Paul Feyerabend: Key Ideas

Paul Feyerabend: Key Ideas
Paul Feyerabend: Key Ideas

The 20th century has brought many disappointments to humanity: human life has become devalued, the ideals of freedom, equality and fraternity, for which they fought so hard before, have lost their attractiveness. The concepts of good and evil have acquired a new color and even an assessment. Everything that people were sure of became relative. Even such an absolutely stable concept as “knowledge” has been severely criticized and questioned. From the moment when philosophy began to actively intervene in science, troubled times have come in the life of scientists. The methodological anarchism of Paul Feyerabend played an important role in this. Our article will tell about his philosophical views.

Paul Feyerabend

Provocateur of the scientific community

Paul Karl Feyerabend in the traditional philosophical world was a real fiend. Not only that, he called into question all generally accepted norms and rules of scientific knowledge. He greatly shook the authority of science as a whole. Before his appearance, science was the bulwark of absolute knowledge. At least this applied to those discoveries that had already been proven. How can empirical experience be questioned? Feyerabend has shownthat it is quite real. He did not shy away from outright outrageousness. He liked, on occasion, to turn in the statement of Marx or Mao Zedong, to refer to the achievements of the shamans of Latin America and the success of their magic, seriously proved the need not to pass by the power of psychics. Many philosophers of that time perceived him simply as a bully or a clown. Nevertheless, his theories turned out to be some of the most interesting achievements of human thought of the twentieth century.

Paul Feyerabend against the method

Anarchy Mom

One of the most famous works that Paul Feyerabend wrote is Against Methodological Coercion. In it, he convincingly proves that the vast majority of scientific discoveries did not occur with the use of generally accepted concepts, but precisely because of their denial. The philosopher urged to look at science with a clear eye, not clouded by the old rules. We often think that what is familiar is true. In fact, it turns out that completely different assumptions lead to the truth. Therefore, Paul Feyerabend proclaimed the principle "everything is possible." Check, but do not trust - this is the main message of his philosophy. At first glance, there is nothing extraordinary in this. But the philosopher decided to test even those theories that have long become pillars in their field. This immediately caused acute rejection among the classical scientific world. He even criticized the principle of thinking and searching for truth, which researchers have followed for centuries.

Alternative way of thinking

What does Paul Feyerabend suggest instead? Against the way of buildingconclusions from already existing observations and proven truths, he calls for the use of incompatible, at first glance, absurd hypotheses. Such incompatibility contributes to the expansion of scientific horizons. As a result, the scientist will be able to better evaluate each of them. The philosopher also advises not to disdain turning to long-forgotten theories, as if following the saying that everything new is well-forgotten old. Feyerabend's explanation for this is very simple: no theory can be completely secure from the possibility of refuting it with any statement. Sooner or later there will be a fact that will cast doubt on it. In addition, one should not ignore the purely human factor, because the facts are selected by scientists based on personal preferences, out of a single desire to prove their case.

Paul Feyerabend philosophy

Paul Feyerabend: philosophy of science

Another important requirement of the philosopher to scientific knowledge was the presence of many competing theories, that is, proliferation. By interacting with each other, they will constantly improve. With the dominance of one theory, it runs the risk of becoming ossified and turning into a kind of myth. Feyerabend was an ardent opponent of the idea of ​​such a development of science, when new theories logically follow from the old ones. He believed that, on the contrary, each subsequent hypothesis cancels the action of the previous one, actively contradicts it. In this he saw the dynamics of the development of human thought and the future of mankind.

Club of Connoisseurs

Some of Feyerabend's statements can be taken as a denial of the viability of science in general. But it is notquite so. He simply tells us that we should not rely implicitly on the infallibility of science. For example, unlike his contemporary Popper, who offered the scientist to refute his own theories, Paul Feyerabend insisted that it is necessary to provide your hypotheses with several explanations at once. Preferably built on different grounds. Only in this way, in his opinion, can one avoid blind certainty that one is right. It's a bit like playing "What? Where? When?”, In which experts work out several hypothetical answers just in case, experimentally choosing the best one.

Paul Carl Feyerabend

Questions left unanswered

One of the most scandalous books that Paul Feyerabend wrote is Against the Method. The idea for its creation was given to the philosopher by his friend Imre Lakatos. The meaning of the work was that each hypothesis formulated in this book by Feyerabend, Lakatos would subject to the most severe criticism and create his own - refuting. The construction in the form of a kind of intellectual duel was just in the spirit of the founder of methodological anarchism. The death of Lakatos in 1974 prevented the implementation of this idea. However, Feyerabend still published the book, albeit in such a half-hearted state. Later, the philosopher wrote that by attacking the rationalist position in this work, he wanted to call Imre to their defense.

Paul Feyerabend science in a free society

Paul Feyerabend. "Science in a free society"

Perhaps this work of the philosopher produced morea bigger scandal than Against the Method. In it, Feyerabend appears as an outspoken anti-scientist. It smashes to smithereens everything that many generations of scientists believed in as the Holy Grail. In addition to everything, in the preface to this defiant book, the philosopher admits that he simply invented all this. "You have to live on something," he says confidentially. Here Feyerabend created this whole theory in order to shock the public as much as possible. And thus arouse her keen interest, which cannot but affect the sales of the book. Few serious scientists can honestly admit that all his research is far-fetched. Although often this is exactly what happens in reality. On the other hand, perhaps this is another provocation?

Paul Feyerabend direction

Jester pea or right?

What did Paul Feyerabend want to achieve with his theories? The direction of philosophical thought in the 20th century is very difficult to describe in one term. Various “isms” flourished not only in art, but also in science, and outrageousness as a way of expressing and positioning oneself to the world has become one of the most effective. Causing indignation and irritation in people with his provocative hypotheses, Feyerabend wanted to provoke them to refute them. Do you disagree? Do you think my approach is wrong? Persuade me! Bring your evidence! It seems to encourage humanity not to blindly trust long-known truths, but to find answers on their own. Perhaps if Science in a Free Society were to see the light of day in its original form, manyquestions about Feyerabend's work would disappear by themselves.

Methodological anarchism of Paul Feyerabend

Was Paul Feyerabend an anti-scientist or created a new concept of knowledge? Reading his work, it is difficult to answer this question. Despite the fact that he formulated his ideas very clearly, even sharply, one gets the impression that all this is just a heap of provocative statements. Perhaps the main merit of the philosopher was his indication of the infallibility of science and the need to search for alternative ways of knowing the world. In any case, it is definitely worth getting acquainted with the work of this most interesting personality.

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