Thursday, 31 October 2013

The science warriors awake from their icy slumber

Nicholas at Installing (Social) Order reblogs an interesting story about Bruno Latour's receipt of the Holberg Prize.  This unspeakable crime against rationalism has perturbed some of the 1990s' most enthusiastic 'science warriors' from their slumber and prompted them to protest the award.  Latour is a relativist, they exclaim (again)!  And a Jacobite to boot!!

Hacks gotta hack, I suppose.

The irony of the science wars is perhaps that Latour et al. emerged stronger in many ways - not stronger than their opponents necessarily but stronger than they were themselves before.  A true trial.

Theory did get a bit carried away with itself in the early '90s and there was much in the damnations of Sokal et al. that was valid criticism.  However, whereas the likes of Latour internalised much of this criticism and came up with some pretty interesting answers (e.g. much of Pandora's Hope is an explicit reply to the science warriors and the AIME book, borrowing elements from Stengers' more avowedly realist, Whiteheadian philosophy, takes this even further) those on the other side are just beating the same old timeless drum.

As far as they are concerned intellectual history has ended.

They seemingly have no desire to engage with their opponents on any issue whatsoever.  Nothing less than total and complete capitulation will suffice.  Which only goes to prove the point the point that many people have made vis-√†-vis scientism qua fundamentalism - that it's all about politics and has very little to do with science.

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