reply to Kadvany

Stephen G Simpson simpson at
Mon Mar 8 15:54:53 EST 1999

John Kadvany 08 Mar 1999 08:47:56 said

 > 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.

Why did this disturb you?  Don't you think a great deal of post-war
academic philosophy deserves condemnation?  I do.  The fact that
postmodernism is considered respectable tells me a lot.

 > my 'personal heros' include Kuhn, Lakatos, and Feyerabend whose
 > work has been tarred by this broad brush.

I'm having trouble distinguishing your heros from your villains.  You
yourself said that Feyerabend and Lakatos were deeply influenced by
skepticism, and you yourself identified postmodernism as nothing but a
modern version of skepticism.  It seems to me that, having said all
that, you need to explain why you think Lakatos and his heirs aren't
subject to the same criticisms that apply to the postmodernists.

In 02 Mar 1999 15:38:10 you tried to explain by saying

 > Postmodernism, as many marxists argued, is normatively unattractive
 > because it picks and chooses from the past, like much modern
 > popular culture, without any principled view of where that is
 > taking us into the future.

and in 05 Mar 1999 16:13:50 you elaborated

 > The Marxist Frederic Jameson developed lots of the ideas about what
 > postmodernism is, as a description of contemporary consumer
 > culture, but is normatively opposed to much of it, including its
 > ahistoricism, meaning the absence of a critical and postive
 > relationship to the past and how we see ourselves as moving forward
 > as a society;

OK, so maybe your real problem with postmodernism is that it doesn't
accept Marxist historical determinism, or isn't politically correct
enough.  Is that it?  But then, what about Lakatos?  Isn't he subject
to the same `criticism'?  I wish you would explain yourself ....

Anyway, we have gotten far off the topic of FOM.  Let's try to bring
this discussion back to foundations of mathematics.

>From 04 Mar 1999 08:53:52

 > SS: What are some of these arguments [for anti-foundationalism]?  I
 > hope you will post them on FOM and we can discuss them there.
 > JK: See for example Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of
 > Nature.  Then also Donald Davidson in analytic philosophy, Quine,
 > Putnam, Popper, Lakatos, Feyerabend, Kuhn, and others.  These are
 > as abundant as proofs of the fundamental theorem of algebra.

I asked you for arguments, but you responded with a bunch of names.
As it happens I have read all of these authors, but insofar as they
argued against f.o.m., I was unimpressed.

Once again, I invite you to summarize some of these
anti-f.o.m. arguments here on the FOM list, so that we can discuss

-- Steve

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