Relativismo radical

Muito, muito bom o Fear of Knowledge, de Paul Boghossian. Trata-se de um livro magrinho em que o filósofo se dedica a desmontar a tese de Richard Rorty, de que a realidade não é “representacionalmente independente” — isto é, de que não faz sentido falar em como as coisas “realmente são”, que só é possível falar em “como as coisas sao dentro de um determinado esquema de representação”.

Boghossian constrói meticulosamente o caso de que se não houver uma realidade “real”, cognoscível, na qual ancorar o conceito de “esquema de representação”, a proposta de Rorty é inviável: seria preciso ter um esquema de representação para representar o esquema de representção que representa o esquema de representção no qual há um esquema de representação que… (etc, etc, etc)… segundo o qual as coisas são de tal jeito.

A filosofia brasileira está mais ligada à chamada tradição européia “continental”, que tende a valorizar mais a retórica, o princípio de autoridade (Marx disse, Hegel disse, Fucault disse, Lacan disse…) e o politicamente correto que o jogo de argumentos. O que é uma pena: a tradição analítica, à qual Boghossian se filia, é muito mais rica e satisfatória, em minha humilde opinião de ignorante interessado.

Discussão - 3 comentários

  1. Daniel disse:

    Você conhece o site Butterflies and Wheels? É um site dedicado ao combate ao nonsense relativista, pós-modernista e afins. Particularmente divertido (para quem está acostumado a ouvir baboseiras pós-modernistas) é o Dictionary of Fashionable Nonsense.Existe um versão mais completa do Dictionary of Fashionable Nonsense em forma de livro. A introdução é particularmente interessante. Deixo uma cópia dela no próximo post.

  2. Daniel disse:

    Introduction [from “The Dictionary of Fashionable Nonsense”, by Ophelia Benson and Jeremy Stangroom]The world, of course, is full of fashionable nonsense. Feng Shui, pilates, Naomi Campbell, Pop Idol, Manolo Blahnik footwear, the list is endless. However, this dictionary is concerned with one particular species of fashionable nonsense, the kind found in certain unswept corners of academe.No doubt the idea that there are fashionable corners of the academy at all will strike many people as being unlikely. And it is true that we’re not talking here about fashion in the sense of wearing trendy clothes or dining at hip restaurants. We’re talking rather about a certain way of seeing the world, one which enables us to decide all questions in our own favour, to ignore countervailing evidence to draw just those conclusions which we want. This is clearly such a useful thing that it is not surprising that it is fashionable. But how is it done? What’s the trick?Easy. Just claim that truth is in the eye of the beholder. That we all have our own versions of the truth and that no one of them actually corresponds to the way things really are in the world. Once you swallow this particular conceit, then pretty much anything goes. Want to claim that the lost city of Atlantis is at the bottom of your neighbor’s garden? No problem, just reject any demand that you should supply some evidence for your belief as an infringement of your right to your own culture. Are you a devotee of homeopathic remedies? You’re in luck. You can dismiss the mass of evidence showing that homeopathy has no effect with a cheery wave and a discourse on the hegemonic encroachment of Western medical techniques. What’s best of all is that you don’t even need to understand what this means.Surely this sort of thing doesn’t go on in the universities and colleges of higher education? At least, not in the good ones? Well, you’d be surprised. This kind of nonsense is established in a great many, though not all, parts of academe. No department of humanities is entirely — or, perhaps, even a little — free of it, and among the social sciences perhaps only the more empirical branches of economics, sociology and psychology keep their hems out of the mud. Here are some examples.Anthropologist Frederique Apffel Marglin wants to ‘challenge science’s claim to be a superior form of knowledge which renders obsolete more traditional systems of thought.’ But she is confronted by the fact that Western medicine has eradicated smallpox from the world. No problem. She performs a tidy back-flip, and tells us that ‘in absolutely negativizing disease, suffering and death…the scientific medical system of knowledge…can and does objectify people with all the repressive political possibilities that objectification opens.’ You’d do well to remember this the next time you visit your doctor with a fever.Or how about the writers of Theory — Literary Theory, Cultural Theory, Critical Theory, and the most prestigious of all, just plain Theory — who lean on clotted jargon and tortured syntax to make no point at all. When criticised for writing in such a pompous and unreadable style, they defend their practice by saying that it is the only way to ‘perform’ the unreliability of language. What’s more, they’ll tell you, it is precisely this unreliability which means that nobody can say quite what they mean to say. For people who aren’t saying much at all, this is probably very convenient.And then there are the anti-Darwinians. It is fair to say that most people in academe broadly accept Darwinian theory so long as its insights are used only to explain the behaviour of non-human animals. But anybody who dares to suggest that Darwinism might have some applicability for understanding human beings is in for a rough ride from a faction of Leftist academics. More than likely they’ll be accused of reductionism, social Darwinism, imperialism, genetic determinism, eugenicism, sexism, racism and a whole gamut of other isms. And if they’re very lucky, then, like Ed Wilson, author of the groundbreaking Sociobiology, they’ll also have a pitcher of water tipped over their head.These examples are barely even the tip of the iceberg as far as academic nonsense goes. There are also the delights of psychoanalysis, deconstructionism, ecofeminism, Afrocentric history, critical legal studies, the sociology of knowledge, difference feminism, and so on. And you’ll notice that The Dictionary of Fashionable Nonsense covers all this stuff, and a lot more besides. However, you might be puzzled by its inclusion of a number of scientific terms. Surely scientists are made of sterner stuff than they need to bend the truth to their own whims and fancies?Well, indeed they are. Science in academe is almost entirely free of this kind of wilful truth denying, reality bending and wishful thinking. However, a whole branch of fashionable nonsense amuses itself by pinching the ideas and vocabulary of the sciences. Presumably the hope is that it will somehow boost its credibility by its association with the discipline it so often despises. So what you find is that portentous mentions of quantum gravity and quantum other things, of chaos and complexity, fractals and butterflies, in many a critical theory and cultural studies musing. Of course, almost inevitably these quasi-scientific ruminations are founded on concepts misunderstood and misapplied. But this doesn’t stop anybody: silly things go on being said and hollow mentions of chaos and quantumness go on being made, so into the dictionary they go.Why does all this matter? Why does it warrant being satirised in a dictionary of this kind? It matters because truth matters. If we understand how the world works, then we can make people’s lives better. We can feed them by making use of GM technology to increase crop yields. We can keep them healthy by developing new kinds of antibiotics, better vaccines and more powerful treatments for illness such as cancer and AIDS. And can keep them safe by making well-founded risk assessments of various environmental threats, such as global warming and the erosion of biodiversity.And it also matters because if human intelligence matters, if clear thinking and reason and open eyes are good things, then fashionable nonsense really is important and worth resisting. The Dictionary of Fashionable Nonsense is our contribution to this fight against the erosion of reason.[Ophelia Benson is the editor of Butterflies and Wheels, a leading internet cultural forum, a historian, and the joint author of Why Truth Matters. Jeremy Stangromm is an academic and writer, and co-editor of ‘The Philosopher’s Magazine’ (one of the pre-eminent philosophy publications in the world). He is co-editor of What Philosophers Think.]

  3. Patola disse:

    Muitíssimo obrigado por mais uma referência. Você pode achar exagero, mas eu tenho comprado rigorosamente todos os títulos que você ou o Daniel recomendam.O maior problema vai ser o tempo pra ler tudo isso…

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