The key point here is simple. Leon is confusing “scientism” and “postmodernism”. This is an especially odd confusion because those 2 things are exact opposites. He seems to equate “scientism” with an extreme reductionist positivism. It’s not that either. So, I agree that postmodernism and positivism are both bad for the humanities (IMHO of course), neither of those is what “scientism” is.
On August 5 this 3½-minute video, featuring Leon Wieseltier, literary editor of The New Republic, was put up on YouTube. Leon edited several of my own pieces for that magazine, including my attack on the compatibility of science and faith, but now finds himself attacking the incursion of science into the humanities. Given his attitude towards accommodationism, at least as evidenced in his encouraging me to publish my critique of religion, I was surprised to see this.
This video is, I believe, a reaction to Steve Pinker’s article on scientism that was published on the evening of August 6, but had been in galleys for a long time. My guess is that Leon knew Steve’s piece was coming and wanted to go after it. After all, I’ve never seen Wieseltier put up a video like this.
Leon is not strident here, but I think he’s mistaken in nearly everything…
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