33 of 51 people found the following review helpful
Absurdity in action,
This review is from: Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge (Paperback)
Before reading this book, ask yourself the following question: do you think voodoo is as good science as quantum mechanics? If the answer is no, then prepare for extreme frustration with absurd arguments, dishonest scolarship and numerous inconsistencies. If the answer is yes, you'll be thrilled with this laissez-faire approach to science and epistemology.
The main thesis of the book could not be simpler: all science and all observations are completely theoretical. What one physical theory says is hence completely incommensurable with what another says. In fact, physical theories aren't in any way better than other theories in explaining the world. Astrology is just as valid as astronomy, voodoo is just as valid as our medical science...everything is just as valid as everything else, because there cannot be any rules for validity.
Why is this the case? Because Galileo's physics was not perfectly rational. A (faulty) analysis of Galileo makes up for more than half of the book. Little does it matter to Feyerabend that his physics in the 17th century was presented in dialogues without any mathematical tools. Has anybody ever claimed that Galileo was a model scientist, or moreover, that Galileo can be though of as an example of MODERN science? Of course not, but Feyerabend picks a spectacular and easy target. In doing this he is consistent, though, because any argument is as good as any other. Although one has to wonder how he can claim that Galileo was not rational after arguing forcefully that there cannot be any criteria for rationality...
Of course Feyerabend provokes on purpose. He does not believe all this, as he stated many times later. The book was an effort to wake philosophers of science from their dream that philosophy can give norms for science. In doing this Feyerabend was absolutely right, and his place in the history of philosophy of science is well founded. But just considering this book as an independent work, one can't help the idea that it's parody. It is that bad.
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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 13 Jul 2010 16:20:30 BDT
H. A. Van Berg says:
Posted on 13 Feb 2012 07:52:19 GMT
So you wouldn't recommend buying this book then?
Posted on 22 Apr 2012 10:45:59 BDT
Science rests on constantly falsifying its results, since the first error of becoming "value free" is to lie to yourself. The "scientist" through his pedagogy undergoes a self vanishing trick, only to wish himself back through his learning the trick. The rest of the nonsense flows from this basic lie.
Scientists are just people with undiagnosed autism. Discuss.
Posted on 1 Mar 2014 16:01:03 GMT
Mr. Vincenzo Politi says:
The only good part of your review is the last one. Indeed, Feyerabend was actually discussing the idea that science is founded on a unique, universal and sovra-historical set of "rational norms". He suggests that, by looking at the past, we can see very good scientists who did not conform to the set of abstract, absolute, universal and sovra-historical rational rules. The best scientists, it turns out, actually broke those rules of rationality. But - and this is something that you don't make clear in your review - Feyerabend is not saying that "there are no rules of scientific rationality" but only that "there is not such a things as THE scientific rationality": science is a creative and on-going process and, actually, the more alternative norms and points of view there are, the better.
What he is NOT saying is that voodoo is as good science as quantum mechanics. The two cannot even be compared, neither to say that one is better than the other nor to say that they are "good the same". There is not a universal criterion for comparing two different frameworks. Of course, while quantum mechanics has actual resilient results, voodoo does not seem to explain anything at all - Feyerabend OF COURSE is not denying this. However, he is also saying that we are in no position to say that quantum physicists are more "rational" than voodoo practicers, since what is rational for the previous is not rational for the latter and vice-versa.
Finally, Galileo Galilei is universally recognised as one of the founders of modern science. "Modern science" is not the same as "contemporary science", that is, current science. "Modern science" was born out of the so-called "mathematisation of nature", introduced by Galileo, in virtue of which natural phenomena began to be studied "quantitatively" and not "qualitatively". I also want to add that Galileo did not write just a dialogue with no numbers in it and that he performed lots of mathematical measurements - i.e., the acceleration of bodies on an inclined plane.
In the light of all of this, many of the claims in your review should be modified, in my opinion.
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