Sunday, June 01, 2008

Review: Logics of Disintegration

Logics of Disintegration: Poststructuralist Thought and the Claims of Critical Theory by Peter Dews

I bought this book on a whim in the hopes that it would make writers like Derrida, Lyotard and Foucault comprehensible. To some extent, it did. But even in explaining Derrida (in particular) the writing gets so bogged down (or lifted to celestial realms?) in exotic concepts born from centuries of philosophical inbreeding that I skipped a few chapters in the middle. The section on Foucault was excellent and quite readable, on the other hand.

In essence, the postmodern French philosophers so revered in the United States (if not in France) start from an extreme phenomenological point of view (heheh, is that a sort of pun or redundancy?) - can't be sure of anything since all we know was filtered through our senses - get influenced by Nietzsche and want to smash down the ideologies and philosophical systems and sciences with all their illusory certitude - and end up building castles of sand.

Just wish the devotees of these guys would take their beliefs seriously by stripping naked (textiles today are heavily influenced by science) and living in the woods so as to stop acting as if scientific discourses were accurate truth claims, since they profess a strident agnosticism on this point. If you act as if scientific discourses made accurate truth claims by, say, living other than in a forest, entirely off the grid: then you are implicitly starting from the critical realists' starting point. Dispense with differance and a neologism-a-minute writing style, and start working on changing the world instead of explaining - rather, fantasizing about it.

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