Post-Modernism VS Science

In last week's NYT Book Review's back page Essay, writer Steven Johnson tells of his mid-1980s undergraduate years in Brown University's semiotics program. This is from a student paper he wrote at the time:

The predicament of any tropological analysis of narrative always lies in its own effaced and circuitous recourse to a metaphoric mode of apprehending its object; the rigidity and insistence of its taxonomies and the facility with which it relegates each vagabond utterance to a strict regimen of possible enunciative formations testifies to a constitutive faith that its own interpretive meta-language will approximate or comply with the linguistic form it examines.

Yeah, that sounds familiar. I was a physical science prof in the mid-1980s, but we were a smallish faculty and semiotics/post-modernism swirled all around us. Since many of my colleagues were all atwitter, I gave it my best crack, reading Foucault, Derrida, and as many of the rest as I could stomach. I figured I must lack some mental facility since so much of it seemed gibberish to me. Meanwhile, I was trying to catch up on a background that was seriously deficient in literature. Thank god for poets.

In his essay, Johnson confesses to moving away from the post-modern paradigm. "I now spend more time learning from the insights of science than deconstructing its truth claims," he writes. And with his new interest in science came a corresponding clarity of prose. Or maybe it was the other way around.

A lot of ink was spilt in the '80s and '90s deconstructing the truth claims of science. I suppose there is nothing wrong with that, if that's the way one gets one's jollies, but it takes all the fun out of being a science spectator, and did nothing to slow down the dazzling progress of science and science-based technology. Science could always counter the deconstructors with the old Rheingold beer slogan: "We must be doing something right."


PM spent all its energies on criticizing science, but science just kept producing results.

Folksonomies: science post-modernism

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Modernism (0.686826): website | dbpedia | freebase

Electronic/World Wide Web>Blog:  Raymo , Chet (OCTOBER 20, 2011), Post-post-, Science Musings Blog, Retrieved on 2012-01-06
  • Source Material []
  • Folksonomies: post-modernism