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Paul Feyerabend

Geburtstag: 13. Januar 1924
Todesdatum: 11. Februar 1994

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Paul Karl Feyerabend war ein österreichischer Philosoph und Wissenschaftstheoretiker. Er war von 1958 bis 1989 Philosophieprofessor an der Universität von Kalifornien in Berkeley und lebte zeitweilig in England, Deutschland, Neuseeland, Italien, zuletzt in der Schweiz, wo er als Hochschullehrer an der ETH Zürich tätig war.

Bekannt wurde Feyerabend durch seinen wissenschaftstheoretischen Anarchismus. Nach Feyerabend lassen sich keine universellen und ahistorischen wissenschaftlichen Methoden formulieren, produktive Wissenschaft müsse vielmehr Methoden nach Belieben verändern, einführen und aufgeben dürfen. Zudem gebe es keine allgemeinen Maßstäbe, mit denen man verschiedene wissenschaftliche Methoden oder Traditionen bewerten könne. Das Fehlen allgemeiner Bewertungsmaßstäbe führt Feyerabend zu einem philosophischen Relativismus, nach dem keine Theorie allgemein wahr oder falsch ist.

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Zitate Paul Feyerabend

„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.“

— Paul Karl Feyerabend
Context: 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.

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

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

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„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.“

— Paul Karl Feyerabend
Context: 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

„Its "success" is entirely man-made.“

— Paul Karl Feyerabend
Context: [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

„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.“

— Paul Karl Feyerabend
Context: 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.

„Theories are abandoned and superseded by more fashionable accounts long before they have had an opportunity to show their virtues.“

— Paul Karl Feyerabend
Context: 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

„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,“

— Paul Karl Feyerabend
Context: 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.

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„Without a constant misuse of language, there cannot be any discovery, any progress.“

— Paul Karl Feyerabend, Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge
pg. 27.

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