Comments: Illustration vs. Experimental Test
There is a Rabelaisian mood about much of what Feyerabend says. It is as if we had suddenly been freed from the constraints of a half-century of monastic positivism (or three centuries of ‘dogmatic empiricism’), and had been invited, one and all, to join in the fraternity (and sorority) of Rabelais’ Abbaye de Thélème, on whose gates is inscribed ‘Fais ce que voudras’. There is an exuberance here which is attractive on the face of it; and perhaps my reactions are those of a repressed heir of the Protestant tradition, caught in the web of a parsimonious historicism. I do not intend this simply as a colorful phrase, for all the cardinal sins against which Feyerabend inveighs are enumerated here. Whereas the explicit dogmatism and rules of faith of the past are no longer viable, Feyerabend suggests that modern dogmatism masks itself under the veil of autonomy of the sciences, of religion, of the arts. But the same end is effected: namely, the preservation of the faith and of its immunity to criticism. In short, Feyerabend argues that the cry for autonomy is in effect a cry for insularity, to protect the borders of the disciplines against alien immigration. A man’s science is his castle, so to speak. And by contrast to this demand for external democracy, among the disciplines (Chacun à son science), there is internal tyranny which brooks no opposition.
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