Who is Paul Karl Feyerabend?June 26, 2021
Austrian philosopher and philosopher of science, lived from January 13, 1924 – February 11, 1994.
He was a student of Karl Popper, but later grounded his ideas in a theoretical position completely opposed to Popper’s. Karl Popper, together with Thomas Kuhn, is the third most important name in 20th century philosophy and especially in the field of philosophy of science. It has a position close to Kuhn’s relativistic theory but a radical theoretical rejection of both the theoretical and social status of science. He is one of the most important names of “anarchist epistemology”.
Paul Feyerabend began studying history, sociology, physics, astronomy and mathematics in Vienna in 1946. After giving his doctorate in philosophy with Victor Kraft, a philosopher and philosopher of science belonging to the Vienna Circle group, he won a scholarship from the British Consul and went to London. Here, he wanted to start working as an assistant to Ludwig Wittgenstein. During this time, as a result of Wittgenstein’s death, Feyerabend decided to take up a position with Karl Popper. The love-hate relationship between Feyerabend and Popper was thus established. Many of Feyerabend’s works contain mainly explicit or implicit criticism of his teacher, Popper. Between 1955 and 1990 he was in many places such as Berkeley, Hamburg, Auckland, Kassel, New Haven, London, Berlin, at the same time he was a professor at the Technical University in Berkeley and Zurich. He retired from both in 1990. Feyerabend, together with Thomas Kuhn, is one of the proponents of the relativist philosophy of science, mainly oriented towards sociological knowledge. Unlike Kuhn, however, Feyerabend insists on taking his theoretical claims more to the end in terms of logical consistency and is therefore in a more controversial position.
Feyerabend’s thoughts in the philosophy of science began to show a different development after 1968. Feyerabend finds Popper’s critical rationality and his attempt to ground science on this basis unacceptable. It tends towards the de-philosophy of rationality, because according to Feyerabend, rationalism is primarily and essentially “law and order” rationalism. Therefore, he advocates a relative understanding of science in the philosophy of science. In this respect, Feyerabend’s work is understood in the field of philosophy of science as a known theory of Anarchism or a philosophical Dadaism. Feyerabend rebels against the orthodox dogmatism of science, or in other words, against the orthodox dogmatic understanding of science.
Feyerabend is one of the pioneers in saying “Farewell to the Mind”. The idea that the mind is a single and holistic quality and that his method follows a single path is an opinion that Feyerabend confronts. It also objects to the privilege of scientific theories and method. One of his most important texts is called “No to Method”. Scientific theories are historically relative and cannot be superior or privileged to other sources in terms of knowledge. Feyerabend’s later writings are, in a sense, based on demonstrating the invalidity of Popper’s critical rationalism. Ahmet İnam evaluates Feyerabend’s anarchist attempt at science as follows;
The hostility to science is not defended here: the boundaries of science, its place, its homeland, are put forward and discussed. Anarchism has a meaning for the Western person who has been creative in science and has contributed to science: It is trying to get rid of its chains. He sees the dangers of blind scientism. Feyerabend, so to speak, takes science into ‘ti’, occasionally making black humor about science. He has a right to this: He knows science, has done detailed and comprehensive studies on the history of science, and has put forward views on the latest developments…
Feyerabend’s sharpest expression, “Anything goes”, emerges as a result of his treating science as one of the possible knowledge possibilities, either at the same point or together with religion or art. Science, religion, art, each of these are different ways of acquiring knowledge, they are not superior or privileged to the other. These are different ways of reaching reality. They are not measurable or comparable to each other. They cannot be reduced to a single method. From here Feyerabend and Kuhn come to the problem of ‘Ismeasurability’. This concept seems to belong specifically to Kuhn; While Kuhn alone evaluated this issue in the context of the iso-immeasurability of different intra-scientific theories, Feyarabend went further and addressed it as the issue of the incommensurability of science itself with other sources of knowledge.
– anarchy in science
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook