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Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge Gebundene Ausgabe – 12. Januar 1989
- Herausgeber : Verso Books; 2. Edition (12. Januar 1989)
- Sprache : Englisch
- Gebundene Ausgabe : 304 Seiten
- ISBN-10 : 0860912221
- ISBN-13 : 978-0860912224
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What are the main theses of the book? First, "the" scientific method does not exist. Scientists have to invent new methodologies on their way to discovery. Second, sometimes progress requires theories that contradict facts as scientists perceive them. Third, sometimes it requires irrational arguments in order to get your point across in science. Fourth, science does not deserve a special status in a social debate.
To many scientists, these ideas would sound provocative even expressed in the politest of manners. But that was not Feyerabend's style. On the contrary, Feyerabend overdid many of his statements ("The only principle that does not inhibit progress is: anything goes"), and he made rude remarks. Some of his statements are not very well supported by arguments. That, of course, is hardly surprising for someone who defends some irrationality in science. But it will not convince a hard-boiled rationalist. Also, Feyerabend's exaggerations made it easier for his critics to criticize him.
And still, Feyerabend knew what he was talking about. Scientists are indeed sloppier and more irrational than they pretend to be. Galilei's statement that the earth rotates around its axis did contradict the "fact" that nobody ever noticed any influence of this rotation. And it was not science that first pointed out the dangers of environmental pollution.
Conclusion: Against Method is a classic, and it deserves it. It's a very interesting book for those who know how to read it.
This book is a humorous, multi-sided and relentless attack on accepted notions and interpretations of consistency and progress, achieved through a single method (such as rationality or logic), in the area of human knowledge. Feyerabend denies method supremacy over contextual and meaning rich subjective thinking, and marshals the facts of history to establish the lack of any single method or well-defined body (such as science) in the growth of human knowledge.
What Howard Zinn did to conventional history with "A People's History of the United States", Feyerabend here accomplishes with regards to the history of science and rationalism. In doing so, he opens the door not for sloppy thinking, but for colorful and context rich thought and expression.
Spitzenrezensionen aus anderen Ländern
If you want the tl;dr summary it might be: "formal processes are a hindrance to the advancement of science (and knowledge) - there should be no process, only anarchy"
Be warned, Feyerabend is a true Anarchist and his ideas will not sit well with those who insist that there is a "right way" to do things. I reproduce some of his more provocative statements below:
"[E]ach organization, each party, each religious group has a right to defend its particular form of life and all the standards it contains. But scientists go much further. Like the defenders of The One True Religion before them they insinuate that their standards are essential for arriving at the Truth, or for getting Results and they deny such authority to the demands of the politician. They oppose all political interference…"
We have seen that the belief in a unique set of standards that has always led to success and will always lead to success is nothing but a chimera. … [T]he time is overdue for adding the separation of state and science to the by now quite customary separation of state and church. Science is only one of the many instruments people invented to cope with their surroundings. It is not the only one, it is not infallible..."
"Rationalists are concerned about intellectual pollution. I share this concern. Illiterate and incompetent books flood the market, empty verbiage full of strange and esoteric terms claim to express profound insights, 'experts' without brains, character, and without even a modicum of intellectual, stylistic, emotional temperament tell us about our 'condition' ... This is a disastrous situation, and one not easily mended. But I do not see how a rationalistic methodology can help."
"As far as I am concerned the first and the most pressing problem is to get education out of the hands of the 'professional educators'."
"General education should prepare citizens to choose between the standards, or to find their way in a society that contains groups committed to various standards, but it must under no condition bend their minds so that they conform to the standards of one particular group. The standards will be considered, they will be discussed, children will be encouraged to get proficiency in the more important subjects, but only as one gets proficiency in a game, that is, without serious commitment and without robbing the mind of its ability to play other games as well."
"[W]e must stop the scientists from taking over education and from teaching as 'fact' and as 'the one true method' whatever the myth of the day happens to be. Agreement with science, decision to work in accordance with the canons of science should be the result of examination and choice, and not of a particular way of bringing up children. It seems to me that such a change in education and, as a result, in perspective will remove a great deal of the intellectual pollution rationalists deplore. "
I can't agree in call the author anarchism. The author's view is very common in Confucian country like Korea.