Monday, April 28, 2008

Literary Criticism and the Sciences

My attention was recently pointed toward "The neuroscience delusion" by Raymond Tallis*, which reminds me of a few reasons I had when I decided to pursue linguistics over literature. At some point in the last half a century, schools of criticism began to resemble the state of Israeli politics as represented in Monty Python's Life of Brian. In the search for new schools of criticism, all sorts of other fields were plundered for whatever fresh ideas could be found, and quite often those ideas were incorporated in a misunderstood form. The most notorious case was chaos/complexity theory, but the misuse of Saussurean and Chomskyan linguistics seems to be getting attention lately, as recently mentioned over at Mr. Verb thanks to articles like "French Theory in America."

Its because of all of this that I've lately found myself avoiding the term "fuzzy logic" in conversation in preference for "paraconsistent logic" and/or "multivalued logic" when describing one current research interest. Sometimes it's better to be opaque than overstood.

(*The piece ends in an anti-reductionist bit. But I agree nonetheless with the sentiment that these critics do literature a disservice in the way that they borrow from neurology.)

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