quotes science

Quote #245

The lesson I draw … is that a uniform ‘scientific view of the world’ may be useful for people doing science – it gives them motivation without tying them down. It is like a flag. Though presenting a single pattern it makes people do many different things. However, it is a disaster for outsiders (philosophers, fly-by-night mystics, prophets of a New Age, the “educated public”). It suggests to them the most narrowminded religious commitment and encourages a similar narrowmindedness on their part

Paul Feyerabend, in ‘Against Method’ (third edition, chapter 19). ‘the “educated public” is included in the list in his ‘Conquest of Abundance‘, in which this section is repeated with a few changes.

3 replies on “Quote #245”

I don’t get it? Is this saying that only a scientist can safely adopt a scientific view of the world or that it is only safe to adopt a scientific view of the world if one is doing science?

He’s saying (and admittedly it helps to have read the preceeding bits in the book here) that although we talk about ‘science’ and a ‘scientific method’ there is no common core, nor definable set of procedures that consistite ‘science’. Contrast with the assumptions/implications of most rationalism and the current neo-atheist vogue

I think the problem with the cynical atheists is not that they have attempted to distil science to a set of unreasonably rigid principles but that they expect too much of the public and don’t understand the incentive structures that are behind many people’s lifestyle choices. Bizarrely they also seem to regard science as such a fragile component of society that it is perpetually on the verge of being swept away by a tide of irrationality.

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