Talk:A Thousand Plateaus

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Critical work/Akira Asada[edit]

This article contains no critical work, and it should. User:WAREL wants to add a mention of Akira Asada, which may be fine, but

  • it needs to be sourced--a hearsay reference to one scholar isn't encyclopedic.
  • it needs context--what are the important critical reactions to Deleuze and Guattari? Is Akira Asada among them? Can that be documented?

Out of context the claim--that Akira Asada "listed this book in the ten most important books written in 20th century" is simply, as I said, a factoid. What is the significance of Asada's claim? Why is it interesting?

Asada Akira is one of the best social theorist in the world. So, I thought it would be nice to pick up his mentions.WAREL 19:55, 20 March 2006 (UTC)
If true, I agree. The Akira Asada article doesn't tell me much, though. Can you provide a citation? Context? · rodii · 21:46, 20 March 2006 (UTC)

Unfortunately, the list was made for Japanese magazine and hence written only in Japanese. The other nine books in the list is of Kafka, Bourbaki,Joyce,Rushdie,Heiddeger,Keynes,Lacan,Witgenstein,and Mao.WAREL 08:17, 24 March 2006 (UTC)

Confusing links[edit]

Currently War machine links to an article about a comic book superhero. Is Military industrial complex what is intended here? Or something else? Ireneshusband 06:23, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

I made War machine a disambig page describing the general use of the term first. I'm not sure if what they mean is the 'military industrial complex'; Hardt & Negri, who were inspired by Mille Plateaux, use the term 'military-industrial system' once in Empire and state in Multitude that:
[W]e should be careful not to fall into the simplifications that often come under the label "military-industrial complex." ... The acritical reference to a "military-industrial complex" in populist terms (which sometimes smacks of anti-Semitism, recalling the old stereotypes of "Jewish bankers" as "war profiteers") has thus become a form of historical oversimplification that serves to eliminate any real considerations of class conflict, insurgency, and, today, the movements of the multitude from political and theoretical analysis of war, its causes, and its social determinations. (pp. 40–41)
Their main point is that the military-industrial complex disregards the notion of biopower, which is Foucauldian, rather than Deleuzian. Still, equating 'war machine' and 'military-industrial complex' may not be entirely accurate. Qwertyus 15:24, 11 December 2006 (UTC)
D&G's concept of the War Machine doesn't really have much to do with the military-industrial complex. One could say, maybe, that it's closer, in its logic, to what they call Body without organs, only in a different context. Davdavon 18:17, 29 July 2007 (UTC)
I believe the war machine would be existing only in the "virtual." It is something which may play through anything productive: a person, a social body, an animal... In a way it exists throughout processes which deterritorialize Deleuze might say. Examples of deterritorialization would be the breaking of social norms, or, say the way in which the Internet overcame spacial/cultural barriers; Deleuze associates the WM with a nomadic tendency. The difficulties I see in writing a stub about it are two fold. The state machine is inseparable from the war machine(every flight has a landing), so that must be addressed. The second is that these concepts are inseparable from the contexts in which they play a part; According to deleuzes ontology it does not have an essence so we may not talk of it abstractly. BTW I dont know the rules of these discussions so Im sorry if this isnt protocol... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:01, 18 January 2009 (UTC)

Plateau currently links to an article dealing only with physical geography. I presume that something else would be more appropriate here too. Ireneshusband 06:26, 1 October 2006 (UTC)

I've de-linked war machine. DionysosProteus (talk) 02:23, 16 September 2008 (UTC)

Most-browsed Deleuze and Guattari articles[edit]

I wanted to find out which of the D&G articles garners the most traffic on this site. I thought this might be of interest to other editors interested in the D&G articles. All stats for June 2010:

Also related are:

But neither article has any substantial treatment of D&G

DionysosProteus (talk) 14:26, 26 July 2010 (UTC)

Fashionable Nonsense and POV[edit]

I have some real reservations about citing the Sokal and Bricmont book on this page specifically. Sokal and Bricmont are by their own admission not experts in philosophy. More to the point, they have next to no repute within the fields of the thinkers they attack. They're beloved by laymen in the humanities, but their relationship with the actual field is akin to that of the handful of credentialed global warming deniers in the world of climatology. Furthermore, Fashionable Nonsense attacks a huge raft of thinkers, and does so on general terms with a bunch of examples.

Despite this, I don't think the book should be scoured from all criticism sections. But including mention of it on articles about individual works by the thinkers it criticizes gives, I think, undue weight to their viewpoint. In terms of this specific book - a subtopic of the larger subject of Deleuze and Guattari - Sokal and Bricmont just aren't credible or significant commenters and their inclusion has POV problems. I have no objection to the paragraph on Fashionable Nonsense in Gilles Deleuze, but that, I think, is the article where the criticism belongs. When you're on the level of granularity involved with an individual book by someone then broad methodological objections to their entire corpus, particularly when advanced from outside their field, are akin to citing Judith Curry in Bond event. (talk) 19:02, 17 July 2012 (UTC)

What are your sources for any of these claims? Are other editors expected to accept removal of sourced information from this article simply because of your unsupported claims about the source used (the Sokal/Bricmont book)? So far as I'm aware, Sokal/Bricmont have never said specifically that they aren't experts in philosophy, rather they've said that they aren't experts in the specifically philosophical work of Deleuze et al. They are experts in science, and inasmuch as the Deleuze/Guattari book discusses science, it's reasonable to mention Sokal/Bricmont's view of the failings of Deleuze/Guattari's discussion. I think this is done in a way in accord with WP:NPOV. More broadly, Sokal and Bricmont happen to be well-known critics of Deleuze and Guattari, and it's really too bad if you don't like that. You complain about POV in the article, but it's actually your arguments for removing the Sokal and Bricmont material that are POV. You are perfectly entitled to your view that "Sokal and Bricmont just aren't credible or significant commenters", but it's not a valid reason for removing anything. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 20:34, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
I'm fairly sure, when it comes to sourcing material, the burden of proof is on the people trying to include it. And so I would ask you - where is your evidence that Sokal and Bricmont are of any significant import as critics of this book (as opposed to Deleuze in general, this not being the Gilles Deleuze article)? They are a pair of critics who aren't even in Deleuze's field. Nor is A Thousand Plateaus primarily about science, although, yes, science does come up in spots. So we seem to have two people not from Deleuze's field criticizing Deleuze in general for something that this book is not primarily about. How, exactly, is it of sufficient relevance to be worth mentioning in this article? Again, I'm not disagreeing that Sokal and Bricmont are notable critics of Deleuze in general, but I really don't see how they're notable critics of this specific book. What makes their criticism notable with regards to A Thousand Plateaus specifically, i.e. to the topic of this article (talk) 22:08, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
You can declare yourself fairly sure of anything you like, but your views are not relevant if they aren't based on site policy. You haven't made any valid argument for removing this material. WP:RS, for instance, just doesn't say what you apparently suggested it does. The Sokal/Bricmont reference is not "criticizing Deleuze in general", as you falsely suggest. It is a criticism of one specific aspect of Deleuze and Guattari's extremely wide-ranging book, which is barely "philosophy" in the traditional sense of being mainly devoted to rigorous and abstract argument. Your talk about notability is beside the point. Notability is a policy which concerns which subjects may have articles created about them; it does not concern what sources we use in an article. See WP:NOTE. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 22:20, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
I mean notable not in the site-specific fashion but in its conventional sense as a synonym for "significant." WP:NPOV states, and I quote directly, "An article should not give undue weight to any aspects of the subject but should strive to treat each aspect with a weight appropriate to its significance to the subject." I am asking for any evidence that this brief mention in Fashionable Nonsense has any significance whatsoever to the subject of A Thousand Plateaus, a book that has been cited in literally thousands of other books. Seriously - Google Scholar has it at 11,174 citations. Many of those are going to talk about the book substantially, whereas Fashionable Nonsense mentions it on exactly one page. Merely being one of those 11,174 is not sufficient to qualify as a significant aspect of the subject, and for obvious reasons not all 11,174 can possibly be mentioned in this article. What about Fashionable Nonsense's brief one-page mention makes it one of the ones we should pick out of those 11,174 and discuss, as opposed to the myriad of scholarly viewpoints we omit?
Even if we treat all 11,174 of those citations as equal - and let's be honest, a healthy number of them mention the book on a hell of a lot more than one page, Fashionable Nonsense is .009% of the total academic commentary on the subject of this book. It currently makes up 14% of the Wikipedia article on the subject of this book. Indeed, more time is spent discussing Sokal and Bricmont's views on the book than are spent actually discussing what the book says. Please explain why you think Sokal and Bricmont are due this amount of weight. (talk) 02:54, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
Deleuze and Guattari's work has been criticized for its alleged abuse of scientific language. That doesn't appear to be in dispute. It's a criticism not only of their work in general, but also of specific books, for example, the book this article is about. My view is that a single sentence about the issue here is not giving undue weight to the issue, and is entirely in accord with WP:NPOV. You would have a point about undue weight if the article (for example) listed the specific pages of A Thousand Plateaus that Sokal and Bricmont consider the worst and most pseudo-scientific parts of the book, but it doesn't. I was careful to leave that kind of detail out. The fact that A Thousand Plateaus has been cited in numerous books doesn't show that Sokal/Bricmont's remarks aren't significant, and it's bizarre to suggest it does. They provide a critical perspective on this aspect of the book that other discussions of it might not. You seem to be arguing that if I can't produce an argument that satisfies you, this material absolutely must be removed. That's just not how things work here, I'm afraid. See WP:CONSENSUS. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 05:28, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
Polisher, you haven't answered the anonymous editor's central argument, viz., that Sokal & Bricmont's criticisms of this book (Mille Plateaux) are not significant aspects of the reception of this book, and that mentioning them so prominently when only one other aspect of the reception of this book is mentioned (Negri's appraisal), is undue emphasis. By contrast, the main Deleuze article discusses a wide sample of critical reception, including a general appraisal of its influence. As the article currently stands, with so little content, only if Sokal & Bricmont's comments were particularly influential on the reception of this book would it be appropriate to single them out for special mention. 271828182 (talk) 06:48, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
I did not answer the argument because I found it so strange. As a general principle, I do not think it makes sense to say that only "significant aspects of the reception" of books should be mentioned in articles about them. It implies that only well known or famous reactions to a book ought to be mentioned. Yet clearly quite obscure things that someone has written about a book could be worth mentioning if they convey information about that it is interesting or not to be found in better known sources. This is not an attempt to justify my view that Sokal and Bricmont deserve mentioning briefly in terms of Wiki policy, it's simply a common sense observation. If policy isn't flexible enough to take this point into account, I think it should be. The IP editor hasn't tried to explain clearly exactly what policies require removing this material. In any case, as Sokal and Bricmont are well known critics of Deleuze in general, and A Thousand Plateaus is part of Deleuze and Guattari's work, I fail to see any problem mentioning their views briefly. I believe that does answer the point that "Sokal & Bricmont's criticisms of this book (Mille Plateaux) are not significant aspects of the reception of this book". That this article says relatively little about A Thousand Plateaus is true and regrettable, but removing that one sentence of criticism won't improve it the slightest bit. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 08:36, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
Let me elaborate on the point a little. I have expanded the content of this article only a little, but I've expanded other articles to a much greater extent, and I think the lessons there are relevant. I've rewritten the Life Against Death article altogether, and I've certainly found there that it helps to mention obscure or little known sources. To take just one particular detail, the article mentions Liam Hudson's view in his book The Cult of the Fact that Life Against Death was neglected by radicals because its publication coincided with that of Herbert Marcuse's Eros and Civilization. Now, is that a "significant aspect of the reception" of the book? Hardly - it's simply an opinion expressed by one relatively obscure writer in a little known book. Yet it's also quite a valuable and relevant piece of information, so it makes sense to include it regardless. The same would be true of a multitude of other things that article mentions. Insisting that we mention only "significant aspects of the reception" of a book would result in a dreadful article, if what it means is that we can only mention the views of writers who are well known for having commented on a book. Let's not set up rigid standards that can't be applied consistently in reality. If the views of a comparatively obscure commentator like Hudson can legitimately be mentioned in an article, what sense would it make to exclude the views of Sokal and Bricmont here? They are much, much better known for their views about Deleuze and Guattari than Hudson is for his views on Norman O. Brown. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 09:04, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
The problem is, while you may not think that "only significant aspects of the reception should be mentioned," WP:NPOV is unequivocal on the point. It's policy, and as a result we do have to be careful about not giving undue weight to one aspect of the topic. WP:CONSENSUS is a squishy concept, but it doesn't allow for putting NPOV up to some sort of vote, whether formal or informal. To be clear, this isn't about satisfying me either - it's about satisfying basic standards of evidence. So again, and recognizing that this article is a different one with a different topic than Gilles Deleuze, and thus that something can be a significant point of view for one and not for the other, can you provide some evidence that Sokal and Bricmont are a major thread of commentary on this book in particular? Sources would be good - perhaps a major commentary on A Thousand Plateaus that makes mention of Sokal and Bricmont, or an article or two that focuses on Sokal and Bricmont's critique of this book in particular. I'm not looking for an argument that the line doesn't violate WP:NPOV - I'm looking for practical evidence - secondary sources that demonstrate that this is a major line of criticism for this book in specific. (talk) 14:00, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
WP:NPOV is not "unequivocal" that "only significant aspects of the reception should be mentioned". It simply does not say any such thing (which is just as well, because it would be ridiculous if it did). What it does say is that, "Editing from a neutral point of view (NPOV) means representing fairly, proportionately, and as far as possible without bias, all significant views that have been published by reliable sources". Given how well known Sokal and Bricmont's attack on Deleuze and Guattari's work is, the suggestion that a single brief sentence mentioning their criticism of A Thousand Plateaus doesn't belong here is unconvincing. The argument that Sokal/Bricmont can't be relevant here because they are well known for their attacks on Deleuze and Guattari's work in general rather than this specific book is disingenuous. Sokal and Bricmont's attack includes detailed criticisms of A Thousand Plateaus, and it's precisely because their criticisms of what they see as the weaknesses of specific texts such as this one were seen as convincing that their attack became famous. By the way, why are you asking for evidence that Sokal and Bricmont's critique is "a major thread of commentary on this book in particular"? Why aren't you asking for that evidence where Antonio Negri's view that A Thousand Plateaus is the most important philosophical work of the 20th century is concerned? There seems to be something of a double standard at work here. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 21:28, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
I quoted the relevant section of WP:NPOV. "An article should not give undue weight to any aspects of the subject but should strive to treat each aspect with a weight appropriate to its significance to the subject." At this point, I find your attempts to evade this question increasingly troubling. (But for the record, I haven't queried the Negri mention largely because I don't have any doubts of Negri's importance with regards to this book. Do you? If so, we can certainly discuss that, though I'd spin that off to a different discussion.) In any case, please provide evidence - you know, actual sources - that indicate the significance of Sokal and Bricmont's critique to this book in particular. I'll wander back here towards the end of the week, but if you can't provide evidence that the weight given to Sokal and Bricmont is due, I'm going to remove it again. (talk) 21:41, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
I see. So you have no trouble at all with including Negri's praise of this book because you personally have no doubt that it's important, and therefore don't feel that evidence of its importance is required? Yet you demand that evidence, in the form of sources, must be provided to show that Sokal and Bricmont's views are important. That's a blatant double standard. It amounts to saying that no evidence is needed for anything you consider important, but that evidence must be provided for anything you question, a preposterous position. Other editors aren't stupid, and will be able to understand what you're trying to do. If you continue to edit war here, I'll get the article protected. In fact, just your threat to do that would probably be sufficient reason for getting the article protected now. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 22:24, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
If you can take the view that sources for Negri's importance aren't required, because you don't question their importance, I think I can equally well take the view that sources for Sokal/Bricmont's importance aren't required, since I don't question theirs - I don't believe in double standards, after all! But if other editors (not only you) insist that such sources are required, it shouldn't be especially difficult to find them. Reviews of Fashionable Nonsense would be a good place to start. Sokal links to them on his website. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 22:24, 18 July 2012 (UTC)

Polisher, you wrote: "Sokal and Bricmont's attack includes detailed criticisms of A Thousand Plateaus". However, I can find no such criticisms. In fact, the only mention of the book by name is on p. 168 of the English version. Here is the entirety of their discussion:

"Should the reader entertain any further doubts about the ubiquity of pseudo-scientific language in Deleuze and Guattari's work, he or she is invited to consult, in addition to the references given in the footnotes, pages 20-24, 32, 36-42, 50, 117-133, 135-142, 151-162, 197, 202-207, and 214-217 of What Is Philosophy?, and pages 32-33, 142-143, 211-212, 251-252, 293-295, 361-365, 369-374, 389-390, 461, 469-473, and 482-490 of A Thousand Plateaus."

That's it. (There is an earlier footnote on p. 155, but again, it is just page references, no discussion at all.) While this is fairly representative of the level of commentary in Fashionable Nonsense, it falls well short of detailed criticism of A Thousand Plateaus, let alone a "significant view" of the subject of this article. 271828182 (talk) 22:28, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
You are perfectly correct, and thank you for correcting me. The point that their criticism of A Thousand Plateaus is fully deserving of a brief mention stands, however. Sokal/Bricmont's attacks on Deleuze's works is well known enough for the case for its inclusion to be obvious. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 22:34, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
Their attacks are well-known enough to merit inclusion in an article about Deleuze or Guattari, yes, absolutely. (As they are in the article on Deleuze.) But offering a bunch of page references with no discussion is barely to have a view on A Thousand Plateaus at all. It is a fortiori not a "significant view". 271828182 (talk) 22:45, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
Sokal/Bricmont's comments on A Thousand Plateaus, brief as they admittedly are, are quite enough to make their view of it clear. I don't believe the brevity of their comments indicates that they aren't a significant view; the issue of what counts as significant is more complicated than that. I'd recommend seeking wider community input on this issue. Perhaps a request for comment, or something of that order. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 23:00, 18 July 2012 (UTC)
Given the extreme brevity of their comments on A Thousand Plateaus, I think at the very least some supporting evidence in the form of secondary sources discussing A Thousand Plateaus specifically in light of Sokal and Bricmont is in order. I'm willing to accept that their comments on the book, brief as they may be, could theoretically be significant, but I'd want evidence. And my own reading in the field hasn't brought any to light. So again, I'm asking you to provide some. If Sokal and Bricmont are a significant part of this specific book's reputation then there's going to be a trail of secondary sources that discuss their comments on this book specifically. If you can provide these sources - as I said, my experience in the field hasn't done so - I'm happy to drop my objections. Otherwise, though, I really don't see what reason there is to treat this as a significant viewpoint other than your say so. As for Negri, I've started a separate discussion below on him. (talk) 04:30, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
I don't agree. It would be fatuous to suggest that the fact that a source briefly says something about a book means that its views cannot be significant and should never be mentioned in an article. It shouldn't even be necessary to point out why. Your comment ("If Sokal and Bricmont are a significant part of this specific book's reputation then there's going to be a trail of secondary sources that discuss their comments on this book specifically") has no basis in WP:NPOV; it simply seems to be a rationale for removing material you disagree with. No policy anywhere says that a source's views have to be "a significant part of this specific book's reputation" to be mentioned. NPOV requires only that significant views should be mentioned, which is not the same as the requirement you've just invented or even close. A source's views can be significant for many reasons; the fact that Fashionable Nonsense is a famous book is a good enough reason to consider what it says significant (and its being a famous book does not depend on my say-so; it would be well known to anyone familiar with the topic area). So your demand for sources is out of place. Other editors don't have to meet your arbitrary tests, and grandstanding won't help. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 05:39, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

I agree that Fashionable Nonsense is significant in a general sense, but this does not mean that it is significant to this particular topic. Again, the requirement is that "An article should not give undue weight to any aspects of the subject but should strive to treat each aspect with a weight appropriate to its significance to the subject." Quite simply, given that it is mentioned exactly once in the book and only to give a broad listing of page numbers, I dispute that Fashionable Nonsense is significant to this subject. Which is very clearly what the requirement is - not a general test of significance in the abstract, but a test of significance to the precise subject of the article. I am open to other proposals for how one could demonstrate its significance to this specific subject - secondary sources that show Sokal and Bricmont's engagement with this topic seemed a straightforward one. But your vague assertion that the book is significant because it is significant holds very little weight. Some evidence of some sort is required. I am willing to be open to what it is, but you've offered nothing whatsoever that indicates that Fashionable Nonsense is significant to the subject of this article, and NPOV is unambiguous that significance to the subject of the article is a requirement for inclusion. (talk) 16:24, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

Sokal/Bricmont's opinion on the book is as relevant as anyone as else's (for WP purposes) but context is everything. First, they are not really saying anything definitive, but merely suggesting there are examples of this type of writing style (but saying what they are). Second, their names shouldn't just be dropped in there — they should include some kind of descriptor about who they are or why their opinion matters (for example "In their book Fashionable Nonsense AS and JB, critics of postmodern language, cited...". Third, it would be more accurate to say they "cite" (or even "suggest") instead of "believe". Fourth, this doesn't even have to be a criticism - just an observation of the writing style. Fifth, I would be careful about using the term pseudo-scientific language because it is not clear what that means (which seems to be the point of the book) and authors don't provide any examples (just page numbers where there may be examples). Also, regarding the issue of undue weight, at this scale the answer is to add more content to balance it out. This is a Start-class article which means "An article that is developing, but which is quite incomplete and may require further reliable sources." I would include this, but, if I'm reading it correctly, something along the lines of "Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont, critics of postmodern language, cited A Thousand Plateaus as an example where the writing style was unnessarily complex." or "Language critics Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont suggested the writing style had examples of postmodern complexity." maclean (talk) 20:29, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
I continue to be skeptical that the due weight of Sokal and Bricmont on the subject of A Thousand Plateaus (as opposed to on the Gilles Deleuze article, where I agree wholeheartedly that discussion of Sokal and Bricmont belong). The context of their mention is basically a laundry list of "in this book here are the bad bits, whereas in this book here are the bad books." I really don't see the particular significance to this specific book. Even in a bulked out article with an extensive discussion of A Thousand Plateaus's reception I'd find Sokal and Bricmont a strange choice for inclusion. (talk) 20:52, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
I did not assert that "the book is significant because it is significant." I said that it's significant because it's a famous and well-known book, which is just a fact, whether one likes it or not. It is absolutely ludicrous to suggest that the number of times a source - such as the Sokal/Bricmont book - mentions something is relevant to whether it's significant enough to be worth mentioning in an article about it, and the reasons should be obvious. Even a single brief reference can contain very valuable information. So the IP is just plain wrong in his/her/its views of what NPOV requires. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 03:38, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
I've not denied that it can contain very valuable information, but I see no reason to assume that, in this instance, it does. This is getting tiresome - what evidence can you offer that Sokal and Bricmont are a significant perspective on this specific book? That's the only question I have at this point, but it's one you're conspicuously avoiding answering. (talk) 15:05, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
Why would you "assume" anything at all about the merits of their views, or suppose that other editors would care what you "assume"? You seem to think that it's vastly important what you think of the merits of a source, and that if what it says is wrong in your opinion, then out it must go. If I wanted to exclude views from this article that I thought were wrong (which I don't, since I understand how helpful it can be to readers to tell them what writers have even incorrectly said about a book), then Negri's bizarre suggestion that A Thousand Plateaus is the most important philosophical text of the 20th century would be the first thing I would remove. It's certainly much more implausible than anything Sokal and Bricmont say about it. Sokal and Bricmont are well known critics of Deleuze, and they know something about science. Ergo, yes, their views are significant. Over and over again, you've asked why they are significant, and over and over again, I've explained why. There's no point to complaining that other people cannot demonstrate something to you that you do not want to have demonstrated to you. 02:00, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
Their views about Deleuze are significant. No one is doubting that. But how are their views about A Thousand Plateaus significant? You haven't given any compelling argument for that claim, and that's the issue here. The anonymous editor is not being unreasonable. 271828182 (talk) 08:54, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
WP:NPOV doesn't define "significant" in so many words. Presumably, the idea is that intelligent adults are capable of understanding the meaning of "significant" without too much difficulty. It appears self-evident to me that views expressed about a book in a famous book that received widespread praise are indeed significant. No doubt one can endlessly spin out arguments that they aren't, based on idiosyncratic understandings of what is "significant" (in the spirit of, "there are endless understandings of 'significant' and here is mine...") but the policy wasn't meant to be applied or understood in such perverse ways. It would appear that "significant" is understood in contrast to utterly fringe views such as, eg, Holocaust denial and flat-earthism. Fashionable Nonsense is not above criticism, but it really would be taking things too far to place it in that category. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 09:02, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
Polisher, I am generally considered an intelligent adult, but I seem to understand "significant" in a rather different way than you do. In particular, I do not think "views expressed in a famous book that received widespread praise" are self-evidently significant views. For example, John Allen Paulos' book Innumeracy is a widely praised book and I'd guess it's more famous than Fashionable Nonsense. In it, Paulos briefly argues that the quantity of water needed for the Flood would have surely destroyed Noah's Ark. It's a far more developed view than Sokal and Bricmont's of A Thousand Plateaus, since Paulos actually devotes several sentences to the view, rather than list page numbers. And Paulos' view seems entirely plausible. But that doesn't make it a significant view about Noah's Ark, or one to be included in the Wikipedia article on Noah's Ark. Nor do I think "significant" in this context is the contrary of "fringe" (see [WP:FRINGE], which makes it clear that fringe views are those opposed to "mainstream scholarly opinion"). "Significant," in this context, seems a variation on notability: that Sokal and Bricmont's views on A Thousand Plateaus have received or generated noteworthy independent attention. And while Sokal and Bricmont's view about Deleuze and French postmodernism in general are significant and notable in this sense, I still have yet to see any evidence that Sokal and Bricmont's views about A Thousand Plateaus in particular are significant or notable. 271828182 (talk) 06:47, 22 July 2012 (UTC)
Significant, in the relevant context of WP:NPOV, for most purposes does mean non-fringe. I think that's perfectly obvious. The examples of views not considered "significant" are things like holocaust denial and flat-earthism. You might personally think that it would be good to define "significant" as something that "received or generated noteworthy independent attention", but WP:NPOV doesn't define it that way, or anything even close to that. If you have any further doubt on the matter, I would suggest taking it up at the neutral point of view noticeboard, where I have started a thread. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 08:04, 22 July 2012 (UTC)
Your reading of the policy has no basis in fact. Beyond that, of four editors who have been involved in this discussion, you're the only one to support the sentence as it stands. I am removing it. I am open to the possibility that some mention of the book may be warranted, but the one the article currently has is not, and at this point there is a clear consensus against it. (talk) 14:22, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
Yes it does. "Significant" means non-fringe in this context. It doesn't matter if you assert otherwise. Four editors have commented so far - two, including you, opposed inclusion, but two others - Maclean25 and myself - support inclusion in some form. Maclean25's objections were to an earlier version of that material, not to the version that you removed, so your claim that there is a consensus for removing it is wrong and downright dishonest. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 21:37, 21 July 2012 (UTC)

Would love to see someone post an explanation of sokal & bricmont's criticism as applied to ATP. (Actually would love this even more for Difference and Repetition, Deleuze's harder-core (more formal) work, to which their criticisms apply more directly. That would be a freakin' great place to spell out their critique of Deleuze's take on calculus etc. groupuscule (talk) 15:25, 24 July 2012 (UTC) P.S. What we need isn't less criticism, it's more content on the book itself! Let's get to it! :-) groupuscule (talk) 17:00, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

Eleven instances of pseudoscience[edit]

Re this silly (just my opinion) revert battle: Why not say "eleven"? (That is sort of all we have to go on, isn't it?) groupuscule (talk) 03:00, 21 October 2012 (UTC)

The reason for not saying eleven is that the exact number of allegedly pseudo-scientific passages the book contains is completely irrelevant. It makes no difference at all to Sokal and Bricmont's view of the book what the exact number of such passages is. Furthermore, it seems obvious that they don't insist on there being exactly eleven of them. They do provide a listing of allegedly pseudo-scientific passages, but there is no indication that it is meant to be exclusive, or that more such passages could not exist. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 03:09, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
Well, maybe part of the problem is that they never specifically discuss anything in the book! Maybe we should not include this factoid if we're just reproducing S&B's territory on our map by alluding to the existence of a possible criticism without actually making the criticism. Also, if the original text accuses D&G of pseduo-science, why not say that it accuses D&G of pseudo-science? Personally I find bizarre that so much energy can be put into disputing this topic... I think we'd all care about it much less if we had proportionate coverage of the book itself. groupuscule (talk) 03:30, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
Sokal and Bricmont are well known physicists and critics of what is seen (rightly or wrongly) as post-modern thought. It ought to be worth including at least one brief sentence on their views. This was debated over at length, and taken to the neutral point of view noticeboard, and in the end agreement was reached that yes, it should be included. If you want to start the debate all over again, and take it back to the neutral point of view noticeboard again, then you can, but it seems like a foolish effort. As for the pseudo-science part, the agreement reached was that "pseudo-science" is a vague and unhelpful term that shouldn't be used. Again, I suggest looking up the past discussions on this before making any changes to the article. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 03:37, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
If 'pseudo-science' is a vague and unhelpful term that shouldn't be used, then it would seem that Sokal & Bricmont's extremely brief criticism of the book could be criticized similarly. I can't tell you how uninterested I am in having a dispute about Sokal & Bricmont on the "neutral point of view noticeboard", a forum to which luckily I've never resorted. In my personal opinion these characters have some good points but may have gotten carried away in targeting the entire post-structuralist genre... thereby feeling able to dismiss a text like A Thousand Plateaux—which two very intelligent people spent years of their lives working on—as pseudoscience, based on some page numbers. However, you'll recall (or read above) that I supported including this little factoid—which is not particularly thought-provoking or informative—because I'm more interested in expanding the article than in warring. That being said, I don't understand why you're so attached to the current wording of the S&B statement. No hostility meant, I just don't understand what's going on such that this single sentence is the object of major discussion but there is almost nothing about the book itself. So I reiterate my suggestion of collaboration below. And if you want to work on a "Criticism" section instead of a Plateau", that would be great! groupuscule (talk) 04:03, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
Having dredged up the discussion on the noticeboard, I find that the "consensus" to which you're referring is the transient suggestion of one user, offering their opinion based on not knowledge of either the book under discussion or of the critique. I don't think that's grounds for continual stubborn reverts now. PoC: I respect all the work you do on philosophy books, for real, but... that's not consensus! Consensus isn't about getting your way through a formal procedure and then maintaining it... it's about having a conversation with all interested parties, with the goal of understanding all the ideas in play so that we can create a better outcome. The term "pseudo-science" may be unhelpful, but it's what S&B use, and I am at a loss to determine how the current wording is any more helpful to any imaginable reader. Furthermore, I feel like you've been really rude to and I don't think that's cool. groupuscule (talk) 09:31, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
Just so there is no misunderstanding of this point, the "pseudo-science" wording that the IP tried to revert the article to is in fact the wording that I originally added to the article. It was User:Activism1234 who suggested, "Physicsts Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont suggest that A Thousand Plateaus contains many passages that use scientific terms in arbitrary or misleading ways." That wording, with only minor modifications by one other editor, had been stable for some time following the discussion at the neutral point of view noticeboard, and it seems like a reasonable conclusion that it represents the consensus. I certainly think it is an improvement over what I originally added. You suggest that Activism1234 is ignorant both of A Thousand Plateaus and Sokal/Bricmont. I do not know how you would know this, and it doesn't seem reasonable to make such assumptions. If you think the point is important, then you could raise it with Activism1234, if he or she is still interested. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 20:48, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
So far as rudeness is concerned, I don't think that I have been either more or less rude than the IP, and I think a look through the revision history of the article, and a comparison of the IP's edit summaries next to mine would confirm that. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 20:48, 22 October 2012 (UTC)
I reject Polisher's "reasonable conclusion" that the sentence reflects a consensus of editors. It reflects his view, and that of Activist1234 (presumably), but I still find inclusion of Sokal and Bricmont's fleeting reference to A Thousand Plateaus to violate WP:UNDUE. 271828182 (talk) 00:20, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
Simply repeating what you have said in the past, without giving new arguments, is not very helpful, and neither is focusing on that one detail of the article to the exclusion of everything else. Could you explain why all the other material that has been added to the article recently (not by me) does not violate WP:DUE? Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 03:42, 24 October 2012 (UTC)


Just to be clear, is there actually a dispute here? I, at least, don't question the significance of Negri's contributions, so didn't raise them. I'm unclear if Polisher of Cobwebs is questioning them, however, and if there is thus a dispute there as well. Polisher - can you clarify? If you do dispute them, I'll see if I can find some secondary sources that establish whether Negri's commentary on this book is a significant perspective on it. If not, I won't worry about it, but if you are in fact disputing Negri's significance then I'll go find some. (talk) 04:30, 19 July 2012 (UTC)

I was simply pointing out that it's extremely strange that you would demand all kind of sources to show that one source - which happens to be critical of A Thousand Plateaus - is significant, while having no problem whatever with the lack of sources showing that another source - which happens to take a positive view of the book - is significant. This could be taken to suggest that you are simply intent on finding a way of getting rid of critical material about this book. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 05:09, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
WP:ASSUME. (talk) 16:19, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
One does indeed try to assume good faith. But your behavior stretches it. You've adopted an idiosyncratic and extremely rigid interpretation of NPOV that insists it requires something that it just doesn't. You apparently aren't even prepared to apply your own (mis)-intepretation of the policy consistently. It could be used to call for the removal of virtually all content in this article, not only the Sokal/Bricmont reference. Consider Brian Massumi's comments, for instance: what of his comment that Anti-Oedipus and A Thousand Plateaus "differ so markedly in tone, content, and composition that they seem like a prime illustration of their subtitle's second noun"? No one has provided evidence that those remarks are significant according to your understanding of the term, eg, that they are a significant part of the book's reputation. Yet you've offered no objection to them whatever. The fact that your principle can't be applied consistently in practice shows that it's just wrong even as an idea. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 03:52, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
The difference is straightforward - I think Sokal and Bricmont are a marginal viewpoint with regards to this book (as opposed to with regards to Deleuze and Guattari in general). I have no reason to think that of Negri or Massumi. I'm not just throwing up objections at random - I'm raising a specific objection based on a specific concern. But in any case, given that you're not actually disputing the Negri content, I think we can be done with this section and return to the main issue above, namely what evidence you have that Sokal and Bricmont form a significant viewpoint on this specific topic. If you do want to dispute any other content, please go ahead and start a section on it and we can discuss that too. (talk) 15:08, 20 July 2012 (UTC)
That's laughable. Massumi may be a well-known commentator on Deleuze in general, but do you really think that the specific comments by him about A Thousand Plateaus that this article cites are a significant part of the book's reputation? Please. They're simply a passing comment in one book, and there's no reason to think they are an important part of its overall reception. There's a limit to how much nonsense you can expect other editors to swallow, you know. Look, you've already had an editor experienced with book articles comment on this dispute. If your views of what NPOV requires were correct, he'd have said so; he didn't. If you insist on continuing this dispute, the response from the larger Wikipedia community will be the same: you have interpreted NPOV wrongly. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 01:49, 21 July 2012 (UTC)
So, no dispute then? (talk) 14:23, 21 July 2012 (UTC)


I have removed the sentence claiming that Antonio Negri referred to A Thousand Plateaus as "the most important philosophical text of the 20th Century." The sentence was followed by two references, one to Communists Like Us and the other to Empire, but after carefully checking both these books, it appears neither backs up the claim that Negri said this. I would be perfectly happy to see the sentence restored if a proper source can be found. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 04:06, 19 September 2012 (UTC)

Let's collaborate to actually write the article[edit]

Like for example anyone interested could volunteer to work on a plateau, and then we'll switch it up and review each others' plateaux... any takers? groupuscule (talk) 03:31, 21 October 2012 (UTC)

If what you're suggesting is providing a detailed discussion of each "plateau" of the book, I'm not sure that would be appropriate, per WP:DUE. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 03:39, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
... but ... but ... that's what the article is about! groupuscule (talk) 03:45, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
The article is about the book as a whole. It is, in fact, far from common, in articles about books, to see an exhaustive discussion of each chapter or section. That's certainly never how I have tried to write such articles myself. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 03:49, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
Descriptions of a book's contents are perfectly appropriate, common, and standard as per WP:BOOKS. There are hundreds of books whose articles describe their content in detail and IMO these articles can be very helpful and interesting. Examples: The New Jim Crow, Bible, The Ego and the Id, Nineteen Eighty-Four, and many more. Plus, it's not like there are really a thousand plateaux... :-) groupuscule (talk) 03:54, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
Excuse me, but I didn't say that articles about books shouldn't describe their contents, I said that it's generally inappropriate to give an exhaustive discussion of each chapter. Your examples don't disprove my point. I'm not much impressed by the article on The New Jim Crow, the article on The Ego and the Id is a horrible mess, and the Bible has so little in common with A Thousand Plateaus that the comparison is pointless. The Nineteen Eighty-Four article is quite good, but it doesn't do what you say it does - there's no chapter-by-chapter discussion there. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 04:07, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
OK, how do you think we should do it? Plateaux seemed like a good idea because they are separated by topic and often discussed separately in the secondary literature. "Terminology" and "concepts" would also not be the best because they generally originate in Anti-Oedipus—better for the Capitalism and Schizophrenia article. So how could we transform this article into a Good Article™? Where should we start? groupuscule (talk) 04:12, 21 October 2012 (UTC)
Oh for Christ's sake, Polisher. You're really insisting that it's appropriate to include a secondary source that says nothing about this book but a list of page numbers that are allegedly unscientific, but that a thorough overview of what the book says is a bad idea? The assumption of good faith here is being rapidly disproven. (talk) 04:57, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
If you will excuse the alphabet soup, I think you need to review WP:CIVIL, WP:NPA, and WP:AGF. To clarify my position on content issues: I do not think that it would be appropriate or helpful to provide an exhaustive discussion of each different "plateau" of A Thousand Plateaus, but that is not the same thing as saying that the article should not provide an overview of what the book says, as there would be other and better ways of doing that. It would be quite possible for the article to provide a discussion of the book's overall arguments and subject matter without doing so on a plateau by plateau basis. If you disagree, then by all means, suggest just how a plateau by plateau discussion would work. Make specific suggestions. I'm open to them, and would happily reconsider my stance if you suggestions seem good. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 06:51, 24 October 2012 (UTC)
Assume good faith is not equivalent to "good faith always exists." There's an obvious difference between a chapter-by-chapter summary of a novel, where chapters separate the content on dramatic grounds, not on informational ones. Whereas for an academic/philosophic book like this, the plateau divisions double as divisions based on the arguments made. It's a natural way to structure the summary, as Groupuscule points out - the plateaus are individual topics.
I think the more interesting question is what you want to do instead of a plateau-by-plateau summary. You seem to be doing a lot of saying no and not a lot of making constructive suggestions for the article. (talk) 03:18, 26 October 2012 (UTC)
If I am not making many constructive suggestions for the article, that's for the good reason that I am more interested in other articles. I have read A Thousand Plateaus, and I find it quite interesting, but it's of altogether lesser interest to me personally than many other books that have articles I'd like to improve. I don't see you making any specific suggestions either - but please, feel free, if you want to make them. They might actually help. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 05:43, 26 October 2012 (UTC)

Oh yes, also this[edit]

"Pseudoscientific language" and "use of scientific terms in arbitrary or misleading ways" are not synonyms, and Sokal and Bricmont's claim is specifically that they use pseudoscientific language. I have now jumped through the idiotic hoop of "discussing on talk" what you could very well have gleaned from the edit summaries, and am going to go make the article accurate now kthxbye. (talk) 03:18, 26 October 2012 (UTC)

In context, it seems reasonably clear that what Sokal/Bricmont mean by "pseudo-scientific" is "use of scientific terms in arbitrary or misleading ways." You're perfectly right that these expressions are not synonyms taken in themselves, but they do seem to correspond in terms of how Sokal/Bricmont use them. Also, please note that there's little point saying things like "per talk" when you don't actually have consensus on the talk page. Polisher of Cobwebs (talk) 05:43, 26 October 2012 (UTC)

Table of contents[edit]

Mohanbhan, I suggest that you read WP:BRD. If you make an addition to an article and the addition is removed, the appropriate thing to do is to discuss the issue on the talk page and try to reach consensus, not to immediately restore the addition. Though exceptions may be justified in a small number of special cases, listing the chapters of a book is almost always useless and unnecessary. You also need to be aware that adding links to external websites within the list of chapters violates WP:EL, an important guideline. Links to external websites generally belong only in an external links section (the first line of the guideline reads, "Wikipedia articles may include links to web pages outside Wikipedia (external links), but they should not normally be placed in the body of an article.") FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 02:02, 12 July 2015 (UTC)

As discussed and suggested on your talk page, can we have the table of contents with hyperlinks until the summaries are added? I think a TOC with links (mostly to other wiki pages and a couple of external links) would be useful. -Mohanbhan (talk) 02:49, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
Pasting below the table of contents that I had added to the article and whose inclusion I am proposing. In the absence of a summary I think it would be useful.
  1. Introduction: Rhizome
  2. 1914: One or Several Wolves
  3. 10,000 BC: The Geology of Morals (Who does the Earth Think It Is?)
  4. November 20, 1923: Postulates of Linguistics
  5. 587 BC-AD 70: On Several Regimes of Signs
  6. November 28, 1947: How do you Make Yourself a Body without Organs
  7. Year Zero: Faciality
  8. 1874: Three Novellas (In the Cage, The Crack-Up, Story of the Abyss and the Spyglass) or "What Happened?"
  9. 1933: Micropolitics and Segmentarity
  10. 1730: Becoming-Intense, Becoming-Animal, Becoming-Imperceptible
  11. 1837: Of the Refrain
  12. 1227: Treatise on Nomadology--The War Machine
  13. 7000 BC: Apparatus of Capture
  14. 1440 BC: The Smooth and the Striated
  15. Conclusion: Concrete Rules and Abstract Machines
-Mohanbhan (talk) 05:34, 12 July 2015 (UTC)
My view remains that a table of contents is unnecessary cruft. External links can probably best go in the external links section, per WP:EL. If you disagree you might want to ask for a third opinion. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 07:04, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
If the TOC is just a list one can dismiss it as "cruft" but one that is hyperlinked -- esp. in the context of this article -- would be of central importance. External links you say can go the ext links section but where do you propose to accommodate the internal links: Rhizome, Signs, Body without Organs, In the Cage, The Crack-Up? ATP is a very unconventional book written by two "anarchist" philosophers in a very unconventional fashion. That it follows a hypertext aesthetic has been remarked in the article itself. The whole purpose of ATP is to demonstrate the possibility of rhizomatic thought. So I am a little surprised by this stubborn insistence on not including a hyperlinked TOC---especially when the article is a stub which says little or nothing about a book as rich and overflowing with ideas as ATP. A previous editor too, I notice, has discouraged editors from contributing to this article by writing chapter-wise summaries. This article needs to be improved with plateau-wise summaries but until that is done the TOC can be restored. -Mohanbhan (talk) 07:49, 13 July 2015 (UTC)
Internal links can easily go in the see also section. I cannot see any rationale for restoring a table of contents when it is only going to be removed again in future. At this stage, I would suggest asking for a third opinion: see WP:3O. FreeKnowledgeCreator (talk) 03:45, 14 July 2015 (UTC)
Well, I am not too keen on WP:3O as I see the TOC as only a temporary arrangement. So, as agreed, I will add the internal and external links to the relevant sections. -Mohanbhan (talk) 04:19, 14 July 2015 (UTC)