[eDebate] ans Sanchez

Tom Meagher meagher.tom
Sun Apr 27 15:59:22 CDT 2008


Mr. Korcok,

I understand many reasons why you may have responded to my arguments the way
you have. Unfortunately, Kevin Sanchez is pretty much right on this issue.

Have you familiarized yourself with Professor Wynter's work? (Incidentally,
she is a professor emeritus and does not have an office.) Wynter DEFENDS
science, and indeed has been oft-criticized for doing so. Her argument is
that the revolution in the natural sciences (15th century Europe) and the
biological sciences (18th c.) created the first pathways to a degodded
understanding of the world. She calls for a third such revolution - a
revolution to create the human sciences. Just as theological orders of
knowledge served as the impediment to the natural and biological sciences,
since divinity was given credit for all the functionings of the world, the
Eurocentric order of knowledge serves as the impediment to human science
because it precludes what Pandian terms an "authentic anthropology."

The discourses to which I was referring are not the scientific discourses on
natural selection. I'll take full responsibility for the extent to which
this was not made clear initially. The common discourses on these subjects
conflate the scientific discourse with a belief not in progress per se but
the *inevitability* of progress. The argument I am making is not that humans
should not progress, but rather that the discourse on progress emerging out
of coloniality leads humans to believe that Eurocentric forms of life are
the only pathway to progress, and that this has the effect of blinding
humans on a global scale to the misanthropic and dangerous forms of life
that Eurocentric thought has produced. This is not an argument for
particular forms of life preceding or theoretically to follow Eurocentric
forms of life. Rather, it is an argument to establish a framework on which
to proceed in developing a human sciences free from the epistemic shackles
of Eurocentric thought. This is directly analogous to the historically
remarkable frameworks put in place to free the natural and biological
sciences from theological orders of knowledge. I do not argue against the
advances of the science that has emerged out of Europe and the colonized
globe in its wake; rather, I argue that these advances are analogous to
advances that could be made in the human sciences.

I use Wynter's formulation of Man, which is not a stick figure but a fully
fleshed out and researched concept that has been elaborated extensively in
her work over the past 25 years, not in order to present a revolutionary
panacea. I have no answers for the future of the world. I instead am
encouraging a set of methodological criteria and research practices that are
grounded in the research of coloniality. I do not have time to go into the
specific nuance of all of this literature; that is why I cite it. The
"solutions" I cited - the new human(ism) after Man, border epistemology, and
transmodernity - are about incorporating the whole of human knowledge into
analyses of the past, present, and future, not about substituting a new
ideology for the flawed ideologies of Eurocentrism. If this is not clear, my
suggestion is to research these concepts, since it will be difficult for me
to elaborate them in a sufficiently scholarly manner in this forum.

To accuse my arguments of such a preposterous lack of nuance at the same
time that you advance a clearly ignorant view of Professor Wynter's work is
ironic. Wynter's work is unique in that it is based on a synthesis of her
research in human evolution with decolonial scholarship. Man is not a
caricature of individual human beings. It is an analysis of the forms of
subjectivity that have been . There is a relationship between Man and the
individuals conducting scientific research. But Wynter discusses this
relationship rather than using it as a reason to reject science and the
fruits of its research. Wynter calls for more science, not less.

You are free to critique Wynter's use of scientific scholarship. Do so by
reading her works. You are free to critique my use of them, but such a
critique would be greatly strengthened by a familiarity with my sources. My
analysis, following Wynter, is informed by my and her reading of, among
others, Maturana & Varela and Terrence Deacon. I do not say this to claim I
have expertise in evolutionary biology.

I am familiar and well-read in the Sokal controversy. It is one influencing
factor in my turn away from the postmodern scholarship that debate led me
to. There are many critiques of science, but my critique of coloniality is
not dependent on them nor based on them.

I hope this addresses your criticisms sufficiently. If it does not, feel
free to continue. I am citing arguments based on the idea that the human
sciences as presently constituted (and not legitimately transcultural
sciences that Korcok is defending here) are overly influenced by, among
other things, Christian religious thought that was transumed into discourses
on humanity during Europe's secularization of knowledge. The natural and
biological sciences have been, because of their transcultural basis, able to
produce scholarship and advancements that are verifiable across
cultural/linguistic/religious worldviews. The Eurocentric human sciences
have not.

Best,
Tom

On Sat, Apr 26, 2008 at 8:05 PM, Michael Korcok <mmk_savant at hotmail.com>
wrote:

> Sanchez suggests that Meagher may have only been arguing that evolution is
> misappropriated by others rather than that scientists, biologists, and
> evolutionary biologists smuggle social/political assumptions and agendas
> into evolution.  I read him as writing the latter and at least a couple of
> his authors do the same.  There are several reasons I believe I am correct
> in this interpretation, not the least of which is that it is a commonplace
> in the postmodern criticism of science to treat science generally and
> specific scientific content as "discourses", that is, to subject science to
> literary analysis and criticism.
>
> Sanchez asks why one would have to be competent in a number of scientific
> fields to "consider and criticize" common misapplications of science.  One
> wouldn't necessarily, but I read Meagher as undertaking a critique of
> science, and in particular of "the discourses of natural selection and
> evolution" rather than a critique of the social and political uses of
> science.  Anyone who would undertake to "consider the discourses of natural
> selection and evolution" certainly does need to have at least a minimal
> access to those discourses and that requires "a minimal competence in
> science generally and in biology, chemistry, geology, zoology, and
> paleontology in particular."
>
> Sanchez argues that my claim that Sokal killed pomo is incorrect because
> "it's illogical to infer from the stupidity of some editors of an academic
> journal that an entire "style of critique" has been deemed illegitimate."
> While that is certainly persuasive, the publication in Social Text of
> "Transgressing the Boundaries" began a well-publicized and in-depth
> examination of the Post-modern critique of science which spilled-over into
> post-modernism generally.  That discussion revealed the vacuity of the
> post-modern turn in the academy and Pomo fell apart.  Well, in most quarters
> anyway...  you know...  Creationism and Crop Circles and all...
>
> Sanchez then inexplicably claims that the correspondence theory of truth
> is a premise that "most analytical philosophers no longer find particularly
> convincing."
> This is the claim in his response that I am interested in.
>
> Did I miss a poll of analytical philosophers or others which shows the
> correspondence theory of truth in disrepute?  Short of personal interviews
> of the majority of analytical philosophers, I am unsure how Sanchez could
> otherwise come to this conclusion.  I will bet a dollar against a horse,
> however, that Sanchez just made this part up.
>
> Furthermore, I teach my students in Argumentation and Rhetoric the
> correspondence theory of truth, introducing Aristotle's formulation of it
> and discussing Kripke's reworking of it.  I even mention the deflationary
> version/criticism of it.
>
> Now, we both know your entree into this part of the conversation is a
> rhetorical bluff.  If you find any particular argument against the
> correspondence theory convincing, please do tell.  Philosophy, analytic and
> otherwise, awaits.  If your argument is any good, you will change the world
> by shifting a 2,000-year-old foundation of human thought.
>
> Good luck and may the flying spaghetti monster massage you with its noodly
> appendages.
>
>
> ------------------------------
> Back to work after baby? how do you know when you're ready?<http://lifestyle.msn.com/familyandparenting/articleNW.aspx?cp-documentid=5797498&ocid=T067MSN40A0701A>
>
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