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 Epistemological anarchism

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mike lewis



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Join date : 2012-03-22

PostSubject: Epistemological anarchism   Sun 29 Jul 2012, 12:51 am

Epistemological anarchism is an epistemological theory advanced by Austrian philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend which holds that there are no useful and exception-free methodological rules governing the progress of science or the growth of knowledge. It holds that the idea that science can or should operate according to universal and fixed rules is unrealistic, pernicious, and detrimental to science itself.

Quote :
For is it not possible that science as we know it today, or a "search for the truth" in the style of traditional philosophy, will create a monster? Is it not possible that an objective approach that frowns upon personal connections between the entities examined will harm people, turn them into miserable, unfriendly, self-righteous mechanisms without charm or humour? "Is it not possible," asks Kierkegaard, "that my activity as an objective [or critico-rational] observer of nature will weaken my strength as a human being?" I suspect the answer to many of these questions is affirmative and I believe that a reform of the sciences that makes them more anarchic and more subjective (in Kierkegaard's sense) is urgently needed. Against Method. p. 154.

Feyerabend's position was originally seen as radical in the philosophy of science, because it implies that philosophy can neither succeed in providing a general description of science, nor in devising a method for differentiating products of science from non-scientific entities like myths. (Feyerabend's position also implies that philosophical guidelines should be ignored by scientists, if they are to aim for progress.)

To support his position that methodological rules generally do not contribute to scientific success, Feyerabend provides counterexamples to the claim that (good) science operates according to a certain fixed method. He took some examples of episodes in science that are generally regarded as indisputable instances of progress (e.g. the Copernican revolution), and showed that all common prescriptive rules of science are violated in such circumstances. Moreover, he claimed that applying such rules in these historical situations would actually have prevented scientific revolution.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemological_anarchism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Feyerabend


Feyerabend was critical of the lack of knowledge of philosophy shown by the generation of physicists that emerged after World War II:

The withdrawal of philosophy into a "professional" shell of its own has had disastrous consequences. The younger generation of physicists, the Feynmans, the Schwingers, etc., may be very bright; they may be more intelligent than their predecessors, than Bohr, Einstein, Schrödinger, Boltzmann, Mach and so on. But they are uncivilized savages, they lack in philosophical depth – and this is the fault of the very same idea of professionalism which you are now defending.


Feyerabend described science as being essentially anarchistic, obsessed with its own mythology, and as making claims to truth well beyond its actual capacity. He was especially indignant about the condescending attitudes of many scientists towards alternative traditions. For example, he thought that negative opinions about astrology and the effectivity of rain dances were not justified by scientific research, and dismissed the predominantly negative attitudes of scientists towards such phenomena as elitist or racist. In his opinion, science has become a repressing ideology, even though it arguably started as a liberating movement. Feyerabend thought that a pluralistic society should be protected from being influenced too much by science, just as it is protected from other ideologies.

Starting from the argument that a historical universal scientific method does not exist, Feyerabend argues that science does not deserve its privileged status in western society. Since scientific points of view do not arise from using a universal method which guarantees high quality conclusions, he thought that there is no justification for valuing scientific claims over claims by other ideologies like religions. Feyerabend also argued that scientific accomplishments such as the moon landings are no compelling reason to give science a special status. In his opinion, it is not fair to use scientific assumptions about which problems are worth solving in order to judge the merit of other ideologies. Additionally, success by scientists has traditionally involved non-scientific elements, such as inspiration from mythical or religious sources.

Based on these arguments, Feyerabend defended the idea that science should be separated from the state in the same way that religion and state are separated in a modern secular society ( Against Method (3rd ed.). p. 160.). He envisioned a "free society" in which "all traditions have equal rights and equal access to the centres of power" ( Science in a Free Society. p. 9.). For example, parents should be able to determine the ideological context of their children's education, instead of having limited options because of scientific standards. According to Feyerabend, science should also be subjected to democratic control: not only should the subjects that are investigated by scientists be determined by popular election, scientific assumptions and conclusions should also be supervised by committees of lay people. He thought that citizens should use their own principles when making decisions about these matters. He rejected the view that science is especially "rational" on the grounds that there is no single common "rational" ingredient that unites all the sciences but excludes other modes of thought ( Against Method (3rd ed.). p. 246.).

Some of Feyerabend's work concerns the way in which people's perception of reality is influenced by various rules. In his last book, unfinished when he died, he talks of how our sense of reality is shaped and limited. Conquest of Abundance: A Tale of Abstraction versus the Richness of Being bemoans the propensity we have of institutionalizing these limitations.

The last philosophy book that Feyerabend finished is The Tyranny of Science (written 1993, published May 13, 2011). In it Feyerabend challenges some modern myths about science, including the myth that 'science is successful'. He argues that some very basic assumptions about science are simply false and that substantial parts of scientific ideology were created on the basis of superficial generalizations that led to absurd misconceptions about the nature of human life. Far from solving the pressing problems of our age, scientific theorizing glorifies ephemeral generalities at the cost of confronting the real particulars that make life meaningful.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epistemological_anarchism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Feyerabend
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mike lewis



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PostSubject: Re: Epistemological anarchism   Sun 29 Jul 2012, 1:02 am

Quotes


...And it is of course not true that we have to follow the truth. Human life is guided by many ideas. Truth is one of them. Freedom and mental independence are others. If Truth, as conceived by some ideologists, conflicts with freedom, then we have a choice. We may abandon freedom. But we may also abandon Truth.

...when sophistication loses content then the only way of keeping in touch with reality is to be crude and superficial. This is what I intend to be.

Against Method (1975)
Anything Goes.

One can show the following: given any rule, however "fundamental" or "necessary" for science, there are always circumstances when it is advisable not only to ignore the rule, but to adopt its opposite.
Pg. 23

First-world science is one science among many; by claiming to be more it ceases to be an instrument of research and turns into a (political) pressure group.
Pg iii (Intro to the Chinese Edition of AM)

It is clear, then, that the idea of a fixed method, or of a fixed theory or rationality, rests on too naive a view of man and his social surroundings. To those who look at the rich material provided by history, and who are not intent on impoverishing it in order to please their lower instincts, their craving for intellectual security in the for of clarity, precision, "objectivity", "truth", it will become clear that there is only one principle that can be defended under all circumstances and in all stages of human development. It is the principle: anything goes.
Pg. 27 & 28, italics are Feyerabend's

Arguments hardly affect the faithful- their beliefs have an entirely different foundation.

Without a constant misuse of language, there cannot be any discovery, any progress.
pg. 27

My intention is not to replace one set of general rules by another such set: my intention is, rather, to convince the reader that all methodologies, even the most obvious ones, have their limits. The best way to show this is to demonstrate the limits and even the irrationality of some rules which she, or he, is likely to regard as basic. In the case that induction (including induction by falsification) this means demonstrating how well the counterinductive procedure can be supported by argument.
pg. 32, Italics are Feyerabend's

All methodologies, even the most obvious ones, have their limits.


Rationalism... is a secularized form of the belief in the power of the word of God.
Pg 227

Experience arises together with theoretical assumptions not before them, and an experience without theory is just as incomprehensible as is (allegedly) a theory without experience.
pg 151

[On Empiricism ] It is evident, on the basis of our considerations, that this appearance of success cannot in the least be regarded as a sign of truth and correspondence with nature. Quite the contrary, suspicion arises that the absence of major difficulties is a result of the decrease of empirical content brought about by the elimination of alternatives, and of facts that can be discovered with their help. In other words, the suspicion arises that this alleged success is due to the fact that the theory, when extended beyond its starting point, was turned into rigid ideology. Such Ideology is "successful" not because it agrees so well with the facts; it is successful because no facts have been specified that could constitute a test, and because some such facts have been removed. Its "success" is entirely man-made. It was decided to stick to some ideas, come what may, and the result was, quite naturally, the survival of these ideas. If now the initial decision is forgotten, or made only implicitly, for example, if it becomes common law in physics, then the survival itself will seem to constitute independent support., it will reinforce the decision, or turn it into an explicate one, and in this way close the circle. This is how empirical "evidence" may be created by a procedure which quotes as its justification the very same evidence it has Produced.
Pg. 43 & 44

Facts are constituted by older ideologies.


[continued conjecture on empiricism] At this point an "empirical" theory of the kind described becomes almost indistinguishable from a second-rate myth. In order to realize this, we need only consider a myth such as the myth of witchcraft and of demonic possession that was developed by the Roman Catholic theologians and that dominated 15th-, 16th- and 17th-century thought on the European continent. This myth is a complex explanatory system that contains numerous auxiliary hypotheses designed to cover special cases, so it easily achieves a high degree of confirmation on the basis of observation. It has been taught for a long time; its content is enforced by fear, prejudice, and ignorance, as well as by a jealous and cruel priesthood. Its ideas penetrate the most common idiom, infect all modes of thinking and many decisions which mean a great deal in human life. It provides models for the explanation of a conceivable event - Conceivable, that is, for those who have accepted it. This being the case, its key terms will be fixed in an unambiguous manner and the idea (which may have led to such a procedure in the first place) that they are copies of unchanging entities and that change of meaning, if it should happen, is due to human mistake - This idea will now be very plausible. Such plausibility reinforces all the manoeuvres which are used for the preservation of the myth (elimination of opponents included). The Conceptual apparatus of the theory and the emotions connected with its application, having penetrated all means of communication, all actions, and indeed the whole life of the community, now guarantees the success of methods such as transcendental deduction, analysis of usage, phenomenological analysis - which are means for further solidifying the myth... At the same time it is evident that all contact with the world is lost and the stability achieved, the semblance of absolute truth is nothing but absolute conformism. For how can we possibly test, or improve upon the truth of a theory if it is built in such a manner then any conceivable event can be described, and explained, in terms of its principles? The only way of investigating such all-embracing principles would be to compare them with a different set of equally all embracing principles- but this procedure has been excluded from the very beginning.
Pg 44&45

Copernicanism and other "rational" views exist today only because reason was overruled at some time in their past.

No single theory ever agrees with all the facts in its domain
pg 33

Progress was often achieved by a "criticism from the past"... After Aristotle and Ptolemy, the idea that the earth moves - that strange, ancient, and "entirely ridiculous", Pythagorean view was thrown on the rubbish heap of history, only to be revived by Copernicus and to be forged by him into a weapon for the defeat of its defeaters. The Hermetic writings played an important part in this revival, which is still not sufficiently understood, and they were studied with care by the great Newton himself. Such developments are not surprising. No idea is ever examined in all its ramifications and no view is ever given all the chances it deserves. Theories are abandoned and superseded by more fashionable accounts long before they have had an opportunity to show their virtues. Besides, ancient doctrines and "primitive" myths appear strange and nonsensical only because their scientific content is either not known, or is distorted by philologists or anthropologists unfamiliar with the simplest physical, medical or astronomical knowledge.
Pg 48

Ultimate Reality, if such an entity can be postulated, is ineffable.
All religion may be centered around a generally good idea, however, this has not stopped its adherents from acting like bastards

[Responding to criticism from Dr. Hesse] Voodoo, Dr Hesse's piece de risistance', is case in point. Nobody knows it, everybody uses it as a paradigm of backwardness and confusion. And yet Voodoo has a firm though still not sufficiently understood material basis, and a study of its manifestations can be used to enrich, and perhaps even revise, our knowledge of physiology.
Pg. 50

Not only are facts and theories in constant disharmony, they are never as neatly separated as everyone makes them out to be.
Pg. 66

Facts are constituted by older ideologies, and a clash between facts and theories may be proof of progress.
Pg. 33

The material which a scientist actually has at his disposal, his laws, his experimental results, his mathematical techniques, his epistemological prejudices, his attitude towards the absurd consequences of the theories which he accepts, is indeterminate in many ways, ambiguous, and never fully separated from the historical background. This material is always contaminated by principles which he does not know and which, if known, would be extremely hard to test.
Pg. 66

Taking experimental results and observations for granted and putting the burden of proof on the theory means taking the observational ideology for granted without having ever examined it.
Pg. 67

Now - how can we possibly examine something we use all the time and presuppose in every statement? How can we criticize the terms in which we habitually express our observations? Let us see! The first step in our criticism of commonly-used concepts is to create a measure of criticism, something with which these concepts can be compared. Of course, we shall later want to know a little more about the measuring stick itself; for example, we shall want to know whether it is better than, or perhaps not as good as, the material examined. But in order for this examination to start there must be a measuring-stick in the first place. Therefore, the first step in our criticism of customary concepts and customary reactions is to step outside the circle and either to invent a new conceptual system, for example a new theory, that clashes with the most carefully established observational results and confounds with the most plausible theoretical principles, or to import such a system from outside science, from religion, from mythology , from the ideas of incompetents, or the ramblings of madmen. This step is, again, counter-inductive, Counter-induction is thus both a fact' - science could not exist without it - and a legitimate and much needed move in the game of science.
Pg 68

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.
pg 295

A free society is a society in which all traditions have equal rights and equal access to the centers of power.

Science is an essentially anarchic enterprise: theoretical anarchism is more humanitarian and more likely to encourage progress than its law-and-order alternatives.
pg 9

The ideas survived and they can now be said to be in agreement with reason. They survived because prejudice, passion, conceit, errors, sheer pigheadedness, in short because all the elements that characterize the context of discovery, opposed the dictates of reason and because these irrational elements were permitted to have their way. To express it differently: Copernicanism and other "rational" views exist today only because reason was overruled at some time in their past. (The opposite is also true: witchcraft and other "irrational" views had ceased to be influential only because reason was overruled at some time in their past.)
Pg. 155

First-world science is one science among many; by claiming to be more it ceases to be an instrument of research and turns into a (political) pressure group.

Science is not sacrosanct. The mere fact that it exists, is admired, has results is not sufficient for making it a measure of excellence. Modern science arose from global objections against earlier views and rationalism itself, the idea that there are general rules and standards for conducting our affairs, affairs of knowledge included, arose from global objections to common sense.
pg 223

Naive falsificationism takes it for granted that the laws of nature are manifest an 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.
Pg 295-296

We have to realize that a unified theory of the physical world simply does not exist

Is it not a fact that a learned physician is better equipped to diagnose and to cure an illness than a layman or the medicine-man of a primitive society? Is it not a fact that epidemics and dangerous individual diseases have disappeared only with the beginning of modern medicine? Must we not admit that technology has made tremendous advances since the rise of modern science? And are not the moon-shots a most and undeniable proof of its excellence? These are some of the questions which are thrown at the impudent wretch who dares to criticize the special positions of the sciences. The questions reach their polemical aim only if one assumes that the results of science which no one will deny have arisen without any help from non-scientific elements, and that they cannot be improved by an admixture of such elements either. "Unscientific" procedures such as the herbal lore of witches and cunning men, the astronomy of mystics, the treatment of the ill in primitive societies are totally without merit. Science alone gives us a useful astronomy, an effective medicine, a trustworthy technology. One must also assume that science owes its success to the correct method and not merely to a lucky accident. It was not a fortunate cosmological guess that led to progress, but the correct and cosmologically neutral handling of data. These are the assumptions we must make to give the questions the polemical force they are supposed to have. Not a single one of them stands up to closer examination.
Pg. 304

The sciences of today are business enterprises run on business principles. Research in large institutes is not guided by Truth and Reason but by the most rewarding fashion, and the great minds of today increasingly turn to where the money is.

Combining this observation with the insight that science has no special method, we arrive at the result that the separation of science and non-science is not only artificial but also detrimental to the advancement of knowledge. If we want to understand nature, if we want to master our physical surroundings, then we must use all ideas, all methods, and not just a small selection of them. The assertion, however, that there is no knowledge outside science - extra scientiam nulla salus - is nothing but another and most convenient fairy-tale. Primitive tribes has more detailed classifications of animals and plant than contemporary scientific zoology and botany, they know remedies whose effectiveness astounds physicians (while the pharmaceutical industry already smells here a new source of income), they have means of influencing their fellow men which science for a long time regarded as non-existent (voodoo), they solve difficult problems in ways which are still not quite understood (building of the pyramids; Polynesian travels), there existed a highly developed and internationally known astronomy in the old Stone Age, this astronomy was factually adequate as well as emotionally satisfying, it solved both physical and social problems (one cannot say the same about modern astronomy) and it was tested in very simple and ingenious ways (stone observatories in England and in the South Pacific; astronomical schools in Polynesia - for a more details treatment an references concerning all these assertions cf. my Einfuhrung in die Naturphilosophie). There was the domestication of animals, the invention of rotating agriculture, new types of plants were bred and kept pure by careful avoidance of cross fertilization, we have chemical inventions, we have a most amazing art that can compare with the best achievement of the present. True, there were no collective excursions to the moon, but single individuals, disregarding great dangers to their soul and their sanity, rose from sphere to sphere to sphere until they finally faced God himself in all His splendor while others changed into animals and back into humans again. At all times man approached his surroundings with wide open senses and a fertile intelligence, at all times he made incredible discoveries, at all times we can learn from his ideas.
Pg. 306-307

Many "educated citizens" take it for granted that reality is what scientists say it is


Unanimity of opinion may be fitting for a church, for the frightened or greedy victims of some (ancient, or modern) myth, or for the weak and willing followers of some tyrant. Variety of opinion is necessary for objective knowledge. And a method that encourages variety is also the only method that is comparable with a humanitarian outlook.
pg 46

How To Defend Society Against Science (1975)

I want to defend society and its inhabitants from all ideologies, science included. All ideologies must be seen in perspective. One must not take them too seriously. One must read them like fairy-tales which have lots of interesting things to say but which also contain wicked lies, or like ethical prescriptions which may be useful rules of thumb but which are deadly when followed to the letter.

Those who violate the rules of a language do not enter new territory; they leave the domain of meaningful discourse.

Scientific "facts" are taught at a very early age and in the very same manner in which religious "facts" were taught only a century ago. There is no attempt to waken the critical abilities of the pupil so that he may be able to see things in perspective. At the universities the situation is even worse, for indoctrination is here carried out in a much more systematic manner. Criticism is not entirely absent. Society, for example, and its institutions, are criticised most severely and often most unfairly... But science is excepted from the criticism. In society at large the judgment of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgement of bishops and cardinals was accepted not too long ago. The move towards "demythologization," for example, is largely motivated by the wish to avoid any clash between Christianity and scientific ideas. If such a clash occurs, then science is certainly right and Christianity wrong. Pursue this investigation further and you will see that science has now become as oppressive as the ideologies it had once to fight. Do not be misled by the fact that today hardly anyone gets killed for joining a scientific heresy. This has nothing to do with science. It has something to do with the general quality of our civilization. Heretics in science are still made to suffer from the most severe sanctions this relatively tolerant civilization has to offer.

Most scientists today are devoid of ideas, full of fear, intent on producing some paltry result so that they can add to the flood of inane papers that now constitutes "scientific progress" in many areas.

The progress of science, of good science, depends on novel ideas and on intellectual freedom: science has very often been advanced by outsiders (remember that Bohr and Einstein regarded themselves as outsiders).

The purpose of education, so one would think, is to introduce the young into life,and that means: into the society where they are born and into the physical universe that surrounds the society. The method of education often consists in the teaching of some basic myth. The myth is available in various versions. More advanced versions may be taught by initiation rites which firmly implant them into the mind. Knowing the myth, the grown-up can explain almost everything (or else he can turn to experts for more detailed information). He is the master of Nature and of Society. He understands them both and he knows how to interact with them. However, he is not the master of the myth that guides his understanding.

Rationalism is a secularized form of the belief in the power of the Word of God.
Science in a Free Society (1978)

Today science prevails not because of its comparative merits, but because the show has been rigged in its favour... It reigns supreme because some past successes have led to institutional measures (education; role of experts; role of power groups such as the AMA) that prevent a comeback of the rivals.
pg 102

Mathematical Reasoning is not only exact; it has its own criteria of reality
pg52

Experts have a vested interest in their own playpens, and so they will quite naturally argue that 'education' is impossible without them (can you imagine an Oxford philosopher, or an elementary particle physicist arguing himself out of good money?)
pg 134

One knows quite well that harmony can be a harmony of appearances
pg51

The attitude of the Church was not as dogmatic as is often assumed. Interpretations of Bible passages had been revised in the light of scientific research before. Everyone regarded the earth as spherical and as freely floating in space though the Bible tells a different story.
pg 45

I do not see why I should be polite to tyrants, who slobber of humanitarianism and think only of their own petty interests.
pg 136

Do electrons exist, or are they merely fictious ideas for the ordering of observations (sense date, classical events)?... If there are only sensations, then terms such as 'election or 'St. Augustine' are auxiliary terms, designed to bring some order into our experiences.
pg 39

The validity of usefulness, adequacy of popular standards can be tested only by research that violates them.
pg 35

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 entire world view, he is the inventor of entire forms of like.
pg 38, italics are feyerabends

Experts often arrive at different results, both in fundamental matters, and in application Who does not know of at least one case in his family where one doctor recommends a certain operation, another argues against it, while a third suggests an entirely different procedure? Who has not read of the debates about nuclear safety, the of the economy, the effects of pesticides, aerosol sprays, the efficiency of methods of education, the influence of race on intelligence? Two, three, five and even more views arise in such debates, and scientific supporters can be found for all of them. Occasionally one almost feels inclined to say: as many scientists, as many opinions. There are of course areas in which scientists agree- but this cannot raise our confidence. Unanimity is often the result of a political decision: dissenters are suppressed, or remain silent to preserve the reputation of science as a source of trustworthy and almost infallible knowledge. On other occasions, unanimity is the result of shared prejudices: positions are taken without detail examination of the matter under review and are infused with the same authority that proceeds from detailed research.
pg 88
Even bold and revolutionary thinkers bow to the judgment of science. Kropotkin wants to break up all existing institutions, but he does not touch science. Ibsen goes very far in his critique of bourgeois society, but he retains science as a measure of truth. Levi Strauss has made us realize that Western thought is not the lonely peak of human achievement it was once thought to be, but he and his followers exclude science from their relativization of ideologies. Marx and Engels were convinced that science would aid the workers in their quest for mental and social liberation.
pg 75

In a war a totalitarian state has a free hand.
pg 87

Traditions are neither good nor bad, they simply are... Rationality is not an arbiter of traditions, it is itself a tradition or an aspect of a tradition.
pg 27

The semblance of Absolute Truth is nothing but Absolute Conformism.

A free society is a society in which all traditions have equal rights and equal access to the centers of power. A tradition receives these rights not because the importance the cash value, as it were) it has for outsiders but because it gives meaning to the lives of those who participate in it.
pg 9

Language became a colorless and as indistinct as the business suit which is now worm by everyone, by the scholar, by the businessman, by the professional killer. Being accustomed to a dry and dreary norm and sees in it an obvious sign of arrogance and aggression; viewing authority with almost religious awe he gets into a frenzy when he sees someone pluck the beard of his favorite prophet.
pg150

Every profession has an ideology and a drive for power that goes far beyond its achievements and it is the task of democracy to keep this ideology and this drive under control. Science is here no different from other institutions.
pg 151

Rational discourse is only one way of presenting and examining an issue and by no means the best. Our new intellectuals are not aware of its limitations and of the nature of the things outside.
pg 184

Farewell to Reason (1987)
In a war a totalitarian state has a free hand.

By now many intellectuals regard theoretical or 'objective' knowledge as the only knowledge worth considering. Popper himself encourages the belief by his slander of relativism. Now this conceit would have substance if scientists and philosophers looking for universal and objective morality had succeeded in finding the former and persuaded, rather than forced, dissenting cultures to adopt the latter. This is not the case.
pg 168

We have to realize that a unified theory of the physical world simply does not exist. We have theories that work in restricted regions, we have purely formal attempts to condense them into a single formula, we have lots of unfounded claims (such as the claim that all of chemistry can be reduced to physics), phenomena that do not fit into the accepted framework are suppressed; in physics, which many scientists regard as the one really basic science, we have now at least three different point of view (relativity, dealing with the very large, quantum theory for an intermediate domain and various particle models for the very small) without a promise of conceptual (and not only formal) unification; perceptions are outside of the material universe (the mind-body problem is still unsolved) - from the very beginning the salesman of a universal truth cheated people into admissions instead of clearly arguing for their philosophy. And let us not forget that it was they and not the representatives of the traditions they attacked who introduced argument as the one and only universal arbiter. They praised argument - they constantly violated its principles.
pg 100

Most scientists today are devoid of ideas, full of fear, intent on producing some paltry result so that they can add to the flood of inane papers that now constitutes "scientific progress" in many areas.

There is no coherent knowledge, i.e. no uniform comprehensive account of the world and the events in it. There is no comprehensive truth that goes beyond an enumeration of details, but there are many pieces of information, obtained in different ways from different sources and collected for the benefit of the curious. The best way of presenting such knowledge is the list - and the oldest scientific works were indeed lists of facts, parts, coincidences, problems in several specialized domains.
pg 98, italics are feyerabends

The sciences of today are business enterprises run on business principles. Research in large institutes is not guided by Truth and Reason but by the most rewarding fashion, and the great minds of today increasingly turn to where the money is - which means military matters.
pg 102

All religion may be centered around a generally good idea, however, this has not stopped its adherents from acting like bastards
123

If the world is an aggregate of relatively independent regions, then any assumption of universal laws is false and a demand for universal norms tyrannical: only brute force (or seductive deception) can then bend the different moralities so that they fit the prescriptions of a single ethical system. And indeed, the idea of universal laws of nature and society arose in connection with a life-and-death battle: the battle that gave Zeus the power over the Titans and all other gods and thus turned his laws into the laws of the universe.
pg 99, italics are feyerabends

Early Chinese thinkers had taken variety at face value. They had favored diversification and collected anomalies instead of trying to explain them away.

'Truth', written 'in capital letters', is an orphan in this world, without power and influence... ['Reason'] cannot stand diverging opinions - it calls them 'lies'; it puts itself 'above' the real lives of human beings, demanding, in a way characteristic of all totalitarian ideologies, the right to rebuild the world from the height of 'what it should be', i.e. in accordance with its own 'invincible' precepts. It refuses to recognize the many ideas, actions, feelings, laws, institutions, racial features which separate one nation (culture, civilization) from another... The reason of ordinary people trying to create a better and safer world for themselves and their children (which is reason with a small 'r' and not Reason 'written in capital letters') has very little in common with these ignorant dreams of domination.
pg 102

Killing Time(1995)

People have different professions, diferent points of view. They are like observers looking at the world through the narrow windows of an otherwise closed structure. Occasionally they assemble at the center and discuss what they have seen; then one observer will talk about a beautiful landscape with red trees, a red sky, and a red lake in the middle; the next one about an infinite blue plane without articulation; and the third about an impressive, five-floor-high building; they will quarrel. The observer on top of the structure (me) can only laugh at their quarrels-but for them the quarrels will be real and he (the observer on top) will be an unworldly dreamer. Real life... is exactly like that. Every person has his own well-defined opinions, which color the section of the world he percieves. And when people come together, when they try to discover the nature of the whole which they belong, they are bound to talk past each other; they will understand neither themselves nor their companions.
Pg 48

Conquest of Abundance (2001 [posthumous])
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.

Those who violate the rules of a language do not enter new territory; they leave the domain of meaningful discourse. Even facts in these circumstances dissolve, because they are shaped by the language and subjected to its limitations.
pg 20

And where is the boundary-if there is a boundary-between a collective outlook and "the world"?. Many cultures assume such a boundary, but they set it in different places. Divine appearances once were real- they are mere fantasies today. Where shall we, who examine the phenomenon, set the boundary?
pg 27

Arguments hardly affect the faithful- their beliefs have an entirely different foundation.
pg 212

Many "educated citizens" take it for granted that reality is what scientists say it is and that other opinions may be recorded, but need not be taken seriously. But science offers not one story, it offers many; the stories clash and their relation to a story-independent "reality" is as problematic as the relation of the Homeric epics to an alleged "Homeric world."
Pg 27

Human paint, produce films and videos; they dance, dream and make music; they engage in political action, exchange goods, perform rituals, build houses start wars, act in plays, try to please patrons- and so on... They contain patterns, press the practitioners to "conform" and in this way mold their thought, their perception, their actions, and their discriminative abilities.
pg 28

The existence of antagonistic "conspiracies" was recognized by the defenders of religious and political views. Iconoclasts knew that images might distort the basic message of their creed (which consisted of words and resided in Holy Books). Church architecture and church music were adapted to the needs of the Holy Faith. Alternative styles were either fought or made part of religious PR. I conclude that our 'field of experience' is molded, overlaid, and 'conspired' against not just by language, but by numerous other patterns and institutions, many of them in mutual conflict. An inference from a style, a particular linguistic apparatus, or, more recently, from scientific beliefs, to a cosmology, corresponding ways of life and an all-embracing "spirit of the age therefore needs special support; it cannot be made as a matter of course.
pg 28

Ultimate Reality, if such an entity can be postulated, is ineffable.
pg 214

What is surprising is that almost all the trends that developed within the sciences, Aristotelianism and an extreme Platonism included, produced results, not only in special domains, but everywhere; there exist highly theoretical branches of biology and highly empirical parts of astrophysics. The world is a complex an many-sided thing.
Pg 152

When Western civilization invaded the Near and Far East and what is now called the Third World it imposed its own ideas of a proper environment and a rewarding life. Doing this, it disrupted the delicate patterns of adaptation and created problems that had not existed before.
pg 159

Results from a given approach are "facts" as long as the approach fits the group or the tradition that is being addressed

There is no "scientific worldview" just as there is no uniform enterprise "science"- except in the minds of metaphysicians, school masters, and scientists blinded by the achievements of their own particular niche... There is no objective principle that could direct us away from the supermarket "religion" or the supermarket "art" toward the more modern, and much more expensive supermarket "science." Besides, the search for such guidance would be in conflict with the idea of individual responsibility which allegedly is an important ingredient of a "rational" or scientific age.
Pg 159

Early Chinese thinkers had taken variety at face value. They had favored diversification and collected anomalies instead of trying to explain them away.
Pg 7

So far Unitarian realism claiming to possess positive knowledge about Ultimate Reality has succeeded only by excluding large areas of phenomena or by declaring, without proof, that they could be reduced to basic theory, which, in this connection, means elementary particle physics.
pg 215

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

The members of the Japanese enlightenment of the early 1870's , Fukuzawa among them, now reasoned as follows: Japan can keep its independence only if it becomes stronger. It can become stronger only with the help of science. It will use science effectively only if it does not just practice science but also believes in the underlying ideology. To many traditional Japanese this ideology-the scientific worldview- was barbaric. But, so the followers of Fukuzawa argued, it was necessary to adopt barbaric ways, to regard them as advanced, to introduce the whole of Western civilization in order to survive. Having been thus prepared, Japanese scientists soon branched out as their Western colleagues had done before and falsified the uniform ideology that had started the development. The lesson I draw from this sequence of events is that a uniform 'scientific view of the world' may be useful for people doing science... However, it is a disaster for outsiders(philosophers, fly-by-night mystics, prophets of a new age, the (educated public"), who, being undisturbed by the complexities of research, are liable to fall for the most simpleminded and most vapid tale.
pag 160

Humane science must be adapted to the requirements of a balanced and rewarding life.
pg 217

A Universal Good should reflect the reality of the individual benefits that are collected under its name, not the other way around.
pg 218

Confronted with such a variety most philosophers try to establish one approach to the exclusion of all others. As far as they are concerned there can only be one true way- and they want to find it. Thus normative philosophers argue that knowledge is a result of the application of certain rules, they propose rules which in their opinion constitute knowledge and reject what clashes with them.
Pg 84

Results from a given approach are "facts" as long as the approach fits the group or the tradition that is being addressed
pg 86
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PostSubject: Re: Epistemological anarchism   Tue 31 Jul 2012, 1:16 pm

mike lewis wrote:
Epistemological anarchism is an epistemological theory advanced by Austrian philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend which holds that there are no useful and exception-free methodological rules governing the progress of science or the growth of knowledge. It holds that the idea that science can or should operate according to universal and fixed rules is unrealistic, pernicious, and detrimental to science itself.

Quote :
For is it not possible that science as we know it today, or a "search for the truth" in the style of traditional philosophy, will create a monster? Is it not possible that an objective approach that frowns upon personal connections between the entities examined will harm people, turn them into miserable, unfriendly, self-righteous mechanisms without charm or humour? "Is it not possible," asks Kierkegaard, "that my activity as an objective [or critico-rational] observer of nature will weaken my strength as a human being?" I suspect the answer to many of these questions is affirmative and I believe that a reform of the sciences that makes them more anarchic and more subjective (in Kierkegaard's sense) is urgently needed. Against Method. p. 154.
Interesting, so is this where "it" started? Is this where they realized that science would help them create the mechanized beings that they sought?

For what it's worth, didn't Goedel say he didn't believe in Natural Laws? I'm starting to have an appreciation as to why.

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PostSubject: Re: Epistemological anarchism   Tue 31 Jul 2012, 10:48 pm

C1 wrote:
Quote :
For is it not possible that science as we know it today, or a "search for the truth" in the style of traditional philosophy, will create a monster? Is it not possible that an objective approach that frowns upon personal connections between the entities examined will harm people, turn them into miserable, unfriendly, self-righteous mechanisms without charm or humour? "Is it not possible," asks Kierkegaard, "that my activity as an objective [or critico-rational] observer of nature will weaken my strength as a human being?" I suspect the answer to many of these questions is affirmative and I believe that a reform of the sciences that makes them more anarchic and more subjective (in Kierkegaard's sense) is urgently needed. Against Method. p. 154.
Interesting, so is this where "it" started? Is this where they realized that science would help them create the mechanized beings that they sought?

Knowledge gained from physical investigation and empirical observation has always held the potential for abuse and has always been misused by some elements. I think when science is elevated to the status of a religion and cold anti-human rationality becomes the supreme sacrament then the consequences for the society or culture that does this will be extremely negative. This does not mean that science or rationality in themselves are inherently bad or negative, it is only the abuse and misuse which lead to suffering.


C1 wrote:
For what it's worth, didn't Goedel say he didn't believe in Natural Laws? I'm starting to have an appreciation as to why.

Natural Law or Physical Law is simply Causation.

"a theoretical principle deduced from particular facts, applicable to a defined group or class of phenomena, and expressible by the statement that a particular phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions be present." - "law of nature". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. 2001.

It would be very difficult to logically argue against the reality of Physical Law, but there are very good and valid arguments against making Physical Law to be absolute, eternally and universally applicable, to the totality of reality.
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PostSubject: Re: Epistemological anarchism   Wed 01 Aug 2012, 2:28 pm

mike lewis wrote:
C1 wrote:
For what it's worth, didn't Goedel say he didn't believe in Natural Laws? I'm starting to have an appreciation as to why.

Natural Law or Physical Law is simply Causation.

"a theoretical principle deduced from particular facts, applicable to a defined group or class of phenomena, and expressible by the statement that a particular phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions be present." - "law of nature". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. 2001.

It would be very difficult to logically argue against the reality of Physical Law, but there are very good and valid arguments against making Physical Law to be absolute, eternally and universally applicable, to the totality of reality.
But in an inconsistent system, causation doesn't always hold, and hence "laws" is perhaps not the most appropriate word here, at least how the public may view the term.?

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PostSubject: Re: Epistemological anarchism   Thu 02 Aug 2012, 5:24 am

C1 wrote:
But in an inconsistent system, causation doesn't always hold, and hence "laws" is perhaps not the most appropriate word here, at least how the public may view the term.?

That is a very astute observation, and while I agree with you completely as a matter of opinion, philosophically speaking the underlying question of causal determinism is still very much up for debate. My personal take is that causation is not absolute but the more sophisticated concept of sufficient reason definitely is, that is to say that everything that occurs in reality may not be necessary but what transpires or comes into being can only do so if there is sufficient reason. This stills leave physical law completely intact but it does expand its scope and applicability to a boundless infinity.
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PostSubject: Re: Epistemological anarchism   Thu 02 Aug 2012, 1:34 pm

mike lewis wrote:
C1 wrote:
But in an inconsistent system, causation doesn't always hold, and hence "laws" is perhaps not the most appropriate word here, at least how the public may view the term.?

That is a very astute observation, and while I agree with you completely as a matter of opinion, philosophically speaking the underlying question of causal determinism is still very much up for debate. My personal take is that causation is not absolute but the more sophisticated concept of sufficient reason definitely is, that is to say that everything that occurs in reality may not be necessary but what transpires or comes into being can only do so if there is sufficient reason. This stills leave physical law completely intact but it does expand its scope and applicability to a boundless infinity.
Okay, then this brings us back to the concept of Metaphysics, does it not?

And if it does, it also brings us back to a discussion about man's lack of control over his domain, which is an understanding that the elite are afraid of and do not want the public to buy in to, cause it crushes all of their systems of power.

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PostSubject: Re: Epistemological anarchism   Fri 03 Aug 2012, 12:30 pm

C1 wrote:

Okay, then this brings us back to the concept of Metaphysics, does it not?

It does.

C1 wrote:
And if it does, it also brings us back to a discussion about man's lack of control over his domain, which is an understanding that the elite are afraid of and do not want the public to buy in to, cause it crushes all of their systems of power.

Maybe at one time it would have threatened the elites' very carefully crafted public perception of themselves when they posed as literal gods or the infallible emissaries and messengers of "The One True God", but now days not so much. Granted they have been attempting to cultivate a blind faith in the authority of science for the last century or so but among themselves privately I do not think they entertain any such delusion, for the elites these days it is all about Pragmatism in the pursuit of ever higher degrees of relative power and command over nature. Their systems of power along with their methodology has been, and I think will continue to be, extremely effective in conquering one level of nature after the next. There may not be an ''ultimate'' height of power but there does not seem to be any insurmountable natural barriers limiting how far they can proceed in their campaign of progress. In short, if we don't stop them then their progress could continue indefinitely and who knows what they will eventually become, relative to modern humans they may very well one day actually achieve godhood(relatively speaking of course). There is a very real possibility that they could pull it off and get away with it.
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PostSubject: Re: Epistemological anarchism   Tue 07 Aug 2012, 1:32 pm

mike lewis wrote:
Maybe at one time it would have threatened the elites' very carefully crafted public perception of themselves when they posed as literal gods or the infallible emissaries and messengers of "The One True God", but now days not so much. Granted they have been attempting to cultivate a blind faith in the authority of science for the last century or so but among themselves privately I do not think they entertain any such delusion, for the elites these days it is all about Pragmatism in the pursuit of ever higher degrees of relative power and command over nature. Their systems of power along with their methodology has been, and I think will continue to be, extremely effective in conquering one level of nature after the next. There may not be an ''ultimate'' height of power but there does not seem to be any insurmountable natural barriers limiting how far they can proceed in their campaign of progress. In short, if we don't stop them then their progress could continue indefinitely and who knows what they will eventually become, relative to modern humans they may very well one day actually achieve godhood(relatively speaking of course). There is a very real possibility that they could pull it off and get away with it.
Of course I can't give a rational argument, but I can't buy into this.... just too many variables to control.

On edit: I'm bought-in to God... so, I have faith that this inconsistent world is going to bite the elites in the Ass, and that they will stumble. Further, I've been studying control-feedback systems for over 20years, and I don't think that they have yet proven the viability of such a system applied to human & social systems. Moreover, I believe that their control over high level technocrats is weak, as when I confront (sometimes in person) such actors it's always been obvious to me that they: (1) are scared that they have been reveaed; (2) understand that what they are doing is wrong. Finally, I have direct experience fighting them at very high levels, and I have seen firsthand how much havoc one person can create for them and their systems. Hence, my conclusion is that once the fear has dissipated one learns that they are weak.

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PostSubject: Re: Epistemological anarchism   Tue 14 Aug 2012, 12:12 am

C1 wrote:


I've been studying control-feedback systems for over 20years, and I don't think that they have yet proven the viability of such a system applied to human & social systems. Moreover, I believe that their control over high level technocrats is weak, as when I confront (sometimes in person) such actors it's always been obvious to me that they: (1) are scared that they have been reveaed; (2) understand that what they are doing is wrong. Finally, I have direct experience fighting them at very high levels, and I have seen firsthand how much havoc one person can create for them and their systems. Hence, my conclusion is that once the fear has dissipated one learns that they are weak.

I am inclined to agree that ultimately 'evil', for lack of a better term, will fail, the only question is how far it will advance before it does.

C1 wrote:
I believe that their control over high level technocrats is weak

It is an age old problem that nobody has ever managed to solve:

In political science and economics, the principal–agent problem or agency dilemma concerns the difficulties in motivating one party (the "agent"), to act on behalf of another (the "principal"). Common examples of this relationship include corporate management (agent) and shareholders (principal), or politicians (agent) and voters (principal) The two parties have different interests and asymmetric information (the agent having more information), such that the principal cannot directly ensure that the agents are always acting in its (the principals') best interests, particularly when activities that are useful to the principal are costly to the agent, and where elements of what the agent does are costly for the principal to observe. Moral hazard and conflict of interest may arise. The deviation from the principal's interest by the agent is called 'agency costs.'
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principal_agent

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agency_costs

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_agency
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PostSubject: Re: Epistemological anarchism   Tue 14 Aug 2012, 11:55 pm

mike lewis wrote:
C1 wrote:


I've been studying control-feedback systems for over 20years, and I don't think that they have yet proven the viability of such a system applied to human & social systems. Moreover, I believe that their control over high level technocrats is weak, as when I confront (sometimes in person) such actors it's always been obvious to me that they: (1) are scared that they have been reveaed; (2) understand that what they are doing is wrong. Finally, I have direct experience fighting them at very high levels, and I have seen firsthand how much havoc one person can create for them and their systems. Hence, my conclusion is that once the fear has dissipated one learns that they are weak.

I am inclined to agree that ultimately 'evil', for lack of a better term, will fail, the only question is how far it will advance before it does.
I think THIS is actually the beginning of the end for them. It's quite a risk to create a global social-network economy based largely on feedback and control. While they have been running pilot programs in Chile since Stafford Beers was there under Allende, I am not convinced it is scalable globally. Hence, I think it's going to unravel.

Also, I make it a point every time I can to confront a technocrat and to let them know that I know who they are and what they are doing. I figure the more people do that, the more they'll start second guessing their own ability to hide amongst the public, and therefore their willingness to comply with orders from above. Ultimately, the technocratic hierarchy must bolt from their controllers.

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