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The Tyranny of Science 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0745651903
ISBN-10: 0745651909
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Editorial Reviews


"The lectures are engaging, educative and entertaining - public lecturing at its best. Feyerabend offers an intriguing, entertaining and very original application of the history and philosophy of science to contemporary social, intellectual and public issues."
British Journal for the History of Science

"Each of the four lectures is excellent and interrelateswith the others. Feyerabend's appealing and evocative entrances to scientific ideological claims permeate, and their lucidity will make identification and extraction of key concepts readily possible for scholars."
The Year's Work in Cultural and Critical Theory

"Offers intrepid scholars much to go on (on the relationship between Wittgenstein and Feyerabend), as well as being an entertaining and vigorous philosophical exercise in itself."
Philosophical Investigations

"In this posthumously published book, the maverick philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend questions the dominance of abstract, theoretical, objectivist science over more human modes of thought."
New Scientist

"Stimulating, thought-provoking, and hugely entertaining."
Morning Star

"Its clear conversational style makes the book a useful introduction to Feyerabend's thought."
Claremont Review of Books 

"Both the style of presentation, and the question and answer sessions, will make this book accessible to a popular readership. It will be met with enthusiasm by those with a prior engagement with Feyerabend’s work."

"Feyerabend is not attacking science but rather the ideology of science and the metaphysical pronouncements of philosophers and theoreticians. He makes an eloquent and imaginative plea for the importance of the diverse forms of knowledge embodied in the practicalities of everyday life."
David Bloor, University of Edinburgh

"The Tyranny of Science is no work of arid scholarship or technical philosophy. It is the work of a philosophical story-teller who recounts 'fairytales' to situate the ideas he discusses. Feyerabend brings science and philosophy down from the heights of abstract theory to the ground of practice and experience which animates them."
Howard Sankey, University of Melbourne

From the Back Cover

Paul Feyerabend is one of the greatest philosophers of science of the 20th century and his book Against Method is an international bestseller. In this new book he masterfully weaves together the main elements of his mature philosophy into a gripping tale: the story of the rise of rationalism in Ancient Greece that eventually led to the entrenchment of a mythical ‘scientific worldview’.

In this wide-ranging and accessible book 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, such as war and poverty, scientific theorizing glorifies ephemeral generalities, at the cost of confronting
the real particulars that make life meaningful. Objectivity and generality are based on abstraction, and as such, they come at a high price. For abstraction drives a wedge between our thoughts and our
experience, resulting in the degeneration of both. Theoreticians, as opposed to practitioners, tend to impose a tyranny on the concepts they use, abstracting away from the subjective experience that makes
life meaningful. Feyerabend concludes by arguing that practical experience is a better guide to reality than any theory, by itself, ever could be, and he stresses that there is no tyranny that cannot be resisted, even if it is exerted with the best possible intentions.

Provocative and iconoclastic, The Tyranny of Science is one of Feyerabend’s last books and one of his best. It will be widely read by everyone interested in the role that science has played, and continues to play, in the shaping of the modern world.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 180 pages
  • Publisher: Polity; 1 edition (April 25, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0745651909
  • ISBN-13: 978-0745651903
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #464,338 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Doctor Moss on September 25, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although I'm giving this book a high rating, this is not the best representation of Feyerabend's thought. The text is taken from a series of lectures he gave in 1992, in Italy, to a public audience, with a question and answer section at the end of each lecture. Although Feyerabend never, on principle, constructed and delivered arguments in the standard style and technical precision of academic philosophy, these lectures lack the sustained development and argumentation that you see in, for example, Against Method.

The positions Feyerabend takes in this book are familiar ones -- he argues that there are many legitimate ways of acquiring knowledge about the world, with "scientific method" providing only one, limited way (often with its practitioners holding gross misconceptions of their own methods). He argues against both scientific reductionism and, within science itself, slavish adherence to "method."

Feyerabend was a historian as well as a philosopher of science, and he could call upon a detailed knowledge of how science actually happens in order to develop his arguments and convince his readers. Much of that detail is missing in this book -- we get much more of what Feyerabend thinks than we get of why he thinks it. Hopefully, readers who are intrigued by what he does say here will be motivated to read his other work, especially Against Method, to find out why he thinks what he thinks.

All of that said, I think that one story that Feyerabend tells more effectively in this book than in others is the continuity between the scientific worldview and the attacks on experiential knowledge in the pre-Socratics.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Sceptique500 on October 25, 2011
Format: Paperback
I'm not sure what to make of this book. It contains four themes "condensed" from a set of lectures the author gave in 1992, and have now been published in 2011. They were recorded, and the author edited them at the time - but not the point of betraying his straying thoughts. They intermittently retain the oral feel, which makes for lively reading. As often happens in a lecture hall, however, where one speaks without notes, a clear structure is lacking. In an oral setting, this is OK: charisma and rhetorical brilliance (and the author is brilliant) paper over the thin structure. On paper, the text reads confused, however, with lots of leads leading nowhere.

Indeed, it seems as the author, lost in his thoughts, had tried to find his way forward by "going Greek" - spending a lot of time on what the old Greek philosophers meant on this or that. Thus half the first lecture - and even larger parts of the remaining ones - is devoted to a review of some aspects of Greek philosophy and derivative schools. On page 112 he is asked by one of the participants why he is telling the story of Greek philosophy - to which he replies: "My aim was to tell a story that would not be too boring and enlightening to some extent." I'm not sure that he has succeeded on either count, and that this cameo treatment of the history of epistemology, once set in print, does justice to the subject. There are far more thorough treatments of Greek philosophy on the shelves.

The first chapter: "Conflict and harmony" deals with the question whether the material world is structured harmoniously or not. This would be a terrific subject.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Milo Jones on December 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In my view, this is the volume to start with when approaching Feyerabend for the first time. It is far more accessible than Against Method, and offers the reader a taste of both his ideas and his approach to problems. It's also just plain fun to read, and intellectually bracing even when one disagrees: heartily recommended for anyone interested in the history of ideas!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Gabriel Zanotti on October 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is an excellent summary of the tipical Feyerabend's ideas that have been a real challenge to our time.
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18 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Diziet on May 10, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Paul Feyerabend's last book is based on transcripts of a series of lectures he gave in 1992.

The book is divided up into four sections: 'Conflict and Harmony', 'The Disunity of Science', 'The Abundance of Nature' and 'Dehumanizing Humans'. At the end of each lecture, there is a question and answer session.

What Feyeraband attempts to do over the course of the lectures is unpack the largely unspoken assumptions that go with our conventional view of science. By science here is meant all science - not just sub-atomic physics, but the 'scientific enterprise' as a whole.

The book starts with 'the Divine Plato'. The 'realm of ideas' as an absolute reality is where it all started to go wrong. The world is split in two - one, this ideal realm, the other our imperfect material reality:

'...human affairs and divine affairs, or human lives and the rest of the world, now have very little to do with each other...Later philosophers, Parmenides especially, went much further. They explicitly asserted that compared with Being...human existence is a chimera.' (P18-19)

And science is concerned with this 'higher' world, not the mere epiphenomena that we commonly experience:

'The world at large as seen by scientists is separated from the insignificant events on this planet and even humans, as seen by scientists (molecular biologists in particular) are separated from what they experience themselves as being.' (P19)

So science manages to not only transcend base existence but also the scientists who construct it. It creates laws that are timeless and spaceless:

'Now the laws to be obeyed both by gods and by humans form a perfect abstract order.
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