Missing Camus

October 24, 1997

IN Stella Hughes's article "J'accuse: a history" (THES, October 10), she paraphrases Julia Kristeva's riposte to the chargeslevelled at her by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont. Kristeva points out that "the element that has been borrowed is no longer a model and the reflection that results is closer to poetic metaphor than to scientific modelling".

This is fair enough if it were only restricted to literary affairs. However, Ms Kristeva's work and that of other French literary theoreticians has had a much wider impact upon society.

Their work is in the main variants of discourse analysis seeking to deconstruct and dislodge the academies and institutions of the 1960s and before.

Sociology of science, the progeny of cultural theory and the bete noire of pure scientists, is anexample of the wider implications of such theories.

It probably provided the impetus for Sokal and others to trespass into the humanities.

Since the foundation of this new form of rhetoric is essentially ethical (seeking equality), any parody of its epistemological pretensions is misguided; one should instead focus upon morality.

Here one will find the majority of the French intelligentsia wanting.

What a pity there is no Albert Camus in their midst.

Stephen Pain Magdalen Road Norwich

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