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Philosophy of Nature

Paul K. Feyerabend

ISBN: 978-0-745-69476-4 September 2016 Polity 288 Pages

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Description

Philosopher, physicist, and anarchist Paul Feyerabend was one of the most unconventional scholars of his time. His book Against Method has become a modern classic. Yet it is not well known that Feyerabend spent many years working on a philosophy of nature that was intended to comprise three volumes covering the period from the earliest traces of stone age cave paintings to the atomic physics of the 20th century – a project that, as he conveyed in a letter to Imre Lakatos, almost drove him nuts: “Damn the ,Naturphilosophie.”

The book’s manuscript was long believed to have been lost. Recently, however, a typescript constituting the first volume of the project was unexpectedly discovered at the University of Konstanz. In this volume Feyerabend explores the significance of myths for the early period of natural philosophy, as well as the transition from Homer’s “aggregate universe” to Parmenides’ uniform ontology. He focuses on the rise of rationalism in Greek antiquity, which he considers a disastrous development, and the associated separation of man from nature. Thus Feyerabend explores the prehistory of science in his familiar polemical and extraordinarily learned manner.
The volume contains numerous pictures and drawings by Feyerabend himself. It also contains hitherto unpublished biographical material that will help to round up our overall image of one of the most influential radical philosophers of the twentieth century.

An Introduction by Helmut Heit and Eric Oberheim

Editorial Notes

Paul Feyerabend: Philosophy of Nature

Preliminary Note

 

1. Presuppositions of the Myths, and the Knowledge of their Inventors

1.1. Stone Age Art and Knowledge of Nature

1.2. Megalithic Astronomy (Stonehenge)

1.3. Critique of Primitivist Interpretations of the Prehistoric Era

1.4. The Dynamic Worldview of Stone Age Humans

 

2. The Structure and Function of Myths

2.1. Theories of Myth

2.2. The Theory of Nature Myths and Structuralism

 

3.  Homer’s Aggregate Universe

3.1. The Paratactic World of Archaic Art

3.2. Worldview and Knowledge in Homer’s Epics

3.3. Views of Reality and the Language of Science: Some Basic Considerations

 

4. Transition to an Explicitly Conceptual Approach to Nature

4.1. The New World of the Philosophers: Advantages and Disadvantages

4.2. Historical Factors for the Emergence of Philosophy

4.3. Predecessors in Hesiod’s and Oriental Cosmogonies

 

5. Philosophy of Nature through Parmenides

5.1. Hesiod and Anaximander: Changing Worldviews

5.2. Xenophanes: Critic of Religion and Epistemologist

5.3. Parmenides: The Origins of Western Philosophy of Nature

 

6. Western Philosophy of Nature from Aristotle to Bohr

6.1. Aristotle’s Research Program

6.2. Descartes: The Mathematical Approach to Nature

6.3. Galileo, Bacon, Agrippa: Empiricism without Foundations

6.4. Hegel: The Dynamics of Concepts

6.5. Newton, Leibniz, Mach: Problems of Mechanism

6.6. Einstein, Bohr, Bohm: Signs of a New Era

 

7. Conclusion

‘Feyerabend was definitely one of the great thinkers of twentieth century philosophy.’
Philosophy Now

"Feyerabend famously quipped that the only rule of method is that anything goes. Philosophy of Nature sheds light on his transition from critical rationalist to epistemological anarchist. Ranging from Stonehenge and Homer to Bohr and Einstein, the book creatively explores the relations of mythological thought to philosophy and science."
Howard Sankey, University of Melbourne

"In this book, we can see another side of this multi-faceted figure: Feyerabend as a historical philosopher of nature and as an analyst of the development of ancient Greek philosophy. This puts some of his apparently outrageous positions into perspective and reveals their sometimes quite sophisticated background."
Paul Hoyningen-Huene, Leibniz Universität Hannover