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Against Method

Beyond Popper and Kuhn to an anarchist philosophy of science.
Paul Feyerabend’s globally acclaimed work, which sparked and continues to stimulate fierce debate, examines the deficiencies of many widespread ideas about scientific progress and the nature of knowledge. Feyerabend argues that scientific advances can only be understood in a historical context. He looks at the way the philosophy of science has consistently overemphasized practice over method, and considers the possibility that anarchism could replace rationalism in the theory of knowledge.

This updated edition of the classic text includes a new introduction by Ian Hacking, one of the most important contemporary philosophers of science. Hacking reflects on both Feyerabend’s life and personality as well as the broader significance of the book for current discussions.

Reviews

  • “A devastating attack on the claims of philosophy to legislate for scientific practice.”
  • “A brilliant polemic.”
  • “Since it was first published in 1975, Against Method has followed Popper’s The Logic of Scientific Discovery and Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions into becoming a classic text in the debate about scientific methodology and scientific reasoning.”
  • “A powerful critique.”
  • Against Method is more than a book: it is an event.”

Blog

  • Primate Colonies and the Extraction of Value

    A controversial landmark in science studies, Donna Haraway's Primate Visions: Gender, Race and Nature in the World of Modern Science was first published by Routledge in 1989 and reissued by Verso in 1992. 

    "How," Haraway asks at the book's opening, "are love, power, and science intertwined in the constructions of nature in the late twentieth century?" 

    What may count as nature for late industrial people? What forms does love of nature take in particular historical contexts? For whom and at what cost? In what specific places, out which social and intellectual histories, and with what tools is nature constructed as an object of intellectual and erotic desire? How do the terrible marks of gender and race enable and constrain love and knowledge in particular cultural traditions, including the modern natural sciences? Who may contest for what the body of nature will be? These questions guide my history of the modern sciences and popular cultures emerging from accounts of the bodies and lives of monkeys and apes.


    Taking primatology as a "storytelling craft," Haraway reconstructs the history of studies of primate behavior in the United States through a series of interlinking essays in cultural studies, the history of science, and feminist analysis. In the essay below, from the book's first section — "Monkeys and Monopoly Capitalism: Primatalogy Before World War II" — Haraway locates the discipline's foundation in a larger process of colonial extraction. 



    Detail from Fig 2.2 in Primate Visions: "A Monkey-College to Make Chimpanzees Human," from International Feature Service Inc., 1924. Robert M. Yerkes Papers. Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library. 

    Before the Second World War, non-human primates were already the subject of international western interest, with research stations and conservation areas fostered by France, Belgium, Russia, Germany, and the United States. Literally and figuratively, primate studies were a colonial affair, in which knowledge of the living and dead bodies of monkeys and apes was part of the system of unequal exchange of extractive colonialism. Primate bodies grounded the discourses that rested on a flow of value from the lands where monkeys and apes lived to the lands where they were exhibited and textualized. Nonhuman primates were a fundamental part of the apparatus of colonial medicine. Part of the ideological framework justifying this directed flow of knowledge was the great chain of being structuring western imperial imaginations; apes especially were located in a potent place on that chain.

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  • Philosophy Undergraduate Reading List

     

    Temperatures will drop and leaves will change color, but there is perhaps no better sign of autumn’s beginning than the resumption of dorm-room debates on human nature and practicality of socialism. Many will be tempted to evoke the old man: philosophers have only interpreted the world; the point is to change it. But for the heretical undergraduates who see these efforts to interpret the world as fundamental to its transformation, we've got a Philosophy 101 syllabus just for you.

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Other books by Paul Feyerabend Introduction by Ian Hacking