Monday, August 13, 2012

Chomsky on po-mo

Noam Chomsky stirs up some trouble. See also here.

A commenter provides another Chomsky quote:
"Since no one has succeeded in showing me what I'm missing, we're left with the second option: I'm just incapable of understanding. I'm certainly willing to grant that it may be true, though I'm afraid I'll have to remain suspicious, for what seem good reasons. There are lots of things I don't understand -- say, the latest debates over whether neutrinos have mass or the way that Fermat's last theorem was (apparently) proven recently. But from 50 years in this game, I have learned two things: (1) I can ask friends who work in these areas to explain it to me at a level that I can understand, and they can do so, without particular difficulty; (2) if I'm interested, I can proceed to learn more so that I will come to understand it. Now Derrida, Lacan, Lyotard, Kristeva, etc. --- even Foucault, whom I knew and liked, and who was somewhat different from the rest --- write things that I also don't understand, but (1) and (2) don't hold: no one who says they do understand can explain it to me and I haven't a clue as to how to proceed to overcome my failures. That leaves one of two possibilities: (a) some new advance in intellectual life has been made, perhaps some sudden genetic mutation, which has created a form of "theory" that is beyond quantum theory, topology, etc., in depth and profundity; or (b) ... I won't spell it out."


esmith said...

Is it just me or does it sound like the speech was cut off before he even finished defining his point?

Edi Rumano said...

Is there a link to the full interview?

Louis Burke said...

I'm sorry, forgive me, but I've no clue what this has got to do with po-mo?

LaurentMelchiorTellier said...

To quote the Wiki:
"Postmodernism is largely a reaction to the assumed certainty of scientific or objective efforts to explain reality. There is no consensus among scholars on the precise definition. In essence, postmodernism is based on the position that reality is not mirrored in human understanding of it, but is rather constructed as the mind tries to understand its own personal reality. Postmodernism is therefore skeptical of explanations which claim to be valid for all groups, cultures, traditions, or races, and instead focuses on the relative truths of each person. In the postmodern understanding, interpretation is everything; reality only comes into being through our interpretations of what the world means to us individually. "

Chomsky/Hsu aims (I believe) to contrast the discipline, accountability, and falsifiability of the hard sciences to the reciprocal dearth of same in pomo/the humanities. Chomsky admires, and strives to align with the former.

Emil Ole William Kirkegaard said...

Entire interview:

An interesting read:

There is also:

And of course, everybody's favorite generator!

I just generated an essay with the title
"Modernist discourse in the works of Koons", seems legit eh.

MtMoru said...

Suspicion of all big stories/grand narratives. Sounds good, but humanities people are in general morons.

Blog Archive