1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A good book with ideas which need to be expressed, NOW,
This review is from: Conquest of Abundance: A Tale of Abstraction versus the Richness of Being: A Tale of Abstraction Versus the Richness of Richness (Paperback)
The wonderful, idiosyncratic and radical philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend, has written a book about the historical eradication or diminishment of the full richness of being itself. By this he means the experience of each and every human being on the planet with the totality of his/her culture, thoughts, feelings, prejudices, opinions and so on and so on. This is of course wildly expansive and demonstrates the variety as experienced by people everywhere. Feyerabend's main contention is that, over time, and through the gradual abstraction practised by select people, often philosophers or "scientists" or anyone who is pulled in this direction through his/her education, influence of others or a bent away from the "scary real world", the fullness of one's world is slowly made barren, empty of life. Anyone who grows up in the education system of the Western world can confirm this idea (the teachers of Robin Williams calibre aka "Dead Poet's Society" are few and far between). Unfortunately, science especially has been progressively dehumanised not through a need to objectify but rather through the belief that this is necessary or the "real" world will escape us. Now more than ever this is powerfully evident and as Feyerabend notes: "...the arts whose popularity at any rate far outweighs that of the sciences eg rock music, film etc" (pp 261). No longer, or infrequently so, are readers captivated by the incredible intuitive power of an Aristotle or a Heraclitus. There is a general need for something which should replace the now discredited world religions, science or the abstraction it now stands for is not it.
Feyerabend is radical in the sense that he knows there are more important things than science or philosophy, he continuously examines his own views and freely criticises them and explores them further rather than sticking to some form of personal dogma which is the current form of practice, no doubt strongly supported through the culture of the individual which now dominates the western world. He criticises philosophy for its lost concern for the world it once possessed (eg Aristotle) and the empty murmurings about abstract principles rather than the problems of the world such as famine, violence and environmental disasters.
As such this book is to be commended as a needed critique. However, this book is often a rehash of Feyerabend's earlier ideas so intensly expressed in his radical "Against Method". This book lacks the earlier energy and power, but Feyerabend has lost none of his intelligence or wit even though this stood out far more through humourous twists and outright damnation in his earlier work. It is also unfortunate he never finished this book with, I believe, at most half of it completed before his death. I felt that the earlier parts, which investigate the Greeks and the start of abstraction, would have been thoroughly complemented with later historical eras and at least a chapter devoted to the opening of society and a renewal of the zest for life which Feyerabend wanted to invigorate today's world with.
The publishers note that it is a book for every man and is supposed to be written for anyone to read and enjoy not as a technical exercise. Rather we find that the arguments are not straighforward or that enjoyable and I feel the book is intended far more for the interested scientists and philosophers "out there" who are looking for a way to energise their own fields.
Nonetheless a good book with ideas which need to be expressed, NOW.
Conquest of Abundance: A Tale of Abstraction versus the Richness of Being: A Tale of Abstraction Versus the Richness of Richness(3 customer reviews)