From: "Mohammed Abouzaid" <mabouzai@xxxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Fri, 19 May 2000 08:28:41 -0400
>(6) I am unimpressed by appeals to the fact that the laws of reason do
> not rationally justify themselves. That strikes me as a line of
> argument structurally (and intellectually) akin to the argument
> whereby the proposition "there is no truth" is shown to be
> self-defeating, thus refuting global relativism or social or
> linguistic constructivism or the "Strong Programme" or whatever
> folks choose to call it around here. It is cheaper than a cheap
> stunt. <<2>> On the other hand, I most certainly am impressed by any
> nice clean, tidy, formally valid arguments the conclusions of which
> go something like "the laws of reason are not universally binding,"
> or "the laws of reason cannot be known to be universally binding," or
> even better "the laws of reason can be proven not to be universally
Ask not what postmodernism is, but what it does.
To me the "postmodern programme" is worthless outside the struggles against
all opression. The importance of its attack on the self-sufficiency of
reason (which most undoubtedly is not self sufficient) is to reveal the
(unavoidable) use of reason as an exclusion mechanism. All totalizing
systems are/become tools of oppression.
I know this may not be the answer you're looking for, but post modern
thought will survive as long as there is a voiceless subaltern which is
silenced by the all too powerful voice of reason. It does not matter to me
if it survives in academia, as long as it survives as a tool of opposition
to the SQ.
> I mean, even Descartes in Med. I and Hume in his Treatise
> gave us good reasons to worry about that. In connection with this, I
> am very interested in the reply from John Ransom. If it can be made
> to go, it strikes as one of the most promising lines of argument,
> though we will have to evaluate it for formal soundness.
> Broadly speaking, what I'm wondering is whether or not an argument
> similar to or better than the sort I allude to above might be found
> somewhere between the pages of some book, article, or the plurals
> thereof by Lyotard, Baudrillard, Bataille, Derrida, Foucault, Adorno,
> or anybody else popularly associated with "postmodernism" and
> "poststructuralism." I'm quite familiar with the process of digging
> genuine and good arguments out of the writings of philosophers who
> are hostile to the notion of being understood by the rest of us. I
> spent ten years doing just that with Heidegger, and some of his
> quasi-Kantian phenomenological arguments really are excellent.
>(6) Part of my budding interest in postmodernism in general is the fact
> that Ill be sitting in on a Heidegger seminar in the fall and I was
> advised to go back and re-read some of these authors in connection
> with him. Additionally, a friend of mine in the Philosophy
> Department espouses strong sympathy for postmodernism, and since I
> know for a fact that he is not a supercilious dolt, I figure it's
> likely the authors he admires aren't dolts either. Seems plausible,
> right? Of course, many people who are not dolts are nonetheless
> wrong, they just aren't stupidly wrong.
>(7) For those who are more interested in being combative and verbally
> beating up on a dyed-in-the-cloth analytic metaphysician, be my
> guest. My ego is located elsewhere, so I'm likely to be a very easy
> and passive target.
>In conclusion, I should like to say that I am very pleased both by the
>volume and the nature of the responses I have received. Several people
>were very gracious and helpful and furthermore it seems my stumbling
>efforts had the salutary effect of bringing new life to some lists that
>were very very dead for quite some time. I just hope I can keep track of
>what information and which arguments on this matter are relevant to which
>lists over the coming months.
><<1>> Regarding this, I suppose I should point out that Kuhn is NOT even
> vaguely representative of where philosophy of science stands
> today. His views died a much-deserved death over twenty years
> ago. Scientific anti-realists would do better to look to Bas Van
> Fraasen for the grist they seek. I do not say this to chastise
> anyone. After all, just as I know very little of postmodernism
> right now, it is only to be expected that many other people know
> very little of contemporary philosophy of science. As a hint, I
> should mention that the field simply does not contain much talk
> about "paradigms" nowadays, not the least because that has got to be
> one of the most ill-formed and poorly defined concepts in the
> If anyone wants to get into the debates over Kuhn and philosophy of
> science, I'd be happy to do so either via private email or at least
> under a new heading for the posts. A substantial chunk of my
> dissertation is in the philosophy of science (someday Ill finish
> that accursed thing... someday...) and I dare say that is a field I
> know quite well. If he is anything at all, Kuhn is an object lesson
> in how not to be a logical positivist (that is what he was, after
><<2>> I will include an explanation of why such responses do not impress
> me in my next post. It is unfortunate that many people try to use
> just such a strategy, because as arguments go it is a failure.