FOM: unexplained provocative statements john.kadvany at
Mon Mar 8 11:47:56 EST 1999

Martin:  Fair enough, and I apologize for any slight.  I do not mean to be
'insulting', although sometimes polemical and sarcastic. Let me explain
where I stand on Sokal and the associated debate over the so-called culture
wars and postmodernism.
1. I also thought Sokal's Social Text hoax to be brilliant and admirable.
I defended Sokal against left-type humanities friends who just refused to
accept the implicit criticisms.
2. I then was disturbed, mainly though journalistic accounts including
interviews with Sokal, at what I read as broad brush condemnation of a
great deal in post-War philosophy and philosophy of science.  Perhaps Sokal
is now more careful in limiting his scope to French philosophy, but I have
also seen from other distinguished scientists (I won't name names until I
have specific references) a wide-ranging and often unspecific attack on the
supposed dangers of 'postmodernism', used quite indiscriminately.  It has a
witch-hunt feel to it.  Also, my 'personal heros' include Kuhn, Lakatos,
and Feyerabend whose work has been tarred by this broad brush.
3. As a consequence of all this, I have come to abhor both sides of this
so-called debate.  Hence my unexplained provocative statements.

To:       John Kadvany/FAS/BAS/San Francisco CA/C&L/US at C&L US, Harvey
          Friedman <friedman at MATH.OHIO-STATE.EDU>, fom at
From:     davism at (Martin Davis)
Date:     03/08/99 06:33:06 AM GMT
Subject:  Re: FOM: unexplained provocative statements

At 04:13 PM 3/5/99 -0800, john.kadvany at wrote:

>For hype see Sokal after his hoax and others who fan the reactionary
>against the perceived threats of postmodernism.

There you go again: being provocative (and insulting) without backing up
what you say. Sokal (a personal hero) "reactionary" ? Please! I find he
Bricmont) have bent over backward to be careful and precise. Where's the
hype? Where's the reactionary?

Above and beyond this example, please absorb Harvey's lesson: don't make
unsupported provocative statements.


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