Crombie once remarked that philosophers "looking for historical precedent for some interpretation or reform of science which they themselves are advocating, have all, however much they have differed form each other, been able to find in Galileo their heart's desire."(1) Although other critics have claimed that Feyerabend turns Galileo into an "unrepentant" supporter of Feyerabend's claims on methodology through a biased selection of Galileo's statements and historical aspects of the Copernican episode,(2) my intention in this chapter is to go beyond this and take Feyerabend's overstatement of Galileo's role in the Copernican episode and show how Feyerabend's version of relativism is a result of a foundationalist reading of the rational scaffolding of the hypertextual networking of evidence, hypotheses, auxiliaries, and methodologies as outlined in the introduction. Furthermore, this new look at Feyerabend will be placed within the context of two essential claims of his philosophy: (1) That "anything goes" is allegedly not a "deep conviction" of Feyerabend's, "but the terrified exclamation of a rationalist who takes a closer look at history"(3); (2) that knowledge and progress are not to be defined in convergent, cumulative, or directional terms, but rather must be seen as non-directional -- as proliferation and diversity of locally articulated perspectives, which are the natural result of freedom and self-actualization.
Concerning (1), it is my contention that while providing an excellent critique of foundationalism, Feyerabend misses the mark badly in terms of failing to see the possibility of a post-foundationalist epistemology and this is due in large part to being a frustrated foundationalist himself. Concerning (1) and (2), it is my contention that much of Feyerabend's rhetorical and philosophical bravado should be seen as "shock" terminology related to his foundationalist and/or universal methodology target audience, an audience that he variously calls the "rodents of neopositivism and . . . critical rationalism,"(4) and "propagandists of naive scientism."(5) Furthermore, I argue that placed in the proper post-foundationalist perspective we can see Feyerabend as a "regular guy, methodologywise,"(6) who advocates a normative position that values self-actualization and freedom, and pluralism as means to these goals.
Feyerabendian exegesis is precarious. For like a Dadaist he refuses
to be identified with a "programme,"(7)
claims that he is only a "journalist who is interested in strange and bizarre
events" who intends to be "crude and superficial" as an antidote to "empty
sophistication,"(8) and in his own words,
"When writing a paper I have usually forgotten what I wrote before and
application of earlier arguments is done at the applier's own risk."(9)
Nevertheless, note how mild by the standards of many post-positivist philosophers
of science, some of Feyerabend's (past?) essential claims are:
(1) That progress in science requires theoretical pluralism and the proliferation of competing ideas.
(2) That contrary to the traditional foundationalist epistemological project there is an inherent but wise historicity to methodology; that methods change and old methods are violated as new views are tried and accepted. That methodologies like ethical prescriptions "may be useful rules of thumb but . . . are deadly when followed to the letter."(10)
(3) That factual interpretation is not theoretically neutral; that a clash between theory and fact is not a clash between a theory and a neutral brute facticity which always compels either simple confirmation or falsification, but is rather a clash between theory and theory -- thus opening the possibility for theory to overturn so-called facts.
(4) That because of 1-3, naive critical rationalism (naive empiricism or falsificationism) shipwrecks into relativism; that scientists neither use nor ought to use these a priori straightjackets; that an analysis of various versions of critical rationalism shows that by their own standards "anything goes" because no locus of rationality can be found for action.
(5) That acceptance of Copernicanism was a messy process; that the real
historical situation refutes (by its own standard) naive critical rationalism.
As acceptable or mild as these claims may be to many contemporary philosophers of science, what is clearly not accepted by these same philosophers is Feyerabend's generalization from the failure of previous analyses of methodology "that the path to relativism has not yet been closed by reason," that scientists make unconstrained decisions and leaps of faith concerning new theories first and then rationalize new perspectives into existence via propaganda, brainwashing, and reinterpretation of experience;(11) that during the Copernican episode, "The Church was on the right track. . . . that its indictment of Galileo was rational. . . ;"(12) that the establishment of a scientific result is not unlike a political process of persuasion and negotiation;(13) and that the "more Lysenko affairs the better (and) cheers to the fundamentalists in California."(14) According to Margherita Von Brentano, this clash between insights and inferences ought to make us "eager to discover why . . . (in Feyerabend's) way of reasoning, from highly reasonable and pragmatic propositions occasionally rather absurd conclusions emerge."(15) Eager, indeed, and in this chapter I will show how a wedge can be driven between Feyerabend's methodological insights and his anarchist conclusions once his closet foundationalism is exposed.
First, however, the Galileo affair. According to Feyerabend, the Copernican episode, and Galileo's role in particular, is a "perfect example" of what scientists really do. Scientists do not follow rules to achieve progress in either contexts of discovery or justification. Rather, they break all existing rules and conceptual boundaries by not only introducing radically new hypotheses that are immediately seen to be inconsistent with accepted facts, but then rationalize these hypotheses in the face of the recalcitrant accepted facts with other ad hoc and/or refuted auxiliaries. In other words, typically scientists build up systems of mutually refuted hypotheses (heliostasis, a new dynamics, the reliability of telescopic observations) with the goal of turning apparent refuting instances (the tower experiment, apparent size and magnitudes of Venus and Mars) into support by "inventing" new experiences, what Feyerabend calls "natural interpretations." In short, revolutionary scientists like Galileo proceed "counter-inductively."(16)
Furthermore, according to Feyerabend, "a more critical attitude," so beloved of methodologists both of the confirmationist and falsificationist variety, on the part of Galileo and other supporters of Copernicanism "far from accelerating . . . development, would have brought it to a standstill."(17) In particular, Galileo's reinterpretation of the tower experiment is an example of the creative "trickery" that is necessary to buy time for a new view by confusing and thus defusing the "well-entrenched reactions" of an older view(18); and, his use of the telescope and the acceptance of its results as reliable was a clear case of "gross negligence" and a "fruitful disorderliness" where "ignorance, or sloppiness, . . . or superficiality, or muddleheadedness turned out to be bliss."(19) Thus, an analysis of the Copernican episode shows us that,
"It is clear that allegiance to . . . new ideas will have to be brought about by means other than arguments. It will have to be brought about by irrational means such as propaganda, emotion, ad hoc hypotheses, and appeal to prejudices of all kinds. We need these 'irrational means' in order to uphold what is nothing but a blind faith until we have found the auxiliary sciences, the facts, the arguments that turn the faith into sound 'knowledge'."(20)
To understand the full force of Feyerabend's argument, several elements of his philosophy must be kept sharply in focus.
(1) Like an artist, a revolutionary scientist such as Galileo is creating a perspective, not uncovering an independent reality of separate, objective things. He is "inventing" new experiences.(21)
"A scientist, an artist, a citizen is not like a child who needs papa methodology and mama rationality to give him security and direction, he can take care of himself, for he is the inventor not only of laws, theories, pictures, plays, forms of music, ways of dealing with his fellow man, institutions but also of entire world views, he is the inventor of entire forms of life."(22)
"Speaking paradoxically, but not incorrectly, one may say that Galileo
invents an experience that has metaphysical ingredients."(23)
(2) Progress for Feyerabend does not involve creating more inclusive perspectives or convergence, but rather proliferation of local successes.
"Knowledge so conceived is not a series of self-consistent theories
that converges towards an ideal view; it is not a gradual approach to the
truth. It is rather an ever increasing ocean of mutually incompatible
(and perhaps even incommensurable) alternatives, each single theory,
each fairy-tale, each myth that is part of the collection forcing the others
into greater articulation and all of them contributing, via this process
of competition, to the development of our consciousness."(24)
(3) (1) and (2) are possible and desirable because they are reconcilable with our humanitarian goals,(25) and because
"reality . . . is more yielding than is assumed by most
objectivists. Different forms of life and knowledge are possible
because reality permits and even encourages them."(26)
Hence, what Galileo did was good, it was "an entirely legitimate move;"(27) what is bad from the present standpoint of rationalist cultural imperialism and hegemony is that it was too successful! Galileo created a new "local" success story, but not a more inclusive story that contained the previous local success story. Galileo created (or substantially helped create) a new perspective, and he proceeded in the only way possible in such matters: He broke out of the old perspective by violating its rules and standards, and reinterpreting experience by gradually putting together the pieces of a new perspective; and like a portrait artist who wishes to postpone criticism until the entire painting is complete, Galileo needed time to develop the auxiliary moves to support a theory that was clearly absurd given the old perspective alone.(28) To create new natural interpretations via the creation of a new perspective, Galileo had to break through the hypertextual grip of Aristotelian common sense -- the lock of thought (concepts), description, and experience. Because experience is "fluid"(29) and never presents a brute neutrality, Galileo was able to introduce a "new observation language."(30) According to Feyerabend,
"In order to progress, we must step back from the evidence, reduce the
degree of empirical adequacy (the empirical content) of our theories, abandon
what we have already achieved, and start afresh."(31)
Although this is all quite dramatic, it is my contention that there is a much more modest and accurate story to be told for what Galileo was doing. Put simply, by the time of Galileo's famous arguments Copernicanism was clearly a robust alternative to Ptolemaic geostasis, having achieved a widely recognized amount of conceptual progress in terms of offering an impressive counter-solution to the core astronomical problem situation of the time, and at least an impressive "match" of the empirical successes of Ptolemaic geostasis. Furthermore, given that criticism and the offering of alternative theories of dynamics for the traditional Aristotelian theory of motion were hardly new, given that particular aspects of Aristotelianism, such as the celestial-terrestrial distinction, were being questioned by supporters and nonsupporters alike, and given that even nonsupporters of heliostasis were concerned about planetary linkages with the sun, Galileo had a sound rational basis to pursue needed auxiliary patches to Copernicanism and to reinterpret apparent falsifications in the light of finding support for these auxiliary patches.
In other words, in the language of this thesis, all Feyerabend has shown is that by the time of Galileo's arguments there was a robust debate between conflicting hypertextual adjudicatory trails,(32) and that when one analyzes the newly offered auxiliary nodes of the Copernican system we see that given the historical context they "simply were not regarded as decisive, nor were they that decisive. . ."(33)
It is my contention that Feyerabend represents the typical relativist ploy writ large: Show that a theoretical-experiential structure can be analyzed into a hypertextual adjudicatory trail; then show that given any node on that trail further regress is possible and complete closure is impossible. This then is followed by a claim of enlightenment and a great display of post-modernist crowd pleasing rhetoric describing how any idea can be defended no matter how apparently absurd and how experience is simply a matter of power and effort, how successful beliefs are simply a matter of aspiration and ingenuity. As Popper once remarked, relativism "simply exaggerates a difficulty into an impossibility."(34) And we should add, it simply exaggerates an insight (fallibilism) via a frustrated foundationalism into a completely unconstrained mobocratic ontology and epistemology by muddling "the difference between the rational and the possible."(35)
There are many ways this case can be presented, but the simplest in my opinion is to examine the handwaving tactics employed by Feyerabend in replying to critics. For instance, in 1973 Machamer published a detailed rejoinder to Feyerabend's early presentation of his interpretation of the Galileo episode.(36) In an Appendix to the first edition of Against Method Feyerabend responded,(37) but in the second edition he was apparently so confident of the decisiveness of this response that the Appendix is omitted as "material no longer of interest."(38) This in spite of the fact that many other philosophers of science cite Machamer's article as a probative challenge to aspects of Feyerabend's arguments.(39) It is my contention that this Appendix is a smoking gun for the case against Feyerabend's relativism and how it emerges from frustrated foundationalism.
First Machamer's argument. In general, although Feyerabend is to be commended for his insights into the role of auxiliaries and the historical description of their development in scientific pursuit, his conclusions are "extravagant." His slanted use of quotations from Galileo's Dialogue ignores Galileo's discussion of the phases of Venus, sunspots, and the theory of tides -- the latter, according to Machamer, being Galileo's most important "independent" argument for heliostasis.(40) According to Machamer, a more inclusive historical account shows "that Galileo had all kinds of reasons for supporting the Copernican theory and for rejecting the Ptolemaic theory,"(41) that there was independent support for the auxiliaries either used or pursued by Galileo, and that Galileo was not ignoring refutations and arguing circularly by patching together a consistent system of refuted hypotheses.
Specifically, Feyerabend is wrong concerning the relevance of and time-indexed support for the celestial-terrestrial distinction as it applied to the reasonable acceptance of the reliability of telescopic observations. According to Feyerabend, it could not be assumed that the reliability of terrestrial telescopic observations was transferrable to the celestial realm. There were several glaring problematic inconsistencies, noted by Galileo himself, of telescopic celestial observations -- the telescope magnified the moon and planets, but made stars appear smaller, and although it removed considerable irradiation from the planets it did so to a much lesser extent for the stars. But most important, because Galileo had no adequate independent theory of the telescope to appeal to, Galileo's use of the telescope was ad hoc and an example of exploiting the harmony between two questionable theories.
However, according to Machamer, optical considerations (hypotheses, assumptions) had "been applied to both realms since antiquity,"(42) and that although Galileo may have been unaware of Kepler's optics of 1604, there is substantial circumstantial evidence that Galileo was aware of enough optical theory to believe in the reliability of the telescope for celestial observations.(43) In other words, even if the celestial-terrestrial distinction still received strong support (it did not), it was irrelevant as shown by the long tradition of making judgments on apparent sizes and magnitudes, transits and observed positions of astronomical bodies, as well as judgments concerning which bodies were self-luminating. That optical considerations played a major role as auxiliaries in these judgments there is no doubt, but according to Machamer,
Since such laws were applied independently of realm considerations,
it followed that students of optics could raise no general optical problems
based upon the celestial-terrestrial distinction to impugn the reliability
of the telescope.(44)
Accordingly, the "intelligent position to hold" was to raise no "theoretical scruple" for application of the telescope to the celestial realm. For those who did raise theoretical objections, the auxiliaries appealed to were either less well supported -- such as that of Horky who invents an optical theory to argue for the illusory nature of the observations of the moons of Jupiter -- or, counted equally against all astronomical theories and procedures -- such as Sizzi's questioning the reliability of the sense of sight.(45) According to Machamer,
". . . any argument to show, as Feyerabend ultimately wants to, that the telescope was a cause of illusion would have to apply equally to both celestial and terrestrial relams (sic). Any argument which claimed to show that the telescope by virtue of its reflections and refractions gave rise to illusions would be independent of realm considerations -- a fact which is all the more obvious once one realizes that the reflections and refractions of the telescope will always occur in the terrestrial realm (at the hands of the observer, one might say.)"(46)
Thus, given that it was well established that the telescope succeeded in magnifying terrestrial objects, making observed objects appear closer, that a contemporary optical explanation for this existed and was no doubt known by Galileo, and that any epistemological problems with naked eye perception were seen to be optically solvable independently of the celestial-terrestrial distinction -- that there was widespread agreement on the reliability of triangulations, transits, eclipses, etc. in spite of the fallibility of perception -- so it was reasonable to believe that any epistemological problems with the telescope were optically solvable independent of the celestial-terrestrial distinction. In short, the relative reliability of the telescope was discussed and established independently of one's cognitive stance toward Copernicanism. All Feyerabend has done is show that the telescopic observations of the apparent diameters and magnitudes of Mars and Venus, the phases of Venus, the moons of Jupiter, and mountains on the moon offered significant evidence for Copernicanism only if one accepted a fallible, but reasonable auxiliary.
But what of the celestial-terrestrial distinction itself? Here Machamer shows how Feyerabend "jumps around" historically, ignoring the proper time-indexed placing of the discussion of auxiliaries. Feyerabend invokes for the defenders of the status quo in the early 17th-century a widely accepted hypothesis of the 16th-century and ignores how new observations and developments in the late 16th-century and early 17th-century had undermined this hypothesis. The celestial-terrestrial distinction was clearly in trouble by the time of Galileo's observations of 1610. The novae of 1572 and 1604, and the comet of 1577, and the authoritative placement (by Tycho) through parallax measurements of these phenomena beyond the sublunar sphere had led even supporters of Aristotle and Ptolemaic geostasis (Tycho and Lydiat) to acknowledge the corruptibility of the heavens and the existence of terrestrial qualities in the sky. Thus, according to Machamer, Galileo was,
". . . entitled by the arguments from Tycho Brahe
to disregard the old and then defunct terrestrial/celestial distinction.
This disregard, when added to Galileo's knowledge of optical theory, is
certainly sufficient to establish the falsity and inadequacy of Feyerabend's
claim that there was no possible justification of the reliability of the
telescope because of the terrestrial/celestial distinction, and because
Galileo knew no optics."(47)
Here Machamer rightly turns the importance of appealing to a temporal element used by Feyerabend -- Galileo had no objective reason to be a Copernican because Keplerian optics was not yet known, accepted, or supported -- against Feyerabend's own argument. According to Machamer,
"It is, in large part, this temporal factor which makes Feyerabend's
analysis of Galileo misleading, if not downright false. Feyerabend would
have had a better case had he chosen Copernicus' working out of the heliostatic
theory; for instance, the reasons for which Copernicus developed his theory
in De Revolutionibus after its nuclear presentation in the
How does Feyerabend respond to this criticism in the first edition of Against Method? According to Feyerabend,
". . . when saying that Galileo did not know optics I did not mean to imply that he did not know baby-optics. What I meant was that he was ignorant of those parts of optics which at the time in question were necessary for building the telescope, assuming the telescope was built as a result of an insight into the basic principles of optics."(49)
Thus, Machamer should
". . . realize that the 'laws of refraction and the nature of light' do not suffice (my emphasis), that one has to consider the reactions of the eye and of the brain, and these reactions are unknown in the case of refracting media."(50)
And, if no one but Kepler was raising quality issues related to the paradoxical aspects of telescopic observations,
". . . this just shows that people didn't observe very carefully and were therefore ready to accept the new astronomical miracles of Galileo. . . . ignorance, or sloppiness, was bliss."(51)
In other words, even if more forceful objections were not leveled against the reliability of the telescope, they ought to have been! All Feyerabend is saying is that the historical actors, in the language of this thesis, could have been more critical of this auxiliary node in the adjudicatory trail they were using; they could have explored it more, doubted it more, etc. But this is the typical relativist's ploy -- show that there is always a potential infinite justificatory regress. Could the telescope have been better understood? Yes. Could the nature of light have been better understood? Yes. However, it does not follow that those who did doubt the reliability of the telescope were more critical, that their objections were based on more plausible and better supported auxiliaries. Could the nature of vision have been better understood? Yes. But this did not stop supporters of both geostasis and heliostasis from reaching agreement on triangulations and planetary positions. According to Feyerabend,
". . . it is quite true that opticians ignored . . . (difficulties)
and boldly triangulated into space. In doing so they showed either gross
negligence, or ignorance, or a complete disregard for the demands of consistency.
. . . Yet they were successful. Once more ignorance, or superficiality,
or muddleheadedness turned out to be bliss."(52)
For many scientists and philosophers today, quantum discontinuities and the wave-particle nature of electromagnetic phenomena still engender conceptual perplexity upon attention, but this does not stop us from building reliable devices and instruments, such as radio and optical telescopes, and to achieve theoretically independent calibration and consequent intersubjective agreement over the data gathered by the latter with attached devices (cameras, spectroscopes, CCDs). We do not think of modern astronomers as ignorant, superficial, or muddleheaded because they accept particular observations of electromagnetic spectral wavelengths as indicative of the nature and composition of astronomical objects. When the light from a container of hydrogen gas on Earth shows distinctive emission and absorption lines (Balmer, Lyman series) in a spectrograph, and the light from a distant star reveals these same lines, we do not charge astrophysicists with inferential muddleheadedness or theoretical superficiality when they infer that the star contains hydrogen, even though the discontinuous electron transitions within atoms of hydrogen which produce the photon emissions and absorptions are perplexing and still the subject of much philosophical discussion. There is a theoretically independent reason, although ampliative and fallible, for accepting the inference that stars contain hydrogen. Nor do we charge astrophysicists with blissful ignorance when they use the width banding, splitting, and shifting of spectral lines, massive X-ray bursts, and pulsating radio waves to independently detect and distinguish white dwarfs, normal neutron stars with massive magnetic fields, millisecond pulsars, and black holes, although the auxiliary linkages are more fallible for these inferences than for simple hydrogen detection. It does not follow from the mere existence of foundational questions, and the mere possibility that a particular future resolution of foundational problems in quantum mechanics may undermine a plethora of presently accepted observational technology, that the present use of this technology is irrational or of questionable reliability.
Feyerabend's best argument (by implication) is that Galileo's use of the telescope is not like that of hydrogen detection, but is more like neutron star and black hole detection. The telescope was a new instrument, and as with all new instruments there was not yet reliable calibration. Which phenomena were real? Which were simply instrumental artifacts? As with the case of hydrogen detection, a terrestrial telescopic observation could be independently tested by first observing a distant object, recording the details seen, and then observing that same object close up, thereby easily separating the real observational data from instrumental artifact, such as chromatic aberration in the case of refracting telescopes. On the other hand, as with the cases of black holes and neutron stars -- we cannot create mini versions of these objects on Earth complete with accretion disks and X-ray emissions -- Galileo could not corroborate celestial observations up close and separate with certainty reliable phenomena from instrumental artifact.(53) Hence, according to Feyerabend, one's assumptions concerning the nature of the intervening medium and the behavior of light in that medium must play a major role.
But this only returns us to the status of the celestial-terrestrial distinction, and whether or not supporters of telescopic observations had a reasonable basis for transferring what was learned with terrestrial observations as to the separation of real phenomena from instrumental artifact to the celestial realm. Whether or not the transfer, comparatively, is more reasonable, as reasonable, or less reasonable than the alternative of questioning the validity of the transfer. Feyerabend has only made the case that there was an important issue, that those who did cite the celestial-terrestrial distinction, or who attributed celestial observed phenomena to the possibility of instrumental artifact, were not being stupid or merely dogmatic. He has not made the case that anyone who accepted the transferability was being irrational, acting only on blind faith and accepting a refuted auxiliary. All Feyerabend has shown (in his own words) is that there was a "fruitful disorderliness," that
". . . 'the Aristotelian distinction' between a celestial realm and
a terrestrial realm cannot have 'collapsed completely' by 1577 as Machamer
insinuates (p. 21). It collapsed with some, it did not collapse with others,
nor did it collapse without a trace."(54)
It is my contention that "fruitful disorderliness" should be read as "robust debate" between different adjudicatory trials, and that recognizing that a new auxiliary is fallible implies neither that the core hypothesis (heliostasis) has no original independent support nor that the supporting auxiliary has no independent support. It is significant in this regard that with the exception of citing Kepler's theoretical misgivings about the wisdom of constructing a telescope, Feyerabend does not reply to Machamer by describing in his Appendix what the historical players actually said against Galileo, but rather what they ought to have said. According to Feyerabend, Galileo's "contemporaries with very few exceptions overlooked fundamental difficulties that existed at the time," that it was the "thoughtlessness of his contemporaries which enabled Galileo to get ahead as well as he did."(55)
And what of Kepler? Standard medieval cosmology hypothesized a series of substances from air to fire to aether as one moved "up" from Earth, through the sublunar realm and into the celestial realm. According to Feyerabend, "nobody paid attention" to this, they "forgot it," and "nobody seemed to raise the problem of the refractions arising therefrom."(56) Within this context, Feyerabend then cites one of Kepler's theoretical reasons for not constructing a telescope, i.e., that not only is the air dense and blue in color and gets bluer as it gets thicker "as it extends between a visible object and the eye," the celestial essence itself must "have its own proportion of density,"(57) gradually becoming more and more tenuous as one moved into and through the celestial sphere. Hence, thought Kepler, any magnification would only enhance the obscuring and distorting effects of these dense mediums. Feyerabend then cites Kepler's praise of Galileo for boldly ignoring these problems and experimenting with the telescope anyway.(58)
This reference to Kepler's comments on Galileo's use of the telescope is sufficiently important to my points against Feyerabend that it warrants quoting the relevant passage from Kepler's Conversation with Galileo's Sidereal Messenger in full. According to Kepler,
". . . I believed that the air is dense and blue in color, so that the minute parts of visible things at a distance are obscured and distorted. Since this proposition is intrinsically certain, it was vain, I understood, to hope that a lens would remove this substance of the intervening air from visible things. Also with regard to the celestial essence, I surmised some such property as could prevent us, supposing that we enormously magnified the body of the moon to immense proportions, from being able to differentiate its tiny particles in their purity from the lowest celestial matter.
For these reasons, reinforced by other obstacles besides, I refrained from attempting to construct the device.
But, now, most accomplished Galileo, you deserve my praise for your tireless energy. Putting aside all misgivings, you turned directly to visual experimentation. And indeed by your discoveries you caused the sun of truth to rise, you routed all the ghosts of perplexity together with their mother, the night, and by your achievement you showed what could be done.
Under your guidance I recognize that the celestial substance is incredibly
tenuous. . . . If the relative densities of air and water are compared
with the relative densities of the aether and air, the latter ratio undoubtedly
shows a much greater disparity. As a result, not even the tiniest particle
of the sphere of the stars (still less of the body of the moon, which is
lowest of the heavenly bodies) escapes our eyes, when they are
aided by your instrument. A single fragment of the lens interposes much
more matter (or opacity) between the eye and the object viewed than does
the entire vast region of the aether. For a slight indistinctness arises
from the lens, but from the aether none at all. Hence we must virtually
concede, it seems, that the whole immense space is a vacuum (emphasis added)."(59)
There are two points that should be obvious from this passage:
(1) Kepler has changed his mind! He now realizes that the "celestial substance is incredibly tenuous," and that this would have to be so or we would not be able to see anything with the telescope.
Later, Kepler was to add that his previous misgivings about densities must be wrong or we would not be capable of even naked-eye observations of the stars. According to Kepler,
"The distance between us and the fixed stars cannot be estimated. Yet
the intervening aethereal substance, which is so extensive, transmits right
down to us the light of the tiniest stars undiminished and with a differentiation
of colors. This could not happen if the aether had a minimum either of
density or of color. . . . Therefore if physics permitted, an astronomer
could assume that the entire space of the aether is an absolute vacuum."(60)
(2) Kepler's problem stems in part from his previous and still prevalent confusion of cosmologies! A confusion that Feyerabend repeats.
Notice that Kepler's references to the moon and "the lowest celestial matter" and "the lowest of the heavenly bodies" are equivocal. They can mean either a reference to geocentric observations, i.e., we make all our astronomical observations from Earth, so the moon is the lowest (closest) body, or a reference to medieval cosmology which assumed a transmigration through different substances in the direction of "up." The context of Kepler's use of the phrase "the lowest celestial matter" clearly indicates that he has inadvertently assumed that the proportion of celestial matter near the moon is denser because of its location as "the lowest of the heavenly bodies." In short, Kepler's previous theoretical misgivings stem in part from his unconsciously lapsing back into an Aristotelian cosmology -- the very cosmology in trouble and one that ought not to be assumed any longer, especially by an early 17th-century follower of Copernicanism.(61)
In other words, two can play Feyerabend's game. "Nobody" paid (read "many did not pay" contra Feyerabend's usual exaggeration) attention to the potential problem of light passing from a celestial realm to a sublunar realm to an earthly realm, because the foundational cosmology for this "problem" was in serious trouble. According to Feyerabend, one ought to have paid attention to it, and he praises and criticizes(62) Kepler for being rational and having "clear" theoretical reasons for not constructing the telescope. Contra Feyerabend, a consistent Copernican in the process of developing a new dynamics, comparing alternative auxiliaries and questioning the noncorruptibility of celestial objects given new phenomena (novae, comets, sunspots) "ought not" to have paid attention to it, or at least not worried about it to the point of allowing it to be an inhibiting factor in experimenting with the telescope. Why should a Copernican be obligated to accept an Aristotelian auxiliary when that auxiliary is losing support?
Feyerabend is correct to argue that the transitional nature of the recognition of inferential relationships between core hypotheses, auxiliaries, and experience is a messy process, that new adjudicatory trails are not born all at once and that auxiliaries are often recognized and developed "out of phase" with the core hypothesis. However, unlike Kepler in this instance, a case can be made that Galileo was most aware of all the inferential relationships involved in supporting Copernicanism.(63) His life-long dogged pursuit of a new dynamics and consequent ignoring of potential Aristotelian problems with the telescope are testimony to this. As Galileo himself put it in his Dialogue, given the "many and grave difficulties" in Aristotelian foundations, "it is reasonable to doubt everything else that is built upon them . . . . (and) it would not be amiss to see whether (as I believe) we may, by taking another path, discover a more direct and certain road. . ."(64) Notice that by the time of the Epitome Kepler has become more consistent. In the quote above, we now see him appealing to a Copernican auxiliary -- the vast distance to the stars -- in helping understand and solve what was previously a theoretical problem for celestial telescopic observation.
What now of Feyerabend's use of the tower experiment? Let's make short work of this, because I believe the same point can easily be made, using the terminology of this thesis, that Galileo is not ignoring refutations but comparing and pursuing alternative auxiliaries and adjudicatory trails.
If the Earth rotates eastward at an appreciable rate of velocity and Aristotelian dynamics is assumed, then a stone dropped from a tower should not hit the ground at the base of the tower, but a measurable distance to the west of the base of the tower. Thus, according to Feyerabend, to save Copernicanism from falsification Galileo introduces the ad hoc hypothesis of circular inertia. However, much of Galileo's Dialogue involves showing that certain experiences are refutations of heliostasis only if particular auxiliaries are accepted as non-problematic. The tower experiment refutes Copernicanism only if one accepts the adjudicatory trail of heliostasis (H) + Aristotelian dynamics (A1) + tower experiment (E1), and provided that A1 is non-problematic. But by the time of the Dialogue there were well-worked out alternatives to A1,(65) and Galileo had been working on an alternative for decades.
The implication of Feyerabend's charge of Galilean ad hocness is not only that Galileo's pursuit of a new dynamics is for "this specific purpose," but also that it is conjured up without any independent support or reason for its introduction. Although from a purely formal perspective pursuit of a new dynamics can be seen as an auxiliary save for heliostasis, an examination of the historical context shows that (1) a new dynamics was not just being conjured up on the spot, so to speak, (2) the Copernican core hypothesis had achieved a sufficient amount of support to warrant pursuit of such an auxiliary save, and (3) in Galileo's particular situation, a persuasive case can be made that dynamical concerns caused him to be a Copernican, rather than blind acceptance of Copernicanism first, then recognition of falsifications, then frantic appeal to after-the-fact auxiliary saves that had no independent support or scientific rational for their introduction.
Concerning this last point, Drake has argued that a more accurate arranging and dating of Galileo's pre-Paduan manuscripts will help show "as new that Galileo moved step by step to full Copernicanism, rather than some single insight and a search for proofs, or because of some metaphysical conviction that entailed motions of the Earth in a preconceived scheme of the universe."(66) According to Drake, between the years 1584-1590 Galileo accepted the Copernican arrangement as a purely mathematical device for saving the phenomena, a typical cognitive stance for many astronomers during the latter decades of the 16th-century. Physical considerations -- the same traditional physical arguments used to argue against the Earth's movement -- kept Galileo from going any further at this time. Then by 1591 Galileo's concern with the possibility of a perpetual spherical motion that was neither natural nor forced in the Aristotelian sense, plus the general understanding of the purely mathematical benefits of the Copernican system, led Galileo to become a semi-Copernican. In other words, although Galileo adhered at that time to the conventional instrumentalist notion that to avoid conflict with physics various astronomical devices used to save astronomical phenomena should be treated as mathematical fictions, and hence did not accept the revolution of the Earth as real, Galileo was led to accept the daily rotation of the Earth as real based on his proposal of the inevitable rotation of a heavy sphere centered at the center of the universe. This rotation, Galileo proposed, was a perpetual motion that was neither natural nor forced in an Aristotelian sense. Thus, given that the most notable development in astronomy around 1590 was to explore geostatic transforms of Copernican heliocentric planetary motions, given that the mathematical advantages of centering planetary motion on the sun were widely discussed, Galileo "became a semi-Copernican as followers of the Ursine system came to be called."(67) In short, Galileo became a supporter of geoheliocentrism. Finally, Galileo became a full Copernican after experiencing impressive Venician tides in 1594, believing by 1595 that an epicyclic motion (requiring the Earth's revolution as well as rotation) of sea-basins best explained tidal phenomena. This was followed by Galileo's famous letter of 1597 to Kepler announcing publicly for the first time that he was a follower of Copernicus.
Whether or not Drake's speculations are accurate, he is surely correct about the chronological focus of Galileo's thought in terms of his preoccupation and development of physical ideas. Galileo began his professional career writing folios on natural philosophy and local motion, and he ended his career dictating (because of blindness) additions to his Two New Sciences, a systematic presentation of his physics. From this perspective, it is understandable also why Galileo begins his famous Dialogue with a discussion of dynamics and concludes it with a climatic theory of tides. Given this history, Galileo's work in dynamics was not a panicked patch of Copernicanism, but rather the rational pursuit of what would become a crucial auxiliary for Copernicanism.
According to Feyerabend, in characteristic overstatement,
"Wherever we look, whatever examples we consider, we see that the principles of critical rationalism (take falsifications seriously; . . . avoid ad hoc hypotheses. . .), . . . give an inadequate account of the past development of science and are liable to hinder science in the future . . . These "deviations"; these "errors" are preconditions of progress. They permit us to remain free and happy agents."(68)
It is clear from Feyerabend's analysis of the Galileo episode that ad hoc for him means any auxiliary save of a core hypothesis that is "out of phase" (developed at a different time) with the core hypothesis. And in typical relativist's fashion we are asked to see that "anything goes" once we recognize that any hypothesis can be patched given sufficient boldness, creativity, and financial backing. According to Feyerabend, progress results from the anti-methodological realization that reality will "yield" to different adjudicatory trails, that we can create different perspectives by, to use Rortian language, "recontextualizing" our adjudicatory trails to our hearts' content, or to use Quinean language, by creating different adjudicatory webs "come what may." Rather than avoid out of phase auxiliary saves, they should be encouraged.
The purpose of this chapter has been to show how relativists like Feyerabend take a difficulty and exaggerate it (recall Popper's comment above), to show how the insight that core hypotheses are only part of a complex hypertextual adjudicatory trail is epistemologically abused. It should be clear that Galileo's work did not amount to an unconstrained, leap-of-faith commitment to a core hypothesis and then a life-long creative patching of that initial commitment. By contrast with the historical situation, I suggest that the negative normative message of Galileo's work is:
Avoid auxiliary saves that have no independent support, provided that the core hypothesis also does not have independent support and is not at least a robust alternative to another core hypothesis.(69)
And consistent with the historical situation, the positive normative message of Galileo's work is:
Pursue evidence for an auxiliary save (a new dynamics) if there is weakening support for its alternative (Aristotelian dynamics) and your core hypothesis (heliostasis) has a high rate of progress and is at least a robust alternative to another core hypothesis (geostasis).
Feyerabend is correct in bringing to our attention that a great deal of scientific activity involves filling in holes, scratching for answers, and solving problems created by the clash of recalcitrant experience with cherished hypotheses. But unless one accepts the most naive version of falsificationism, he is wrong that anyone should see this activity as always irrational.
In this vein, Putnam has commented, "Philosophers of science frequently write as if it is clear, given a set of statements, just what consequences those statements do and do not have."(70) In other words, an over reliance on purely formal considerations misleads us into believing that much of science involves the schema: hypothesis + (ready made) auxiliaries + (clear) prediction; whereas much more widespread in actual science is the schema: hypothesis + ???? + phenomena to be explained. According to Putnam,
"Failures do not falsify a theory, because the failure is not a false prediction from a theory together with known and trusted facts, but a failure to find something . . . a failure to find an AS (auxiliary)."(71)
Feyerabend attempts to make his case against methodology by assuming that the necessary auxiliaries were, in Putnam's language, "known and trusted." Clearly this was not the case by the early 17th century. Feyerabend is correct to draw our attention to the comparative nature of the auxiliary debate, but does not properly time-index the adjudicatory trails. Accordingly, he misses the inferential sagacity, consistency (compare with Kepler noted above), and rationality of Galileo's pursuit of a new dynamics and bold experimentation with the telescope.
Feyerabend would have had a much better case, even though this would also fail, if he had concentrated on the move early supporters of Copernicanism (mid-16th century) had to make in terms of what heliostasis implied concerning the distance to the stars. Given the lack of a detectible parallax for the stars, supporters of heliostasis had to support the apparently preposterous patch that the stars were much further away than anyone previously believed and that the solar system was but a mere central point surrounded by a vast celestial realm. There was little independent reason at this time for believing that the noncorruptible celestial essence would extend so far beyond the cozy domain of the Earth, sun, and planets. Support for this move was decidedly weak at this time. The considerations that kept it from being totally absurd were the relative uncertainty of the accuracy of parallax measurements in general (there were parallax problems related to the planets for both geostasis and heliostasis) and, as will be argued in chapter 5 below, the success of the core problem solving ability of heliostasis (no equant point, elegant, parameter fixating solution to retrograde motions and their frequencies, etc.).(72) No one would have or should have taken this move seriously, if Tycho's authoritative work on parallax had occurred in the mid-16th century, if geostasis had fewer problems than it did, and heliostasis was not at least a robust alternative to geostasis regarding the core problem situation.
By way of contrast, consider the current mega-problem of the mystery of missing neutrinos for the standard model of the sun's operation and internal structure. We are now approaching 30 years since Raymond Davis designed and had constructed a large neutrino detector using 100,000 gallons of perchloroethylene cleaning fluid placed in a deep mine in South Dakota. Other detectors have also been built (Kamioikande, Japan; Irvine-Michigan-Brookhaven, Lake Erie), varying the detection substance and methodology (large tanks of water, Cerenkov radiation, and photomultipliers), and the results are still basically the same -- only one-third of the neutrinos predicted by the standard model are detected. Few physicists now believe that the detection methodologies are at fault. Given that the standard model has enormous independent support, not the least of which involves most of our ideas on nuclear fusion, and given that there is no robust alternative to the standard model, the scientific focus has been on exotic (some would say outlandish) auxiliary saves, i.e., neutrinos with mass, different types of neutrinos, and even neutrino oscillation. Surely, given a robust alternative to the standard model, massive skepticism would meet the auxiliary patch that the right amount of neutrinos are produced by the sun's interior, but a portion somehow changes (oscillates) to a nondetectible variety just before they get to our detectors. But given the lack of a robust alternative it is not unreasonable for physicists to pursue the finding of support for this patch.
It is worth noting in passing here that although I have argued that the neutrino patch is disanalogous to the Galileo episode due to the existence of a robust alternative for Galileo, there is the similarity of having theoretically independent means of calibrating the reliability of the instrumentation. In the neutrino case most scientists have decided after achieving independent results that the neutrino detection equipment is not at fault. In the case of the telescope, many could conclude that the telescope was reliable because it gave results that supported both heliostasis and geostasis, i.e., it gave results that solved problems for both world systems!
Chalmers has pointed out that prior to the telescope, naked eye observations of the apparent diameters of Mars and Venus were inconsistent with what is predicted by both the Ptolemaic and Copernican theories. The geometric arrangements in both of these systems predict that the apparent diameter of these planets should vary by several detectable factors. There was widespread agreement that these variations were not observed, and Osiander in his famous preface to Copernicus's De Revolutionibus uses this clash between experience and both world systems as support for his claim that these systems should only be accepted as useful mathematical devices for saving the phenomena. However, when these planets are viewed through the telescope the difficulties are removed for both world systems -- the observed changes in size are consistent with that predicted by both systems.
According to Chalmers, this supplied an independent reason in favor
of the reliability of telescopic data, and put one "in a stronger position
to appeal to other telescopic evidence, such as observation of the phases
of Venus as genuine support for Copernicus."(73)
Furthermore, even though the latter still does not distinguish the Copernican
theory from that of Tycho, this independent support for the reliability
of the telescope puts one in a stronger position to use the observations
of mountains on the moon, sunspots, and the moons of Jupiter against any
version of geostasis that maintained traditional Aristotelian auxiliaries.
To conclude this chapter, it is time to address my claim that if we separate Feyerabend's rhetorical exaggerations and frustrated foundationalism from his insights, we will find a "regular (post-foundationalist) guy methodology-wise" and an advocate of what I call normative relativism. I define normative relativism as the view held by Mill, a view that Feyerabend cites often approvingly:
"Variety of opinion is necessary for objective knowledge. And a method that encourages variety is also the only method that is compatible with a humanitarian outlook" (Feyerabend's emphasis).(74)
". . . the only way of arriving at a useful judgement of what is supposed to be the truth, or the correct procedure is to become acquainted with the widest possible range of alternatives. The reasons were explained by Mill in his immortal essay On Liberty. It is not possible to improve upon his arguments" (my emphasis).(75)
With this in mind, one does not need to read much of Feyerabend to see that in terms of our ultimate values anything ought not to go. According to Margherita Von Brentano, Feyerabend's work
"is a vehement plea on behalf of layman and mature, emancipated citizens, in the name of all those who are hindered in their attempts to determine what their own welfare is and settle their own affairs accordingly (emphasis added). It clearly opposes all oppressive forms of guardianship, expertocracy, the monopoly of bureaucrats in decision-making and their treating of suffering as an object of administration."(76)
According to Feyerabend,
"It seems to me that happiness and the full development of an individual
human being is now, as ever, the highest possible value. . . . Adopting
this basic value we want a methodology and a set of institutions which
enable us to lose as little as possible of what we are capable of doing
and which force us as little as possible to deviate from our natural inclinations(77).
. . .(and) that a scientific education as described (by naive critical
rationalism) . . . cannot be reconciled with a humanitarian attitude."(78)
Despite his denials that he is advocating any particular position himself, despite his claim that he has no philosophy, is really only telling stories,(79) and only "manipulating" rationalists,(80) Feyerabend is clearly committed to good old fashioned liberal self-actualization theory. We should have faith in people in the long run for knowing what to do for themselves; we should encourage freedom, not only because it encourages responsibility, but because it forces the actualization of individual potential, which in turn encourages the development of "maturity" and "a higher stage of consciousness," and benefits the totality of human existence.(81)
Nowhere does Feyerabend mention or deal with the problem that Mill and Bohr (who he also cites often) were not relativists. Indirectly he deals with this tension by claiming that he only cites the heroes of rationalism to show how wide of the mark are the methodologies of critical rationalism in terms of matching actual practice. He is not endorsing any particular practice, as part of a particular tradition, as better than any other. He is not endorsing "democratic relativism" (read my normative relativism) as better than totalitarianism.(82) Like Von Brentano's anti-liberal liberalism(83) and Rorty's anti-anti-ethnocentrism,(84) Feyerabend undoubtedly thinks that this is just being macho consistent or, shall we say, politically correct, anti-androcentric sensitive. "Well yes, I hold certain values as ultimate, but I won't pretend that they are the best and attempt to impose them on you; they are just my values, part of my tradition."
There are also hints in Feyerabend's writings that there is a typically postmodern reason for his philosophical sidestepping of any position that smacks of a traditional commitment. As noted above, in Feyerabend's writings can be found references to "a higher stage of knowledge and consciousness" and "maturity," and these are contrasted with local success stories and "special forms of knowledge."(85) Vine Deloria in commenting on this speculates that Feyerabend "shows every indication that he (was) moving toward a major breakthrough in his thinking."(86) The fully self-actualized individual, as well as the enlightened culture, moves from information, to knowledge, to wisdom. When information reaches a critical mass we develop codification and organization schemes of special knowledge. In the West we have called this science. Eventually we learn that we are not objective observers, but participant-observers, and we learn not to take our schemes of organization too seriously, that they are only phenomenal screens created by our own concepts. The role of a variety of workable conceptual schemes is crucial here for forcing upon us the realization that no conceptual scheme "re-presents" the structure of reality. According to Deloria, the illusion of Western science is that it "prematurely derives its scientific 'laws' and assumes that the products of its own mind are inherent in the structure of the universe."(87) So the truly enlightened can not hold any real allegiances, not even to that of liberal democracy and the pursuit of better ideas through rational debate and exchange of well-thought out and articulated opinion, for this is beneath one who has obtained such a breakthrough.
I would like to suggest a far simpler explanation. What better way to display your frustrated foundationalism than to decry real allegiance to any position. If you are only telling a story and have no philosophy yourself, then there is nothing to doubt and no target to criticize. All criticism is easily deflected by claiming that you were misunderstood by idiots who failed to see that you were just manipulating the beliefs of others. But such a subterfuge will not do. Agassi is on the mark in recognizing that a large part of Feyerabend's motivation was that he was reacting cowardly to the realization that "the strongest (positions) cannot be defended well enough to bring conviction and satisfaction."(88) In a post-foundationalist era we ought to be able to do better than to allow such fear, trembling, and timidity result from the recognition that our core beliefs and their auxiliary support can never be regarded as decisive.
Upon further reflection it should be obvious that this epistemological timidity is a strange position to take for someone who supposedly is advocating responsibility and that we should have more faith in people, especially more faith in scientists to do good science without the philosopher butting in attempting to "regulate knowledge from afar."(89) The lesson of the Galileo episode is not that anything goes, but that we can have faith in scientists to take seriously issues of change and transition, to make auxiliary moves for the most part for good reasons, that we can in turn reflect upon what those good reasons were and possibly learn from these moves some valuable guidelines for the future. In the chapter 4 I will argue that Feyerabend had less faith in people than Kuhn because he feared potential dogmatism more, that normal science is inevitably hegemonic in the conceptual prisons it imposes on helpless individuals.(90) Whereas Kuhn has less faith in our ability to completely close out nature for long and more faith, not only in nature for "seeping in" and rejecting eventually everything we propose, but also in people for recognizing this.(91)
There well may be some mystical divide between a realm of theories and concepts and their constituting objects on the one hand, and a pure experience uncontaminated by phenomenal screens on the other. But the history of humanity and science in particular shows that it is on this side of the divide -- the side with conflicting opinions as to how best to organize experience and solve problems, the side where we must make critical decisions concerning species depletion, ozone destruction, and global warming -- that deservedly hold our attention. Let us hope Deloria was wrong about Feyerabend's possible breakthrough, that his next book would not have been a recording of conversations with Krishamurti or some other mystic,(92) and that Feyerabend would have realized that he had never left the larger project of critical rationalism, that Mill's arguments regarding the free exchange of opinion to achieve better ideas indeed cannot be improved upon, that with experience we learn, with learning we reflect upon what works and generalize some reliable guides to the future. Let us hope that Feyerabend would have returned to the mundane side of the divide and realized that his goal had always been "not to eliminate methodologies, but merely (to) reform them,"(93) to recognize that although experience is always too rich to allow for overruling, algorithmic approaches to science and that our guides are best seen as fallible "rules of thumb,"(94) this in no way threatens a robust but humble, post-foundationalist epistemological project.
Feyerabend did not make the case that reality will yield to any conceptual ingenuity and methodological effort. Starting with an insight on the theory-ladenness of observations and borrowing from Duhem the holistic nature of tests, Feyerabend tried to make much of what Popper called the "myth of the framework." Feyerabend attempted to retrospectively test the relativist's ingenuity-and-effort thesis with an historical analysis of the Galileo episode. The failure of this test provides an ampliative basis for believing that a prospective test would fail as well.
This is no small matter and it dramatically underscores what is at stake in these debates. For it seems to be insufficiently recognized that the relativist's thesis of the ontological efficacy of effort and ingenuity is prospectively testable. Consider a future society -- say in the beginning decades of the next century -- that has been deeply influenced by the present popularity of postmodern writings. Due to this influence they decide to "make" cold fusion work. They decide to invest billions of dollars -- tenure track positions at major universities, grants, corporate subsidies -- into forcing reality to yield to this concept.
Has history given us any ampliative basis for believing in the rationality of such pursuit? It is the argument of this thesis, continued in the remaining chapters, that a much more humble story is in order, that our epistemic fallibility insures against our being able to create monolithic conceptual packages that remain invulnerable to all that nature throws at us; that we are not as powerful as the relativist would have us believe. The process of auxiliary adjustment, rejection and pursuit is messy. Human beings are capable of great feats but like our evolution there is always at least a touch of bizarre happenstance, meandering folly, and unplanned contingency that cannot be (and should not be) eliminated by any rational reconstruction. In other words, scientists are neither infinitely smart nor stupid. On the one hand, they cannot create, and continue indefinitely to patch, all-powerful frameworks that are impervious to nature's surprises. On the other hand, scientists are not as dogmatically dumb as the relativists would have us believe. They are capable of recognizing and modifying assumptions, or creating and pursuing new ones in the face of the relentless encroachment of experience at the peripheries of our frameworks.
Notes for Chapter 1:
1. Quoted from Butts and Pitt, 1978, p. 1.
2. Andersson, 1991; Machamer, 1973; McEvoy, 1975.
3. Feyerabend, 1988, pp. 23, vii.
4. Ibid., p. viii.
5. Ibid., p. 35, n 3.
6. Feyerabend, 1975, p. 112. This is Feyerabend's mocking description of Machamer's interpretation of Galileo. See discussion below.
7. Feyerabend, 1988, p. 23, n 3.
8. Feyerabend, 1981, pp. 165, 158.
9. Feyerabend, 1975, p. 114. In this chapter I will be citing both the 1975 and 1988 editions of Feyerabend's Against Method. As explained below, this passage is from an Appendix that Feyerabend eliminated in his 1988 edition.
10. Feyerabend, 1981, p. 156.
11. Followers such as Vine Deloria (1991, p. 400)
claim that Feyerabend has
". . . demonstrated that scientific discovery is a process of propaganda, faith, clever phrasing, and sleight of hand in order to get others to see from a new perspective. . ." (emphasis added)
12. Feyerabend, 1988, pp. 135, 129.
13. See notes 3 and 19, Introduction.
14. Feyerabend, 1981, p. 163.
15. Von Brentano (Free University, Berlin), 1991,
p. 199. Answering Brentano's question would go a long way towards explaining
the diverse reactions one can find to Feyerabend's philosophy. Consider
[Feyerabend is] "a philosopher who keeps coming back to haunt us with
his challenge that science (and) methodology . . . are . . . bright meadows
that will turn into swamps, . . . hopes that will become utter disappointments."
Robert E. Butts and Joseph C. Pitt, 1978, p. x.
[Feyerabend offers us] "a sloppy pluralism" (whereby we are shown that)
"If the strongest (positions) cannot be defended well enough to bring conviction
and satisfaction, at least the weakest can be defended by some arguments
that are not that bad, and with time we can learn to live with ever poorer
arguments, provided we supplement them from time to time with really brilliant
ideas to show that we say these silly things not out of stupidity." Joseph
Agassi (University of Tel Aviv), 1991, pp. 380, 385.
[That Feyerabend] "is one of the most exciting philosophers of science
of this century (is) an opinion that is becoming general around the world
as . . . history begins to cast its appraising eye upon the intellectual
harvest of our era." Gonzalo Munevar, 1991, p. ix.
[Feyerabend is a] "threat . . . because he asks penetrating and embarrassing questions in fields which most people feel have been laid to rest . . . . (and his work) will prove critical in opening enough breaches in the walls of Western intellectual chauvinism so that some exchange of ideas can occur. . . . What we are discussing when we look at Feyerabend's philosophy is the re-emergence in western (sic) philosophy of a rare form of honesty." Vine Deloria (Center for Ethnicity and Race, University of Colorado), 1991, pp. 390, 392, 400.
16. Feyerabend, 1988, Chapters 6-10.
17. Feyerabend, 1975, p. 112.
18. Ibid., pp. 78-81.
19. Ibid., pp. 117, 118.
20. 1988, p. 119.
21. 1975, p. 81.
22. Feyerabend, 1978b, p. 38.
23. 1975, p. 92.
24. 1988, p. 21. According to Vine Deloria,
"Feyerabend is one of the few voices which sees that the body of human
knowledge is not merely an instance of adding insights on non-Western peoples
to the already constructed edifice of Western knowledge but that the full
content of human knowledge must be a discontinuous arrangement of smaller
bodies of knowledge derived from the many human traditions represented
in planetary history." (1991, pp. 390-391)
And in terms of the connection of proliferation and diversity with evolution:
"The interplay between proliferation and tenacity also amounts to the continuation, on a new level, of the biological development of the species and it may even increase the tendency for useful biological mutations. It may be the only possible means of preventing our species from stagnation." (Feyerabend, 1981, p. 144.)
25. 1988, p. 12. Also, according to Feyerabend,
"My main motive in writing the book was humanitarian, not intellectual."
Ibid., p. 3.
"It seems to me that the happiness and the full development of an individual human being is now, as ever, the highest possible value." 1985, p. 143.
26. See Introduction, note 3.
27. 1975, p. 79; 1988, p. 65. According to Feyerabend,
"Galileo's 'trickery' . . . is 'trickery' only for philosophies that set narrow conditions on conceptual change. . ." (1988, p. 79, n. 17.)
28. According to Feyerabend, in general
"Basic theories and auxiliary subjects are often 'out of phase'. As a result we obtain refuting instances which do not indicate that a new theory is doomed to failure, but only that it does not fit in at present with the rest of science. This being the case scientists must develop methods which permit them to retain their theories in the face of plain and unambiguous refuting facts, even if testable explanations for the clash are not immediately forthcoming." 1985, p. 138.
29. 1988, p. 75.
30. 1975, p. 79.
31. 1975, p. 113.
32. Which, of course, is the reason Galileo wrote his Dialogue.
33. 1978b, p. 45.
34. Popper, 1970, pp. 56-57.
35. Laudan, 1990b, p. 83.
36. Machamer, 1973. Machamer is responding to Feyerabend's "Problems of Empiricism II," 1970.
37. 1975, pp. 112-119.
38. 1988., p. vii.
39. Chalmers, 1986, pp. 6, 27, n. 19; Laudan, 1977, pp. 168, 239, n. 17; McEvoy, 1975, p. 65.
40. According to Machamer, although incorrect,
"at the time of its inception and development . . . it provided the only known natural, mechanical attempt to account for the tides and it did so in a mathematical way. . . . Nowhere in his argument for the plausibility of the earth's motion did Galileo presuppose the Copernican thesis." (1973, pp. 9-10.
41. Ibid., p. 35.
42. Ibid., p. 17.
43. Ibid., pp. 16-20.
44. Ibid., p. 18.
45. Ibid., p. 18, notes 59 and 60.
46. Ibid., p. 20.
47. Ibid., pp. 22-23.
48. Ibid., p. 34.
49. Feyerabend, 1975, p. 115.
50. Ibid., p. 116.
51. Ibid., p. 117.
52. Ibid., p. 118.
53. We can, however, conduct independent terrestrial tests that link spectral line broadening and shifting with density and motion, and connect X-ray emissions with temperature and radio waves with spinning magnetic fields. Furthermore, if an object such as a neutron star is part of a binary system, independent means exist for its identification.
54. 1975, p. 118.
55. Ibid., pp. 112, 117.
56. Ibid., p. 118.
57. Ibid., pp. 18, 83, notes 131 & 132.
58. 1988, p. 86, n. 19.
59. Kepler, 1610a, pp. 18-19. Emphasis added.
60. Kepler, 1618.
61. Kepler's lapse is also pointed out by Rosen in his commentary on Kepler's Conversation, 1965, pp. 84-85, notes 132 & 139.
62. For Feyerabend any praise for being rational is simultaneous criticism for not being boldly irrational.
63. An exception, of course, is his life-long adherence to circular motion, an idee fixe for Galileo. This will be discussed further in the next chapter.
64. Galileo Galilei, 1632, pp. 18-19.
65. Andersson, 1991, p. 289-290; Kuhn, 1957, p. 120; Shapere, 1974, Chapters 3 & 4.
66. Drake, 1987, p. 93.
67. Ibid., p. 97. Geoheliocentrism will be discussed
extensively in chapter 5. For now, note that according to Drake,
"How Galileo hit upon the idea of daily rotation of the earth is so
evident from careful study of his chapter (in De motu) on
rotations that I should say it was an inescapable conclusion for him, as
was the logical superiority of the related world system (geoheliocentrism)
over all rivals -- even the system of Copernicus, as Galileo saw things
in mid-1591." (p. 98)
According to Drake, Galileo's promised commentaries on Ptolemy's Almagest would have involved a presentation of the superiority of geoheliocentrism. But learning belatedly and embarrassingly of Tycho's system and the Tycho-Ursus controversy prevented the commentaries from ever being published.
68. 1975, p. 179.
69. This rule would separate Galileo's move and the attempt to save the standard model of the sun discussed below from the following. Suppose some supporters of UFO visitation claim that they can obtain pictorial evidence of visitation. Upon obtaining these pictures intersubjective agreement exists that these pictures are blurry, and skeptics are decidedly unimpressed. However, supporters of visitation argue that this is positive evidence for their theory, because UFOs always emit interfering radiation when someone attempts to take a picture of their space craft. In this case, the visitation hypothesis is not a robust alternative to our best current scientific theories, nor does the radiation hypothesis have any independent support.
70. Putnam, 1981, p. 71.
72. Although this will be developed more thoroughly
below, it is worth noting at this point that Galileo's appeal to the "ease
and simplicity" of the Copernican system was not just an appeal to a metaphysical
aesthetics, but concerned the "knotting" together of several apparent anomalies,
i.e., not just retrogressions, but frequency of retrogressions for each
planet tied to distances from the sun within the Copernican system. Dialogue,
As is the case with many other Copernican episode commentators emerging from the logical positivist tradition and its noncognitive interpretation of values, Feyerabend misses the parameter fixating significance as one aspect of Copernican appeal. According to Feyerabend, the "motive for change. . . . comes from the 'typically metaphysical urge' for unity of understanding and conceptual presentation. 1988, p. 74. This will be discussed further in chapter 5.
73. Chalmers, 1985, p. 177.
74. 1988, p. 32.
75. Feyerabend, 1978, p. 86.
76. Von Brentano, 1991, p. 201.
77. 1981, p. 143.
78. 1988, p. 12.
79. 1991, p. 494.
80. 1978, p. 143.
81. 1978, pp. 86-87; 1981, p. 156. Also see Vine Deloria's discussion of Feyerabend's concept of maturity (1991, pp. 398-400).
82. "I do not favor the export of freedom into regions that are doing well without it." 1991, p. 508. Quoted from Farewell to Reason, 1987.
83. 1991, pp. 199-212.
84. Rorty, 1991, pp. 203-210.
85. Feyerabend, 1978, p. 87.
86. 1991, p. 398.
87. Ibid., p. 399.
88. See note 15.
89. Feyerabend, 1991, p. 492.
90. "It is difficult, and perhaps entirely impossible, to combat the effects of brainwashing by argument." 1981, p. 150.
91. I will also argue that the major problem with Kuhn is just this: He outlines only a faith in rational transitions and tells no detailed epistemological story for these transitions.
92. I am here comparing the direction Deloria thinks Feyerabend is taking with that of the physicist David Bohm, who after recognizing a superficial similarity between Eastern mysticism and the results of quantum physics published two books of conversations with Jiddu Krishamurti, Truth and Actuality, 1980, and The Ending of Time, 1985.
93. 1991, p. 503.