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Go to the Index of 120 Philosophers Squared

Paul Feyerabend (1924 – 1994) Vienna born Berkeley professor of Anarchic philosophy of “Anything goes.”

Feyerabend

Feyerabend

Quotes from Paul Feyerbend sources: Google, WikiQuote, Goodreads,

A scientist, an artist, a citizen is not like a child who needs papa methodology and mama rationality to give him security and direction; he can take care of himself, for he is the inventor not only of laws, theories, pictures, plays, forms of music, ways of dealing with his fellow man, institutions but also of entire world views, he is the inventor of entire forms of life.

We see: facts alone are not strong enough for making us accept, or reject, scientific theories, the range they leave to thought is too wide; logic and methodology eliminate too much, they are too narrow. In between these two extremes lies the ever-changing domain of human ideas and wishes.

Teachers’ using grades and the fear of failure mold the brains of the young until they have lost every ounce of imagination they might once have possessed.”

An anarchist is like an undercover agent who plays the game of Reason in order to undercut the authority of Reason (Truth, Honesty, Justice and so on).

The best education consists in immunizing people against systematic attempts at education.

All religions are good ‘in principle’ – but unfortunately this abstract Good has only rarely prevented their practitioners from behaving like bastards.

Let us follow their example and let us free society from the strangling hold of an ideologically petrified science just as our ancestors freed us from the strangling hold of the One True Religion!

Science is essentially an anarchic enterprise: theoretical anarchism is more humanitarian and more likely to encourage progress than its law-and-order alternatives.

No theory ever agrees with all the facts in its domain, yet it is not always the theory that is to blame. Facts are constituted by older ideologies, and a clash between facts and theories may be proof of progress. It is also a first step in our attempts to find the principles implicit in familiar observational notions.

Without a constant misuse of language there cannot be any discovery, any progress

The realization that science is not sacrosanct, and that the debate between science and myth has ceased without having been won by either side, further strengthens the case for anarchism.

The separation of state and church must be complemented by the separation of state and science, that most recent, most aggressive, and most dogmatic religious institution.

The idea that science can, and should, be run according to fixed and universal rules, is both unrealistic and pernicious. It is unrealistic, for it takes too simple a view of the talents of man and of the circumstances which encourage, or cause, their development. And it is pernicious, for the attempt to enforce the rules is bound to increase our professional qualifications at the expense of our humanity. In addition, the idea is detrimental to science, for it neglects the complex physical and historical conditions which influence scientific change. It makes our science less adaptable and more dogmatic: every methodological rule is associated with cosmological assumptions, so that using the rule we take it for granted that the assumptions are correct. Naive falsificationism takes it for granted that the laws of nature are manifest and not hidden beneath disturbances of considerable magnitude. Empiricism takes it for granted that sense experience is a better mirror of the world than pure thought. Praise of argument takes it for granted that the artifices of Reason give better results than the unchecked play of our emotions. Such assumptions may be perfectly plausible and even true. Still, one should occasionally put them to a test. Putting them to a test means that we stop using the methodology associated with them, start doing science in a different way and see what happens. Case studies such as those reported in the preceding chapters show that such tests occur all the time, and that they speak against the universal validity of any rule. All methodologies have their limitations and the only ‘rule’ that survives is ‘anything goes’.

The only principle that does not inhibit progress is: anything goes. Progress has always been achieved by probing well-entrenched and well-founded forms of life with unpopular and unfounded values. This is how man gradually freed himself from fear and from the tyranny of unexamined systems.

COMMENTS:

Feyerabend is a proponent of maximizing the freedom in thought and inquiry between the extreme verbal constraints of philosophy and the equally rigid theory of theories, backed by proven facts, of science. In his view there is a need for more opportunity for error and wrongheadedness between these overly confining extremes, to provide us with the interesting new ways of perceiving reality. He likes the multitude of primitive societies, each with their unique ways of coping with their unique realities and their intimate problems. He considers modern science to be overly inclined toward a rigid system, which is currently dominant only because of the military power which that system gives to its supporters.

When we are convinced we understand something we should totally change our approach to it.