Oringally published in Babich, ed., PHILOSOPHY OF SCIENCE, VAN GOGH'S EYES, AND GOD: Hermeneutic Essays in Honor of Patrick A. Heelan, S.J., (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2001), pp. 67—78.


Continental Philosophy | Philosophy | Philosophy of Science | Rhetoric


“The Hermeneutics of a Hoax: Physics and the New Inquisition” offers a rhetorical analysis and hermeneutics reading of the parodic character of Sokal's "hoax." From the perspective of a philosopher of science, it is argued that it is important to attend both to the rhetorical level of philosophy and science. In addition it is important to consider the culture of status (Bourdieu) as well as the self-reflective weaknesses of the culture of physics including those of (traditionally) physics-dominated philosophy of science. Echoing some of the criticisms and highlighting the points of social advocacy of the late Paul Feyerabend underscores the dangers for a society (and for science) which insists on maintaining science in uncritical esteem.