Modern philosophy of science has paid great attention to the understanding of scientific ‘practice’, in contrast to concentration on scientific ‘method’. Paul Feyerabend’s acclaimed work, which has contributed greatly to this new emphasis, shows the deficiencies of some widespread ideas about the nature of knowledge. He argues that the only feasible explanations of scientific successes are historical explanations, and that anarchism must now replace rationalism in the theory of knowledge.
The third edition of this classic text contains a new preface and additional reflections at various points in which the author takes account both of recent debates on science and on the impact of scientific products and practices on the human community. While disavowing populism or relativism, Feyerabend continues to insist that the voice of the inexpert must be heard. Thus many environmental perils were first identified by non-experts against prevailing assumptions in the scientific community. Feyerabend’s challenging reassessment of scientific claims and understandings are as pungent and timely as ever.
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LibraryThing ReviewUser Review - LibraryThing
Feyerabend intended this book as the initial salvo in what he and fellow philosopher of science Imre Lakatos had hoped to be an on-going exchange, until the latter's untimely death ended that possibility. What remains in Against Method reads as exactly that: a spirited argument directed at a spirited opponent. Lacking Lakatos's counter-arguments as balance, Feyerabend here reads as more provocative and idealistic than he may otherwise intend, and I believe this is important to realize before tackling his case. Feyerabend's notoriety originates squarely in his controversial thoughts on science, which earned him the dubious title of "science's worst enemy". These positions are made explicit here, and those who take for granted the objectivity and certainty of science will find little comfort. Feyerabend's argument centers on the privileged position afforded to science in largely secular, modern nations, a position he considers unfounded and, taken to logical conclusion, dehumanizing. Science often attempts to punch above its weight, he argues, and this is not only misleading -- as "the scientific method" is itself a myth -- but politically dangerous as we are meant to give priority to science over other forms of inquiry given that science is "objective". Against Method is a sustained attack on all of these premises, and Feyerabend's own "anarchistic" anything-goes, no-method methodology of scientific discovery. He clarifies in an early footnote that he is no political anarchist; his "anything goes" mantra is meant to apply to rational acquisition of knowledge, a position which he credits more to the surrealists of the Dada movement than to the Black Block. I'm not entirely persuaded by his argument, at least certain facets of it, but I do largely agree with his position against any universal methodology of science. It seems clear to me that all attempts to "explain science" have, to date, been unsuccessful (usefulness of these accounts is up for debate of course but none are without problems). I also share his skepticism about the creep of science into public policy -- not because policy should not be guided by objectively-grounded facts, but exactly because there is no clear definition of "science". The messy range of fields we call "science" can achieve a degree of corroboration and acceptance that we can venture a tenuous claim of "certainty", but to claim that this applies to anything baring resemblance to this hazy ideal is, at best, rosy-eyed optimism. I believe Feyerabend is right to point out these limitations, and that we should all take a longer pause before we jump on board with ideas that are "established" by scientific research. There are problems with Feyerabend's account, to be sure. As with so many works of philosophy the point is not to climb aboard with starry eyes, but to consider the arguments made and realize that perhaps there is something of use to take away and that perhaps your own certainties could stand further examination. In that respect, Against Method succeeds.
Review: Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of KnowledgeUser Review - Goodreads
Of course this book is famous for being extremely polemical. Feyerabend's famous "Anything goes" is all-but "anything goes." The crux of the argument here is whether or not science works the way that ...
Parts 120 14
Postscript on Relativism
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