Philosophy of Nature

Polity Press
  • erschienen am 26. September 2016
  • |
  • 288 Seiten
E-Book | ePUB mit Adobe DRM | Systemvoraussetzungen
978-0-7456-9476-4 (ISBN)
Philosopher, physicist, and anarchist Paul Feyerabend was one of the most unconventional scholars of his time. His book Against Method has become a modern classic. Yet it is not well known that Feyerabend spent many years working on a philosophy of nature that was intended to comprise three volumes covering the period from the earliest traces of stone age cave paintings to the atomic physics of the 20th century D a project that, as he conveyed in a letter to Imre Lakatos, almost drove him nuts: "Damn the ,Naturphilosophie."
The book's manuscript was long believed to have been lost. Recently, however, a typescript constituting the first volume of the project was unexpectedly discovered at the University of Konstanz. In this volume Feyerabend explores the significance of myths for the early period of natural philosophy, as well as the transition from Homer's "aggregate universe" to Parmenides' uniform ontology. He focuses on the rise of rationalism in Greek antiquity, which he considers a disastrous development, and the associated separation of man from nature. Thus Feyerabend explores the prehistory of science in his familiar polemical and extraordinarily learned manner.
The volume contains numerous pictures and drawings by Feyerabend himself. It also contains hitherto unpublished biographical material that will help to round up our overall image of one of the most influential radical philosophers of the twentieth century.
1. Auflage
  • Englisch
  • Chicester
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  • Großbritannien
John Wiley & Sons
  • 3,55 MB
978-0-7456-9476-4 (9780745694764)
0745694764 (0745694764)
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Paul Feyerabend (1924-1994) was Professor of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley.
An Introduction by Helmut Heit and Eric Oberheim
Editorial Notes
Paul Feyerabend: Philosophy of Nature
Preliminary Note
1. Presuppositions of the Myths, and the Knowledge of their Inventors
1.1. Stone Age Art and Knowledge of Nature
1.2. Megalithic Astronomy (Stonehenge)
1.3. Critique of Primitivist Interpretations of the Prehistoric Era
1.4. The Dynamic Worldview of Stone Age Humans
2. The Structure and Function of Myths
2.1. Theories of Myth
2.2. The Theory of Nature Myths and Structuralism
3. Homer's Aggregate Universe
3.1. The Paratactic World of Archaic Art
3.2. Worldview and Knowledge in Homer's Epics
3.3. Views of Reality and the Language of Science: Some Basic Considerations
4. Transition to an Explicitly Conceptual Approach to Nature
4.1. The New World of the Philosophers: Advantages and Disadvantages
4.2. Historical Factors for the Emergence of Philosophy
4.3. Predecessors in Hesiod's and Oriental Cosmogonies
5. Philosophy of Nature through Parmenides
5.1. Hesiod and Anaximander: Changing Worldviews
5.2. Xenophanes: Critic of Religion and Epistemologist
5.3. Parmenides: The Origins of Western Philosophy of Nature
6. Western Philosophy of Nature from Aristotle to Bohr
6.1. Aristotle's Research Program
6.2. Descartes: The Mathematical Approach to Nature
6.3. Galileo, Bacon, Agrippa: Empiricism without Foundations
6.4. Hegel: The Dynamics of Concepts
6.5. Newton, Leibniz, Mach: Problems of Mechanism
6.6. Einstein, Bohr, Bohm: Signs of a New Era
7. Conclusion


The present edition of Paul Feyerabend's Philosophy of Nature was compiled based on two partly deviating typescripts. Both were photocopies of loose pages covered with typewritten text as well as handwritten corrections and additions. The original has been lost. One of the versions, the Archive Version, is from the Paul Feyerabend collection at the Philosophical Archive of the University of Constance (archive no. PF 5-7-1) and consists of 245 loose pages, which Feyerabend had divided into five chapters. According to a note on page 1a, it was written in 1971 and revised in 1976. The second version, the Spinner Version, is in the possession of Prof. Dr. Helmut Spinner, who at the time was supposed to act as the editor of Philosophy of Nature, which had been planned as a three-volume publication. A copy of this typescript can now be viewed at the Constance Archive as well. The Spinner Version is dated August 1974 and comprises 305 loose pages. The additions mainly relate to the additional sixth and the brief seventh chapter, but to some extent also to revisions in various other places in the text. Nonetheless the Spinner Version is not always the more up to date, since Feyerabend's 1976 revisions were made not to this version but to the older Archive Version. Thus, the textual basis of the present edition consists of two partly different versions that also had different revisions made by Feyerabend and display traces of Spinner's editorial work as well. We have generally used Feyerabend's most recent versions for the present edition, but we have not included the major additions by Spinner, which were in part content-related.

This book aims to make a reliable readers' edition available to Feyerabend scholars as well as to a larger audience interested in Feyerabend's reconstruction of philosophy of nature. Thus we did not include a comprehensive critical historical apparatus or a transparent reconstruction of the various stages of revision. We silently corrected obvious errors, while additional revisions of the text are documented in editors' footnotes. In particular, we had to perform some major rearrangements in order to turn the incomplete typescript into a readable book without altering the content or leaving any parts out. Feyerabend's original text did not contain any footnotes; instead it began with a note:

I would like to suggest to my readers that they first read the essay straight through, leaving the passages in small print for later. In this way readers will obtain an overview of the underlying ideology. The text in small print contains further material, additional arguments, and bibliographical references. Occasionally it takes up an ancillary line within an argument and develops it further.

(PF 5-7-1, p. 1)

We were unable to distinguish passages in small print clearly, especially further on in the text, not least due to Feyerabend's use of different typewriters (a consequence of his flexible lifestyle) as well as to various traces of editing that had accumulated over the course of several years. Furthermore, the repetitive bibliographical references at the end of argumentative passages were considerably detrimental to the flow of reading. Thus, the attempt to identify and leave passages in small print where they are in the text would have been contrary to Feyerabend's objective of providing readers with "an overview of the underlying ideology." This is why we moved the references and ancillary lines of arguments into an apparatus of footnotes, just as Feyerabend himself used to do in those publications that he supervised in person. In doing so we assigned the footnotes to the thematically corresponding passages.

Feyerabend structured the text into seven chapters and 43 consecutive sections. He used the section numbers, which are placed in square brackets in this edition, for cross-references within the text. Since, however, the sections vary greatly in length, do not always cover just one single topic, and are not always clearly marked off from subsequent sections (as, for example, with sections [5] and [6]), they are of limited usefulness for orientation within the text. For this reason we decided also to divide up the text according to subchapters, which we did on the basis of content-related criteria, and to introduce each subchapter with a suitable subchapter heading. Another considerably more significant structural change in the typescript was also performed with the aim of improving its readability. In Philosophy of Nature Feyerabend quoted from roughly 300 different works and included the references, which differ in their degree of thoroughness, immediately after the quotes inside the text. We replaced these references in the continuous text with author/year or, for classic texts, author/abbreviation of title, and we added a bibliography that lists all the literature used by Feyerabend. Furthermore, we added additional captions to the images in the text. It was not always possible to obtain reproducible originals from the same sources that Feyerabend used. In these cases, we had recourse to other resources and referenced the new sources. Our associate Simon Sharma digitally reconstructed drawings by Feyerabend.

To the extent to which it was possible, we reviewed all sources used by Feyerabend and supplemented the references as needed. Belying his later reputation, Feyerabend's quotes and references were accurate in most cases. Minor typos, such as the misrepresentation of the name of Hermann Neuwaldt (1984) as "Hermann Neustadt" or the wrong page number for a passage from Herodotus (Histories IV. 252 instead of IV. 152), were comparatively rare and have been silently corrected. We proceeded in the same way with any errors that may have occurred when Feyerabend copied text passages from a source, as in Olof Gigon's "Die Wandelbarkeit des Standpunktes, die der Elegie seit Archilochos eigentümlich ist, muss notwendig auch der Philosophie des Xenophanes einen besonderen Charakter gegeben haben" (1968: 157), where Feyerabend got confused about the tense while copying the text ("eigentümlich war" instead of "eigentümlich ist") and also forgot to copy the word "auch" ["also"]. *When checking the sources we strove as far as possible to use the same editions as Feyerabend.** Wherever this was not possible we have listed in the bibliography the sources that we used to check the reference in question. In some cases we were unable to check a reference and relied on the accuracy of Feyerabend's information. The bibliographical references in the sixth chapter especially have a somewhat lower degree of completeness, and in some cases Feyerabend neglected to provide a reference at all. Wherever it was possible we added the missing reference without specifically noting this.

Since Feyerabend had teaching positions in the USA (Berkeley and Yale), Europe (London and Berlin), and in 1972 and 1974 even in New Zealand, he moved primarily in English-language environments during his work on Philosophy of Nature. This is noticeable from a few textual notes in English as well as some anglicisms in his use of German. For example, in Philosophy of Nature he often formed an adjective's comparative in the English style, by speaking of "mehr abstrakt" rather than "abstrakter" ["more abstract"], which would have been the correct form in German. In those cases in which Feyerabend did not use an existing German translation of sources in foreign languages, he referenced the original foreign-language source while providing his own German translation in the text. Due to external circumstances he also used different editions of the same source. This is most obvious with regard to the writings of Lévi-Strauss, whose The Savage Mind was quoted by Feyerabend in its original French as well as in German and English translation. Feyerabend's own German translations, of course, deviated from the published German standard translations, as the former were based on an English translation of the text. In some, though not all, cases Feyerabend later replaced his own translation with Hans Naumann's German translation of The Savage Mind, published by Suhrkamp. Just as with other revisions, we used Feyerabend's last version as the basis for Philosophy of Nature. His own translations reflect his interpretation and are usually accurate enough that we did not undertake any amendments, even though alternative interpretations would have been possible. We chose to proceed this way even in cases where Feyerabend had read a text that was originally in German in an English translation and then translated it back into German, as is the case with a passage from Martin Luther's On the Babylonian Captivity of the Church (1520). Luther's original text reads: "Denn was ohne Schriftgrundlage oder ohne erwiesene Offenbarung gesagt wird, mag wohl als eine Meinung hingehen, muss aber nicht notwendig geglaubt werden," and the English standard translation reads: "For that which is asserted without the authority of the Scripture, or of proven revelation may be held as an opinion, but there is no obligation to believe it." And Feyerabend turned this into: "Denn was ohne Autorität der Schrift und bewiesener Offenbarung behauptet wird, kann als Meinung gelten, man ist aber nicht verpflichtet es zu glauben." Even in such cases, in Philosophy of...

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