The Art of Darkness

Scientia Salon

01-no-bullshitby Maarten Boudry

In some circles, the writings of Jacques Lacan are revered as a source of deep insight into the human psyche and the nature of language and reality. In saner quarters, however, the French psychiatrist is denounced as an intellectual charlatan: a purveyor of obscure and impenetrable nonsense. Lacan was one of the prime targets of Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont’s Intellectual Impostors, the book-length criticism of postmodern nonsense that followed the famous hoax that Sokal perpetrated on the journal Social Text [1].

Many people who read Lacan, or see him at work in some of the available YouTube clips, find it hard to believe that anyone can take him seriously. In a new paper with philosopher of language Filip Buekens, published in the journal Theoria, we explored Lacanian psychoanalysis as a case study in the psychological and epistemic mechanisms of obscurantism [2]. On the one hand, we develop cognitive…

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Why has the idea of hell survived so long?

Kathryn Gin Lum has an interesting piece on hell over at Aeon: Why has the idea of hell survived so long? – Kathryn Gin Lum – Aeon. Chellew-Hodge’s understanding that punishment is an essential feature of religion, and her students’ confidence that it need not be, might seem to represent a simple generational divide. That so many young … Continue reading Why has the idea of hell survived so long?

NASA approves Space Launch System. This is good, despite the problems.

We seem to be getting closer to deep space missions: NASA approves Space Launch System, the most powerful rocket ever, for deep-space travel. NASA gave the go-ahead to start full production on the most powerful rocket ever. The rocket, known as Space Launch System, is set to blast beyond low-Earth orbit this decade to explore the … Continue reading NASA approves Space Launch System. This is good, despite the problems.