Against Method Fourth Edition

Paul Feyerabend
Introdnction 1 Science is an essentially anarchic enterprise: theoretical anarchism is more humanitarian and more likely to encourage progress than its law-and-order alternatives. 1 7 This is shown both by an examination of historical episodes and by an abstract analysis of the relation between idea and action. The only principle that does not inhibit progress is: anything goes. 13 For example, we may use hypotheses that contradict well-confirmed theories and/or well-established experimental
more » ... ults. We may advance science by proceeding counterinductively. 17 The consistency condition which demands that new hypotheses agree with accepted theories is unreasonable because it preserves the older theory, and not the better theory. Hypotheses contradicting well-confirmed theories give us evidence that cannot be obtained in any other way. Proliferation of theories is beneficial for science, while uniformity impairs its critical power. Uniformity also endangers the free development of the individual. 4 ~ There is no idea, however ancient and absurd, that is not capable of improving our knowledge. The whole history of thought is absorbed into science and is used for improving every single theory. Nor is political interference rejected. It may be needed to overcome the chauvinism of science that resists alternatives to the status quo. xxx ANAL YTICAL INDEX 33 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 attempt to find the principles implicit in familiar observational notions. 49 As an example of such an attempt I examine the tower argument which the Aristotelians used to refute the motion of the earth. The argument involves natural interpretations -ideas so closely connected with observations that it needs a special effort to realize their existence and to determine their content. Galileo identifies the natural interpretations which are inconsistent with Copernicus and replaces them by others. 6~ The new natural interpretations constitute a new and highly abstract observation language. They are introduced and concealed so that one fails to notice the change that has taken place (method of anamnesis). They contain the idea of the relativity of all motion and the law of circular inertia. 74 In addition to natural interpretations, Galileo also changes sensations that seem to endanger Copernicus. He admits that there are such sensations, he praises Copernicus for having disregarded them, he claims to have removed them with the help of the telescope. However, he offers no theoretical reasons why the telescope should be expected to give a true picture of the sky. 9 83 ANALYTICAL INDEX XXXI 10 101 On the other hand, there are some telescopic phenomena which are plainly Copernican. Galileo introduces these phenomena as independent evidence for Copernicus while the situation is rather that one refuted view -Copernican ism -has a certain similarity with phenomena emerging from another refuted view -the idea that telescopic phenomena are faithful images of the sky. 11 105