Killing Time: The Autobiography of Paul Feyerabend

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University of Chicago Press, Nov 15, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 192 pages
10 Reviews
Killing Time is the story of Paul Feyerabend's life. Finished only weeks before his death in 1994, it is the self-portrait of one of this century's most original and influential intellectuals.

Trained in physics and astronomy, Feyerabend was best known as a philosopher of science. But he emphatically was not a builder of theories or a writer of rules. Rather, his fame was in powerful, plain-spoken critiques of "big" science and "big" philosophy. Feyerabend gave voice to a radically democratic "epistemological anarchism:" he argued forcefully that there is not one way to knowledge, but many principled paths; not one truth or one rationality but different, competing pictures of the workings of the world. "Anything goes," he said about the ways of science in his most famous book, Against Method. And he meant it.

Here, for the first time, Feyerabend traces the trajectory that led him from an isolated, lower-middle-class childhood in Vienna to the height of international academic success. He writes of his experience in the German army on the Russian front, where three bullets left him crippled, impotent, and in lifelong pain. He recalls his promising talent as an operatic tenor (a lifelong passion), his encounters with everyone from Martin Buber to Bertolt Brecht, innumerable love affairs, four marriages, and a career so rich he once held tenured positions at four universities at the same time.

Although not written as an intellectual autobiography, Killing Time sketches the people, ideas, and conflicts of sixty years. Feyerabend writes frankly of complicated relationships with his mentor Karl Popper and his friend and frequent opponent Imre Lakatos, and his reactions to a growing reputation as the "worst enemy of science."
  

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Review: Killing Time: The Autobiography of Paul Feyerabend

User Review  - Otto Lehto - Goodreads

A charmingly anecdotal, if somewhat scattered, autobiography of the great philosopher of science whose name has become synonymous with a dangerous anarchic attack on objective standards. (Just the ... Read full review

Review: Killing Time: The Autobiography of Paul Feyerabend

User Review  - mpacer - Goodreads

I wouldn't care about his book if I hadn't already really liked Feyerabend's work more generally (and even more so his influence on others, notably Ian Hacking). However, having now read it, I am very ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Family
1
Growing Up
11
High School
21
Occupation and War
36
Apolda and Weimar
54
University and Early Travels
62
Sex Song and Electrodynamics
79
London and After
87
Berkeley the First Twenty Years
111
London Berlin and New Zealand
127
Against Method
139
Brighton Kassel and Zurich
153
Marriage and Retirement
165
Fading Away
177
Postscript
183
Index
185

Bristol
101

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About the author (1996)

A controversial and influential voice in the philosophy of science, Paul K. Feyerabend was born and educated in Vienna. After military service during World War II and further study at the University of London, he returned to Vienna as a lecturer at the university. In 1959, having taught for several years at Bristol University in England, he came to the United States to join the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley, from which, after numerous visiting appointments elsewhere, he retired in 1990. Since the 1970s, Feyerabend has devoted much of his career to arguing that science as practiced cannot be described, let alone regulated, by any coherent methodology, whether understood historically, as in Thomas Kuhn's use of paradigms, or epistemologically, as in classical positivism and its offspring. He illustrates this stance on the dust jacket of one of his books, Against Method (1975), by publishing his horoscope in the place usually reserved for a biographical sketch of the author. In his entry in the Supplement to Who's Who in America, he is quoted as saying, "Leading intellectuals with their zeal for objectivity are criminals, not the liberators of mankind.

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