Linked article - Texas approves Moses as founding father wrote:
In essence, Christian conservatives in Texas have successfully forced a false historical narrative into public school textbooks that portray Moses as an influence on the Constitution and the Old Testament as the root of democracy.
Progressive secular humanists (TM) must be thinking that their morals and codes of conduct fell down from the sky and or that their thinking capabilities are not bound by earthly matters. There was a big bang and voila the human mind was free, free to think unconstrained by causality.
"Gross generalizations, stereotypes, and derogatory/oppressive language are not acceptable. Use of racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, classist, or generally offensive language in class or submission of such material will not be tolerated. (This includes ‘The Man,’ ‘Colored People,’ ‘Illegals/Illegal Aliens,’ ‘Tranny’ and so on — or referring to women/men as females or males."
Banning all unpleasantness, discomfort, unsavoury reality, facts, in the teaching process, because anything could be a trigger, and any trigger could provoke a trauma… best we abolish the grading system and let all get A+++
Universities - places for information exchange, consumption, and mutual peer-nodding certifications.
A movement where eveyone is made to feel safe... Dysgenics? Nevermind.
"How does that saying go? Oh yes - You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can not fool all of the people all of the time.
Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who is Chief Operating Officer of the SABC - the South African Broadcasting Corporation (tax funded) says reporting on crime encourages crime. I'm guessing he'd like to regulate the media, so that South Africans can be blissfully unaware of what's happening in the country. It's like asking the fox to guard the chickens.
And, on top of everything, he just happens to be Zuma's pal! And it just happens to be an election year where the ANC would LOVE them some free propaganda on the national TV station!
Here is the majestic Mr Motsoeneng on what the role of the media is: “Maybe we need to understand the role of media. The role of media is to influence the mindset of people, young and old."
So, there you have it. It is the role of the media to influence people, and not to report facts and truth. Influencing would be called, errrrr...... propaganda in my book, but what do I know? Mr Motsoeneng is far more enlightened than I am - obviously.
Under his regulation leadership, the SABC has been instructed to report news which is positive. Just ignore the negative. If you don't report it, it somehow doesn't exist in the tiny mind of Mr Motsoeneng.
Eventually the truth (most times) comes out. People are now having to admit that South Africa, under the ANC, is a disaster. No more wallpapering over the cracks anymore. The cracks are too deep and the foundation is shaking. Public anger and frustration is at an all-time high. The media's carefully constructed Mandela Utopia is crumbling. They have realised that they will no longer have the power of persuasion if they allow their subjects to have a free voice. So the free voice is to be muzzled."
The limits of the concept uni-verse is human language, and world mean humanity, making human emotion the limit of what is permissible, now called "true". Subjectivity means human subjectivity, divided, fragmented, and rules by the "golden rule" - "Do unto others..", now a uni-reversal law: social convention, social necessity, made into a uni-reversal law.
If we take this self-referential "logic" further, being popular within world, now meaning humanity, means reality is altered. Uni-reversal affected by logos. Word as the magical code to shape reality. Within these confines the uni-verse can be "corrected" by changing the minds of men.
Females demand "safe spaces" to carry out their function, and males, self-handicapping to signal their "fitness" to females raised in sheltered, pampering environments, and Nihilism with its cult -of-victimhood and its comforting inversions.
A passionate defence of Science [from an enlightenment perspective, but still relevant here in the context of cultural marxism in the academy].
Part I and II here; continue the rest later.
"We are using academic left to designate those people whose doctrinal idiosyncracies sustain the misreadings of science, its methods, and its conceptual foundations that have generated what nowadays passes for a politically progressive critique of it.
The academic left dislikes science. Naturally enough, it dislikes some of the uses to which science is put by the political and economic forces controlling our society, especially in such areas as military hardware, surveillance of dissidents, destructive and environmentally unsound industrial processes, and the manipulation of mass consciousness through the technologies of popular culture. Within the academic left, hostility extends to the social structures through which science is institutionalized, to the system of education by which professional scientists are produced, and to a mentality that is taken, rightly or wrongly, as characteristic of scientists. Most surprisingly, there is open hostility toward the actual content of scientific knowledge and toward the assumption, which one might have supposed universal among educated people, that scientific knowledge is reasonably reliable and rests on a sound methodology. It seems to mock the idea that, on the whole, a civilization is capable of progressing from ignorance to insight, notwithstanding the benightedness of some of its members. We have the sense, encountering such attitudes, that irrationality is courted and proclaimed with pride. All the more shocking is the fact that the challenge comes from a quarter that views itself as fearlessly progressive—the veritable cutting edge of the cultural future. On the surface at least, the phenomenon is not a case of nostalgia. These critics of science do not repine for the traditional mores and devout certainties of a prescientific age. They accuse science itself of a reactionary obscurantism, and they revile it as an ideological prop of the present order, which many of them despise and hope to abolish.
We try to use the troubling term academic left with reasonable precision. This category is comprised, in the main, of humanists and social scientists; rarely do working natural scientists (who may nevertheless associate themselves with liberal or leftist ideas) show up within its ranks. The academic left is not completely defined by the spectrum of issues that form the benchmarks for the left/right dichotomy in American and world politics, although by reference to that standard set—race, women’s rights, health care, disarmament, foreign policy—it unquestionably belongs on the left. Another set of beliefs—perhaps it is more accurate to call them attitudes—comes into play in an essential way, shaping this subculture. What defines it, as much as anything else, is a deep concern with cultural issues, and, in particular, a commitment to the idea that fundamental political change is urgently needed and can be achieved only through revolutionary processes rooted in a wholesale revision of cultural categories.
This apocalyptic break with things-as-they-are is supposed to displace a vast array of received cultural values and substitute an entirely novel ethos. From this perspective feminism, for example, means more than full juridical equality for women, more than income parity and equal access to careers, more than irrevocable “reproductive rights.” It means, in fact, a complete overthrow of traditional gender categories, with all their conscious and unconscious postulates. By the same token, racial justice, on this view, does not mean peaceful assimilation of blacks into the dominant culture, but the forging of an entirely new culture, in which “black” (or “African”) values—in social relations, economics, aesthetics, personal sensibilities—will have at least equal standing with “white” values. Similarly, environmentalism, as understood and preached on the academic left, extends far beyond concrete measures to eliminate pollution, or to avoid extinction of species and elimination of habitats. Rather, it envisions a transcendence of the values of Western industrial society and the restoration of an imagined prelapsarian harmony to humanity’s relations with nature. The danger, for the moment at least, is not to science itself. What is threatened is the capability of the larger culture, which embraces the mass media as well as the more serious processes of education, to interact fruitfully with the sciences, to draw insight from scientific advances, and, above all, to evaluate science intelligently. To the extent that the academic left’s critique becomes the dominant mode of thinking about science on the part of nonscientists, that thinking will be distorted and dangerously irrelevant. Postmodernism, however, is but one of the strands from which the academic left weaves its indictment. Other notions both new and old enter into the cloth. The traditional Marxist view that what we think of as science is really “bourgeois” science, a superstructural manifestation of the capitalist order, recurs with predictable regularity, in its own right or refurbished as the doctrine of “cultural constructivism.” The radical feminist view that science, like every other intellectual structure of modern society, is poisoned and corrupted by an ineradicable gender bias, is another vitally important element. An analogous accusation comes from multiculturalists, who view “Western” science as inherently inaccurate and incomplete by virtue of its failure to incorporate the full range of cultural perspectives. A certain strain of radical environmentalism condemns science as embodying the instrumentalism and alienation from direct experience of nature which are the twin sources of an eventual (or imminent) ecological doomsday.
These ideas are the chief elements alloyed to form the academic left’s challenge to conventional scientific thinking. It must be noted, however, that there is no canonical way of combining them. Although we have been speaking of an academic left critique, it must be stressed—and we are compelled to stress it throughout the discussion to follow—that this is not a self-consistent body of doctrine. Rather, it is a congeries of different doctrines, with no well-defined center, each of which draws upon the notions we have cited in an idiosyncratic way, elaborating some of them with enthusiasm while leaving others in the background and rejecting still others completely. What enables them to coexist congenially, in spite of gross logical inconsistencies, is a shared sense of injury, resentment, and indignation against modern science.
The academic left’s critiques of science have come to exert a remarkable influence. The primary reason for their success is not that they put forward sound arguments, but rather that they resort constantly and shamelessly to moral one-upmanship. If you decry the feminist critique of science, you are guilty of trying to preserve science as an old-boy’s network. If you take exception to eco-apocalyptic rhetoric, you are an agent, witting or otherwise, of the greed of capitalist-industrialist polluters. If you reject the convoluted cabalistic fantasies of postmodernism, you are not only sneered at for a dullard, but inevitably told that you are in the grip of a crumbling Western episteme, linked hopelessly to a failing white-male-European hegemony. This is not pleasant to encounter in debate; but it is very far from unanswerable. Be assured that it conceals fundamental weaknesses of fact and logic in the argument of the accuser. We are treading now on the slippery territory of the “political correctness” debate. There has been plenty of bad faith, dissimulation, sanctimony, and hypocrisy from all quarters. The academic right is all too eager to use the grotesqueries of the academic left as an excuse for walking away from deep and intractable problems. For its part, the left is ready, at the slightest hint of challenge, to play the martyr and to find fascism, racism, or “denial” in it, no matter how judicious and well reasoned the challenge may be.
It is important to attend to another aspect of such Enlightenment—for that is what we are describing —social thought. It seems to us that what a broad spectrum of thinkers have in common is their determination to regard the social position of individuals as resulting neither from the decrees of a transcendent divinity nor from the processes of an optimal social mechanism. Rank, wealth, and power are seen as contingent facts, rather than as the emblems of an innate or achieved social perfection. Whatever their differences, none of these philosophers cry along with Pope and Handel “Whatever Is, Is Right.” Rather, schemes and prescriptions abound for the reconstitution of the social organism to bring it into alignment with the dictates of reason and nature. Furthermore, the ills and malfunctions of the existing order are almost always located in the undeniable maldistribution of wealth, power, prestige, and immunity that is to be found everywhere. Thus a strongly implicit egalitarianism suffuses the thinking of the savants of the time, at least of those whose work still speaks resonantly to us. This may range from the openness to entrepreneurial innovation advocated by Smith to Rousseau’s near-mystical celebration of the General Will and the unanimity of its votaries; but such distinctions seem more important, we submit, in hindsight. The key point is that it came to be seen that any system claiming to be based on natural justice must accommodate the concept that at some level all individuals are to be equally empowered by the fundamental political processes of the state. It hardly matters that at this level of generality such ideas are as ancestral to the apologies for free-market capitalism so dear to modern conservatives as to the garrison-state socialism of North Korea or Vietnam, and it hardly matters that the egalitarian view tended to be blind, now and again, to particular parts of the landscape.
It is fair to say, in short, that by the time of the French Revolution a certain suite of ideas had become regnant in European (and North American) political philosophy. The empiricism and rigor of the sciences were emulated in the analytic strategies of political thought; and this, in turn, was for the most part linked to an emancipatory project for the renovation or reconstitution of existing social systems.
The disastrous failure of the French Revolution and the aftermath of that failure is, of course, perhaps the most ringing example of the triumph of inadvertence over intention in human history. It instilled in Western thinkers a full measure of skepticism concerning utopian systems and schemes for universal reform. Even before that, during the headiest moments of early republicanism, the canny Burke had already put his finger on the weaknesses of abstract philosophizing as a guide to the attainment of social perfection. Burke, however, is but one of a spectrum of thinkers who begin to show strong doubts about the deification of the merely rational. Far more emphatic and impassioned are the great figures of Romantic individualism, including Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, and, above all, Goethe. It is in literature and poetry that we first begin to encounter a reaction against Enlightenment values that reveals a specific distrust of science, as well as a strong reluctance to believe that mankind can be reformed along “scientific” lines.
Blake is a very different animal, politically and philosophically as well as poetically, from the Olympian Goethe, and neither is very close in spirit to the reactionary Wordsworth settled into his endless counterrevolutionary old age. Yet, in point of attitude toward epistemological questions, and, quite explicitly, toward the authority of science, the poets are linked by a strong commonality of thought. Each distrusts the narrowly empirical and the strictly rational, each celebrates the vital importance of the intuitive, the irreproducible moment of insight and of direct access to truth in its unmediated essence.
Each accuses science, especially in its schematic, mathematicized form, of blindness, or worse, stubborn refusal to see. Each fears a world in which scientific thought has become the sovereign mode, and recoils from the spiritual degradation and servility that, in his opinion, must inevitably come to characterize such a world. Blake makes his protest in the name of an ecstatic, antinomian, revolutionary vision that comforts neither Jacobins nor Royalists. Goethe speaks for an idiosyncratic classicism, neither fully pagan nor fully Christian, neither revolutionary nor reactionary, as singular as the great man himself. Wordsworth seems merely a self-satisfied old Tory. But beneath these divergent visions, we find an underlying distrust of straightforward, impersonal reasoning. The belief in direct, revelatory, intuitive truth to be had from communion with nature is the obverse of a deep epistemological skepticism about the kind of “systematic” truth that is the core of scientific knowledge. In this aspect, Romantic thought, even at its most revolutionary, is allied to the caustic, all-encompassing skepticism of that relentless reactionary Joseph de Maistre, whose most brilliant exercises in logic and empirical inference are expressly designed to demonstrate the unreliability and futility of logic and empirical inference. (We cannot resist the temptation to take note, in passing, of the fact that the Romantic exaltation of intuitive “Understanding” above merely cerebral “Reason” foreshadows the celebration of “holism” and “organicism” by contemporary critics of science, who are impatient with the disciplined analysis and methodological exactness of serious scientific work. Likewise, Maistre, in his counterrevolutionary ferocity, is the true spiritual ancestor of the “postmodern” skepticism so dear to the hearts of the academic left.)
Whatever its effect on the history of poetry and sensibility, however, the Romantic revulsion against the scientific worldview had virtually no effect on the development of science itself. The nineteenth century turned science into a profession. Its status as the preserve of gentlemen-amateurs and isolated virtuosi dependent on aristocratic patronage receded into history. The education of scientists was rapidly systematized, and the universities, especially in France and Germany, took on their now-familiar role as nurseries for aspiring scientists and sponsors of experimental, as well as speculative, work. The subdivisions of science came to be ever more clearly defined, and the intense specialization that marks the science of our own day took shape. At the same time, the link between theoretical science and direct technological innovation became concretized in the growth of institutions, both educational and commercial, that vastly expanded the scope of the engineering profession, while tying it ever more firmly to rigorous scientific foundations. The interval between the first systematic attempts to derive an adequate mathematical theory of electricity and magnetism—those of Gauss and Ampère, say—and the systematic construction first of telegraph networks, then of electrical systems to power whole cities is, by any standard, incredibly brief.
This fully symbolizes the degree to which Western culture, almost unthinkingly, entirely altered its own material underpinnings. To compare the European states, circa 1800 with, say, the Chinese or Ottoman empires is a historical and geopolitical exercise dealing with entities which, however greatly they differ, may be measured against each other in terms of economic, industrial, agricultural, navigational, and military capacity. By 1900, such a comparison is idle. The sudden disparity has little to do with the traditional ebb and flow of power, and everything to do with assimilation of the scientific enterprise into the heart of the Western social fabric.
In speaking of science and its social consequences in the nineteenth century, we cannot avoid the notion of “Progress” and its role in the generally optimistic view of historical process that held sway during that period. Contemporary critics have told us repeatedly and with great sagacity how problematical the idea of progress is. Progress for whom, in what direction, at what expense to which class? The progress of the upstart manufacturer in the English midlands or the New England mill town may well have affronted the seigniorial pride of the landed aristocrat or the Tidewater planter—hardly an outrage to one’s democratic sentiments. On the other hand, the industrialist’s prosperity was the millworker’s hell. The technology that minted wealth for its owners forged chains for its servants. The superiority of the technologized economic superstructure of Europe and the United States exacted a terrible tribute from millions of Chinese, Indians, Latin Americans, and Filipinos, who had no reason to praise the scientific virtuosity that showered them with shells and bullets.
In the final analysis, a real if grossly imperfect alignment persisted between the scientific outlook and the great emancipatory sentiments—abolitionism, women’s rights, social reform, socialism itself— that drove the most idealistic souls of the era. To put it another way, the “science” that sustained the most ferociously antiegalitarian ideas—racist eugenics, “social Darwinism,” and the like—has long since been effaced, while the claims put forth to bolster the egalitarian view have endured, on the whole, rather well. At any rate, if we are to judge a body of ideas by its worst enemies, it is simply absurd to impugn science as the tool of the most embittered reactionaries. Those forces, represented by Maistre and by Pius IX, the pope who denounced socialism, modernism, and the scientific outlook in a single breath, were convinced that their quarrel with science was a struggle to the death. Martin Heidegger was their recent offspring. To the extent that the liberatory and democratic ideals that roiled the nineteenth century and persist to our day with amplified force face the adamant resistance of dogmatic religions of one sort or another (hardly a dead issue in a world beset by a swarm of angry fundamentalisms), science, it would seem, has been and will be their strongest and least dispensable ally.
Meanwhile, the historical constituency of the American left is fragmented. The traditional moral language of the left, deriving as it does from Enlightenment humanism, seems to have lost its power to exhort and unite. It is hard, for example, to imagine a contemporary black militant employing the rhetoric of Paul Robeson or Martin Luther King; Malcolm X seems to be the only relevant historical figure. Feminism has long since wandered into its own discursive universe. The new immigrant groups from Asia and Latin America have little familiarity with the themes of working-class emancipation that inspired Irishmen, Germans, Swedes, Italians, and Polish Jews in the factories, sweatshops, mines, and rail-yards of America a century ago.
The urge to redeem slides easily into an eagerness to debunk for the sake of debunking. New candidates for veneration—writers, artists, musicians, philosophers, historical figures, non-Western “ways of knowing”—are put forward not for what they are but for what they are not—white, European, male.
It is impossible to understand fully the academic left’s attack on science without taking into account how much resentment is embodied in it. Science is, if anything, a more natural target for the frustrated spite of the left than literature or art or other aspect of high culture. Shakespeare, Beethoven, and Rembrandt may adorn the theaters, concert halls, and museums of the rich, but they are long dead; and, in any case, there is a venerable tradition of regarding artists per se as rebels, malcontents, and social critics. Science, on the other hand, is anything but antique. It thrives—or, as its critics would have it, fulminates—in the heart of the contemporary world. What is more, it is an indispensable prop to the politics and commerce of that world. It builds the bombs for the Pentagon and fiber-optics networks for the stock exchanges of the world. It computes the macroeconomic projections of the neoclassical economists and the demographic projections of cynical political operatives. It creates an enormous environmental mess and then charges us an arm and a leg to clean it up! It has all of us by the throat. Resentment is a strong force in human affairs; philosophical caution is deplorably weak. The left’s resentment of science is no sillier than that of, say, religious fundamentalists. Typically, it is expressed with incomparably greater cleverness and verbal agility. Nonetheless, resentment is not a trustworthy ally in any intellectual endeavor. In the present case it has betrayed left-wing intellectuals into futility.
There is an intellectual heritage. Most of the thinking, as well as the rhetoric, of the sixties left was built around the theme that liberation for the oppressed can only be won when the oppressed group acts as the autonomous agent of its own revolutionary process. This notion of the “special competence” of the oppressed was deeply ingrained and has become unchallengeable within leftist circles. Only blacks, it was held, could define the terms of the black liberation struggle; all ideas, as well as all decisions, had to come from black revolutionaries themselves. Whites could function only as agents of tactical support. The same assumption was extended to other peoples “in struggle”—Native Americans, Chicanos, and so forth. Of course, it was always understood that American radicals had no right to criticize the tactics and strategies of Vietnamese revolutionaries; again, they were relegated to the function of uncritical support. The corresponding maxim was applied to radical feminism as that movement took shape—men, however sympathetic, could be spear carriers but never theorists or analysts, let alone leaders.
These attitudes, recurring from context to context, have a theoretical counterpart, a doctrine declaring that a group traditionally “privileged” has no right to define reality for others. It goes further; the very state of being oppressed is somehow supposed to confer a greater clarity of vision, a more authentic view of the world, than the bourgeois trappings of economic, racial, and sexual hegemony.
Finally, and quite expectedly, there is a lingering distrust of science and technology. This obviously derives from the long tradition of fear and loathing toward the nuclear arsenals of the world and the technocrats who created them. It was greatly intensified by the brutal spectacle of the war in Indochina, where all the technical ingenuity of the most scientifically advanced culture in the world seemed to have been conscripted to inflict butchery on a peasant culture. Finally, the misgivings of the environmental movement toward technology as such became common currency within the left, thereby widening still further the rift between contemporary radicalism and the Enlightenment tradition of science as the ultimate product of human wisdom and the staunch ally of liberation. All of these factors come into play, as we believe, in generating the peculiar amalgam of ignorance and hostility that glides beneath the surface of virtually all of the “critiques” of science that leftist theorizing has brought forth.
It seems to us that the central tenet of the various schools of thought that make up the academic left is one that may be labeled “perspectivist.” The basic thrust is that various bodies of ideas that have been favored and championed by Western culture over the centuries must be stripped of their claims to universality and timeless, uncontextual validity. They are at best the expression of local “truths” or “structures” that make sense only within a certain context of social experience and a certain political symbology. On the other hand, they may be justificatory myths meant to uphold authority and hierarchy. In either event, they are always deeply marked by the power relations that govern the societies in which they arose. By the same token, perspectivism is highly sympathetic to the claim that the heretofore disempowered have the right to have their own “narratives,” their own particular accounts of the world, taken as seriously as those of the standard culture, notwithstanding differences and outright contradictions. The intellectual apparatus of the post-Enlightenment West, it is held, affords no special leverage for deciding among competing versions of the story of the world. Such methodologies have been deferred to in the past, but that is because they have been arbitrarily “privileged” by the historical ascendancy of Euro-American capitalism, a merely contingent circumstance. They occupy no firmer epistemological ground than the accounts produced by women, descendants of black slaves, Third World revolutionaries, or even a reified and personalized Nature. The latter thus become immune from criticism by the reigning Western paradigm—and from white European males, dead or alive.
The dethronement of Western modes of knowledge and their claims to objectivity is said to be justified on a number of grounds. To some, it is the inherent instability and cloudiness of language that does the job. Others appeal to fairly traditional Marxist notions of class consciousness. Feminists champion “women’s ways of knowing,” while Afrocentrists have their own version of the blood-and-soil myth. The important point, however, is that each faction thinks the job is complete and that Western paradigms have been effectively demolished.
Among academics, such attitudes are nowadays extremely common. They are conjoined, however, with other habits of thought characteristic of intellectuals as a class. There is, for instance, an abiding cabalistic faith that excursions into theory, if pursued at great enough length with sufficient intensity, will tease forth all the deepest truths of human experience. This adds considerably to the impression, common outside of academic-left circles, that the “critical theory” in which academic leftists take such delight is a swamp of jargon, name dropping, logic chopping, and massive attempts to obliterate the obvious. The irony is that this faith in the omnicompetence of theory runs particularly strong in those who claim to abhor “totalizing” theories. “Both [Derrida and Foucault] have, in different ways, actually stimulated a return to a form of scholasticism, to those abstract and totalizing methods of the traditional Western humanist the new theory claimed to reject.”" [Paul Gross, Higher Superstition in the Academic Left]
The Cultural Construction of Cultural Constructivism
"A typical example of the discourse of the cultural constructivists, certain to startle a scientifically literate person who has never encountered the genre, can be found in The Science of Pleasure: Cosmos and Psyche in the Bourgeois World View, by sociologist Harvie Ferguson. He summarizes a key development of twentieth-century physics as follows:
The inner collapse of the bourgeois ego signalled an end to the fixity and systematic structure of the bourgeois cosmos. One privileged point of observation was replaced by a complex interaction of viewpoints.
The new relativistic viewpoint was not itself a product of scientific “advances” but was part, rather, of a general cultural and social transformation which expressed itself in a variety of “modern” movements. It was no longer conceivable that nature could be reconstructed as a logical whole. The incompleteness, indeterminacy, and arbitrariness of the subject now reappeared in the natural world. Nature, that is, like personal existence, makes itself known only in fragmented images.
We assure the reader that Ferguson is referring unambiguously to Einstein’s relativity theory, not to some broader and murkier notion of “relativity”! He means literally, and reaffirms throughout the book, that developments in physics are not only conditioned, but dictated by the evolution of something called “bourgeois consciousness,” whose course is in turn determined, in proper Marxist fashion, by “commodity relations.”
Now, the uncertainty principle is undoubtedly one of the cornerstones of quantum mechanics and one of the most philosophically provocative developments in the history of science. Under Aronowitz’s description, however, it seems rather to refer to a kind of epistemological and spiritual malaise, plaguing the minds and souls of contemporary physicists. The argument, roughly but accurately paraphrased (and all too familiar from New Age tracts, among other things), is that since physics has discovered the uncertainty principle, it can no longer provide reliable information about the physical world, has lost its claim to objectivity, and is now embedded in the unstable hermeneutics of subject-object relations. This, alas, demonstrates depressingly well the connotative power of words when they are allowed to drift apart from their contextual meaning.
Once obscurantism has been stripped away, we recognize that the uncertainty principle is a tenet of physics, a predictive law about the behavior of concrete phenomena that can be tested and confirmed like other physical principles. It is not some brooding metaphysical dictum about the Knower versus the Known, but rather a straightforward statement, mathematically quite simple, concerning the way in which the statistical outcomes of repeated observations of various phenomena must be interrelated. And, indeed, it has been triumphantly confirmed. It has been verified as fully and irrefutably as is possible for an empirical proposition. In other words, when viewed as a law of physics, the uncertainty principle is a very certain item indeed. It is an objective truth about the world. (If that were not so, there would never have been so much fuss about it!)
Aronowitz’s incoherent account completely occludes that simple fact. He insists on adverting only to the most mystical views of the matter (those of Heisenberg qua philosopher-oracle, for instance) and ignores the particulars of the lively debate among physicists attempting to clarify what the predictive success of quantum mechanics really tells us about the physical universe. He naively echoes, for example, the view that the causal and deterministic view of things implicit in classical physics has been irrevocably banished. This is simply wrong.9 He propounds, moreover, the undocumented and egregiously unlikely notion that the source of these developments lies in a general malaise that afflicted European culture in the wake of World War I. On Aronowitz’s account, the pioneers of quantum mechanics were merely clever artificers obedient to the society’s peremptory demand for an abolition of determinism and causality. Genuine familiarity with the history and content of the work of Heisenberg, Schrödinger, von Neumann, de Broglie, and others makes such a proposal hallucinatory.
Aronowitz’s treatment, in short, gives no indication that he really understands the underlying physics and mathematics of the situation. He seems to be expostulating on the basis of dilute paraphrases or worse, vulgarizations of paraphrases. It undoubtedly seems snobbish to say so, but this field of speculation is notoriously unkind to amateurs.
For Latour, the Heart of Darkness is the solid state physics laboratory. Notwithstanding the specificity and locality of his direct investigations, Latour is eager to emerge with far-reaching generalizations and epistemological laws. These are embedded in an expository style as unconventional as the theses it propounds. His major work, Science in Action, is studded with aphorisms, diagrams, cartoons, and doodles, and is characterized by a mercurial, gnomic wit; but his purpose is seriously iconoclastic. Here, for instance, is his “Third Rule of Method”: “Since the settlement of a controversy is the Cause of Nature’s representation, not the consequence, we can never use the outcome—Nature—to explain how and why a controversy has been settled.”
This would seem to be an instance of unbending relativism and antirealism. What it seems to say is that nature is purely a social convention, and that scientific controversies are settled by a dialogic process within a scientific community resulting in a general agreement about the details of that convention. Thus, to read this as it applies to a concrete situation, we must believe that William Harvey’s view of the circulation of the blood prevailed over that of his critics not because blood flows from the heart through the arteries and returns to the heart through the veins, but because Harvey was able to construct a “representation” and wheedle a place for it among the accepted conventions of the savants! In other words, it is not to be admitted that nature might provide a template in conformity to which these “representations” are tightly molded.
A homely example will serve to clarify this point. Imagine that a few of us are cooped up in a windowless office, wondering whether or not it’s raining. Opinions vary. We decide to settle the issue by stepping outside, where we note that the streets are beginning to fill up with puddles, that cars are kicking up rooster-tails of spray, that thunder and lightning fill the air, and, most significantly, that we are being pelted incessantly by drops of water falling from the sky. We retreat into the office and say to each other, “Wow, it’s really coming down!” We all now agree that it’s raining. Insofar as we are disciples of Latour, we can never explain our agreement on this point by the simple fact that it is raining. Rain, remember, is the outcome of our “settlement,” not its cause! Baldly put, this seems ridiculous. Nevertheless, if we accept the validity of Latour’s putative insight, we are ineluctably obliged to accept this analysis of a rainy day.
American postmodernism is often accused, with considerable justice, of being little more than mimicry of a few European thinkers, mostly French, who rose to prominence in the midst of the bewilderment afflicting intellectual life when the protorevolutionary struggles in the late sixties in France, Germany, and Italy fizzled out without having produced any real impact on bourgeois society. The most recurrent and inevitable names in postmodernist circles are those of two French philosophers, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault. Derrida, founder of the deconstructionist school of textual analysis, has by example fostered many of the stylistic affectations that bespangle modern critical writing—puns, coinages, words made ambiguous by internal parentheses and other whimsical punctuation, facing columns of apparently unrelated text which, to the initiate, are supposed to comment on one another. This kind of writing, as much as anything else, has been responsible for the ambiguous reputation of deconstruction and related critical methods.
Derrida’s deep epistemological pessimism has infected his disciples as much as have his stylistic eccentricities. Deconstructionism holds that truly meaningful utterance is impossible, that language is ultimately impotent, as are the mental operations conditioned by linguistic habit. The verbal means by which we seek to represent the world are incapable, it is said, of doing any such thing. Strings of words, whether on the page or in our heads, have at best a shadowy and unstable relation to reality. In fact “reality” is itself a mere construct, the persistent but illusory remnant of the Western metaphysical tradition. There is no reality outside the text, but texts themselves are vertiginously unstable, inherently self-contradictory and self-canceling.
On the face of it, this position would seem to offer little cheer to the would-be revolutionary or radical reformer. In the peculiarly constricted world of leftist literary intellectuals, however, it has come to be read as a road map for the continuation of a political struggle that seemed, by the late seventies, to have run out of steam. “Yet deconstruction had enormous value to New Left literary academics, explains Diggins. “Having lost the confrontation on the streets in the sixties, they could later, as English professors in the eighties, continue it in the classroom. A new nemesis haunted the Left. Everything wrong with modern society would be explained no longer by the mode of production but by the mode of discourse.”
At a crucial point, the panic-stricken deconstructionists ran headlong from the implications of their own doctrine, which had loudly proclaimed the “death of the author” and had despised appeals to historical fact. If we turn to Michel Foucault, we find a more sympathetic, but still disturbing, figure. Foucault was, primarily, a philosopher of history, whose thinking led him to ever-deeper and more pessimistic considerations of the role of language and discourse in constructing the conditions of human existence. To Foucault, life is built around language, but language itself is not neutral. Rather, it is structured and inflected by the relations of power and domination in a society. In fact, language itself creates power and social authority. We are irremediably trapped in a linguistic web that determines not only what we can say but what we can conceive. All systems of thought, then, are artifacts of the prison-house of language and thus stand in a questionable relation to the real world.
Science, arguably the dominant mode of thought in the contemporary world, has thus come under the scrutiny of Foucault, Derrida, and their followers. In the case of Foucault, skepticism is expressed in the form of doubts about the human importance of scientific truth, rather than on the possibility of achieving it. Nonetheless, his basic idea, that a mode of discourse is inevitably a code of power relations among the people who use it, has profoundly influenced other postmodern skeptics and has contributed importantly to the notion that science is simply a cultural construct which, in both form and content, and independently of any individual scientist’s wish, is deeply inscribed with assumptions about domination, mastery, and authority. For their part, Derrida and his epigones take a curiously ambivalent position toward science. On the one hand, scientific texts enjoy no special dispensation from the deconstructionist view of textuality. They are, it is asserted, just as indeterminate, as ultimately self-contradictory as any other text. The “privileged” status of scientific discourse is yet another illusion deriving from the conceits of Western metaphysics, and must therefore be rejected. Moreover, it has been put forth seriously that literary scholars trained in deconstruction or some related methodology are capable of a “deep reading” of scientific texts, a reading that reveals aspects of meaning and unconscious intent invisible to the scientists themselves.
On the other hand, deconstructionists, as well as other postmodern thinkers, have been eager to point out how modern science supposedly generates insights that confirm their own view of the universe. Kurt Gödel’s celebrated incompleteness theorem is a constant point of reference. The argument is that this deep and startling result, which shows that no finite system of axioms can completely characterize even a seemingly “natural” mathematical object (that is, the set of whole numbers and its familiar arithmetic), can be taken to imply, in some sense, that “language is indeterminate.” Mathematicians and logicians are dubious about such vague analogies, but many literary scholars are deeply impressed by them and recur to this particular example in paper after paper, even though it is doubtful that very many of them have any exact idea of what Gödel’s result says, or any sense of how it is proved.
In the social sciences, however, the effects have been drastic. The notion of “cultural critic,” in its postmodern form, embraces a certain kind of sociologist as well as a certain kind of literary scholar. They publish in the same journals and appear at the same symposia, speaking the same language and sharing the same attitudes. According to the eminent cultural anthropologist Robin Fox, his own discipline has been permeated by jargon, philosophical dogma, and political attitudes drawn from the world of postmodern literary criticism: English literature departments are reconstituting themselves as cultural studies departments and are trying to take over the intellectual world. It’s a heady time for them and a scary time for science … My own interpretation is that lazy minds are happiest with the mere voicing of opinion, or with the easy task of dressing this up to make it look plausible. In modern literary criticism they have found the perfect model of this, along with a new doctrine of extreme relativism that says that everything is only opinion anyway, to justify it. Thus the otherwise odd vision of thousands of social science children cavorting after the Pied Piper of Lit. Crit. and discourse analysis.
Cultural anthropologists, Fox reasons, were particularly susceptible to this invasion because “it makes a good excuse to dodge the rigors of science—the demand for verification and falsification—and promotes the relativism with which the social sciences have always sympathized.” Moreover, those whose politics inclined toward the left were all too happy to have a rationale for reconstituting their discipline as part of a social movement to champion the oppressed races, castes, genders, and sexual outcasts of the earth, freed of any need to analyze their situation “objectively.” In Fox’s view, however, many of the peoples whom this strategy is designed to help are, in the end, poorly served: “Science, with its objectivity … remains the one international language capable of providing objective knowledge of the world. And it is a language that all can use and share and learn … The wretched of the earth want science and the benefits of science. To deny them this is another kind of racism.” It is difficult to judge whether Fox overstates the extent of the damage—or understates it. The necessary census has not been taken. There certainly has been damage, and plenty of it. We hope that we shall not be obliged to compose a similar lament for polymer chemistry or biophysics in the near future.
Even those among leftist intellectuals who have in part accepted the stance or methodology characteristic of postmodernism are left with a degree of unease. Alexander J. Argyros, in the statement of purpose that begins his book, flatly asserts: “Since it is essentially a negative methodology, when deconstruction is called upon to address concrete issues, such as political ones, its penchant for eliding commitment and its resistance to postulating scales of value render it ineffectual at best and reactionary at worst."" [Paul Gross, Higher Superstition in the Academic Left]
"The feeling that the postmodern critique is inherently political in a fashion helpful to the left is made evident in the recent rise of what has come to be called “cultural studies” on the campus. This term covers a multitude of freeform speculations about social institutions current and past. It is a recombination of social history and sociology, practiced largely by scholars whose background is in literary studies, when it is not in women’s studies or something of the sort. It combines a pugnacious vindication of the demotic and popular cultures with a truculent interrogation of anything that issues from the high culture of the elite or from the dominant attitudes of the bourgeoisie. In that sense, it is a Foucauldian project on its face. The role of the skepticism and relativism of the deconstructionists is also clear; if no text is “privileged,” no narrative tradition closer to ethical, aesthetic, or historical truth than any other, then there are no grounds for regarding the traditional venues of humanist scholars—high literature and high art—as sacred ground. Thus, it becomes permissible for professors of English to inquire solemnly into what are by tradition (and in fact) trivial matters, and to festoon those inquiries with the abundant neologisms of the postmodern lexicon, giving thereby further assurance that the subject at hand, be it rap music or professional wrestling, has deep implications for theory." [Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and its Quarrels with Science]
"Would not physics benefit from asking why a scientific world view with physics as its paradigm excludes the history of physics from its recommendation that we seek causal explanations of everything in the world around us? Only if we insist that science is analytically separate from social life can we maintain the fiction that explanations of irrational social belief and behavior could not ever, even in principle, increase our understanding of the world physics explains." [Sandra Harding, The Science Question in Feminism]
In its obvious form, feminism has concentrated on educational opportunity and careers, demanding an end to practices that have excluded women, and strong remediation, which includes not only affirmative action but also the establishment of women’s studies programs and women’s centers. Until recently, however, the substance and the cognitive style of science per se had not been the target of much feminist complaint. The main demand was for a fair chance at careers, in and out of academic life—a just claim, unproblematical in its philosophic standing if not immune to vexations. Aspiring women chemists and physicists were not insisting upon a female thermodynamics; women mathematicians did not struggle to relate the Mittag-Leffler theorem to gender. Lately, however, a new academic industry has sprung up: feminist criticism of science.
Cultural constructivism is the underpinning of all these attacks, even when they are made by selfstyled empiricists. All the familiar and some original forms of relativism are found in the copious literature and in the classrooms where it is taught. Most of the analyses insist that a feminist or women’s science is—or should be, or will be—different from and much better than the kind we have now. The announced goal, upon which feminists of the most disparate schools agree, is a science transformed, purged of sexist, racist, classist, homophobic taint. The self-assigned task of feminist critics and their growing band of followers is to administer the purgative. The earlier, less controversial goal of uncovering past and present discrimination, of bringing to light neglected contributions of female scientists, has been subsumed under this enormously more ambitious project: to refashion the epistemology of science from the roots up. Inevitably, there is not only a thirst among women (and not just militants) for justice and for reparations, but more broadly an atmosphere that allows a truly remarkable latitude to feminist intellectuals. To put it bluntly, the reigning posture is that the weight of men’s historical misdeeds is so great that it is bad form, in fact indecent, for male academics to object, even to the most aggressive and speculative announcements of their feminist colleagues. As a result, “women’s studies” (like “multicultural” programs generally) has almost everywhere a sacrosanct status, an unprecedented immunity to the scrutiny and skepticism that are standard for other fields of inquiry. Feminist criticism of science (and of culture in general) has become, to borrow a favorite item of lit-crit palaver, “privileged” within the academy.
Antiessentialism is the common creed of most feminists involved in serious intellectual life in or out of the academy. The reasons for this should be fairly obvious. The doctrine of innate mental differences between the sexes holds obvious perils for women embarked on scholarly careers in a society that until recently barred them from such roles. It would be natural therefore to assume that the relevant branches of science—behavioral and cognitive psychology, neurophysiology, and so forth—are the allies and benefactors of the antiessentialists precisely because they have done so much to dispel the myths of female intellectual limitations. Because of their insights, one cannot, these days, deny the capacity of women for any kind of intellectual or creative activity without revealing oneself as an ignoramus. Paradoxically, however, this kind of science figures high on the antiessentialist-feminist enemies list.
The fact is that the behavioral sciences have given an inordinate amount of time to the question of sex differences and their origins. By and large, the notion of hard-and-fast, rigid, categorical differences has been shown up as an absurdity, which ought to give feminists all the ammunition they need for political arguments in favor of equality of opportunity. On the other hand, there is evidence, strong to begin with and growing stronger over time, that a number of perceived behavioral differences between males and females, especially at an early age, are in fact innate and congenital. This inference is not easily impeached as the warped product of sexist science, since many of the researchers who came up with it were, in fact, women who would have been happy to reach the opposite conclusion. It is, moreover, a fact whose political implications are generally negligible. In no way does it imply the inadvisability of complete legal and social equality between the sexes. Nonetheless feminists who fear the lurking dangers of essentialism are outraged and frightened by this innocuous work. Apparently, no evidence, however strong, is to be allowed to dent their conviction that all but the obvious anatomical differences between men and women are “socially constructed.” This proposition amounts to a credo, a virtual article of faith, a test, in certain circles, of one’s loyalty to feminist principles. As a result, an extensive and dogmatic feminist literature has grown up around the “genes and gender” question and the trick of finding farfetched arguments for evading these harmless but (to the absolutist mentality) displeasing truths has grown into a minor art form. The relations between the scientific community and militant feminism have been, to say the least, soured by this curious episode." [Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and its Quarrels with Science]
Paul Gross and Norman Levitt wrote:
"Harding is among the chosen here. Her title, “Feminist Justificatory Strategies,” is revealing and in character. The “strategies” discussed are to find means—any means, as we have already seen—by which to advance feminism and to defend a foregone conclusion: that science is a social construct, sharing the deficiencies of the society in which it has been assembled. She identifies three principal strategies in current use. One is feminist empiricism, by which she seems to mean ordinary empiricism disciplined by feminism so as to broaden problem choice and to open science to alternative hypotheses. By her account, these elements are absent from “ordinary” empiricism: “Missing from the set of alternative hypotheses nonfeminists consider are the ones that would most deeply challenge androcentric beliefs, ones that emerge to consciousness and appear plausible only from a feminist understanding of the gendered character of social experience.”
How this absence affects empiricist procedure is not clear, unless some definition of empiricism other than the usual is implicit or is being attempted. One pines for a concrete instance in which the “feminist understanding” that produces “alternative hypotheses” challenging “androcentric beliefs” has had, or at least promises to have, impact on some particular—any—scientific problem—high-temperature superconductors, protein folding, the population biology of herrings—anything! But alas, such hopes are idle. But it doesn’t matter: Harding observes immediately, in any case, that “feminist empiricism is ambivalent about the potency of science’s norms and methods to eliminate androcentric bases. While attempting to fit feminist research within these norms and methods, it also points to the fact that without the assistance of feminism, science’s norms and methods regularly failed to detect these biases.” Feminist empiricism is, in short, empirical science done (with ambivalence) by feminists. Other empiricisms are wrong; but even this one may not be right. This conclusion is, presumably, one of the “justificatory strategies” for feminism. It is certainly consistent with the radical relativism displayed by less sophisticated voices in the movement.
Harding’s second strategy is named “the feminist standpoint.” Why this is distinguished from the first “strategy” is hard to determine. The feminist standpoint is, as far as we can determine, the standpoint of feminism. Harding describes it as a consequence of gender: “Women’s distinctive social activities provide the possibility for more complete and less perverse human understanding—but only the possibility. Feminism provides the theory and motivation for inquiry.”
There follow lines about political struggle. The point, if there is one, is that male empirical science cannot, even in principle, be rectified by importing the more enlightened styles of problem selection and hypothesis choice available in feminism. Only science done from an entirely feminist standpoint has a chance to be true. So much for the second strategy. But Harding’s heart may now lie elsewhere. It is with the altogether more global problem of “whether there should be feminist sciences and epistemologies at all”—with the problem she identifies as having been brought to the fore by recent discoveries of postmodernism. This is, of course, the usual problem, for relativists, of truth (a problem because they would be out of a job if they allowed not only—as they always do—that there is no necessary truth in what others say, but also in what they say). The postmodernist-feminist way, then, lacking only explicit nods to Derrida, Foucault, et alii, is to be understood as follows: “Feminist claims should be held not as an ‘approximation to truth’ … but as permanently partial instigators of rupture, of rents and unravelings in the dominant schemes of representation. From this perspective, if there can be ‘a’ feminist standpoint, it can only be what emerges from the political struggles of ‘oppositional consciousness’” (emphasis added). How one is to pursue a career as a permanent partial instigator of rupture is of course a mystery. Harding declines to choose among the three strategies because (1) she sees some merit in each one, and (2) each remains incomplete. She recommends for now that all three should be followed. What is needed, in order to bring modern science up to snuff, is—of course—more feminist research on the epistemology of science. But it must be said that “justificatory” strategies such as these cut no ice. They will not convince skeptics (among whom must be, not only scientists, female and male, but also most philosophers of science), since that which is to be justified is a postulate as well as the theorem." [Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and its Quarrels with Science]
"Our initial sample is drawn from feminist criticism of mathematics, an area where one might imagine it hardest to draw connections between the content of the field, abstract as it is, and social and sexual attitudes of the circumambient society. One therefore expects analysis of some depth and subtlety, analysis of a kind it would be unjust to demand in a feminist examination of, say, the behavior of obstetricians. The example we have before us—“Toward a Feminist Algebra,” by Maryanne Campbell and Randall K. Campbell-Wright—is, however, remarkable for its absence of subtlety and for an ideological fervor more appropriate to an old-time camp meeting than to “analysis” of any kind. What passes for the idea behind this piece is that women and other disempowered groups are discouraged in the study of mathematics because most of the concrete problems they encounter—“word problems” or “narrative problems” of the “if-a-man-and-a-half-makes-a-dollar-and-a-half-in-a-day-and-a-half” variety—refer to situations that are sexist, racist, class-bound stereotypes. Thus the authors would doubtless condemn the “man-and-a-half” problem because it encodes the assumption that men work, and it therefore implies slyly that women don’t, or shouldn’t.
It may seem to innocent readers, if any such remain, that we are putting words in the authors’ mouths; but no: they disapprove of a particular problem in which a girl and her boyfriend run toward each other (even though the girl’s slower speed is carefully explained by the fact that she is carrying luggage) because it portrays a heterosexual involvement. They object to a problem about a contractor and the contractor’s workers (sex undeclared), because they assume that the student will envision the workers as male. On the other hand, they offer for our approval a problem about Sue and Debbie, “a couple financing their $70,000 home.” Their general maxims call for problems “presenting female heroes and breaking gender stereotypes” and “analyzing sex similarities and differences intentionally” and “affirming women’s experiences.” All this, mind, is to be done in an algebra class.
The underlying pedagogical theory is a commonplace, and it is shaky. It holds that a proper social context stated or implied in little problems of this sort is crucial in making “disempowered” students comfortable, enabling them to solve such problems, or at least to give them serious attention. Thus, women (dare we say girls?) will do better if problems involve powerboat races between Hortense and Maxine, rather than Fred and Algernon, and black kids will be more inspired if Johnny is allotting the money he has saved up for Kwanza, rather than for Christmas. The empirical basis for such an assumption is, as we say, dubious in the extreme. Generations of Jewish kids have done quite well at these problems, despite having to concern themselves with Johnny’s Christmas money, rather than Menachem’s Chanukah gelt; and in recent decades an even greater cultural dissonance has done little to trip up vast numbers of young algebraists of Chinese, Korean, or East Indian background.
Nonetheless, such alterations would seem to be at worst harmless. In themselves, they are unobjectionable, although they will almost certainly turn out to be futile. Concentrating on such matters ignores the nub of the teacher’s difficulty, which is precisely to train students to ignore the superfluous context of such problems in order to extract their mathematical and logical essence. When one is doing such problems correctly, Sue and Debbie’s sexual arrangements are neither here nor there—at least until one gets the answer. An excellent—and famous—counter-example to the educational psychology propounded here can be found in Lewis Carroll’s books Symbolic Logic and The Game of Logic, which, in whimsical Carrollian fashion, teach the student to work in the efficient realm of abstraction by presenting concrete situations that are delightfully absurd.
More importantly, this paper insists that it is making deep and serious points about the mature science of mathematics as it has developed in the past few hundred years. It strongly suggests, moreover, that the changes proposed in the wording and “social context” of simple exercises will somehow induce more women to become mathematicians. That latter is the worthiest of goals. However, even if we grant the pedagogical efficiency of feminist-approved terminology, and concede that it might help some reluctant young women to handle simple algebra, the fact remains—and it is a fact—that anyone beyond the age of twelve or thirteen who has real difficulty with such problems, no matter what the social connotations of their wording, is simply not destined to be any kind of mathematician. A young lady who makes a game stab at “Maude and Mabel” problems but balks at “Joe and Johnny” versions of the same is almost certainly without the knack for abstraction that is an indispensable ingredient of mathematical talent.
Appeal is made to feminist thinkers such as Sandra Harding and Evelyn Fox Keller (of whom more below). This is reinforced by mechanistic applications of postmodern literary dogma: “Mathematics is portrayed as a woman whose nature desires to be the conquered Other.” (Language like this makes it difficult to forget that one of the authors is in an English department.)
This strange notion of mathematics as the willing victim of date rape is, we must admit, a new one on us—and one of us has been earning a (marginal) living at it for thirty-five years! Such peculiar ideas are supposedly bolstered by a purported examination of the language in which mathematics is couched. “If you torture the data it will confess” is cited as a typical example of violent mathematical rhetoric. The trouble is, we have never heard anything remotely like it spoken! True enough, such denounced terms as “brute force” and “grinding it out” are common mathematical slang—but Campbell and Campbell-Wright neglect to inform us that these are universal terms of disparagement; grinding the answer out by brute force is what one does if one is not clever enough to think of something efficient and elegant. (Campbell-Wright should know better: he is supposedly a mathematician). Easily the most absurd part of this indictment is the insistence that terms such as manipulate (“manipulate an algebraic expression”), attack (a problem), exploit (a theorem) are evidence that mathematics at all levels is a foul nest of aggression, violence, domination, and sexism.
"Toward a Feminist Algebra” is a particularly childish example of this, although we shall see others, more sophisticated, shortly. The worst thing about this paper, however, is not its shoddy theory of mathematical epistemology. It lies, rather, in the fact that the ultimate aim of the authors is not really to advocate devices for improving the mathematical education of women and other disempowered classes. Rather, one finally discovers, the purpose is to justify the use of mathematics classrooms as chapels of feminist orthodoxy. The purpose of the carefully tailored feminist language and imagery is not primarily to build the self-confidence of woman students, but rather to convert problems and examples into parables of feminist rectitude. It is, at bottom, not different from an imaginary Christian fundamentalist pedagogy requiring that all mathematics problems illustrate biblical episodes and preach evangelical sermons. Campbell and Campbell-Wright really want mathematics instructors to act as missionaries for a narrow, self-righteous feminism. That is far more disturbing than bad philosophy of mathematics! Sermonizing—Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, or feminist—is not the function of science instruction. It is a strange world in which two would-be pedagogues can advocate such a program, in the belief, doubtless justified, that some of their colleagues will take it seriously." [Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and its Quarrels with Science]
"In Chinese, a similar phrase exists in the Analects of Confucius from 2nd to 4th century B.C.: "Look not at what is contrary to propriety; listen not to what is contrary to propriety; speak not what is contrary to propriety; make no movement which is contrary to propriety". It may be that this phrase was shortened and simplified after it was brought into Japan…"
"The language is political and represents a radical new voice,” offers Dr. Church. Mad people are reclaiming the word “mad” the way gay people did with “queer” and “gay” in the 1970s and 1980s, showing the context, history and oppression surrounding human distress and extreme mental states, she says. “‘Mad’ makes you stop and say, ‘What?’ And in that space of sudden confusion, there’s a chance we could change the subject.
Students are asking for mad studies… More:[You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]