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Farewell to Reason Paperback – January 17, 1988

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Verso (January 17, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0860918963
  • ISBN-13: 978-0860918967
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.1 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #804,291 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.


“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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 26 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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40 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 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 Edward Mariyani-Squire on October 20, 2009
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.
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By Phillip F. Crenshaw on September 7, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Feyerabend speaks to us in a timeless way. He speaks the truth about our age and time.
He transcends run of the mill philosophy to point our the flaws in our world view.
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1 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Peter P. Fuchs on August 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
History, especially the religious kind, is merely depressing and no fun, unless you take the wide view. One needs the Mr. Toad's Wild Ride attitude to really enjoy the contradictions, I think. Thus, long ago the Catholic Church condemned Nominalism, and later, endorsed it (at Constance.) Now they are great anathematizers of "Relativsm". But if our fun history is a guide, later they will embrace it a a new conceptual savior. And it will help them save their own history too. This quote from one Barry Stocker, from a Catholic blog, gives an idea of how that might actually work, and is perfect for the point, even though it is not clear Stocker is a Catholic:

""Feyerabend argues that the Church was philosophically justified in opposing Galileo because its arguments against Galileo were those of Instrumentalist Philosophy of Science. They demanded that Galileo recognise that Copernican theory was a useful instrument in predicting observations, but was not true. I believe that Popper made the same comparison in *Conjectures and Refutations* but in order to attack Instrumentalism. Feyerabend's argument on the social and ethical aspect is that the Chucrh had an integrated world view in which Scripture defines the horizons of knowledge. Such a view is also a view about social harmony based on scriptural values. Since there is no correct method or final truth in science, it is perfectly reasonable for the Church to limit knowledge in that way, particularly as science develops through external impulses not through internally consistent method. Galileo himself was dishonest and inconsistent in both supporting and opposing Church doctrine. He was not harshly treated by the standards of the time, as he was merely placed under house arrest.
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