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Ahumada, J.L. (1999). The Academy of the Spectacle. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 47(2):585-593.

(1999). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 47(2):585-593

The Academy of the Spectacle

Jorge L. Ahumada

Impostures Intellectuelles. By Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont. Paris: Odile Jacob, 1997. Translated as Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals' Abuse of Science. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998, 272 pp., $23.00.

Freedom's Moment: An Essay on the French Idea of Liberty From Rousseau To Foucault. By Paul M. Cohen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1997, 232 pp., $39.95 hardcover $13.95 softcover.

Why We are Not Nietzscheans. Edited By Luc Ferry and Alain Renaut. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 256 pp., 1997, $45.00 hardcover, $15.95 softcover.

Readers might recall how Alan Sokal, a professor of physics at NYU, recently shook the postmodern heavens by way of parody. For those unfamiliar with the incident, I will recount it.

Decrying the deafness of scientists, and mainly of physicists, to a social and cultural critique worthy of impacting on their research and worldview, Sokal's parody, postmodernly titled “Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity,” held that the turnabouts of twentieth-century science, and studies in the philosophy of science, show that the term objectivity masks an ideology of domination and that physical reality, like social reality, is a social and linguistic construct. The essay's stated goal was to build a postmodern critique of physics grounded on quantum gravity, an emerging domain linking, and surpassing, general relativity and quantum mechanics, which would lead to a postmodern, emancipatory vision of science.


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