Re: [OPE-L] Derrida's ghosts

From: Ian Wright (wrighti@ACM.ORG)
Date: Mon Oct 31 2005 - 12:42:49 EST

Rakesh, Jerry, Steve etc.

The reason I'm opposed to "postmodernism" is because I take it mean an
intellectual movement that denigrates scientific method and the
special status of the knowledge generated by it. (Not to say that this
method cannot be subject to critique of course -- this is another
discussion). It seems to me that "postmodernism" celebrates the fact
that we're still grappling with the unsolved scientific problems of
modernism (e.g., the application of scientific rationality to the
construction of a better society), and if anything there is a sly
unstated inference that such problems are either unsolvable, or should
not be solved, for fear of more mass killings, which is somehow
considered the logical outcome of the Enlightenment. I think it an
enormous slur on the history and tradition of the scientific
enlightenment to make the latter connection -- this is another
discussion. Postmodernism is a kind of scepticism or romantic reaction
to the failure of Bolshevism, I think. Steve, I see these kinds of
attitudes in the introduction you posted, especially with respect to
the discussion of Lyotard. For me the early Bhaskar and scientific
realism in general helps to explain the special and priveleged status
of science and its inherent and good universalizing tendencies.
Science as a collective activity is of course twisted under
capitalism. But contrast this quote from your introduction: "What this
postmodern critique makes possible though is a sweeping rejection of
scientism, the view that scientific concepts, methods, protocols, and
the like are exclusively entitled to the power and privilege they have
achieved with modernization." But don't you think it is important to
understand why astrology is a load of old cobblers, but astronomy
isn't? Thank you for posting your intro -- I didn't read all of it,
but it helped me to state more clearly what I object to.

Best wishes,

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