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Farewell to Reason Paperback – Jan 17 1988


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (Jan. 17 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0860918963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0860918967
  • Product Dimensions: 13.8 x 1.7 x 21.6 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 503 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #777,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Library Journal

Feyerabend's previous popular work, Against Method (1975), established him as an outspoken, controversial critic of the scientific and philosophical establishments. This collection of essays attacks what he considers to be the well-entrenched academic notions of "truth" and "fact." He believes that such rigid conceptions of realityillustrated in chapters on relativism, the early Greek philosophers, and the works of Aristotle, Galileo, Einstein, Popper, and othersdeprive Western culture of its diversity and creativity. His call for a "philosophy of cultural relativism" is a unique, provocative idea sure to stir debate. An important book for philosophy of science collections. Raymond Frey, Bergen Community Coll., Paramus, N.J.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“An audacious thinker, a brilliant polemicist, an iconoclast.”—Publishers Weekly

“This is a lovely book. Feyerabend’s prose is sparkling and his writing is deeply learned.”—New Statesman

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight on Feb. 11 2003
Format: Paperback
A short while ago, I wrote a favorable review of "Against Method" by Paul Feyerabend. This book, though, is much more difficult to swallow. Feyerabend suggests that many Western intellectuals (by this, he usually means Karl Popper) are skeptical of relativism and after reading this, I can see why. Feyerabend is almost too good at what he does. The relativism, or Rorty-like 'pragmatism', that he seems to champion, undercuts him at every turn.
First, this book focuses more on culture than scientific belifs. Feyerabend makes clear from the get-go that he is a believer in 'democratic relativism" - literally, that what works for one culture may not work for another. This is really not a radical view untill you take Feyerabends conclusion that because of this, there can be no objective truths, standards, or even critierion for deciphering either. Here's how he undercuts himself though. For Feyerabend, this relativism demands that we recognize our ability to learn from other cultures, engage in dialogue and even argue from time to time. The problem is that if reason is just as good (no better) than any other way of proceeding, it is difficult to imagine how dialogue can proceed, outside of a reasoned structure. At the end of the first essay, Feyerabend stretches further still. If quarks and gods are both theoretical (that is, not empirical) then isn't it strange to regard quarks as more 'real' than gods. Well, Paul, not if you consider that quarks are a) open to falsification, b) accountable to scientific prediction that CAN falsify them and c) have so far enabled us to make accurate predictions without being falsified, then I guess the answer is "no".
Many readers will also read this book as a diatribe against Karl Popper.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Frank Bierbrauer on May 13 2002
Format: Paperback
Once again Paul Feyerabend has produced an energetic commentary on the modern philosophical constructs of the philosophy of science, especially those of Popper. In this, his second book, he concentrates on the main on answering negative comments on his earlier book "Against Method" by various philsophers of science such as Popper and Putnam. Although this seems to occupy his attentions there are chapters on various aspects such as Xenophanes, Greek Gods, a fascinating chapter on Aristotle's theory of the continuum, the role of theories in science, relativism and a very interesting and rare discussion of Mach's theory of research.
As usual his groundwork is thorough, although not as detailed as that in "Against Method", and full of interesting asides which both support the argument and fascinate the reader. His energy is infectious although some of his comments are quite abrasive especially those concerning Popper. It compares well to the first book and is far better than his last "Conquest of Abundance" which seemed tired by comparison and lacking the zest of the earlier works such as this one and the first. To me, the two outstanding chapters are the ones on Mach and Aristotle which alone make the book worth buying. Feyerabend is a rare breed of philosopher in that he does not construct systematic theories but rather deconstructs existing ones and criticises them consistently at the same time giving credence to his ideas of relativism which are quite at odds with the usual interpretation of this idea. Feyerabend does not constrain himself overly in the sense of a solid theoretical basis prefering to remain loose and free to move.
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Amazon.com: 7 reviews
22 of 26 people found the following review helpful
An energetic read. May 13 2002
By Frank Bierbrauer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Once again Paul Feyerabend has produced an energetic commentary on the modern philosophical constructs of the philosophy of science, especially those of Popper. In this, his second book, he concentrates on the main on answering negative comments on his earlier book "Against Method" by various philsophers of science such as Popper and Putnam. Although this seems to occupy his attentions there are chapters on various aspects such as Xenophanes, Greek Gods, a fascinating chapter on Aristotle's theory of the continuum, the role of theories in science, relativism and a very interesting and rare discussion of Mach's theory of research.
As usual his groundwork is thorough, although not as detailed as that in "Against Method", and full of interesting asides which both support the argument and fascinate the reader. His energy is infectious although some of his comments are quite abrasive especially those concerning Popper. It compares well to the first book and is far better than his last "Conquest of Abundance" which seemed tired by comparison and lacking the zest of the earlier works such as this one and the first. To me, the two outstanding chapters are the ones on Mach and Aristotle which alone make the book worth buying. Feyerabend is a rare breed of philosopher in that he does not construct systematic theories but rather deconstructs existing ones and criticises them consistently at the same time giving credence to his ideas of relativism which are quite at odds with the usual interpretation of this idea. Feyerabend does not constrain himself overly in the sense of a solid theoretical basis prefering to remain loose and free to move. There are many advantages to this process although it does not introduce new ideas or concepts which by themselves could lead to further insights, this is possible without stagnation or a crystallisation of views which often occurs. He is also aware of his own propensity to intellectualise, something which he tries to supplement with a kind of living discourse which partly compensates.
An energetic read.
41 of 58 people found the following review helpful
So what does Feyerabend believe? Feb. 11 2003
By Kevin Currie-Knight - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A short while ago, I wrote a favorable review of "Against Method" by Paul Feyerabend. This book, though, is much more difficult to swallow. Feyerabend suggests that many Western intellectuals (by this, he usually means Karl Popper) are skeptical of relativism and after reading this, I can see why. Feyerabend is almost too good at what he does. The relativism, or Rorty-like 'pragmatism', that he seems to champion, undercuts him at every turn.
First, this book focuses more on culture than scientific belifs. Feyerabend makes clear from the get-go that he is a believer in 'democratic relativism" - literally, that what works for one culture may not work for another. This is really not a radical view untill you take Feyerabends conclusion that because of this, there can be no objective truths, standards, or even critierion for deciphering either. Here's how he undercuts himself though. For Feyerabend, this relativism demands that we recognize our ability to learn from other cultures, engage in dialogue and even argue from time to time. The problem is that if reason is just as good (no better) than any other way of proceeding, it is difficult to imagine how dialogue can proceed, outside of a reasoned structure. At the end of the first essay, Feyerabend stretches further still. If quarks and gods are both theoretical (that is, not empirical) then isn't it strange to regard quarks as more 'real' than gods. Well, Paul, not if you consider that quarks are a) open to falsification, b) accountable to scientific prediction that CAN falsify them and c) have so far enabled us to make accurate predictions without being falsified, then I guess the answer is "no".
Many readers will also read this book as a diatribe against Karl Popper. I would urge these readers, if they've not read Popper, to first read either "Conjectures and Refutations" or "Objective Knowledge". Many of Feyerabends characterizations are wrong. Feyerabend constantly underestimates Popper's recongintion of theory and ideology in conjectures and observations. Feyerabend also miscarachterizes Popper's falsification as a view that as soon as an individual sees her theory falsified, she should abandon it as quick as possible. Nope! She should defend it while keeping in mind that she could be wrong. Third, Feyerabend misconstrues Popper as an elitist of science who claims that Western scientific conclusions are the most valid. Popper would be the first to admit that good ideas can come from anywhere. Popper's only suggestion is that matriculation of those ideas into our lives involves making up our minds, which involves reason and that empirical methods are good insofar as they HAVE TO BE the common denominator of intersubjective discussion. Overall, Feyerabends conclusions are all-in-all self defeating, his arguments are largely misunderstandings and his book is verging on being a waste of time.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Defence of relativism Oct. 20 2009
By Edward Mariyani-Squire - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This is really a collection of essays, rather than a single sustained argument. The first essay on "Notes on Relativism" is interesting in its characterisation of different versions of the notorious idea. The Feyerabendian theme is present throughout all the essays: that 'there is no single method of discovering truth in science' is extended to other areas more explicitly, esp. cultural phenomena - e.g. "Progress in Philosophy, Science and the Arts". Some essays are focused on topics of debate that arise out of Against Method - e.g. "Putnam on Incommensurability". As usual, he presents an audacious defense of absurd and unpopular ideas - e.g. that the Greek gods were real, and that Ernst Mach, vis-a-vis Einstein, wasn't so philosophically backward after all. The essay on Popper is typically uncharitable, and even mean, but entertaining for precisely that reason.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
A BROAD COLLECTION OF FEYERABEND'S ESSAYS Dec 29 2014
By Steven H Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Paul Karl Feyerabend (1924-1994) was an Austrian-born philosopher of science who taught philosophy at UC Berkeley; he also wrote books such as Against Method, The Tyranny of Science, Killing Time: The Autobiography of Paul Feyerabend, Science in a Free Society, etc.that h

He wrote in the Introduction to this 1987 book, “The essays collected in this volume deal with cultural diversity and cultural change. They try to show that diversity is beneficial while uniformity reduces our joys and our (intellectual, emotional, material) resources… I shall criticize two ideas that have often been used to make Western expansion intellectually respectable---the idea of Reason and the idea of Objectivity.”

He suggests, “For every statement, theory, point of view believed (to be true) with good reason there exist arguments showing a conflicting alternative to be at least as good, or even better.” (Pg. 76) In a later essay, he illustrates, “there exists no ‘objective’ scientific study of the comparative effectiveness of Western and indigenous procedures in many fields. Even medicine can only offer isolated reports of successes, and equally isolated reports of the failures of non-Western medical practices: but the overall picture is far from clear.” (Pg. 87)

He pointedly argues, “‘It seems to me quite obvious,’ says a critic, ‘that we know more about the world than people did in the days of Parmenides and Aristotle.’ … but who is the ‘we’ the critic is talking about? Is he talking about himself? Then the statement is quite obviously false---there is no doubt that Aristotle, on many subjects, knew more than he does… There are lots of things unknown to ‘us’ Western intellectuals but known to other people… It may be true that the sum total of the facts that now lie buried in scientific journals, textbooks, letters and hard discs by far exceeds the sum total of the knowledge that comes from other traditions. But what counts is not number but usefulness and accessibility. How much of this knowledge is useful, and to whom?... we find lots of problems, but no obvious answers. It is therefore necessary to go beyond empty slogans and to start THINKING.” (Pg. 160-161)

In an essay of Galileo, he explains, “As far as I am concerned the best way of describing a historical conflict is to introduce the INDIVIDUALS that created it, to describe their temperament, their interests, their hopes and ambitions, the information at their disposal, their social background, the individuals and institutions they felt loyal to and that supported them in turn, and many similar things.” (Pg. 247-248)

He responds to a letter, “you say that there is ‘cultural chaos’ without a unifying bond… That sounds nicely abstract and philosophical but I wonder how closely you have considered the matter. Have you compared the clientèle of soap opera, or of Reverend Falwell, or of the Super Bowl with the clientele of modern art, or of the rationalism/irrationalism issue in philosophy? Do you have the numbers?... I don’t think you have… even the simplest calculation shows that you cannot possibly be right: there are now 10,000 philosophers teaching in the U.S. and in Canada. Most of them are obedient servants of the status quo, but let us assume that 25% are creators of disorder… let us again assume that 25% [of their students] become committed followers of their chaos-creating teachers. That would make 40,000. Do you know how many millions are watching [the TV show] Dallas? How many watched the Super Bowl?...compare the amount of money that is being used to uphold chaos with the amount of money that supports monotony… [I] contest your thesis of the pervasiveness of chaos.” (Pg. 275-276)

In the title essay, he says, “My main thesis on this point is: the events and results that constitute the sciences have no common structure; there are no elements that occur in every scientific investigation but are missing elsewhere…”(Pg. 281) He adds later, “the best education consists in immunizing people against systematic attempts at education… even the most stupid and inhumane point of view has merit and deserves a good defence.” (Pg. 316)

This broad collection of essays makes an excellent introduction to Feyerabend’s work, and makes for stimulating and thought-provoking reading.
A BROAD COLLECTION OF FEYERABEND'S ESSAYS Dec 29 2014
By Steven H Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Paul Karl Feyerabend (1924-1994) was an Austrian-born philosopher of science who taught philosophy at UC Berkeley; he also wrote books such as Against Method, The Tyranny of Science, Killing Time: The Autobiography of Paul Feyerabend, Science in a Free Society, etc.

He wrote in the Introduction to this 1987 book, "The essays collected in this volume deal with cultural diversity and cultural change. They try to show that diversity is beneficial while uniformity reduces our joys and our (intellectual, emotional, material) resources... I shall criticize two ideas that have often been used to make Western expansion intellectually respectable---the idea of Reason and the idea of Objectivity."

He suggests, "For every statement, theory, point of view believed (to be true) with good reason there exist arguments showing a conflicting alternative to be at least as good, or even better." (Pg. 76) In a later essay, he illustrates, "there exists no `objective' scientific study of the comparative effectiveness of Western and indigenous procedures in many fields. Even medicine can only offer isolated reports of successes, and equally isolated reports of the failures of non-Western medical practices: but the overall picture is far from clear." (Pg. 87)

He pointedly argues, "`It seems to me quite obvious,' says a critic, `that we know more about the world than people did in the days of Parmenides and Aristotle.' ... but who is the `we' the critic is talking about? Is he talking about himself? Then the statement is quite obviously false---there is no doubt that Aristotle, on many subjects, knew more than he does... There are lots of things unknown to `us' Western intellectuals but known to other people... It may be true that the sum total of the facts that now lie buried in scientific journals, textbooks, letters and hard discs by far exceeds the sum total of the knowledge that comes from other traditions. But what counts is not number but usefulness and accessibility. How much of this knowledge is useful, and to whom?... we find lots of problems, but no obvious answers. It is therefore necessary to go beyond empty slogans and to start THINKING." (Pg. 160-161)

In an essay of Galileo, he explains, "As far as I am concerned the best way of describing a historical conflict is to introduce the INDIVIDUALS that created it, to describe their temperament, their interests, their hopes and ambitions, the information at their disposal, their social background, the individuals and institutions they felt loyal to and that supported them in turn, and many similar things." (Pg. 247-248)

He responds to a letter, "you say that there is `cultural chaos' without a unifying bond... That sounds nicely abstract and philosophical but I wonder how closely you have considered the matter. Have you compared the clientèle of soap opera, or of Reverend Falwell, or of the Super Bowl with the clientele of modern art, or of the rationalism/irrationalism issue in philosophy? Do you have the numbers?... I don't think you have... even the simplest calculation shows that you cannot possibly be right: there are now 10,000 philosophers teaching in the U.S. and in Canada. Most of them are obedient servants of the status quo, but let us assume that 25% are creators of disorder... let us again assume that 25% [of their students] become committed followers of their chaos-creating teachers. That would make 40,000. Do you know how many millions are watching [the TV show] Dallas? How many watched the Super Bowl?...compare the amount of money that is being used to uphold chaos with the amount of money that supports monotony... [I] contest your thesis of the pervasiveness of chaos." (Pg. 275-276)

In the title essay, he says, "My main thesis on this point is: the events and results that constitute the sciences have no common structure; there are no elements that occur in every scientific investigation but are missing elsewhere..."(Pg. 281) He adds later, "the best education consists in immunizing people against systematic attempts at education... even the most stupid and inhumane point of view has merit and deserves a good defence." (Pg. 316)

This broad collection of essays makes an excellent introduction to Feyerabend's work, and makes for stimulating and thought-provoking reading.


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