Monday, October 11, 2010

2nd Ed.: Paul Feyerabend, AGAINST METHOD.

Feyerabend, Paul.  Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge.  London: Verso, 1975.  2nd Ed. 2010.

Paul Feyerabend (1924-1994) was one of the twentieth century's most famous philosophers of science, and remains an influential figure in this field and in the sociology of scientific knowledge.

Against Method examines the deficiencies of many widespread ideas about scientific progress and the nature of knowledge. Feyerabend argues that scientific advances can only be understood in historical context. He looks at the way the philosophy of science has consistently overemphasized practice over method, and considers the possibility that anarchism could replace rationalism in the theory of knowledge.

Feyerabend’s book ranks alongside classic works such as Karl Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery, and Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. However, in seeking to outline an anarchist theory of scientific knowledge, Against Method challenges these canonical theoretical models by making a radical new contribution to the philosophy of science.

First published in 1975, the book stands as an intellectual testament to the ferment of the 1960s, challenging as it does many of the reigning orthodoxies within the philosophy of science. The book’s original publication sparked considerable argument within a number of academic disciplines, and its central arguments are still relevant today, given the considerable popularity enjoyed by the “new rationalism” propounded by popular scientists such as Richard Dawkins.

This updated edition of the classic text includes a new introduction by Ian Hacking, one of the world’s most important contemporary philosophers of science. Hacking reflects on both Feyeraband’s life and personality as well as the broader significance of the book for current discussions.

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