Boorstin as Brainwashing

Posted: May 26, 2017 in Uncategorized


About what sort of science-writer or historian might Paul Feyerabend
be speaking here?

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Beyond the bare outlines of their ideas, we can never know the actual minds of the “great men” of science if we only learn about their ‘discoveries’ second-hand, from textbooks. The history and practice of science, studied as Paul Feyerabend (above) insists it ought to be studied, must necessarily entail the reading of primary texts and genuine scholarship.

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Killing Time is the story of Paul Feyerabend’s life. Finished only weeks before his death in 1994, it is the self-portrait of one of this century’s most original and influential intellectuals.

Trained in physics and astronomy, Feyerabend was best known as a philosopher of science. But he emphatically was not a builder of theories or a writer of rules. Rather, his fame was in powerful, plain-spoken critiques of “big” science and “big” philosophy. Feyerabend gave voice to a radically democratic “epistemological anarchism:” he argued forcefully that there is not one way to knowledge, but many principled paths; not one truth or one rationality but different, competing pictures of the workings of the world. “Anything goes,” he said about the ways of science in his most famous book, Against Method. And he meant it.

Here, for the first time, Feyerabend traces the trajectory that led him from an isolated, lower-middle-class childhood in Vienna to the height of international academic success. He writes of his experience in the German army on the Russian front, where three bullets left him crippled, impotent, and in lifelong pain. He recalls his promising talent as an operatic tenor (a lifelong passion), his encounters with everyone from Martin Buber to Bertolt Brecht, innumerable love affairs, four marriages, and a career so rich he once held tenured positions at four universities at the same time.

Although not written as an intellectual autobiography, Killing Time sketches the people, ideas, and conflicts of sixty years. Feyerabend writes frankly of complicated relationships with his mentor Karl Popper and his friend and frequent opponent Imre Lakatos, and his reactions to a growing reputation as the “worst enemy of science.”

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Feyerabend Against Method Humanity Individuality

Dream World Feyerabend

Feyerabend Kuhn New Creed

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Comments
  1. Nick Coleman says:

    When we discussed Boorstin’s writing last Tuesday, the class agreed that his novel was fairly commercialized. All references taken away, each page turned into a commodity. The novel above differs, especially in the fourth photo down, where the author includes footnotes. If Boorstin is intended to satisfy the “arm-chair” historian, I will venture to say that Feyerabend is speaking about the committed intellectual. Someone who will spend days and nights in the stacks reading and researching from primary texts, or at least the students of that person. Is this close?

    • Yes, I’d say that what you say is fairly accurate. Though the student does have to do as much research as you’re suggesting is necessary, provided that the instructor has done the research and is willing to communicate the results. That’s what I’m trying to do.

      Also, for the record, none of the texts in question are novels. They are non-fiction accounts of history.

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