Re: farewell to reason?

Gerrit Hanenburg (
Fri, 21 Jul 1995 20:28:01 GMT

Alex Duncan <> wrote:

>In article <> Gerrit Hanenburg,
> writes:

>>Yes, IF you subscribe to something like Karl Poppers philosophy of science
>>(critical rationalism),but maybe the proponents of the AAH prefer to stay
>>with philosopher Paul Feyerabend ("Against Method"-1975 and "Farewell to
>>Reason"-1987). ;-)

>I assume your making some kind of comment about the "intellectual"
>methodology preferred by pseudoscientists? Frankly, a title like
>"Farewell to Reason" frightens me. I've had more than ample
>opportunities to sample alternative methods of "knowing", and have been
>disappointed in all but science (actually, science too, just not as much).

>Can you put Feyerabend's ideas in a nutshell for me?

First, my posting on Feyerabend was not meant to be taken too serious.
Second,I do not doubt the intellectual capabilities of the proponents of the
AAH and in particular I do not consider them as pseudoscientists.

Who is Paul Feyerabend?

He is Professor of Philosophy in the University of California at Berkeley,and
Professor of the Philosophy of Science at the Federal Institute of Technology
at Zurich.His studies included physics,mathematics,astronomy and theatre and
opera production before he turned to philosophy.
Some of his works are:

-Against Method- Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge.
-Science in a Free Society.
-Farewell to Reason.
-Philosophical Papers.
The first three books are published by Verso,the last one by Cambridge
University Press.

It's not easy to put his ideas in a nutshell but I think his philosophy of
science comes down to this:
If you study the history of science you will not find something like
"The Scientific Method".THE scientific method is an ideal,an abstraction,not
something real, living scientists can work with."Progress" in science has
often been achieved by people leaving the established methods and following
new creative ways of acquiring knowledge.An example of this is the "thought
experiment",which was highly valued at the dawn of quantum mechanics and is
still so in our days.There was a time however when it was considered
He opposes to Karl Poppers rigorous falsificationism.In Poppers philosophy
for example an ad hoc hypothesis is considered a weakness of a theory but in
Feyerabends opinion an ad hoc hypothesis is not a sin.Sometimes an ad hoc
hypothesis is exactly what is needed to advance a theory that later turns out
to be very valuable.In Poppers philosophy such a theory would have been
rejected prematurely.
Feyerabend urges us not to be too rigorous when it comes to method but to be
tolerant and pluralistic.
He favors relativism.He considers science to be only one human tradition
among many.We shouldn't make the western type of Science (and the type of
rationalism (Reason with a capital R)connected with it) into something
holy,and place it above all the rest.After all the consequences of modern
science and science based technology have not been all positive.
(environmental degradation,massdestruction weapons,etc,etc.)

Gerrit. (follow ups to talk.philosophy.misc?)