How Science Can Learn From Writing That Is “Not Even Wrong” – Facts So Romantic

“…when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you.” –Nietzsche

For some people, this quote is very evocative. It feels important, and beautiful. Others feel like it doesn’t mean anything at all, because the idea of a deep hole looking at something is absurd. Many people have both reactions. What are we to make of passages like this?

By the middle of the 20th century, philosophy seemed to have split in two. The so-called analytic philosophers wrote in a way that was intended to be clear and unambiguous—almost an extension of the natural sciences. Flowery prose was discouraged. Continental philosophy, on the other hand, allowed itself to be more poetic and ambiguous, and had an approach more integrated with history, society, and the arts. Other fields started filling up with this kind of writing, including postmodernism, poststructuralism, and literary Marxism. Scientists and analytic philosophers criticized these writings (I will refer to them as “abstruse writings”) on the grounds that they were sometimes so ambiguous as to be meaningless.

Immanuel Kant’s writing is famous for its flexibility to interpretation.

Even from within the humanities, abstruse writing received criticism. Art critic Denis Dutton held a “<a…

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