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The Sokal Hoax Fifteen Years Later: A Philosophical Reading of the Controversy

In 1996, the physicist Alan Sokal perpetrated a hoax on the academic journal Social Text intended to text the intellectual rigor of postmodernist thinking. Jonathan Reynolds reassesses the affair

Mixing metaphors, celebrating the 15-year anniversary of what still must be considered a total slam dunk in what was called the “science wars” or the “culture wars” – framed as for or against Truth and Objective Reality – it is worth remembering the publication in 1996 in the spring/summer issue of Social Text, a leading scholarly review of postmodern thought, of a completely over-the-top parodic article called ‘Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity’. The article, a savage satire concocted by Alan Sokal, a physicist, and planted like a Trojan Horse in the camp of the enemy, brought to a head a couple of decades of a simmering dispute between presumably some of our best thinkers – certainly those, at the time, with the greatest professional repute and renown on both sides of the Atlantic.

Sokal’s scathing parody paid no attention to the rules of discourse in the academic world. The larger purpose – as he put it, to “counter epistemic relativism” – to him, warranted breaking the rules. Relativism is a a simple and basic issue in epistemology, which asks, how do we know we know the universe or objective reality? What pricked the tender skins of the postmodernists Sokal was attacking was the unbridled vehemence of his outrage – so, defensively, they were outraged, in turn. But to Sokal, the stakes were the highest. To him, PM was threatening not only the standards of determining objective knowledge but the scientific enterprise, itself – the triumph of Western Man since the Enlightenment of reason and what became the scientific method.

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Tags: Cultural, Marxism, Postmodernism, academia, and, hi-jacking, of, the

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Mission Overview

Most Western societies are based on Secular Democracy, which itself is based on the concept that the open marketplace of ideas leads to the optimum government. Whilst that model has been very successful, it has defects. The 4 Freedoms address 4 of the principal vulnerabilities, and gives corrections to them. 

At the moment, one of the main actors exploiting these defects, is Islam, so this site pays particular attention to that threat.

Islam, operating at the micro and macro levels, is unstoppable by individuals, hence: "It takes a nation to protect the nation". There is not enough time to fight all its attacks, nor to read them nor even to record them. So the members of 4F try to curate a representative subset of these events.

We need to capture this information before it is removed.  The site already contains sufficient information to cover most issues, but our members add further updates when possible.

We hope that free nations will wake up to stop the threat, and force the separation of (Islamic) Church and State. This will also allow moderate Muslims to escape from their totalitarian political system.

The 4 Freedoms

These 4 freedoms are designed to close 4 vulnerabilities in Secular Democracy, by making them SP or Self-Protecting (see Hobbes's first law of nature). But Democracy also requires - in addition to the standard divisions of Executive, Legislature & Judiciary - a fourth body, Protector of the Open Society (POS), to monitor all its vulnerabilities (see also Popper). 
1. SP Freedom of Speech
Any speech is allowed - except that advocating the end of these freedoms
2. SP Freedom of Election
Any party is allowed - except one advocating the end of these freedoms
3. SP Freedom from Voter Importation
Immigration is allowed - except where that changes the political demography (this is electoral fraud)
4. SP Freedom from Debt
The Central Bank is allowed to create debt - except where that debt burden can pass across a generation (25 years).

An additional Freedom from Religion is deducible if the law is applied equally to everyone:

  • Religious and cultural activities are exempt from legal oversight except where they intrude into the public sphere (Res Publica)"

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