What’s Wrong with the World

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A great rant to start your weekend right

A good rant, like good music, can make you smile. It can keep you smiling all day, quoting bits of it to yourself. Herewith I share with you the first paragraph of a highly intelligent and apt rant from way back in 1991:

This is a book that contradicts itself a hundred times; but that is not a criticism of it, because its author thinks contradictions are a sign of intellectual ferment and vitality. This is a book that systematically distorts and selects historical evidence; but that is not a criticism, because its author thinks that all interpretations are biased, and she regards it as her duty to pick and choose her facts to favor her own brand of politics. This is a book full of vaporous, French-intellectual prose that makes Teilhard de Chardin sound like Ernest Hemingway by comparison; but that is not a criticism, because the author likes that sort of prose and has taken lessons in how to write it, and she thinks that plain, homely speech is part of a conspiracy to oppress the poor. This is a book that clatters around in a dark closet of irrelevancies for 450 pages before it bumps accidentally into its index and stops; but that is not a criticism, either, because its author finds it gratifying and refreshing to bang unrelated facts together as a rebuke to stuffy minds. This book infuriated me; but that is not a defect in it, because it is supposed to infuriate people like me, and the author would have been happier still if I had blown out an artery. In short, this book is flawless, because all its deficiencies are deliberate products of art.

The author of the review is one Matt Cartmill of the department of Biological Anthropology and Human Anatomy at Duke University. The postmodernist book he so justly skewers is called Primate Visions: Gender, Race, and Nature in the World of Modern Science and is by Donna Haraway.

I understand she's a stand-up feminist philosopher.

(HT: Esteemed Husband.)

Comments (5)

Satisfying and highly grin-inducing.

Haraway's approach to science in general and to primatology in particular...makes it clear that what interests her about primate biology is not its ostensible subject matter. She has no interest in the objective "facts" about primates themselves, for the simple reason that there are none. Facts, reality, and nature are, in her eyes, constructs cooked up by Western scientific elites to justify and enhance their power over the oppressed...

I'll bet she thinks she's a female-bodied person.

This Cartmill guy may have missed his calling.

wow - how did I miss this, back in 1991, when I still really cared?

I haven't read any of Donna Haraway's works. Paul Gross and Norman Levitt have an amusing commentary on her contribution to feminist 'science studies' in their book, Higher Superstition: The Academic Left and its Quarrels with Science. (See their chapter 'Auspicating Gender' for a shredding of certain feminist critics who deconstruct sceince without knowing any.)

Before someone deconstructs my typo error above, : "Deconstruct science without knowing any".

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