Killing Time: The Autobiography of Paul Feyerabend

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University of Chicago Press, Nov 15, 1996 - Philosophy - 216 pages
2 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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User Review  - timoroso - LibraryThing

Not really an autobiography you would expect from a philosopher. This is not a dense academic book but a relaxed and honest confession. Unlike Rousseau though, Feyerabend is funny too. It is difficult ... Read full review

KILLING TIME: The Autobiography of Paul Feyerabend

User Review  - Jane Doe - Kirkus

A fascinating memoir with an ending that will change many people's opinion about the Peck's bad boy of philosophy. Feyerabend (who died in 1994) was one of the gadflies of 20th- century philosophy of ... Read full review

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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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