Education Paul Feyerabend Against Method Pdf


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Paul Feyerabend , , 'Paul,' he said, 'you have such strange ideas. . Many things have happened since I first published Against Method. OF KNOWLEDGE, by Paul K. Feyerabend, London: New Left . Feyerabend is against all method and for as much and as. complete liberty as. 7e/

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not work without it. Against method: outline of an anarchistic theory of knowledge. Feyerabend, Paul K. (University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, ). Thumbnail. View/Download file. (Mb application/pdf). MELISSA SMITH University of Manchester PAUL FEYERABEND, Against Method . London and New York: Verso, Pp. xxxii + ISBN After Popper, Kuhn and Feyerabend: Recent Issues in Theories of Scientific Method. Dordrecht/Boston/London: Kluwer Academic Publishers. pp.

Feyerabend was an enthusiast for the sciences, but was never able to embrace them uncritically. He insisted that an understanding of the nature and value of science will depend upon both historical and philosophical inquiries.

Responding to a positivist climate which is now largely passed, Feyerabend insisted that the sciences had to be understood within their social and intellectual contexts. The core thesis of Against Method is as simple as it is striking. It relies upon an often unstable interaction of formal and informal methodologies, contingent social and material conditions, and a host of implicit and explicit intellectual conditions.

This philosophical claim is illustrated with a long case study of Galileo. He always sought to connect and illustrate abstract philosophical concerns with rich historical examples and thought that each was impoverished without the other.

Today, he enjoys or suffers a reputation as an iconoclast, a cultural relativist, an enthusiast for voodoo and astrology, and the like. Much of this bad reputation is due to his rhetorical excesses and occasional intellectual sloppiness. This fourth edition, for instance, preserves the claim that science is simply one epistemic tradition amongst others Chapter 18 and repeats the notorious call for the separation of science from the state Chapter Such remarks may excite and frustrate us, but few take them seriously — and with good reason.

But Feyerabend should not be judged guilty as charged. His initial motivation for making such outrageous claims was, as he cheerfully admits, to shock and upset staid philosophers of science, rather than to indicate his enthusiasm for them. For sure, Feyerabend too often succumbs to rhetoric and polemic, but, so he thinks, with good cause: motivating people to ask the questions of what science is and what is so great about it are, to his mind, far more important than boring conformity to scholarly decorum.

But his sense of the world's inexplicability took some time to dissipate—he recalls feeling that way about events during the nineteen-thirties and throughout the second world war. But he also got thrown out of school on one occasion. This accident then led to another, when he found himself forced to accept philosophy texts among the bundles of books he had bought for the plays and novels they contained.

Although his reputation was as a philosopher, he preferred to be thought of as an entertainer. His interests, he said, were always somewhat unfocussed p.

However, Feyerabend's school physics teacher Oswald Thomas inspired in him an interest in physics and astronomy. The first lecture he gave at school seems to have been on these subjects p. He describes his scientific interests as follows: I was interested in both the technical and the more general aspects of physics and astronomy, but I drew no distinction between them.

For me, Eddington, Mach his Mechanics and Theory of Heat , and Hugo Dingler Foundations of Geometry were scientists who moved freely from one end of their subject to the other.

I read Mach very carefully and made many notes. Feyerabend does not tell us how he became acquainted with another one of his main preoccupations—singing.

He was proud of his voice, becoming a member of a choir, and took singing lessons for years, later claiming to have remained in California in order not to have to give up his singing teacher. In his autobiography he talks of the pleasure, greater than any intellectual pleasure, derived from having and using a well-trained singing voice p.

During his time in Vienna in the second world war, his interest led him to attend the opera first the Volksoper, and then the Staatsoper together with his mother. A former opera singer, Johann Langer, gave him singing lessons and encouraged him to go to an academy.

After passing the entrance examination, Feyerabend did so, becoming a pupil of Adolf Vogel.

Paul Feyerabend - Against Method, Three Dialogues on Knowledge, other

At this point in his life, he later recalled: The course of my life was… clear: theoretical astronomy during the day, preferably in the domain of perturbation theory; then rehearsals, coaching, vocal exercises, opera in the evening…; and astronomical observation at night… The only remaining obstacle was the war. Austria was re-unified with Germany in Jewish schoolmates were treated differently, and Jewish neighbours and acquaintances started disappearing.

But, as usual, Feyerabend had no clear view of the situation: Much of what happened I learned only after the war, from articles, books, and television, and the events I did notice either made no impression at all or affected me in a random way. I remember them and I can describe them, but there was no context to give them meaning and no aim to judge them by.

For me the German occupation and the war that followed were an inconvenience, not a moral problem, and my reactions came from accidental moods and circumstances, not from a well-defined outlook. The general impression given by his autobiography is of an imaginative but fairly solitary person with no stable or well-defined personality. Rather, his decisions and courses of action seem to have been the result of a struggle between his tendency to conform and his contrariness.

Just as when he was a child, events happening around him seemed strange, distant, and out of context. It is very difficult to see him identifying with any group, and he must have made an unlikely soldier. But in fact this is one of the periods he tells us most about. Having passed his final high school exams in March , he was drafted into the Arbeitsdienst the work service introduced by the Nazis , and sent for basic training in Pirmasens, Germany.

Feyerabend opted to stay in Germany to keep out of the way of the fighting, but subsequently asked to be sent to where the fighting was, having become bored with cleaning the barracks! He even considered joining the SS, for aesthetic reasons. His unit was then posted at Quelerne en Bas, near Brest, in Brittany.

Still, the events of the war did not register. Their training took place in Krems, near Vienna. Feyerabend soon volunteered for officers' school, not because of an urge for leadership, but out of a wish to survive, his intention being to use officers' school as a way to avoid front-line fighting. The trainees were sent to Yugoslavia.

In Vukovar, during July , he learnt of his mother's suicide, but was absolutely unmoved, and obviously shocked his fellow officers by displaying no feeling. In December that same year, Feyerabend's unit was sent into battle on the northern part of the Russian front, but although they blew up buildings, they never encountered any Russian soldiers. Despite the fact that Feyerabend reports of himself that he was foolhardy during battle, treating it as a theatrical event, he received the Iron Cross second class early in March , for leading his men into a village under enemy fire, and occupying it.

He was advanced from private soldier to lance corporal, to sergeant, and then, at the end of , to lieutenant. At the end of November that year, he gave a series of lectures to the officers' school at Dessau Rosslau, near Leipzig.

Having returned home for Christmas , Feyerabend again boarded the train for the front, this time for Poland, in January There he was put in charge of a bicycle company. Although he claims to have relished the role of army officer no more than he later did that of university professor, he must have been at least a competent soldier, since in the field he came to take the place of a sequence of injured officers: first a lieutenant, then a captain, and then a major, before he was shot during another heroic act of carelessness performed in the retreat westwards from the Russian army.

The bullet lodged in his spine left him temporarily paralysed from the waist down, meaning that he spent time in a wheelchair, then on crutches, and thereafter walked with the aid of a stick.

The war ended as he was recovering from his injury, in a hospital in Apolda, a little town near Weimar, while fervently hoping not to recover before the war was over. Germany's surrender came as a relief, but also as a disappointment relative to past hopes and aspirations. The bullet in his spine left him impotent for the rest of his life.

His descriptions of subsequent sexual encounters are one of the more amusing parts of his autobiography. Although he started off completely ignorant of women, he married four times, and had, by his own account, plenty of affairs.

But he seems to have been distant not just in his relationship with his parents, but in some of his marriages too.

He hated the slavery love seemed to imply, but hated equally the freedom achieved by taking evasive action. He got bogged down in cycles of dependence, isolation, and renewed dependence, which only dissolved into a more balanced pattern after many years.

At the end of the war, Feyerabend went to the mayor of Apolda and asked for a job.

He was assigned to the education section, given an office and a secretary and, fittingly, put in charge of entertainment. In , having recovered from paralysis, he received a state fellowship to return to study singing and stage-management for a year at the Musikhochschule in Weimar.

He moved from Apolda to Weimar after about three months. At the Weimar Institut zur Methodologischen Erneuerung des Deutschen Theaters he studied theatre, and at the Weimar academy he took classes in Italian, harmony, piano, singing and enunciation.

Singing remained one of his life's major interests. He attended performances drama, opera, ballet, concerts at Weimar's Nationaltheater, and later reminisced about opera stars of the time, recalling debates and arguments about theatre e.

He also played a small part in one of the films of G. Pabst, a notable German film-director. Although, by his own account, he led a full life, he became restless and decided to move. But he became dissatisfied with history, and returned to theoretical physics.

Together with a group of science students, who all regarded themselves as far superior to students of other subjects, Feyerabend invaded philosophy lectures and seminars. Although this was not his first contact with philosophy, it seems to have been the period which cemented his interest.

He recalls that in all interventions he took the radical positivist line that science is the basis of knowledge; that it is empirical; and that nonempirical enterprises are either logic or nonsense p. As we shall see, Feyerabend's youthful positivist scientism makes quite a contrast with his later conclusions. In his book Logik der Forschung Popper had elaborated the straightforward and appealing falsificationist view that great science could be characterised as a process in which thinkers put forward bold conjectures and then do their best to improve them by trying to refute them.

Instead of trying to develop an inductive logic, Popper argued for the deductivist view that scientific method could be characterised in terms of logically valid deductive inferences. Popper's own autobiography, unfortunately, tells us nothing about their meeting or their relationship, despite the fact that he was to be the largest single influence first positive, then negative on Feyerabend's work.

For those hoping that Feyerabend might use the occasion of his autobiography to settle accounts with his erstwhile philosophical conscience, it is disappointing that the book tells us so little about his acquaintance with Popper. Elsewhere Feyerabend tells us that he admired [Popper's] freedom of manners, his cheek, his disrespectful attitude towards the German philosophers who gave the proceedings weight in more senses than one, his sense of humour… [and] his ability to restate ponderous problems in simple and journalistic language.

SFS, p. Popper's ideas, he remarks, were also similar to those of another Viennese philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein! Over the following years, Feyerabend attended the Alpbach symposium about fifteen times, first as a student, then as a lecturer and seminar chair. In fact, it is this decision which answers his self-addressed questions about the origin of his career, his reputation, and his situation at the time of writing his autobiography, since he traces his situation back to it.

At Alpbach he was also approached by communists, including the Marxist intellectual Walter Hollitscher, who became his teacher and friend. The considerations Hollitscher deployed were, first, that scientific research was conducted on the assumption of realism, and could not be otherwise conducted, and, second, that realism is fruitful and productive of scientific progress, whereas positivism was simply a commentary on scientific results, barren in itself.

Hollitscher never presented an argument that would lead, step by step, from positivism to realism and he would have regarded the attempt to produce such an argument as philosophical folly.

He rather developed the realist position itself, illustrated it by examples from science and commonsense, showed how closely it was connected with scientific research and everyday action and so revealed its strength. Feyerabend eventually developed these thoughts in a fascinating series of papers beginning in , arguing that science needs realism in order to progress, and that positivism would stultify such progress.

The argument was entirely in line with Popper's approach, as well as with his conclusions. Viktor Kraft was a former member of the Vienna Circle, and became Feyerabend's dissertation supervisor.

The Kraft Circle was a philosophy club centred around Kraft, which constituted another part of the Austrian College Society. Maxwell eds. About Wittgenstein's lecture, Feyerabend recalls the following: Not even a brief and quite interesting visit by Wittgenstein himself in could advance our discussion.

Wittgenstein was very impressive in his way of presenting concrete cases, such as amoebas under a microscope… but when he left we still did not know whether or not there was an external world, or, if there was one, what the arguments were in favour of it. Note that Feyerabend must have got the date wrong, since Wittgenstein died in April Wittgenstein, who took a long time to make up his mind and then appeared over an hour late gave a spirited performance and seemed to prefer our disrespectful attitude to the fawning admiration he encountered elsewhere.

In , Feyerabend was introduced to Bertolt Brecht, and Hollitscher offered him the opportunity to become one of Brecht's production assistants, but he turned it down, later describing this as one of the biggest mistakes of his life SFS, p.

In the autobiography, however, he retracts this statement, saying that he would not have enjoyed being part of the closely knit group that surrounded Brecht. The reasons for his later defection from the Popperian camp seem to have been similar. Feyerabend admired Thirring and Ehrenhaft, and was influenced by Ehrenhaft, who had lectured on physics there from Ehrenhaft was known as a fierce and independent critic of all kinds of orthodoxy in physics, but was sometimes thought of as a charlatan.

Feyerabend reports that he and his fellow science students looked forward to exposing him as a fraud, but in fact were treated, at the Alpbach seminar, to a battle between Ehrenhaft and the orthodox in which the former presented his experiments but the latter defended their position by using strategies which Galileo's opponents would have been proud of, ridiculing Ehrenhaft's phenomena as mere Dreckeffects. Ehrenhaft did not convince the theoreticians, who protected themselves with an iron curtain of dogmatic belief of exactly the same kind as that deployed by Galileo's opponents.

His audience remained staunch empiricists, never doubting that science had to be adapted to facts. At the University of Vienna, although he had originally planned to submit a thesis on physics, Feyerabend swapped to philosophy when he got nowhere with the electrodynamics problem he was calculating the philosopher of science as failed scientist? This is unsurprising, given that Kraft was then the Vienna Circle's only survivor in Vienna.

However, Kraft's influence on Feyerabend has only recently been emphasised. In the early 's, Feyerabend published several German papers on Wittgenstein, written as a result of having read the proofs of the Philosophical Investigations, lent to him by Elizabeth Anscombe.

Anscombe had come to Vienna to perfect her German in order to translate Wittgenstein's works. She gave me manuscripts of Wittgenstein's later writings and discussed them with me. The discussions extended over months and occasionally proceeded from morning over lunch until late into the evening. They had a profound influence upon me though it is not at all easy to specify particulars. Feyerabend planned to study with Wittgenstein in Cambridge, and Wittgenstein was prepared to take him on as a student, but he died before Feyerabend arrived in England.

Karl Popper became his supervisor instead. The lectures began with the claim that there is no method in science, but that there are some simple and helpful rules of thumb.

This is not his first admission that he was a falsificationist, but it is notable that he did not see it as entailing his having been a Popperian. Feyerabend was usually a fairly liberal falsificationist, always emphasising the tenacity with which scientists should defend their theories, and allowing that scientific theories can start by being untestable.

Faithful Popperians like John Watkins and Joseph Agassi, he emphasises, continually ticked him off for being unorthodox he was later accused, by Agassi, of plagiarising from Popper.

Instead he later saw this interlude as an example of the dangers of abstract reasoning. But Popper added a further dangerous element: simplicity. Feyerabend is here referring to Popper's approach to the epistemology of science, which he himself followed and furthered for quite a while. In chapter II of The Logic of Scientific Discovery , Popper had distinguished between scientific practice and scientific standards, principles, or methodology.

This is one of the most important aspects of the Popperian perspective which Feyerabend originally took on board. Falsificationism would destroy science as we know it. Science did not develop in accordance with Popper's model. Popper's rules could produce a science, but not the science we now have.

Feyerabend remarks that the Logical Positivist Otto Neurath had already put this criticism of Popper some time before p. This meeting seems to have been the first airing of the important concept of incommensurability although not the term itself, which crept into publications only a decade later : On one occasion which I remember vividly Anscombe, by a series of skilful questions, made me see how our conception and even our perceptions of well-defined and apparently self-contained facts may depend on circumstances not apparent in them.

The conservation principles may change from one developmental stage of the human organism to another and they may be different for different languages cf. I conjectured that such principles would play an important role in science, that they might change during revolutions and that deductive relations between pre-revolutionary and post-revolutionary theories might be broken off as a result.

Major discoveries, I said, are not like the discovery of America, where the general nature of the discovered object is already known. Rather, they are like recognizing that one has been dreaming. KT, p. These thoughts received an unenthusiastic reception from Hart, von Wright and Popper. Feyerabend's articles on Wittgenstein culminated in his review of the Philosophical Investigations, the text of which he studied in detail while he was in London.

He later commented: I knew that Wittgenstein did not want to present a theory of knowledge, or language , and I did not expressly formulate a theory myself. But my arrangements made the text speak like a theory and falsified Wittgenstein's intentions. Feyerabend argued that Wittgenstein was attempting a reductio ad absurdum of realist theories, showing that they had the untenable implication that we could not be said to know the meaning of words which we nevertheless constantly use in totally unproblematic ways.

Unfortunately, as argued in Preston ch. But he over-extended the idea of the theoretical to cover any context whatever, thus completely depriving it of content. For Feyerabend, the theoretical contrasts with nothing at all. The book review was also critical of Wittgenstein, though. In a short article published the next year , Feyerabend expanded on his critique, arguing that consideration of G.

Feyerabend thenceforth plumped for what he conceived of as scientific philosophy. One of the things that comes across most clearly from his autobiography is the consistently malleable nature of Feyerabend's views. He records that his friend Agassi caused him completely to change his mind about a book he considered translating.

When Agassi urged Feyerabend to become a faithful Popperian, Feyerabend's resistance seems to have been based mainly on his aversion to groups. Library of Congress, and made a mess of his first professional opportunity as a singer p.

But he also felt that he did not know what to do in the long run, so he applied for jobs in various universities. Feyerabend became Pap's assistant. Pap arranged for him to meet Herbert Feigl in Vienna in , and together they studied Feigl's papers.

He convinced Feyerabend that the positivism of Kraft and Pap had not solved the traditional problems of philosophy. Here is how Feyerabend recounts Feigl's influence: It was … quite a shock to hear Feigl expound fundamental difficulties and to hear him explain in perfectly simple language without any recourse to formalism why the problem of application [of the probability-calculus] was still without a solution.

Formalization, then, was not the last word in philosophical matters. There was still room for fundamental discussion-for speculation dreaded word! Feyerabend was particularly keen to argue that it had not and could not be shown that this interpretation of the theory was a general panacea for the problems of microphysics, or that its defenders could justifiably believe it to be unassailable. However, Feyerabend also came to think that Popper's earlier critique of the Copenhagen orthodoxy had been somewhat limited and superficial.

According to Popper, the Copenhagen Interpretation was simply the result of some bad positivistic philosophising. Niels Bohr and Werner Heisenberg, on this view, had been seduced by positivist philosophers like Ernst Mach and his ostensible followers, the Vienna Circle into thinking that their theory was not conjectural but was merely a compendious, economical but non-hypothetical description of experience. He therefore put forward a defence of their instrumentalist interpretation of the quantum theory.

But the defence was only tactical, since he ultimately argued that the observed results of experiments themselves needed to be challenged by a point of view which would reveal their truth or falsity.

So Feyerabend used the quantum case to push for a reconsideration of the methodological rules to which scientists subscribe. Note, however, that this idea can already be found in Popper, and that Feyerabend did initially acknowledge this fact. According to Feyerabend, only by endorsing scientific realism can the scientist cleave to a methodology which would consistently bring out the conceptually revolutionary potential of scientific theories, rekindling the kind of fire Galileo had lit under the Aristotelian world-view.

Such a realism interprets theories not as summaries of experience, but as genuine conjectures about a mind-independent reality. Feyerabend's Early Work: Liberalizing Empiricism 4. In his autobiography pp. In the summer of that year, he again visited Alpbach, where he met the philosopher of science Philipp Frank another former Logical Positivist , who exerted on him a somewhat delayed influence: Frank argued that the Aristotelian objections against Copernicus agreed with empiricism, while Galileo's law of inertia did not.

As in other cases, this remark lay dormant in my mind for years; then it started festering.

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The Galileo chapters of Against Method are a late result. See also SFS, p. Around the same time, Feyerabend met David Bohm, who was lecturing in physics at the University of Bristol. He was to be a significant influence on Feyerabend, weaning him away from Popper with his somewhat Hegelian account of the structure of reality. Feyerabend produced a critical study of Bohm's book Causality and Chance in Modern Physics in , when he was still very much under Popper's influence.

But, as always with Feyerabend, Bohm's ideas sunk in gradually, and had visible effect only in his productions of the early s. In , Feyerabend got married for the second time, this time to one of his former students, Mary O'Neill.

But this relationship seems to have been very short-lived, for he reports that his wife spent Christmas away from him with her parents, that she subsequently had an affair, and that the last time he saw her was Feyerabend remembers his Bristol lecture course on quantum mechanics as being a disaster. This was his principal contribution to his central subject, the relation between theory and experience.

It constituted not only a decisive break with the positivist conception of theories, but also something of a step beyond Popper's conception. Hill, Paul Meehl, and others. He returned to the Center in , having accepted another invitation to work there, backed by an NSF grant.

He often went back there in subsequent years. Around this time, many of Feyerabend's most important early papers were published. This critique was conducted through a study of the relationship between observation and theory.

Thesis I reversed the direction of interpretation which the positivists had presupposed. Instead of meaning seeping upwards from the level of experience or the observation-language , Feyerabend had it trickling down from theory to experience. For him, theory is meaningful independently of experience, rather than vice-versa.

Paul Feyerabend, Against Method - Monoskop

The roots of this view clearly lie in his contextual theory of meaning, according to which meaning is conferred on terms by virtue of their participation in theoretical contexts. It seems to imply that there is no principled semantic distinction between theoretical terms and observation terms. In , Feyerabend had been invited to spend one year at the University of California at Berkeley, and accepted.

When this visiting appointment ended, the University administration decided to hire him on the basis of his publications and, of course, his big mouth p.

But because of his grant to work at Minneapolis, he only started lecturing full-time at Berkeley in He then wrote to Kuhn about the book these letters have recently been published in Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, 26, But he was not quite ready to take on Kuhn's descriptive-historical approach to the philosophy of science.

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Although more and more historical examples peppered his published work, he was still using them to support fairly orthodox falsificationist conclusions.

In his meta-methodology, Feyerabend applied to the dispute over the interpretation of scientific theories a strong measure of Popperian methodological conventionalism, arguing that the dispute between realists and instrumentalists is not a factual issue but a matter of choice.

We can choose to see theories either as descriptions of reality scientific realism or as instruments of prediction instrumentalism , depending on what ideals of scientific knowledge we aspire to.Yet this is certainly not the way in which small children develop. It is closer to science than even Horton himself is prepared to admit.

Science as Practice and Culture. The 'surely false' refers to the condemnation by Church authorities. Einstein Investigations in the Theory ofthe Bro11mian Muvement.

But as will be explained in the course of the book and especially in Chapter 1 3. I submit that this is much too simple a picture of the actual situation.

And it is pernicious, for the attempt to enforce the rules is bound to increase our professional qualifications at the expense of our humanity.

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