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, -Ian.
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