The Art of Darkness

Interesting thoughts on obscurantism

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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