Latest | Categories | Top | Blog | Wiki | About & TOS | Imprint | Vision | Help | Fractal Generator | Futurist Directory | H+Pedia

What are your thoughts on Paul feyerabend?

Epistemological anarchism is an epistemological theory advanced by Austrian philosopher of science Paul Feyerabend which holds that there are no useful and exception-free methodological rules governing the progress of science or the growth of knowledge. It holds that the idea of the operation of science by fixed, universal rules is unrealistic, pernicious, and detrimental to science itself.

The use of the term anarchism in the name reflected the methodological pluralism prescription of the theory, as the purported scientific method does not have a monopoly on truth or useful results. Feyerabend felt that science started as a liberating movement, but over time it had become increasingly dogmatic and rigid, and therefore had become increasingly an ideology and despite its successes science had started to attain some oppressive features and it was not possible to come up with an unambiguous way to distinguish science from religion, magic, or mythology. He felt the exclusive dominance of science as a means of directing society was authoritarian and ungrounded.Promulgation of the theory earned Feyerabend the title of “the worst enemy of science” from his detractors.

I believe a lot of people believe in a single epistemological methodology to create results.

But in my opinion a form of epistemological anarchism can combat things like consensuses and the tendancy that every model has to be compatible with existing models , I think this would increase diversity of methodologies and can encourage thinking outside the box more. I think this would only be successful if we applied anarchism to everyday life and reformed as a whole.

But I think something like this could definitely have helped transhumanism’s cause since most transhumanism is seen as pseudoscience for not being compatible with existing models

2 Likes

When I first read about Feyerabends stance on science, I felt that it was very refreshing. It kinda reminded me of the use of heuristics in physics, approaches that don’t have a solid grounding in mathematics, but still produce results that can later on be verified with mathematics or through experiments.

Maybe the reason why Feyerabend resonated well with me is that his insights make it clear that there is some kind of similarity relation between science and intelligence. There is no useful and exception-free method to apply intelligence – a fact that AI researchers are painfully aware of, if they are any good.

When it comes to epistemology, my current framework is a combination of Bayesianism and Kuhn’s theory of paradigms and paradigm shifts, expressed in his book “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions”, which I’ve read recently.

The basic idea of Bayesianism is that you assign nonzero probabilities to any possibility and then update those according to the “Bayes theorem” of probability theory when you gather new information. There are two problems I see with Bayesianism:

  1. It’s hard to figure out the space of all possibilities. Humans are limited by their lack of imagination.
  2. How do you select what kind of information you seek in order to update your probabilities?

The second problem becomes apparent when it comes to echo chambers and dogmatic beliefs: Probabilities may be updated, but only within the narrow confines of a fixed world view. This is where Kuhn’s paradigm shifts come in: In rare occasions, a new world view can be constructed that can attract some attention. Once this world view turns out to be “promising” (in the sense of providing potentially valuable insights into how the world “really” works), it can gain more traction and can eventually supplant the old world view as new paradigm.

Maybe Paul Feyerabend’s epistemological anarchism could be helpful to generate new world views. Together, we would have a new epistemological framework for science: One spanned by Bayesianism, Kuhn’s theory, and that of Feyerabend.

What about transhumanism then? Can it be seen as paradigm of the future? If we see philosophy as science, I’d be inclined to say yes, but even though transhumanism has a “tradition” of about 100 years, it’s still in its infancy, because beliefs change slowly in the realm of philosophy.

1 Like