Alan Sokal’s Joke Is on United States as Postmoderism Concerns Science

When I taught physics at Yale in the 1980s and ’90s, my associates and I took pride in our position on “science hill,” looking down on the liberal arts scholars in the intellectual valleys listed below as they were swamped in postmodernism and deconstructionism.

This very same mindset encouraged the mathematician Alan Sokal to release his well-known 1996 post, “ Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity,” in the cultural-studies journal Social Text. He asserted, to name a few things that “physical ‘truth,’ no less than social ‘truth,’ is at bottom a social and linguistic construct” which “the clinical neighborhood … can not assert a fortunate epistemological status with regard to counter-hegemonic stories originating from dissident or marginalized neighborhoods.”

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