Alan Sokal, Jean Bricmont

Intellectual Impostures Publication date : October 1, 1997

In spring 1996, a highly respected American journal, Social Text, published an article with a very unusual title : Crossing frontiers : towards a hermeneutic transformative of the quantum gravitation. The author, Alan Sokal, supported his ideas with quotations from famous intellectuals, both French and American. Soon after, he revealed that it was all a parody. His intention was to attack, through satire, the excessive use of scientific terminology and ill-judged conjectures in exact sciences right through to human sciences. More generally, he wanted to denounce the post-modern relativism for which objectivity is simply a social custom. This hoax triggered a lively debate in intellectual circles, in both France and further afield.
In this book, the authors have come together to comment on texts which illustrate the impostures of mathematical physics by Jacques Lacan, Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, Bruno Latour, Jean Baudrillard, Gilles Deleuze, Félix Guattari and Paul Virilio, writers who have all achieved considerable fame in the United States. They demonstrate that, behind the impressive jargon and the conspicuous scientific learning, the King is nude.

Alan Sokal is a professor of physics at the University of New York.

Jean Bricmont is a professor of theoretical physics at the University of Louvain.