Review of Intellectual Impostures [Book Review]

In a series of recent publications, Alan Sokal has launched a series of stinging attacks against contemporary cultural studies. In Intellectual Impostures, for example, written together with Jean Bricmont, the authors (hereafter S&B) criticise the way in which French poststructuralist critics, such as Julia Kristeva, Jacques Lacan and Gilles Deleuze, have abused the scientific terminology to which, Sokal claims, they exhibit slavish adherence. Many authors, such as Andrew Ross and Stanley Aronowitz, have taken up the cudgels against S&B. But their replies often miss the mark either by arguing at too abstract a level against S&B's project as a whole or employing strategies and principles drawn from the self same body of texts which S&B criticize. In this article, by contrast, I reply to specific criticisms S&B direct against Lacan's use of topological concepts. By showing that S&B miss a perfectly reasonable, mathematically acceptable way of reading Lacan's appropriation of topology, I intend to raise more general doubts about S&B's erudition in connection with the works they criticise.
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