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[Religion News Service, November 12, 1996]
Well, here we are. Or are we?
It's an open question among some academic sophisticates. Does anything exist? If it did, how would you know? Is there any feasible way to prove it? Or is everything we perceive (if indeed there's anything there at all) so colored by preconceptions that nothing can be definitively stated?
Is what we call "reality" merely constructed of our prejudices and whims ‑‑ or worse, constructed of our desire to gather power and subjugate others? Can one really state that "physical reality ... is at bottom a social and linguistic construct"?
That's what Alan Sokal, a physicist at New York University, asserted not long ago in the pages of the journal, Social Text. Unfortunately for the editors of Social Text, Sokal was only kidding.