Saturday, December 23, 2006

Killing time

This post is going to be a few thoughts about Killing Time without much argumentative point. I read Feyerabend's autobiography Killing Time (KT) at the start of break as a belated follow up to his Against Method (AM). KT confirmed my initial feeling that AM had a Wittgensteinian flavor. Feyerabend was apparently into Wittgenstein for a while. He wrote up an interpretation of the Philosophical Investigations. I don't have enough background in Galileo and the debate between Feyerabend and Lakatos (or philosophy of science generally) to evaluate the arguments and interpretations of AM in detail. It was primarily a case-study of Galileo's experiments and promulgation of his physical theories. This formed the basis of an argument that there was no such thing as the scientific method. I'm not going to go into details on that cause (1) it took up most of the book and (2) I can't remember it that well. No matter how convinced I am by Feyerabend's arguments, I think his approach is great and KT cemented that feeling. His approach seemed to be to look at a bunch of examples, adopt unorthodox positions (this is later in life; early on he was very into Popper), and be iconoclastic and aggressive in argumentation. These points may seem disparate, but there is a common thread. At least, the thread I see is part of his so called epistemological anarchism, that is adopting a variety of views from which to approach a problem in the hopes that previously unnoticed or unnoticeable avenues of inquiry will appear. There is something in this that I see in a couple of other people that I am also into: Wittgenstein (hopefully obvious) and Feynman (maybe a future post on philosophy of science and Feynman...). Adopting this approach (in philosophy at least) results in not being a system builder. But, it also seems to result in coming up with provocative explanations and arguments why people other people are wrong. This is based on an induction from two instances.

KT was an entertaining book. The narrative gets a bit messy in places. One of the most surprising parts of the book was Feyerabend talking about his voice lessons. He was apparently a very good singer, and he was also a big fan of opera; he talks about the show that he saw in great detail. Feyerabend was a funny guy.

No comments: