object. Although that in itself would be a
rather post-modern exercise. Especially if you never got to see it.

>
> >> Conversely, whatever non-religious academic support for ID is certainly
> >> coming from epistemological relativists, who are, in turn, often (always?)
> >> associated with *something* being called postmodernism.
> >
> >Can you provide a citation for that? I dont doubt that it happens but
> >am not personally aware of it.
>
> Phil Johnson tells the story himself that, in 1995:
>
> After a morning of writing I met Political Science professor
> Patricia Boling who hosted a noon colloquium for the
> department faculty and grad students. I told them I was
> a postmodernist and deconstructionist just like them, but
> aiming at a slightly different target. - from Robert T.
> Pennock's _Tower of Babel_, p. 210

Cool - I've never seen that quote, so we have a definite score for one
ID proponent trying to piggyback his way into some sort of PoMo
credential. However that's still only one - it's hardly the 'ID
movement' making the claim (although I'll admit a particularly
influential part of ID). I'm also assuming that it's not the PoMo
architect Phillip Johnson either;

http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,3604,1401260,00.html

>
> Also, Richard Sternberg suggested he published Stephen C. Meyer's paper on
> the basis of at least *his* understanding of pomo:
>
> <http://www.wsws.org/articles/2005/jun2005/smit-j20.shtml>

Arf. Sternberg has a hard time telling Meyer's pap apart from his own
area of study so I don't think this is a reliable reference - it's
another 2nd hand claim as well.

>
> And Fuller, of course, is considered pomo by many.

Who considers him PoMo - certainly not Fuller (and trust me - most PoMo
authors are extremely keen to be seen as such ... it's just so very
avant garde don't you know?)

>
> >All the reports of where PoMo is given
> >as the reason for relativism being supported tend to be 3rd party
> >assertions, rather than claims from the academic circles concerned.
> >Being 'associated' with something called PoMo doesn't make it PoMo - in
> >the same way that if a physicist hangs out with mathmetician doesn't
> >mean that all the maths currently has a practical application in the
> >physicists work. Elements can be burrowed or used or transferred but
> >the physicist isn't a mathmetician just because he uses maths.
> >
> >>
> >> In fact, given how little the term "postmodern" actually apparently means,
> >> it might just be best for anyone who doesn't like its current connotations
> >> (which are certainly widespread in the US, at least) to simply abandon it
> >> and invent a new name.
> >
> >Rather pointless ... why don't we call 'theories' something else given
> >the widespread mis-use of the term?
>
> "Theory" means something *very* specific in science which, so far, I can't
> say about pomo.

I'm aware of that - but I'm pointing out that the insistence that it
'has' a specific meaning doesn't seem to prevent the mis-interpretation
at any level. You have to wonder why that is.

In any case, scientists and educators have to live with
> the consequences of the problem and have developed no end of explanations
> of the *difference* between theory and wild-assed guess. I think you
> should do the same for the difference between epistemological relativism
> and pomo. It would be useful for the Archive.

Perhaps - the overlaps get complicated and I'd just as likely be
criticised by a wandering PoMo officionado of architecture for my
literary/sociological bias.

Sorry - that's not what I was trying to say. There is no stronger
connection between PoMo and the concepts of relativity than there is
between yourself or any other populist conception of relativity within
wider culture.

When I describe 'common sense' values (and I do like the quip 'there is
nothing common or sensible about common sense') it's those assumptions
we take for granted about what is 'right' within society.

I'll try and illustrate with respect to a PoMo deconstruction. Let's
take democracy. You said it's 'against' democractic values, but what
if those values actually support corruption or a denigration of one
aspect of society? Would you be for or against democracy at that
point? Is the definition of 'democracy' about what we have as a
political structure an accurate one in the first instance?

The concept of democracy is one we all take for granted but we all have
a specific idea of what 'democracy' actually might be, what shape, form
or governance it might be. You can point to the buildings and
institutions that are erected in its name, but you can't point to a
'thing' that is democracy except in purely abstract and symbolic terms.
Therefore th