Baldwin's Blog

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Sokal=Perplexed

August 31st, 2010

The first that I feel like I should say is that even the title confused me. I had to read it twice just to get try to get an idea of what the subject of the paper would be.

However I think that I have an idea of his main argument is- namely that the current ideology of science is basically a version of positivism or historicism. Sokal argues that over the past 100 years new research has “proven” that physical reality is just as socially constructed as everything else. That history and “hard science” are both created by humans, and as such are inherently imperfect. I believe that he using quantum mechanics to prove this point. A main tenet of Quantum mechanics is Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, which basically boils down to we can’t ever know the exact location of an electron or an atom. It doesn’t matter how many facts we collect or how many studies we conduct, we will never be able to pinpoint the exact location of any atom at a specific area.

Other than that, I’m not sure what else he is trying to prove, it was tricky to read the article without getting horribly bogged down in jargon and his citations. I think the main point for our purposes is to remember that no matter how many sources we have, or how accurate we try to be, we will never know exactly what happened. There will always be room for interpretation and debate in history.

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