Mr Sausage wrote:
I just have no patience when what should be perfectly readable papers and books are larded with jargon from popular continental philosophers like Lacan and Derrida and Foucault, ect. There is an ideological basis for this, since those thinkers tended to believe that clarity in prose was itself an ideological fiction, used in order to further the discourse of power, and therefore clarity ought to be avoided.
I've always found the argument to be completely bogus, and just an excuse for bad writing. Obfuscation perpetuates inequalities of power. In this respect, academic jargon functions pretty much in exactly the same way as legal jargon or bureaucratic jargon - it excludes those outside the elite.
And clarity is not an antonym of complexity.
Amen. As someone who's spent eight years of graduate work in philosophy (and will have a Ph.D. in a couple of weeks), I've never understood the writings of or cared for the style of any of the philosophers that you listed. I must admit to finding the first volume of Foucault's History of Sexuality
useful for a paper that I once wrote on Platonic prohibitions against homosexuality (which, by the way, he wished he could extend to all forms of sexuality. You can think of him as the more noble minded Rick Santorum of his day). Just sticking to history, Foucault was lucid and useful, but when I tried reading his introduction to the work it was completely incomprehensible.
There's a general belief amongst analytic philosophers that there is tradition in German thought, starting at least with Kant, that the more incomprehensible and unclear you are, the more profound you appear. You can actually see this with subsequent authors in continental tradition like Hegel (really, especially Hegel), Schopenhauer, and so on. When Nietzsche came along and melded philosophy with classicism, it only reinforced these ideas with his rejection of Socrates and all of his successors. Hence, you have Heidegger's interest in figures like Parmenides and Heraclitus, who were renowned in their day for their obscurity, but not
Plato, who was probably the clearest of all the ancients (although the original writings of Aristotle are said to have been very clear, they have, alas, not survived). We can then see this seep into the French tradition with Sartre (a student of Heidegger's), and from his to the post-structuralists and post-modernists. As someone who works primarily in analytic philosophy of language, epistemology, and ethics, I find most film theory rather disappointing in it's sacrifice of clarity and rigor for style and faux profundity.