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By R. Schinzinger, P. Laura

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Transgressing those conventions Anyone who believes that the laws of physics are merely social conventions is invited to try transgressing those conventions from the windows of my apartment. )47 (Sokal 1996) Here Sokal is showing how much he can get away with. A social convention is one thing, a social construction another but “transgressing those constructions” is not funny. 48 Once this is understood, the joke is no longer funny. What is funny is the idea that knowledge of the relevant laws of physics has anything to do with why people and goats normally do not jump out of windows.

But this is not a question a physicist can settle for us. Indeed, physicists endorsed both readings. 23 What’s this, Polus? Socrates: What’s this, Polus? You’re laughing? Is this yet another kind of refutation which has you laughing at ideas rather than proving them wrong? (Plato’s Gorgias, 473e, Waterfield translation)24 38 GABRIEL STOLZENBERG In the same review of Fashionable Nonsense, Nagel writes, “The chapters dealing in more detail with individual thinkers reveal that they are beyond parody.

But if he does know, why does he not tell us, so that we can join in the fun of mocking Irigaray? Instead of fulfilling his obligation as a philosopher to give us a reason to believe what he says, Nagel encourages us to trust that whatever Irigaray means is refuted by the authors’ “comically patient” observation, Whatever one may think about the “other speeds that are vitally necessary to us,” the fact remains that the relationship E=Mc2 between energy (E) and mass (M) is experimentally verified to a high degree of precision, and it would obviously not be valid if the speed of light (c) were replaced by another speed.

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