This from Christopher Hitchens' Hitch-22:
From King Lear: "Thou rascal beadle, hold thy bloody hand! Why dost thous lash that whore?... Thou hotly lust'st to use her in that kind, for which thou whip'st her." This is why, whenever I hear some bigmouth in Washington or the Christian heartland banging on about the evils of sodomy or whatever, I mentally enter his name in my notebook and contentedly set my watch. Sooner rather than later, he will be discovered down on his weary and well-worn old kees in some dreary motel or latrine, with an expired Visa card, having tried to pay well over the odds to be peed upon by some Apache transvestite.
This is rather how I feel about positivists ranting and raging against 'post-modernism'. What is it you are so frightened of, guys (and you do tend to be guys)? I recall the clever boy in my college bar, who, rocking on his heels while wiping a wisp of snot from his nostril, would repeat his little mantras such as "but would you fly in a plane designed by a post-modernist?!", leaving a gleeful silence afterwards in the expectation of laughter which never actually came.
For those such as Richard Dawkins or Larry Summers, who spy a French constructivist lurking down every alley, no doubt up to their perverted and mischievous tricks, what precisely is the peril? That knowledge might turn out to be hard work? That it might be expensive and time-consuming to assemble? But isn't that precisely how you came by your large houses in Cape Cod and your treasured prizes, and the rest of us didn't? Or do you attribute that good fortune to spontaneous natural or economic forces as well?
I was discussing Nietzsche and Foucault with some students the other day, and it was remarkable how quickly the discussion turned towards Hayek and neoliberalism. Read Hayek on the problem of 'scientism', and you see that the root of the neoliberal project is the same as the root of post-structuralism, namely that knowledge cannot be disentangled from politics. Hayek's solution is to run society like a competitive game, in which perspectives battle it out for supremacy, using the market as the principle arena in which to do battle in. Foucault's solution is... not to have one. The Marxist critique levelled at Foucault or Latour, that they are actually neoliberals deep down, is wrong in many ways, but has something to commend it epistemologically. Perhaps this is why Foucault read the early neoliberals so well.
Something similar can be said about late Wittgenstein and behaviorism, whose common threads have been identified in papers such as this. To argue that all language is a form of practice (but that it's all we have) as Wittgenstein does is only a short jump away from saying that observable behaviour is all that we can know about human beings (as behaviorists do). The difference is simply that behaviorism implicitly appoints certain elite experts to do this observing, whereas for Wittgenstein we're all immersed in the social-linguistic soup equally. Time and again, the question is: how do we deal with the truth of Nietzsche? Do we accept it in the service of expression, or accept it in the service of repression? Ignoring it would be much easier, but its interesting that this is something that positivists feel curiously unable to do.
Could it be that someone like Dawkins is a secret, shameful, torch-under-the-covers reader of Nietzsche? Because if he believed in the deeper truth of science, would it really be necessary to exert so much rhetorical and political energy in defending it? And as per the Hitchens quote above, could Dawkins' latent post-structuralism be causing him so much guilt and self-loathing, that he has developed a public profile which tears into 'philosophy' and 'sociology', when really he wishes to expunge them from his own soul, or else admit his devotion to them? (Perhaps in his effort to appear antipathetic to philosophy, he sometimes goes too far, and exaggerates his own stupidity for effect; this would explain tweets such as this.) For if Dawkins doesn't believe that knowledge and politics are entangled, then surely there is no danger: nature itself will falsify the teachings of the creationists and the Muslims. Only someone who knows that he is ultimately a constructor and a narrator would grow to care so deeply about the constructions and narrations of those around him, and become so paranoid about the baneful influence of those philosophers or sociologists who threaten to point all this out.