Postmodernism and the left

Alan Sokal
American University in Cairo
ALAN SOKAL'S HOAX, "Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity," which was published in the "Science Wars" issue of Social Text ,1 and the debate that has followed it, raise important issues for the left. Sokal's article is a parody of postmodernism, or, more precisely, the amalgam of postmodernism, poststructuralist theory, deconstruction, and political moralism which has come to hold sway in large areas of academia, especially those associated with Cultural Studies. These intellectual strands are not always entirely consistent with each other. For instance, the strong influence of identity politics in this arena seems inconsistent with the poststructuralist insistence on the instability of all identities. Nevertheless, no one who has participated in this arena can deny that it is dominated by a specific, highly distinctive subculture. One knows when one finds oneself in a conference, seminar, or discussion governed by this subculture, by the vocabulary that is used, the ideas that are expressed or taken for granted, and by the fears that circulate, the things that remain unsaid. There are many critiques of the literature that informs this arena, which can for convenience be called postmodernism (though the term poststructuralist..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 53,742
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles


Added to PP index

Total views
3 ( #1,261,883 of 2,349,846 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes