The Tyranny of Science
April 2011, Polity
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.
Chapter 2 The Disunity of Science
Chapter 3 The Abundance of Nature
Chapter 4 Dehumanizing Humans
- Feyerabend was one of the most important philosophers of science of the second half of the 20th century. His most famous book, Against Method, was an international bestseller that sold hundreds of thousands of copies.
- This book is based on one of the last texts he wrote, shortly before he died in 1994. It weaves together the main elements of his mature philosophy into a gripping story of the rise of rationalism in Ancient Greece that eventually led to the entrenchment of mythical ‘scientific worldview’.
- This book develops Feyerabend’s critique of science in a provocative and forceful way. He argues that science does not solve the pressing problems of our age, like war and poverty, but rather glorifies abstract thinking and ephemeral generalities.
- This is one of Feyerabend’s last books and also one of his best. It is aimed at a wide general readership and will appeal to anyone interested in the role that science has played, and continues to play, in the shaping of the modern world.
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."
"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."
"Stimulating, thought-provoking, and hugely entertaining."
"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