Re: Postmodernism and Truth (was Re: virus: Simulacrum)

Ken Pantheists (
Tue, 21 May 1996 18:51:58 +0000

The latest ringside commentary from the VWF (Virus Wrestling Federation) dead heat
between Bill and David:

David McFadzean wrote:

> I think we are getting closer to our point of miscommunication. I have
> a (previously hidden) assumption that truth entails accuracy, i.e. a
> statement is true to the extent that it accurately describes what it
> refers to.

And is response to Bill's comment:
> >There may indeed exist scientific facts regarding the origin of humans,
> >however I steadfastly believe that scientific knowledge is subject to
> >revision and change, "some fact of the matter" doesn't constitute very much
> >in the way of objective truth.

David said:
> I agree with what you say about scientific knowledge being subject to
> revision but I don't understand what you mean by the rest. The whole
> enterprise of science rests on the assumption that there is an objective
> standard by which to compare theories: reality itself, ie. objective
> truth.

I think you're right David. But Bill is encouraging people to look at how that
objective reality is constructed. Whats-his-name (William?) Burke can make an
entire BBC TV career out of pointing out how things connect due to social and
environmental influences. So they must exist even for (gasp) our culture.

Obviously, if you wanted to be indelicate about this you could slam it apart. You
could say "Water is wet in some cultures and not others?". This is not a good
example of how to use this meme.

A useful example can be found in a neat book entitled "The Making of the Modern
Body" by Gallagher and Laqueur. It goes into how Victorian sexual politics
influenced our interpretation of anatomy and the difference between the sexes.
(Still goes on today- we're slowly crawling into the 19th century in some respects)


> In the system you describe is it possible for a statement to be true in
> one culture and false in another culture that exists at the same time?
> If so, what happens when an individual is part of both cultures? Or is
> that impossible?

Yes, it is possible. Women can be chattel in one culture and matriarchs in another.
That variable in itself is bound to influence the way practical science goes about
its job.

It may not influence the way you measure light. But it might influence breast
cancer research. Or the fact that you *are* measuring light instead of curing

> I think these kinds of things can be put into words (I'm sure Mr. Atkins likes
> to think so :) but not completely accurately. Some things are definitely
> harder than others to describe.

Kind of like three blind men describing your elephant? :)

Ken Pantheists            
Virus Theatre