Paul Feyerabend

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Paul Feyerabend
Paul Feyerabend Berkeley.jpg
Feyerabend at Berkeley
Born(1924-01-13)January 13, 1924
DiedFebruary 11, 1994(1994-02-11) (aged 70)
Alma mater London School of Economics
Era 20th-century philosophy
Region Western philosophy
School Analytic philosophy [1]
Epistemological anarchism
Main interests
Philosophy of science, epistemology, political philosophy
Notable ideas
Epistemological anarchism
Criticism of falsificationism Incommensurability

Paul Karl Feyerabend ( /ˈfaɪər.æbənd/ ; German: [ˈfaɪɐˌʔaːbn̩t] ; January 13, 1924 – February 11, 1994) was an Austrian-born philosopher of science best known for his work as a professor of philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked for three decades (1958–1989). At various different points in his life, he lived in England, the United States, New Zealand, Italy, Germany, and finally Switzerland. His major works include Against Method (published in 1975), Science in a Free Society (published in 1978) and Farewell to Reason (a collection of papers published in 1987). Feyerabend became famous for his purportedly anarchistic view of science and his rejection of the existence of universal methodological rules. [2] He was an influential figure in the sociology of scientific knowledge. Asteroid (22356) Feyerabend is named in his honour. [3]

Austria Federal republic in Central Europe

Austria, formal name: the Republic of Austria, is a country in Central Europe comprising 9 federated states. Its capital, largest city and one of nine states is Vienna. Austria has an area of 83,879 km2 (32,386 sq mi), a population of nearly 9 million people and a nominal GDP of $477 billion. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Hungary and Slovakia to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the west. The terrain is landlocked and highly mountainous, lying within the Alps; only 32% of the country is below 500 m (1,640 ft), and its highest point is 3,798 m (12,461 ft). The majority of the population speaks local Bavarian dialects as their native language, and German in its standard form is the country's official language. Other regional languages are Hungarian, Burgenland Croatian, and Slovene.

University of California, Berkeley Public university in California, USA

The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university in Berkeley, California. It was founded in 1868 and serves as the flagship institution of the ten research universities affiliated with the University of California system. Berkeley has since grown to instruct over 40,000 students in approximately 350 undergraduate and graduate degree programs covering numerous disciplines.

New Zealand Country in Oceania

New Zealand is a sovereign island country in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. The country geographically comprises two main landmasses—the North Island, and the South Island —and around 600 smaller islands. New Zealand is situated some 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) east of Australia across the Tasman Sea and roughly 1,000 kilometres (600 mi) south of the Pacific island areas of New Caledonia, Fiji, and Tonga. Because of its remoteness, it was one of the last lands to be settled by humans. During its long period of isolation, New Zealand developed a distinct biodiversity of animal, fungal, and plant life. The country's varied topography and its sharp mountain peaks, such as the Southern Alps, owe much to the tectonic uplift of land and volcanic eruptions. New Zealand's capital city is Wellington, while its most populous city is Auckland.

Contents

Biography

Early life

Feyerabend was born in 1924 in Vienna, where he attended primary and high school. In this period he got into the habit of frequent reading, developed an interest in theatre, and started singing lessons. After graduating from high school in April 1942 he was drafted into the German Arbeitsdienst. After basic training in Pirmasens, Germany, he was assigned to a unit in Quelern en Bas, near Brest (France). Feyerabend described the work he did during that period as monotonous: "we moved around in the countryside, dug ditches, and filled them up again." After a short leave he joined the army and volunteered for officer school. In his autobiography he writes that he hoped the war would be over by the time he had finished his education as an officer. This turned out not to be the case. From December 1943 on, he served as an officer on the northern part of the Eastern Front, was decorated with an Iron cross, and attained the rank of lieutenant. When the German army started its retreat from the advancing Red Army, Feyerabend was hit by three bullets while directing traffic. One bullet hit him in the spine. As a consequence he needed to walk with a stick for the rest of his life and frequently experienced severe pain. He spent the rest of the war recovering from his wounds.

Vienna Capital city and state in Austria

Vienna is the federal capital, largest city and one of nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primate city, with a population of about 1.9 million, and its cultural, economic, and political centre. It is the 7th-largest city by population within city limits in the European Union. Until the beginning of the 20th century, it was the largest German-speaking city in the world, and before the splitting of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in World War I, the city had 2 million inhabitants. Today, it has the second largest number of German speakers after Berlin. Vienna is host to many major international organizations, including the United Nations and OPEC. The city is located in the eastern part of Austria and is close to the borders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. These regions work together in a European Centrope border region. Along with nearby Bratislava, Vienna forms a metropolitan region with 3 million inhabitants. In 2001, the city centre was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In July 2017 it was moved to the list of World Heritage in Danger.

Pirmasens Place in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany

Pirmasens is an independent town in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany, near the border with France. It was famous for the manufacture of shoes. The surrounding rural district was called Landkreis Pirmasens from 1818 until 1997, when it was renamed to Südwestpfalz.

Brest, France Subprefecture and commune in Brittany, France

Brest is a city in the Finistère département in Brittany. Located in a sheltered bay not far from the western tip of the peninsula, and the western extremity of metropolitan France, Brest is an important harbour and the second French military port after Toulon. The city is located on the western edge of continental Europe. With 142,722 inhabitants in a 2007 census, Brest is at the centre of Western Brittany's largest metropolitan area, ranking third behind only Nantes and Rennes in the whole of historic Brittany, and the 19th most populous city in France; moreover, Brest provides services to the one million inhabitants of Western Brittany. Although Brest is by far the largest city in Finistère, the préfecture of the department is the much smaller Quimper.

Post–WWII and university

When the war was over, Feyerabend first got a temporary job in Apolda where he wrote plays. He was influenced by the Marxist playwright Bertolt Brecht and was invited by Brecht to be his assistant at the East Berlin State Opera but turned down the offer. Feyerabend took various classes at the Weimar Academy, and returned to Vienna to study history and sociology. He became dissatisfied, however, and soon transferred to physics, where he met Felix Ehrenhaft, a physicist whose experiments would influence his later views on the nature of science. Feyerabend changed his course of studies to philosophy and submitted his final thesis on observation sentences. In his autobiography, he described his philosophical views during this time as "staunchly empiricist". In 1948 he visited the first Alpbach Forum [4] [ circular reference ] in Alpbach. There Feyerabend first met Karl Popper, who had a "positive" (early Popper), as well as "negative" (later Popper) effect on him. In 1949 he was a founding member of the Kraft Circle. In 1951, Feyerabend was granted a British Council scholarship to study under Wittgenstein. However, Wittgenstein died before Feyerabend moved to England. Feyerabend then chose Popper as his supervisor instead, and went to study at the London School of Economics in 1952. In his autobiography, Feyerabend explains that during this time, he was influenced by Popper: "I had fallen for [Popper's ideas]". After that, Feyerabend returned to Vienna and was involved in various projects; a translation of Karl Popper's Open Society and its Enemies, hunting down manuscripts Popper had left in Vienna, a report on the development of the humanities in Austria, and several articles for an encyclopedia.

Apolda Place in Thuringia, Germany

Apolda is a town in central Thuringia, Germany, the capital of the Weimarer Land district. It is situated in the center of the triangle Weimar–Jena–Naumburg near the river Ilm, c. 15 kilometres east by north from Weimar. Apolda station lies on the Halle–Bebra railway, which is part of the main line from Berlin to Frankfurt.

Bertolt Brecht German poet, playwright, theatre director

Eugen Berthold Friedrich Brecht, known professionally as Bertolt Brecht, was a German theatre practitioner, playwright, and poet.

Berlin State Opera opera house

The Berlin State Opera is a German opera company based in Berlin. Its permanent home is the Staatsoper Unter den Linden, commonly referred to as Lindenoper, in the central Mitte district, which also hosts the Staatskapelle Berlin orchestra. Originally the Hofoper from 1742, it was named Königliches Opernhaus in 1844, and Staatsoper Unter den Linden in 1918. From 1949 to 1990 it housed the state opera of East Germany. Since 2004, the State Opera company belongs to the Berlin Opera Foundation, like the Deutsche Oper Berlin, the Komische Oper Berlin, the Berlin State Ballet, and the Bühnenservice Berlin.

Academia

Feyerabend later in life. Photograph by Grazia Borrini-Feyerabend Paul Feyerabend 2.jpg
Feyerabend later in life. Photograph by Grazia Borrini-Feyerabend

In 1955, Feyerabend received his first academic appointment at the University of Bristol, where he gave lectures about the philosophy of science. Later in his life he worked as a professor (or equivalent) at Berkeley, Auckland, Kassel, [5] Sussex, Yale, London, Berlin and ETH Zurich. During this time, he developed a critical view of science, which he later described as 'anarchistic' or 'dadaistic' to illustrate his rejection of the dogmatic use of rules, a position incompatible with the contemporary rationalistic culture in the philosophy of science. At the London School of Economics, Feyerabend met a colleague of K. R. Popper, Imre Lakatos with whom he planned to write a dialogue volume in which Lakatos would defend a rationalist view of science and Feyerabend would attack it. This planned joint publication was put to an end by Lakatos's sudden death in 1974. Against Method became a famous criticism of current philosophical views of science and provoked many reactions. In his autobiography, he reveals that the energy in his writings came at great cost to himself:

University of Bristol research university located in Bristol, United Kingdom

The University of Bristol is a red brick research university located in Bristol, United Kingdom. It received its royal charter in 1909, although like the University of the West of England and the University of Bath, it can trace its roots to the Merchant Venturers' Technical College, founded as a school in 1595 by the Society of Merchant Venturers. Its key predecessor institution, University College, Bristol, had been in existence since 1876.

Philosophy of science is a sub-field of philosophy concerned with the foundations, methods, and implications of science. The central questions of this study concern what qualifies as science, the reliability of scientific theories, and the ultimate purpose of science. This discipline overlaps with metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology, for example, when it explores the relationship between science and truth.

University of Auckland University in New Zealand

The University of Auckland is the largest university in New Zealand, located in the country's largest city, Auckland. It is the highest-ranked university in the country, being ranked 85th worldwide in the 2018/19 QS World University Rankings. Established in 1883 as a constituent college of the University of New Zealand, the university is made up of eight faculties; these are spread over six campuses. It has more than 40,000 students, and more than 30,000 "equivalent full-time" students.

The depression stayed with me for over a year; it was like an animal, a well-defined, spatially localizable thing. I would wake up, open my eyes, listen – Is it here or isn't? No sign of it. Perhaps it's asleep. Perhaps it will leave me alone today. Carefully, very carefully, I get out of bed. All is quiet. I go to the kitchen, start breakfast. Not a sound. TV – Good Morning America –, David What's-his-name, a guy I can't stand. I eat and watch the guests. Slowly the food fills my stomach and gives me strength. Now a quick excursion to the bathroom, and out for my morning walk – and here she is, my faithful depression: "Did you think you could leave without me?"

From his autobiography, Killing Time

Feyerabend moved to the University of California, Berkeley in California in 1958 and became a U.S. citizen. Following (visiting) professorships (or their equivalent) at University College London, Berlin, and Yale, he taught at the University of Auckland, New Zealand in 1972 and 1974, always returning to California. He later enjoyed alternating between posts at ETH Zurich and Berkeley through the 1980s but left Berkeley for good in October 1989, first to Italy, then finally to Zurich. After his retirement in 1991, Feyerabend continued to publish frequent papers and worked on his autobiography. After a short period of suffering from a brain tumor, he died in 1994 at the Genolier Clinic, overlooking Lake Geneva, Switzerland.

California State of the United States of America

California is a state in the Pacific Region of the United States. With 39.6 million residents, California is the most populous U.S. state and the third-largest by area. The state capital is Sacramento. The Greater Los Angeles Area and the San Francisco Bay Area are the nation's second- and fifth-most populous urban regions, with 18.7 million and 9.7 million residents respectively. Los Angeles is California's most populous city, and the country's second-most populous, after New York City. California also has the nation's most populous county, Los Angeles County, and its largest county by area, San Bernardino County. The City and County of San Francisco is both the country's second-most densely populated major city after New York City and the fifth-most densely populated county, behind only four of the five New York City boroughs.

University College London, which has operated under the official name of UCL since 2005, is a public research university located in London, United Kingdom. It is a constituent college of the federal University of London, and is the third largest university in the United Kingdom by total enrolment, and the largest by postgraduate enrolment.

Yale University private research university in New Haven, Connecticut, United States

Yale University is a private Ivy League research university in New Haven, Connecticut. Founded in 1701, it is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine Colonial Colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

Thought

Philosophy of science

Nature of scientific method

In his books Against Method and Science in a Free Society Feyerabend defended the idea that there are no methodological rules which are always used by scientists. He objected to any single prescriptive scientific method on the grounds that any such method would limit the activities of scientists, and hence restrict scientific progress. In his view, science would benefit most from a "dose" of theoretical anarchism. He also thought that theoretical anarchism was desirable because it was more humanitarian than other systems of organization, by not imposing rigid rules on scientists.

Methodology is the systematic, theoretical analysis of the methods applied to a field of study. It comprises the theoretical analysis of the body of methods and principles associated with a branch of knowledge. Typically, it encompasses concepts such as paradigm, theoretical model, phases and quantitative or qualitative techniques.

Scientific method Interplay between observation, experiment and theory in science

The scientific method is an empirical method of acquiring knowledge that has characterized the development of science since at least the 17th century. It involves careful observation, applying rigorous skepticism about what is observed, given that cognitive assumptions can distort how one interprets the observation. It involves formulating hypotheses, via induction, based on such observations; experimental and measurement-based testing of deductions drawn from the hypotheses; and refinement of the hypotheses based on the experimental findings. These are principles of the scientific method, as distinguished from a definitive series of steps applicable to all scientific enterprises.

Anarchism is an anti-authoritarian political philosophy that advocates self-managed, self-governed societies based on voluntary, cooperative institutions and the rejection of hierarchies those societies view as unjust. These institutions are often described as stateless societies, although several authors have defined them more specifically as distinct institutions based on non-hierarchical or free associations. Anarchism holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary and harmful.

For is it not possible that science as we know it today, or a "search for the truth" in the style of traditional philosophy, will create a monster? Is it not possible that an objective approach that frowns upon personal connections between the entities examined will harm people, turn them into miserable, unfriendly, self-righteous mechanisms without charm or humour? "Is it not possible," asks Kierkegaard, "that my activity as an objective [or critico-rational] observer of nature will weaken my strength as a human being?" I suspect the answer to many of these questions is affirmative and I believe that a reform of the sciences that makes them more anarchic and more subjective (in Kierkegaard's sense) is urgently needed. Against Method. p. 154.

Feyerabend's position was originally seen as radical in the philosophy of science, because it implies that philosophy can neither succeed in providing a general description of science, nor in devising a method for differentiating products of science from non-scientific entities like myths. (Feyerabend's position also implies that philosophical guidelines should be ignored by scientists, if they are to aim for progress.)

To support his position that methodological rules generally do not contribute to scientific success, Feyerabend provides counterexamples to the claim that (good) science operates according to a certain fixed method. He took some examples of episodes in science that are generally regarded as indisputable instances of progress (e.g. the Copernican revolution), and showed that all common prescriptive rules of science are violated in such circumstances. Moreover, he claimed that applying such rules in these historical situations would actually have prevented scientific revolution.

One of the criteria for evaluating scientific theories that Feyerabend attacks is the consistency criterion. He points out that to insist that new theories be consistent with old theories gives an unreasonable advantage to the older theory. He makes the logical point that being compatible with a defunct older theory does not increase the validity or truth of a new theory over an alternative covering the same content. That is, if one had to choose between two theories of equal explanatory power, to choose the one that is compatible with an older, falsified theory is to make an aesthetic, rather than a rational choice. The familiarity of such a theory might also make it more appealing to scientists, since they will not have to disregard as many cherished prejudices. Hence, that theory can be said to have "an unfair advantage".

Feyerabend was also critical of falsificationism. He argued that no interesting theory is ever consistent with all the relevant facts. This would rule out using a naïve falsificationist rule which says that scientific theories should be rejected if they do not agree with known facts. Feyerabend uses several examples, but "renormalization" in quantum mechanics provides an example of his intentionally provocative style: "This procedure consists in crossing out the results of certain calculations and replacing them by a description of what is actually observed. Thus one admits, implicitly, that the theory is in trouble while formulating it in a manner suggesting that a new principle has been discovered" Against Method. p. 61. Feyerabend is not advocating that scientists do not make use of renormalization or other ad hoc methods. Instead, he is arguing that such methods are essential to the progress of science for several reasons. One of these reasons is that progress in science is uneven. For instance, in the time of Galileo, optical theory could not account for phenomena that were observed by means of telescopes. So, astronomers who used telescopic observation had to use ad hoc rules until they could justify their assumptions by means of optical theory.

Feyerabend was critical of any guideline that aimed to judge the quality of scientific theories by comparing them to known facts. He thought that previous theory might influence natural interpretations of observed phenomena. Scientists necessarily make implicit assumptions when comparing scientific theories to facts that they observe. Such assumptions need to be changed in order to make the new theory compatible with observations. The main example of the influence of natural interpretations that Feyerabend provided was the tower argument. The tower argument was one of the main objections against the theory of a moving earth. Aristotelians assumed that the fact that a stone which is dropped from a tower lands directly beneath it shows that the earth is stationary. They thought that, if the earth moved while the stone was falling, the stone would have been "left behind". Objects would fall diagonally instead of vertically. Since this does not happen, Aristotelians thought that it was evident that the earth did not move. If one uses ancient theories of impulse and relative motion, the Copernican theory indeed appears to be falsified by the fact that objects fall vertically on earth. This observation required a new interpretation to make it compatible with Copernican theory. Galileo was able to make such a change about the nature of impulse and relative motion. Before such theories were articulated, Galileo had to make use of ad hoc methods and proceed counterinductively. So, "ad hoc" hypotheses actually have a positive function: they temporarily make a new theory compatible with facts until the theory to be defended can be supported by other theories.

Feyerabend commented on the Galileo affair as follows:

The church at the time of Galileo was much more faithful to reason than Galileo himself, and also took into consideration the ethical and social consequences of Galileo's doctrine. Its verdict against Galileo was rational and just, and revisionism can be legitimized solely for motives of political opportunism. [6] [7] [8]

Together these remarks sanction the introduction of theories that are inconsistent with well-established facts. Furthermore, a pluralistic methodology that involves making comparisons between any theories at all forces defendants to improve the articulation of each theory. In this way, scientific pluralism improves the critical power of science. Pope Benedict XVI cited Feyerabend to this effect. [9]

According to Feyerabend, new theories came to be accepted not because of their accord with scientific method, but because their supporters made use of any trick – rational, rhetorical or ribald – in order to advance their cause. Without a fixed ideology, or the introduction of religious tendencies, the only approach which does not inhibit progress (using whichever definition one sees fit) is "anything goes": "'anything goes' is not a 'principle' I hold... but the terrified exclamation of a rationalist who takes a closer look at history." (Feyerabend, 1975).

Feyerabend considered the possibility of incommensurability, but he was hesitant in his application of the concept. He wrote that "it is hardly ever possible to give an explicit definition of [incommensurability]" Against Method. p. 225., because it involves covert classifications and major conceptual changes. He also was critical of attempts to capture incommensurability in a logical framework, since he thought of incommensurability as a phenomenon outside the domain of logic. In the second appendix of Against Method (p. 114), Feyerabend states, "I never said... that any two rival theories are incommensurable... What I did say was that certain rival theories, so-called 'universal' theories, or 'non-instantial' theories, if interpreted in a certain way, could not be compared easily." Incommensurability did not concern Feyerabend greatly, because he believed that even when theories are commensurable (i.e. can be compared), the outcome of the comparison should not necessarily rule out either theory. To rephrase: when theories are incommensurable, they cannot rule each other out, and when theories are commensurable, they cannot rule each other out. Assessments of (in)commensurability, therefore, don't have much effect in Feyerabend's system, and can be more or less passed over in silence.

In Against Method Feyerabend claimed that Imre Lakatos's philosophy of research programmes is actually "anarchism in disguise", because it does not issue orders to scientists. Feyerabend playfully dedicated Against Method to "Imre Lakatos: Friend, and fellow-anarchist". One interpretation is that Lakatos's philosophy of mathematics and science was based on creative transformations of Hegelian historiographic ideas, many associated with Lakatos's teacher in Hungary Georg Lukács. Feyerabend's debate with Lakatos on scientific method recapitulates the debate of Lukács and (Feyerabend's would-be mentor) Brecht, over aesthetics several decades earlier.

While Feyerabend described himself as an "epistemological anarchist", he explicitly disavowed being a "political anarchist". [10] Some anarchist-leaning critics of science have agreed with this distinction, [11] [12] while others have argued that political anarchism is tacitly embedded in Feyerabend's philosophy of science. [13]

The decline of the physicist-philosopher

Feyerabend was critical of the lack of knowledge of philosophy shown by the generation of physicists that emerged after World War II:

The withdrawal of philosophy into a "professional" shell of its own has had disastrous consequences. The younger generation of physicists, the Feynmans, the Schwingers, etc., may be very bright; they may be more intelligent than their predecessors, than Bohr, Einstein, Schrödinger, Boltzmann, Mach and so on. But they are uncivilized savages, they lack in philosophical depth – and this is the fault of the very same idea of professionalism which you are now defending. [14]

On the other hand, Feyerabend was himself heavily criticized for his misrepresentation of the practices, methods and goals of some of the above-mentioned scientists, especially Mach and Einstein. [15]

Role of science in society

Feyerabend described science as being essentially anarchistic, obsessed with its own mythology, and as making claims to truth well beyond its actual capacity. He was especially indignant about the condescending attitudes of many scientists towards alternative traditions. For example, he thought that negative opinions about astrology and the effectivity of rain dances were not justified by scientific research, and dismissed the predominantly negative attitudes of scientists towards such phenomena as elitist or racist. In his opinion, science has become a repressing ideology, even though it arguably started as a liberating movement. Feyerabend thought that a pluralistic society should be protected from being influenced too much by science, just as it is protected from other ideologies.

Starting from the argument that a historical universal scientific method does not exist, Feyerabend argues that science does not deserve its privileged status in western society. Since scientific points of view do not arise from using a universal method which guarantees high quality conclusions, he thought that there is no justification for valuing scientific claims over claims by other ideologies like religions. Feyerabend also argued that scientific accomplishments such as the moon landings are no compelling reason to give science a special status. In his opinion, it is not fair to use scientific assumptions about which problems are worth solving in order to judge the merit of other ideologies. Additionally, success by scientists has traditionally involved non-scientific elements, such as inspiration from mythical or religious sources.

Based on these arguments, Feyerabend defended the idea that science should be separated from the state in the same way that religion and state are separated in a modern secular society (Against Method (3rd ed.). p. 160.). He envisioned a "free society" in which "all traditions have equal rights and equal access to the centres of power" (Science in a Free Society. p. 9.). For example, parents should be able to determine the ideological context of their children's education, instead of having limited options because of scientific standards. According to Feyerabend, science should also be subjected to democratic control: not only should the subjects that are investigated by scientists be determined by popular election, scientific assumptions and conclusions should also be supervised by committees of lay people.[ citation needed ] He thought that citizens should use their own principles when making decisions about these matters. He rejected the view that science is especially "rational" on the grounds that there is no single common "rational" ingredient that unites all the sciences but excludes other modes of thought (Against Method (3rd ed.). p. 246.).

Philosophy of mind

Along with a number of mid-20th century philosophers (most notably, Wilfrid Sellars, Willard Van Orman Quine, and Richard Rorty), Feyerabend was influential in the development of eliminative materialism, a radical position in the philosophy of mind that holds that our ordinary, common-sense understanding of the mind (what materialist monists call "folk psychology") is false. It is succinctly described by a modern proponent, Paul Churchland, as follows:

"Eliminative materialism is the thesis that our commonsense conception of psychological phenomena constitutes a radically false theory, a theory so fundamentally defective that both the principles and the ontology of that theory will eventually be displaced, rather than smoothly reduced, by completed neuroscience." [16]

In three short papers published in the early sixties, [17] [18] [19] Feyerabend sought to defend materialism against the supposition that the mind cannot be a physical thing. Feyerabend suggested that our commonsense understanding of the mind was incommensurable with the (materialistic) scientific view, but that nevertheless we ought to prefer the materialistic one on general methodological grounds.

This view of the mind/body problem is widely considered one of Feyerabend's most important legacies. Even though Feyerabend himself seems to have given it up in the late 1970s, it was taken up by Richard Rorty and, more recently, by Patricia Churchland and Paul Churchland. In fact, as Keeley observes, [20] "PMC [Paul Churchland] has spent much of his career carrying the Feyerabend mantle forward" (p. 13).

Other works

Some of Feyerabend's work concerns the way in which people's perception of reality is influenced by various rules. In his last book, unfinished when he died, he talks of how our sense of reality is shaped and limited. Conquest of Abundance: A Tale of Abstraction versus the Richness of Being bemoans the propensity we have of institutionalizing these limitations.

The last philosophy book that Feyerabend finished is The Tyranny of Science (written 1993, published May 13, 2011). In it Feyerabend challenges what he sees in his view as some modern myths about science, e.g., he believes that the statement 'science is successful' is a myth. He argues that some very basic assumptions about science are simply false and that substantial parts of scientific ideology were created on the basis of superficial generalizations that led to absurd misconceptions about the nature of human life. He claims that far from solving the pressing problems of our age, scientific theorizing glorifies ephemeral generalities at the cost of confronting the real particulars that make life meaningful.

The book On the Warrior's Path quotes Feyerabend, highlighting the similarities between his epistemology and Bruce Lee's worldview. [21] In a 2015 retrospective on Thomas Kuhn's theory of paradigm shifts in social science, [22] the philosopher Martin Cohen cites several of Feyerabend's sceptical positions on conventional claims at scientific knowledge and agrees with Feyerabend that Thomas Kuhn himself had only a very hazy idea of what this notion of paradigm shifts' might mean, and that Kuhn essentially retreated from the more radical implications of his theory, which were that scientific facts are never really more than opinions, whose popularity is transitory and far from conclusive. Cohen says that although in their lifetimes, Kuhn and Feyerabend made up two viciously opposed sects, they agreed that science consists of long periods of settled agreement (so-called 'normal science') punctuated by radical, conceptual upheaval (so-called paradigm shifts).

Quotations

Selected bibliography

Books

Articles

See also

Related Research Articles

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Imre Lakatos Hungarian mathematician, philosopher

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Scientism is an ideology that promotes science as the purportedly objective means by which society should determine normative and epistemological values. The term scientism is generally used critically, pointing to the cosmetic application of science in unwarranted situations not amenable to application of the scientific method or similar scientific standards.

<i>The Structure of Scientific Revolutions</i> book by Thomas S. Kuhn

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is a book about the history of science by the philosopher Thomas S. Kuhn. Its publication was a landmark event in the history, philosophy, and sociology of scientific knowledge. Kuhn challenged the then prevailing view of progress in "normal science". Normal scientific progress was viewed as "development-by-accumulation" of accepted facts and theories. Kuhn argued for an episodic model in which periods of such conceptual continuity in normal science were interrupted by periods of revolutionary science. The discovery of "anomalies" during revolutions in science leads to new paradigms. New paradigms then ask new questions of old data, move beyond the mere "puzzle-solving" of the previous paradigm, change the rules of the game and the "map" directing new research.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to scientific method:

The demarcation problem in the philosophy of science and epistemology is about how to distinguish between science and non-science, including between science, pseudoscience, and other products of human activity, like art and literature, and beliefs. The debate continues after over two millennia of dialogue among philosophers of science and scientists in various fields, and despite a broad agreement on the basics of the scientific method.

Commensurability is a concept in the philosophy of science whereby scientific theories are commensurable if scientists can discuss them using a shared nomenclature that allows direct comparison of theories to determine which theory is more valid or useful. On the other hand, theories are incommensurable if they are embedded in starkly contrasting conceptual frameworks whose languages do not overlap sufficiently to permit scientists to directly compare the theories or to cite empirical evidence favoring one theory over the other. Discussed by Ludwik Fleck in the 1930s, and popularized by Thomas Kuhn in the 1960s, the problem of incommensurability results in scientists talking past each other, as it were, while comparison of theories is muddled by confusions about terms, contexts and consequences.

<i>Against Method</i> book by Paul Feyerabend

Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge is a 1975 book about the philosophy of science by Paul Feyerabend, in which the author argues that science is an anarchic enterprise, not a nomic (customary) one. In the context of this work, the term anarchy refers to epistemological anarchy.

In computer science, the scientific community metaphor is a metaphor used to aid understanding scientific communities. The first publications on the scientific community metaphor in 1981 and 1982 involved the development of a programming language named Ether that invoked procedural plans to process goals and assertions concurrently by dynamically creating new rules during program execution. Ether also addressed issues of conflict and contradiction with multiple sources of knowledge and multiple viewpoints.

Rhetoric of science is a body of scholarly literature exploring the notion that the practice of science is a rhetorical activity. It emerged following a number of similarly-oriented disciplines during the late 20th century, including the disciplines of sociology of scientific knowledge, history of science, and philosophy of science, but it is practiced most fully by rhetoricians in departments of English, speech, and communication.

Theory choice was a main problem in the philosophy of science in the early 20th century, and under the impact of the new and controversial theories of relativity and quantum physics, came to involve how scientists should choose between competing theories.

Epistemological anarchism

Epistemological anarchism is an epistemological theory advanced by Austrian philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend which holds that there are no useful and exception-free methodological rules governing the progress of science or the growth of knowledge. It holds that the idea of the operation of science by fixed, universal rules is unrealistic, pernicious, and detrimental to science itself.

Donald A. Gillies is a British philosopher and historian of science and mathematics. He is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Science and Technology Studies at University College, London.

An index list of articles about the philosophy of science.

Criticism of science

Criticism of science addresses problems within science in order to improve science as a whole and its role in society.

John W. N. Watkins philosopher and professor

John William Nevill Watkins was an English philosopher, a professor at the London School of Economics from 1966 until his retirement in 1989 and a prominent proponent of critical rationalism.

Bold hypothesis is a concept in the philosophy of science of Karl Popper, first explained in his debut The Logic of Scientific Discovery (1935) and subsequently elaborated in writings such as Conjectures and Refutations: The Growth of Scientific Knowledge (1963). The concept is nowadays widely used in the philosophy of science and in the philosophy of knowledge. It is also used in the social and behavioural sciences.

References

  1. Hoyningen-Huene, P., 1999, "Feyerabends Kritik an Kuhns normaler Wissenschaft", in J. Nida-Rümelin (ed.), Rationality, Realism, Revision: Proceedings of the 3rd international congress of the Society for Analytical Philosophy, Berlin: de Gruyter.
  2. J., Horgan (1993). "Profile: Paul Karl Feyerabend – The Worst Enemy of Science". Scientific American . 268 (5): 36–37. Bibcode:1993SciAm.268e..36H. doi:10.1038/scientificamerican0593-36.
  3. "(22356) Feyerabend = 1992 WS6". International Astronomy Union.
  4. European Forum Alpbach
  5. "Paul Feyerabend und die Demokratisierung des Wissens" (PDF). SWR2-Wissen. SWR2. Feb 11, 2014. Retrieved June 6, 2017.
  6. Ratzinger (1994, p.98)
  7. "Papal visit scuppered by scholars". BBC News. 2008-01-15.
  8. Matera, Angelo (2008-01-29). "The Death of Irony: Benedict and the Enemies of Reason". National Catholic Register. EWTN News. Archived from the original on 2008-02-03. Retrieved 2008-02-15.
  9. Hickey, T. J. (2009). "Understanding Feyerabend on Galileo". Irish Theological Quarterly. 74: 89. doi:10.1177/0021140008098846.
  10. Feyerabend, Paul (1978). Science in a Free Society. London: New Left Books. ISBN   0860910083. OCLC   4653967.
  11. Martin, B. (1994). "Anarchist science policy". The Raven: Anarchist Quarterly. 7: 136–153.
  12. Restivo, S. (1994). "Science, sociology of science, and the anarchist tradition". The Raven: Anarchist Quarterly. 7: 183–196.
  13. Thorpe, C.; Welsh, I. (Spring 2008). "Beyond primitivism: Towards a twenty-first century anarchist theory and praxis for science and technology". Anarchist Studies. Lawrence & Wishart. 16 (1): 48–75. ISBN   9781905007776.
  14. For and Against Method. The comments appeared in a 1969 letter to Feyerabend's Berkeley philosophy chair Wallace Matson, which is reproduced in Appendix B of the book.
  15. See, e.g., Hentschel (1985) for a point-by-point-refutation of one of Feyeraband's provocative papers on these two scientist-philosophers.
  16. Churchland, Paul M. (January 1990). A neurocomputational perspective: the nature of mind and the structure of science. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press. ISBN   9780262031516.
  17. Feyerabend, Paul K. (1962). Feigl, H.; Maxwell, G. (eds.). "Explanation, reduction, and empiricism". Scientific Explanation, Space & Time. Minnesota studies in the philosophy of science. Minneapolis. 3: 28–97.
  18. Feyerabend, Paul (1963a). "Materialism and the mind-body problem". Review of Metaphysics. 17 (1): 49–66. JSTOR   20123984.
  19. Feyerabend, Paul K (1963b). "Comment: Mental events and the brain". The Journal of Philosophy. LX (11). JSTOR   2023030.
  20. Keeley, Brian L. (2006). "Introduction: Becoming Paul Churchland". In Keeley, Brian L. (ed.). Paul Churchland. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1–31. ISBN   978-0-521-83011-9.
  21. Bolelli, Daniele (2008). On the warrior's path: philosophy, fighting, and martial arts mythology (2nd ed.). Berkeley, Calif.: Blue Snake. pp. 153–184, esp. 171–177. ISBN   978-1583942192.
  22. Paradigm Shift: How Expert Opinions Keep Changing on Life, the Universe and Everything. Imprint Academic. 1 September 2015. pp. 181–2. ISBN   1845407946.
  23. 1 2 Feyerabend, Paul (1975). "How to defend society against science". Radical Philosophy. 11 (1).

Further reading