For and Against Method
University Of Chicago Press, 1999
The work that helped to determine Paul Feyerabend’s fame and notoriety, Against Method, stemmed from Imre Lakatos’s challenge: “In 1970 Imre cornered me at a party. ‘Paul,’ he said, ‘you have such strange ideas. Why don’t you write them down? I shall write a reply, we publish the whole thing and I promise you—we shall have a lot of fun.’ ” Although Lakatos died before he could write his reply, For and Against Method reconstructs his original counter-arguments from lectures and correspondence previously unpublished in English, allowing us to enjoy the “fun” two of this century’s most eminent philosophers had, matching their wits and ideas on the subject of the scientific method.
For and Against Method opens with an imaginary dialogue between Lakatos and Feyerabend, which Matteo Motterlini has constructed, based on their published works, to synthesize their positions and arguments. Part one presents the transcripts of the last lectures on method that Lakatos delivered. Part two, Feyerabend’s response, consists of a previously published essay on anarchism, which began the attack on Lakatos’s position that Feyerabend later continued in Against Method. The third and longest section consists of the correspondence Lakatos and Feyerabend exchanged on method and many other issues and ideas, as well as the events of their daily lives, between 1968 and Lakatos’s death in 1974.
The delight Lakatos and Feyerabend took in philosophical debate, and the relish with which they sparred, come to life again in For and Against Method, making it essential and lively reading for anyone interested in these two fascinating and controversial thinkers and their immense contributions to philosophy of science.
“The writings in this volume are of considerable intellectual importance, and will be of great interest to anyone concerned with the development of the philosophical views of Lakatos and Feyerabend, or indeed with the development of philosophy of science in general during this crucial period.” – Donald Gillies, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
“A stimulating exchange of letters between two philosophical entertainers.” – Tariq Ali, The Independent
“Mitteleuropa am Aldwych”. Ian Hacking’s Review of For and against Method edited by Motterlini, M. London Review of Books vol. 22 no. 2 pp. 28-29, 2000. Available from http://www.lrb.co.uk/v22/n02/ian-hacking/mitteleuropa-am-aldwych.