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4.4 out of 5 stars
12


on 11 May 2017
True masterpiece
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on 4 March 2014
This book should not be reduced to one of its statements, "anything goes", because Feyerabend's argument is much more complex than that. Feyerabend tells us in a convincing way that the progress of science is made possible by people who do NOT act according to established rules and by people who put ostensibly obvious truths into question. Feyerabend was a very educated man, and his book should be read by every scientist, but also by the public at large - at last as long as we are free to think on our own.
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on 15 July 2012
I read this book 'to know my enemy' mainly to destroy the arguments used by my old postmodernist college teacher. As you may have figured out I originally stood in complete opposition to this book, rallying behind the likes of Alan Sokal and Richard Dawkins.

However, after reading Thomas S. Kuhn's: "The structure of scientific revolutions" on paradigm theory (read this first), I felt I had to study Feyerabend's take. After doing this, I can at least concede that I have taken on board some of his relativist criticisms albeit I have done so with a large pinch/grain of salt. I am still by no means a postmodernist and as usual I stay close by to my copy of "beyond the hoax".

A quick word of warning about most pre-postmodernist "dada" or any postmodernist literature, it can be very wordy at times, so to those very lost lay-men out there...watch out! I think that with a good head on your shoulders you should be able manage it while it coincides with your A levels.

Also be very careful when reading this book, always approach it with a skeptical mind because it is very tempting to fall for 'woo' when it is written so well. If you feel you are falling for empty rhetoric return to your Sokal immediately.

Five stars for the sheer cheek of Feyerabend!
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on 26 November 2017
Classical book that intends expose the rigid methodology of the science, explaining and exposing that during a long time the narrative of science was not through the Karl Popper manner. Explaining that not everything in science was through the falsification method.
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on 19 August 2015
Amazing book. Good introduction to criticism on science.
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on 1 December 2009
Feyerabend was probably the first philosopher of science who really stated that science as it is practised by scientists themselves is NOT an enterprise which can be strictly constructed or even fully described in any conventional methodical way such as the philosophies of positivism and even rationality or idealism for that matter propose. As is true for any human enterprise, no matter how strongly this is denied by the popular science press, it is, as Feyerabend puts it, an anarchaic enterprise, this does not mean random chaos or a process with no order rather he refers to the fact that scientists just as authors of great literature or poets, pursue their subject via many paths rather than the strict methodologies which are supposed to define science, in fact these methodologies fail to be `...capable of accounting for such a maze of interactions'. Einstein is noted as saying that `The external conditions which are set for the scientist by the facts of experience do not permit him to let himself be too much restricted, in the construction of his conceptual world, by the adherence to an epistemological system'. Feyerabend goes on to say that `The attempt...to discover the secrets of nature and of man, entails, therefore, the rejection of all universal standards and of all rigid traditions.' So starts his book "Against Method" and through detailed analysis of the scientists and the phenomenon in question Feyerabend proceeds to demolish any assertions which compress science into a box which stands alone outside of all other influences such as religion, history, culture or philosophy.

The idea that irrational means are used by scientists to form theories and understand phenomena is stressed. Similarly, the fact that an observation is made does not necessarily imply the theory which follows e.g. the moon seen through Galileos eyes. Also, reason is sometimes discarded in favour of new, seemingly unreasonable, ideas which explain the phenomenon and finally science itself becomes a kind of tradition in its own way. The blindness of the usual ways of thinking about science as expressed in the popular press is made clear and it is shown that science is not and never has been or will be the only true way of understanding the universe.

Feyerabend's book is very entertaining given the radical and playfull nature of the man himself (see `Killing Time', his autobiography), nonetheless it is very well researched and his argument is solid. He does not shirk his academic responsibilities but rather writes as he thinks is best in order to explain his ideas without necessarily having to write in a cold or overly rational way.

Feyerabend also includes excerpts from his experience of famous scientists during his life such as the radical Felix Ehrenhaft, the young Popper full of vitality or Wittgenstein. He further explores his own misgivings when teaching people of cultures other than his own e.g. native Americans, Mexicans and so on and his own understanding that he had no real right to promote his own phiosophical view or rather the one pushed by his society as being better than theirs or that intellectual procedures which approach a problem through concepts are the right way to go. Feyerabend stresses that the phrase "anything goes" is far more relevant to the progress of human knowledge and science.

An excellent book written with style.
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on 15 May 1999
Anyone who expects an academic, theory building and hence myopic interpretation of history, especially in the context of scientific discovery and the nature of scientific fact and laws, would be well-advised to look elsewhere.
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.
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on 14 February 2007
It is unfair and inaccurate to criticise Against Method on the grounds that it propounds a relativist approach to science. It is essentially an extremely interesting, and entertaining, polemic in which Feyerabend attempts to shake up our complacency about science, method and the interaction of science and society. His analysis of Galileo is fascinating (as is his later ironic defence of the anti-Galileo authorities in "Farewell to Reason"), but he would be the first, I believe, to say that the reader should think and research the issue for themself, not sit back and take his word for it.

This is a book to make you think, and to provoke you to keep going. In fact Amazon is right - read it alongside Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. (And, though he clearly hated the man, you might even have to read some Karl Popper, just to get the other side of the argument.)
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on 23 May 2008
I am soooo against relativism normally, but, and perhaps this should be a big but, there are exceptions. Lateral thinking is described in a far deeper textual way by Feyerabend than say, de Bono. I think that epistemology can go beyond 'Against Method', but the stuff of creativity is made up of the stuff that Feyerabend describes so well. An interesting read.
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on 4 December 2006
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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