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How to Defend Society Against Science

and of universal hUmanism, but by shortsighted
against incompr~hensible neglect of the workers’

education, against authoritarian relatonships
particular interests of the ruling apparatus of
within the League of Communists, against the intropower. It is very characteristic that parallel
duction of censorship and bureaucratic pressures
with the development of the campa~gn against us
for self-censorship, against increasing repression~. there is an obvious growth in the influence of
·”the ideologists of Stal,.inist dogmatism who have
in the field of culture- all those critical
remarks are clearly in the spirit of the basic
pa tiently waited for their hour of revenge ready
principles of a classless socialist society, and,
to justify every voluntarism, every twist and turn
of daily politics, and on the other hand, ready
furthermore, in the spirit of the 1958 Programme
of the Yugoslav League of Communists. That
savagely to attack any attitude, any idea if it is
merely different from the infallible leadership.

Programme requests members of the League of
Communists to fight bureaucratism. it is nearer
In the long run this bureaucratic, apparently
to the truth that in that respect we have done
legitimate violence turns against those who use it.

Nothing weakens a ruling elite more than to order
less than possible, rather than more than was
needed. On the other hand, there is hardly any
such acts which can no longer be convincingly
doubt that the Party leadership has given up most
ideologically justified, which even lack proper
legal basis, which do no longer rest on any other
of its own programme. It experienced our critique
as the voice of its own uneasy conscience and that
authority but the authority of power. On the
is perhaps its main motive in trying to silence us.

other hand, no party in any country can condemn to
silence a person who has decided to speak up.

Its accusation that a few philosophers are eager to
seize power is not only an utterly unconvincing
Ideas cannot be defeated by preventing them from
rationalisation but also the expression of its own
being expounded from a professor’s chair. We are
convinced that a bold, dignified, truthful scholarobsession with power.

Rejecting all such wild accusations that not
ly community like the Faculty of Philosophy in
Belgrade will not be demoralised and disabled in
only endanger a few of us personally but freedom
and socialist culture of the whole country, we
continuing to defend the great principles of freewish to emphasise as strongly as possible that
dom and integrity of scholarly research, merely
because it has temporarily lost eight, of its
every theoretical thought that moves solely within
members.

the framework of the existing structure, that conforms and adjusts to it instead of transcending it
Zagorka Golumbovi6/Triva Indji6/Mihailo Markovi6/
– deprives socialism of its future. Such thought
Prafyiljub Micunovi6/Nebojsa Popov/SVetozar
can hardly be anything but a superficial and mystiStojanovi6/Ljubomir Tadi6/Miledin Zivoti6
fying apology for the given. SUch thought is not
Belgrade, 28 January 1975
guided by the interests of the workers’ movement

Bow 10 Defend Sociely
Againsl Science
Paul Feyerabend
The following article is a revised version of a
talk given to the Philosophy Society at SUssex
University in November 1974
Practitioners of a strange trade, friends”enemies,
ladies and gentlemen:

Before starting with my talk, let me explain to
you, how it came into existence.

About a year ago I was short of funds. So I
accepted an invitation to contribute to a book
dealing with the relation between science and religion. To make the book sell I thought I should
make my contribution a provocative one and the
most provocative statement one ‘can make about the
relation between science and religion is that
science is a religion. Having made the statement
the core of my’ article I discovereq that lots of
reasons, lots of excellent reasons, could be found
for it. I enumerated the reasons, finished my
article, and got paid. That was stage one.

Next I was invited to a Conference For the
Defence of Culture. I accepted the invitation
because it paid for my flight to Europe. I also
must admit that I was rather curious. When I
arrived in Nice I had no idea what I would say.

Then while the conference was taking its course I
discovered that everyone thought very highly of
science and that everyone was very serious. So I
decided to explain how one could defend culture

from science. All the reasons collected in my
article would apply here as well and there was no
need to invent new things. I gave my talk, was
rewarded with an outcry about my ‘dangerous and ill
considered ideas’, collected my ticket and went on
to Vienna. That was stage number two.

Now I am supposed to address you. I have a
hunch that in some respect you are very different
from my audience in Nice. For one, you look much
younger. My audience in Nice was full of profes,sors, bUSinessmen, television executives and the
average age was about 58~. Then I am quite sure
that most of you are considerably to the left of
most of the people in Nice. As a matter of fact,
speaking somewhat superficially I might say that
you are a leftist audience while my audience in
Nice Was a rightist audience. Yet despite all
these differences you have some things in common.

Both of you, I assume, respect science and knowledge. Science, of ~ourse, must be reformed and
must be made less authoritarian. But once the reforms are carried out, it is a vaulable source of
knowledge that must not be contaminated by ideologies of a different kind. Secondly, both o.f you
are serious people. Knowledge is a serious matter,
for the Right as well as for the Left, and it must
be pursued in a serious spirit. Frivolity is out,
dedication and earnest application to the task at
hand is in. These similarities are all I need for
repeating my Nice talk to you with hardly any
change. So, here it is.

3

Fairytales
I want to defend society and its inhabitants
from all ideologies, science included. All ideologies must be seen in perspective. One must not
take them too seriously. One must read them like
fairytales which have lots of interesting things
to say but which also contain wicked lies, or like
ethical prescriptions which may be useful rules
of thumb but which are deadly when followed to the
letter.

instrument of liberation and enlightenment. It
does not follow that science is bound to remain
such an instrument. There is nothing inherent
in science or in any other ideology that makes it
essentially liberating. Ideologies can deteriorate and become stupid religions. Look at Marxism.

And that the science of today is very different
from the science of 1650 is evident at the most
superficialglance~

For ~ple, consider the role science now plays
in education. Scientific ‘facts’. are taught at a
very early age and in the very same manner in which
religious ‘facts’ were taught only a century ago.

Df.c.~lJ
There is no attempt to waken the critical abilities
of the pupil so that he may be able to see things
~I<E
in perspective. At the universities the situation
is even worse, for indoctrination is here carried
a/JDER~ IN
out in a much more systematic manner. Criticism
is not entirely absent. Society, for example, and
its institutions, are criticised most severely and
often most unfairly and this already at the elementary school level. But science is excepted from
the criticism. In society at large the judgement
of the scientist is received with the same reverence as the judgement of bishops and cardinals was
accepted not too long ago. The move towards 'demythologization', for example, is largely motivated by the wish to avoiq any clash between
Christianity and scientific ideas. If such a
clash occurs, then science is certainly right and
Christianity wrong. Pursue this investigation
further and you will see that science has now
become as oppressive as the ideologies it had once
to fight. Do not be misled by the fact that today
hardly anyone gets killed for joining a scientific
heresy. This has nothing to do with science. It
has something to do with the general quality of our
Now – is this not a strange and ridiculous
civilization. Heretics in science are still made
attitude? Science, surely, was always in the foreto suffer from the most severe sanctions this
front of the fight against authoritarianism and
relatively tolerant civilization has to offer.

superstition. It is to science that we owe our
But – is this description not utterly unfair?

increased intellectual freedom vis-a-vis religious
Have I not presented the matter in a very distorted
beliefs; it is to science that we owe the liberation light by using tendentious and distorting terminof mankind from ancient and rigid forms of thought.

ology? Must we not describe the situation in a
Today these forms of thought are nothing but bad
very different way? I have said that science has
dreams – and this we learned from science. Science
become.rigid, that it has ceased to be an instruand enlightenment are one and the same thing – even
ment of change and liberation without adding that
the most radical critics of society believe this.

it has found the truth, or a large part thereof.

Kropotkin wants to overthrow all traditional instiConsidering this additional fact we realise, so the
tutions and forms of belief, with the exception of
objection goes, that the rigidity of science is not
science. Ibsen criti~ises the mpst intimate ramidue to human wilfulness. It lies in the nature of
fications of 19th century bourgeois ideology, but
things. For once we have discovered the truth he leaves science untouched.’ Levi-Strauss has
what else can we do but follow it?

made us realise that Western Thought is n6t the
This trite reply is anything but original. It
lonely peak of human achievement it was once beis used ‘whenever an ideology wants to reinforce the
lieved to be, but he excludes science from his
faith of its followers.

‘Truth’ is such a nicely
relativization of ideologies. Marx and Engels were
neutral word. Nobody would deny that it is commendconvinced that science would aid the workers in
able to speak the truth and wicked to tell lies.

their quest for mental and social liberation. Are
Nobqdy would deny that – and yet nobody knows what
all these people deceived? Are they all mistaken
such an attitude amounts to. So it is easy to
about the role of seience? Are they all the
twist matters and to change allegiance to truth in
victims of a chimaera?

one’s everyday affairs into allegiance to the Truth
To these questions my answer is a firm Yes
of an ideology which is nothing but the dogmatic
and No.

defence of that ideology. And it is of course not
Now, let me explain my answer.

true that we have to follow the truth. Human life
My explanation consists of two parts, one more
is guided by many ideas. Truth is one of them.

general, one more specific.

Freedom and mental independence are others. If
Truth, as conceived by some ideologists, conflicts
The general explanation is Simple. Any ideowith freedom.. t:ben we have a choic~. ~ may abanlogy that breaks’ the hold a comprehensive system
don .freedom. But w~.~y also abandon :rruth.

of thought has on the minds of men contributes to
the liberation of man. Any ideology that makes
(Alternativ~ny, we may adopt a more sophisticated
idea of truth that’no longer contradicts freedom;
man question inherited beliefs is an aid to enlightenment. A truth that reigns without checks
that was Hegel’s solution.) My criticism of modand balances is a tyrant who must be overthrown
ern science is that it inhibits freedom of thought.

If the reason is that it has found the truth and
and any falsehood that can aid us in th~ overthrow of this tyrant is to be welcomed. It follows
now follows it then I would say that there are
that 17th and 18th century science indeed was an
better things than first finding, and then follow-

I ‘VE
TO

HOlY

Ni/CLeAR
‘-. PHYsics

4

ing such a monster.

,
This finishes the general part of my
explanation.

There exists a more specific argument to defend
the aKceptional position science has in society
today. Put in a nutshell the argument.says (1)
that science has finally found the correct method
for achieving results and (2) that there are
many results to Prove the excellence of the method.

The argument i~ mistaken – but most attempts to
show this lead into a dead end. Methodology has
by now become so crowded with empty sophistication
that it is extremely difficult to perceive the
simple errors at the basis. It is like fighting
the hydra – cut off one ugly head, and eight
formalizations take its place. In this situation
the only answer is superficiality: when sophistication loses content then the only way of keepin~
in touch with reality is to be crude and superficial. This is what I intend to be.

Against Method
There is a method, says part (1) of the argument.

What is it? How does it work?

One answer which is no longer as popular as it
used to be is that science works by collecting
facts and inferring theories from them. The
answer is unsatisfactory as theories never follow
from facts in the strict. logical sense. To say
that they may yet be supported by facts assumes a
notion of support that’ (a) does not show this
defect and is (b) sufficientlY sophisticated to
permit us to say to what extent, say, the theory
of relativity is supported by the facts. No such
notion exists today nor is it likely that it will
ever be found (one of the problems is that we need
a notion of support in which grey ravens can be
said to support ‘All Ravens are Black’). This was
realised by conventionalists and transcendental
idealists who pointed out that theories shape and
order facts and can therefore be retained come
wha t may. They can be retained because the human
mind either consciously or unconsciously carries
out its ordering function. The trouble with these
views is that they assume for the mind what they
want to explain for the world viz. that it works
in a regular fashion. There is only one view which
overcomes all these difficulties. It was invented
twice in the 19th century, by Mill, in his immortal
essay On Liberty, and by some Darwinists who extended Darwinism to the battle of ideas. This view
takes the bull by the horns: theories cannot be
justified and their excellence cannot be shown
without reference to other theories. We may explain the success of a theorY by reference to a
more compr~hensive theory (we may explain the
success of Newton’s theory by using the general
theory of relativity); and we may explain our preference for it by comparing it with other theories.

Such a comparison does not establish the intrinSic
excellence of the theory we have chosen. As a
matter of fact, the theory we have chosen may be
pretty lousy. It may contain contradictions, it
may conflict with well known facts, it may be
cumbersome, unclear, ad hoc in decisive places and
so on. But it may still be better than any other
theory that is available at the time. It may in
fact be the best lousy theory there is. Nor are
the standards of judgement chosen in an absolute
manner. OUr sophistication increases with every
choice we make, and so do our standards. Standards compete just as theories compete and we choose
the standards most appropriate to the historical
situation in which the choice occurs. The rejected
alternatives (theories; standards; ‘facts’) are not
eliminated. They serve as correctives (after all,

we may have made the wrong choice) and they also
explain the content of the preferred views (we
understand relativity better when we understand
the structure of its competitors;” we know the full
… meaning of freedom only when we have an idea of
life in a totalitarian state, of its advantages and there are many advantages – as well as of its
disadvantages). Knowledge so conceived is an
ocean of alternatives channelled and subdivided by
an ocean of standards. It forces our mind to make
imaginative choices and thus makes it grow. It
makes our mind capable of choosing, imagining,
criticising.

Today this view is often connected with the name
of Karl Popper. But there are some very decisive
differences between Popper and Mill. To start
wit~, Popper developed his view to solve a special
problem of epistemology – he wanted to solve
“Hume’s problem’. Mill, on the other hand, is
interested in conditibns favourable to human
growth. His epistemology is the result of a certain theory of ~n, and not the other way around.

Also Popper, being influenced by the Vienna ‘Circle,
improves on the logical form of a theory before’

discussing it while Mill uses every theory in the
form in which it occurs in science. Thirdly,
Popper’s standards of comparison are rigid and
fixed while Mill’s standards are permitted to
change with the historical situation. Finally,
Popper I s standards eliminate competitors once and
for all: theories that are either not falsifiable,
or falsifiable and falsified have no place in
science. Popper’s criteria are clear, unambigu~
ous, precisely formulated; Mill’s criteria are not.

This would be an advantage if science itself were
clear, unambiguous, and precisely formulated.

Fortunately, it is not.

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To start with, no new and revolutionary sc’ientific theory is ever formulated in a manner that
permits us to say under what circumstances we must
regard it as endangered: many revolutionary theories are unfalsifiable. Falsifiable versions do
exist, but they are hardly ever in agreement with
accepted basic statements: every moderately interesting theory is falsified. Moreover, theories
have formal flaws, many of them contain contradictions, ad’ hoc adjustments, and so on and so
5

forth. Applied resolutely, Popperian criteria
would eliminate science without replacing it by
anything comparable. They are useless as an aid
to science.

In the past decade this has been realised by
various thinkers, K4hn and Lakatos among them.

Ktihn’s ideas are interesting but, alas, they are
much too vague to give rise to anything but lots
of hot air. If you don’t believe me,- look at the
literature. Never before has the literature on
the philosophy of science been invaded by so many
creeps and incompetents. Kuhn encourages people
who have no idea why a stone falls to the ground
to talk with assurance about scientific method.

Now I have no objection to incompetence but I do
object when incompetence is accompanied by boredom,
and self-righteousness. And this is exactly what
happens. We do not get interesting false ideas,
we get boring ideas or words connected with no
ideas at all. Secondly, wherever one tries to make
Kuhn’s ideas more definite one finds that they are
false. was there ever a period of normal science
in the history of thought? No – and I challenge
anyone to prove the contrary.

Lakatos is immeasurably more sophisticated than
Kuhn. Instead of theories he considers research
programmes which are sequences of theories connected by methods of modification, so-called heuristics. Each theory in the sequence may be full of
faults. It may be beset by anomalies, contradictions, ambiguities. What counts is not the shape
of the single theories, but the tendency exhibited
by the sequence. We judge historical dev~lopments,
achievements over a period of time, rather than
the situation at a particular time. History and
methqdology are combined into a single enterprise.

A research programme is said to progress if the
sequence of theories leads to novel pridictions.

It is said to degenerate if it is reduced to absorbing facts that have been discovered without its
help. A decisive feature of Lakatos’ methodology
is that such evaluations are no longer tied to
methodological rules which tell the scientist to
either retain or to abandon a research programme.

Scientists may stick to a degerating programme,
they may even succeed in making the programme overtake its rivals and they therefore proceed rationally whatever they are doing (provided they continue calling degenerating programmes degenerating
and progressive programmes progressive). This
means that Lakatos offers words which sound like
the elements of a methodology; he does not offer a
methodology. There is no method according to the
most advanced and sophistiGated methodology in
existence today. This finishes my reply to part
(1) of the specific argument.

Against Results
According to part (2), science deserves a
special position because it has produced results.

This is an argument only if it can be taken for
granted that nothing else-has ever produced results.

Now it may be admitted that almost everyone who
discusses the matter makes such an assumption.

It may also be admitted that it is not easy to show
that the assumption is false. Forms of life different from science have either disappeared or have
degenerated to an extent that makes a fair comparison impossible. Still, the situation is not as
hopeless as it was only a decade ago. We have
become acquainted with methods of medical diagnosis
and therapy which are effective (and perhaps even
more effective than the corresponding parts of
Western medicine) and which are yet based on an
ideology that is radically different from the ideology of Western science. We have learned that there
are phenomena such as telepathy and telekinesis
6

which are obliterated by a scientific approach
and which could be used to do research in an
entirely novel way (earlier thinkers such as
Agrippa of Nettesheim, John Dee, and even Bacon
were aware of these phenomena). And then – is it
not the case that the Chur~h saved souls while·
science often does the very opposite? Of course,
nobody now believes in the ontology that underlies
this judgement. Why? Because of ideological
pressures identical with those which today make us
listen to science to the exclusion of everything
else. It is also true that phenomena such as telekinesis and acupuncture may eventually be absorbed
into the body of ‘ science and may therefore be called
‘scientific’. But note that this happens only after
a long period of resistance during which a science
not yet containing the phenomena wants to get the
upper hand over forms of life that contain them.

And this leads to a further objection against part
(2) of the specific argument. The fact that science
has results cbunts in its favour only if these
results were achieved by science alone, and without
any outside help. A look at history shows that
science hardly ever gets its results in this way.

When Copernicus introduced a new view of the universe, he did not consult scientific predecessors,
he consulted a crazy Pythagorean such as Philolaos.

He adopted his ideas and he maintained them in the
face of all sound -rules of scientific method.

Mechanics, optics owe a lot to artisans, medicine
to midwives and witches. And in our own day we
have seen how the interference of the state can
advance science:- when the Chinese communists refused to be intimidated by the judgement of experts and ordered traditional medicine back into
universities and hospitals there was an outcry all
over the world that science would now be ruined in
China. The very opposite occurred: Chinese science
advanced and Western science learned from it.

Wherever we look we see that great scientific advances are due to outside interference which is
made to prevail in the face of the most basic and
most ‘rational’ methodological rules. The lesson
is plain: there does not exist a single argument
that could be used to support the exceptional,role
which science today plays in society. Science has
done many things, but so have other ideologies.

Science often proceeds systematically, but so do
other ideologies (just consult the records of the
many doctrinal debates that took place in the
Church) and, besides, there are no overriding
rules-which are adhered to under any circumstances;
there is no ‘scientific methodology’ that can be
used to separate science from the rest. Science
is just one of the many ideologie~ that propel
society and it should be treated as such (this
statement applies even to the most progressive and
most dialectical sections of science). What consequences can we draw from this result?

The most important consequence is that there
must be a formal separation between state and
science just as there is now a formal separation
between state and church. Science may influence
society but only to the extent to which any
political or other pressure group is permitted to
influence society. Scientists may be consulted on
important projects but the final judgement must be
left to the demooratically elected consulting
bodies. These bodies will consist mainly of laymen.

Will the laymen be able to come to a correct judgement? Most certainly, for the competence, the complications and the successes of science are vastly
exaggerated. One of the most exhilarating experiences is to see how a lawyer, who is a layman,
can find holes in the testimony, the technical
testimony of the most advanced expert and thus
prepare the jury for its verdict. Science is not

a closed book that is understood oniy after years
of training. It is an intellectual di~cipline
that can be examined and criticised by anyone who
is interested and that looks difficult and profound
only because of a systematic campaign of obfusca- ~
tion carried out by many scientists (though, I am
happy to say, not by all). Organs of the state
should never hesitate to reject the judgement of
scientists When they have reason for doing so.

SUch rejection will educate the general public,
will make it more confident and it may even lead
to improvement. Considering the sizeable chauvinism of the scientific establishment we can say:

the more Lysenko affairs, the better (it is not the
interference of the state that is objectionable in
the case of Lysenko, but the totalitarian interference which kills the opponent rather than just
neglecting his advice). Three cheers to the fundamentalists in California who succeeded in having a
dogmatic formulation of the theory of evolution
removed from the text books and an account of
Genesis included (but I know that they would become
as chauvinistic and totalitarian as scientists are
today when given the chance to run society all by
themselves. Ideologies are marvellous when used in
the company of other ideologies. They become
boring and doct~inaire as soon as their merits
lead to the removal of their opponents). The most
important change, however, will have to occur in
the field of education.

incapable of devoting themselves to the elaboration
of any single view. How can this aim be achieved?

It can be achieved by protecting the tremendous
imagination which children possess and by developing to the full the spirit of contradiction that
-~exists in them.

On the whole children are much
more intelligent than their teachers. They
succumb, and give up their intelligence because
they are bullied, or because their teachers get
the better of them by emotional means. Children
can learn, understand, and keep separate two to
three different languages (‘children’ and by this
I mean 3 to 5 year olds, NOT eight year olds who
were experimented upon quite recently and did not
come out too well; why? because they were already
loused up by incompetent teaching at an earlier
age). Of course, the languages must be introduced
in a more interesting way than is usually done.

There are marvellous writers in all languages who
have told marvellous stories – let us begin our
language teaching with them and not with ‘der Hund
hat einen Schwanz’ and similar inanities. Using
stories we may of course also introduce ‘scientific’ accounts, say, of the origin of the world and
thus make the’children acquainted with science as

MY Fovi YFAR
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I/I/s {3fEN
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FIK!UCif

Education Bc Myth
The purpose of education, so one would think, is
to introduce the young into life, and that means:

into the society where they are born and into the
physical ~niverse that surrounds the SOCiety. The
method of education often consists in the teaching
of some basic myth. The myth is available in
various versions. More advanced versions may be
taught by initiation rites which firmly impla~t
them into the mind. Knowing the myth the grownup
can explain almost everything (or else he can turn
to experts for more detailed information). He is
the master of Nature and of Society. He understands them both and he knows how to interact with
them. However, he is not the master of the myth
that guides his understanding.

SUch further mastery was aimed at, and was
partly achieved, by the Presocratics. The Presocratics not only tried to understand the world.

They also tried to understand, and thus to becOme
the masters of, -the means of understan4ing the
world. Instead of being content with a single myth
they developed many and so diminished the power
which a well~told story has over the minds of men.

The sophists introduced still further methods for
reducing the deThilitating effect of interesting,
coherent, ’empirically adequate’ etc etc tales.

The achievements of these thinkers were not appreciated and they certainly are not understood today.

When teaching a myth we want to-increase the chance
that it will be understood (i.e. no puzzlement
about any feature of the myth), believed, and
accepted. This does not do any harm when the myth
is counterbalanced by other myths: even the most
dedicated (i.e. totalitarian) instructor in a
certain version of Christianity cannot prevent his
pupils from getting in touch with Buddhists, .Jews
and other disreputable people. It is very different
in the case of science; or of rationalism where the
field is almost completely dominated by the believers. In this case it is of paramount importance to
strengthen the minds of the young and ‘strengthening
the minds of the young ‘·means strengthening them
against any easy acceptance of comprehensive views.

What we need here is an education that makes people
contrary, counter-suggestive without ~king them

well.

But science must not be given any special
except for pointing out that there are
lots of people who believe in it. Later on the
stories which have been told will be supplemented .

with ‘reasons’ where by reasons I mean further
accounts’of the kind found in the tradition to
which the story belongs. And, of course, there
will also be contrary reasons. Both reasons and
contrary reasons will,be told by the experts in
the fields and.so the young generation becomes
acquainted with all kinds of sermons and all types
of wayfarers. It becomes acquainted with them,
it becomes acquainted with their stories and every
individual can make up his mind which way to go.

By now everyone knows that you can :earnl a lot of
money and respect and perhaps even a Nobel Prize
by becoming a scientist, so, many will become
scientists. They will become scientists without
having been taken in by the ideology of science,
they will be scientists because they have made a
free choice. But has not much time been wasted on
unscientific subjects and will this not detract
po~ition

7

from their competence once they have become
scientists? Not at all! The progress of science,
of good science depends on novel ideas and on
intellectual freedom: science has very often been
advanced by outsiders (remember that Bohr and
Einstein regarded themselves as outsiders). Will
not many people make the wrong choice and end up
in a dead end? Well, that depends on what you mean
by a ‘dead end’. Most scientists today are devoid
of ideas, full of fear, intent on producing some
paltry result so that they can add to the flood of
inane papers that now constitutes ‘scientific progress’ in many areas. And, besides, what is more
important? To lead a life which one has chosen
with open eyes, or to spend one’s time in the
nervous attempt of avoiding what some not so intelligent people call ‘dead ends’? Will not the number of scientists decrease so that in the end there
is nobody to run our precious laboratories? I do
not think so. Given a choice many people may
choose science, for a science that is run by free
agents looks much more attractive than tnascience
of today which is run by slaves, slaves of institutions and slaves of ‘reason’. And if there is a
temporary shortage of scientists the situation may
always be remedied by various kinds of incentives.

Of course, scientists will not play any predominant role in the society I envisage. They will be
more than balanced by magicians, or priests, or
astrologers. SUch a situation is upbearable for
many people, old and young, right and left. Almost all of you have the firm belief that at least
some kind of truth has been found, that it must
be preserved, and that the method of teaching I
advocate and the form of society I defend will
dilute it and make it finally disappear. You have
this firm belief; many of you may even have
reaons. But what you have to consider is that the
qbsence of good contrary reasons is due to a historical accident; it does not lie in the nature of
things. Build up the kind of society I recommend
and the views you now despise (without knowing
them, to be sure) will return in such splendour
that you will have to work hard to maintain your
own position and will perhaps be entirely unable
to do so. You do not ‘believe me? Then look at
history. Scientific astronomy was firmly founded
on Ptolemy and Aristotle, two of the greatest minds
in the history of Western Thought. Who upset
their well argued, empirically adequate and precisely formulated system,? Philolaos the mad and
antediluviaft Pythagorean., How was it that
Philolaos could stage such a comeback? Because he
found an able defender: Coparnicus. ‘Of course, you
may follow your intuitions as I am following mine.

But remember that your intuitions are the result
of your ‘scientific’ training where by science I
also mean the science of Karl Marx.’ My training,
or, rather, my non-training, is that of a journalist who is interested in strange and bizarre events.

Finally, is, it not utterly irresponsible, in the
present world situation, with millions of people
starving, others enslaved, downtrodden, in abject
misery of body and mind, to think luxurious thoughts
such as these? Is not freedom of choice a luxury
under such circumstances? Is not the flippancy
and the humour I want to see combined with the
freedom of choice a luxury under such circumstances?

Must we not give up all self indulgence and act?

Join together, and act? That is the- most important
objection which today is raised against an approach
such as the one recommended by me. It has tremendous appeal, it has the appeal of unselfish
dedication. Unselfish dedication – to what? Let
us see!

We are supposed to give up our selfish inclinations and dedicate ourselyesto the liberation of

e

the oppressed. And selfish inclinations are what?

They are our wish for maximum liberty of thought in
the society in which we live now, maximum liberty
not only of an abstract kind, but expressed in
appropriate institutions and methods of teaching.

This wish for concrete intellectual and Rhysical
liberty in our own surroundings is to be put aside,
for the time being. This assumes, first, that we
do not need this liberty for our task. It assumes
that we can carry out our task with a mind that is
firMly closed to some alternatives. It assumes that
the correct way of liberating others has already
been found and that all that is needed is to carry
it out. I am sorry, I cannot accept such doctrinaire self-assurance in such extremely important
matters. Does this mean that we cannot act at all?

It does not. But it means that while acting we
have to try to realise as much of the freedom I
have recommended so that our actions may be
corrected in the light of the ideas we get while
increasing OUr freedom. This will slow us down,
no doubt, but are we supposed to charge ahead
simply because some people tell us that they have
found an explanation for all the misery and an
excellent way out of it? Also we want to liberate
people not to make them succumb to a new kind of
slavery, but to make them realise their own
wishes, however different these wishes may be from
our own. Self-righteous and narrowminded liberators cannot do this. As a rule they soon impose
a slavery that is worse, because more systematic,
than the very sloppy slavery they have removed.

And as regards humour and flippancy the answer
should be obvious. Why would anyone want to liberate anyone else? SUrely not because of some
abstract advantage ‘of liberty but be~ause liberty
is the best way to free development and thus to
happiness. We want to liberate people so that they
can smile. Shall we be able to do this if we ourselves have forgotten how to smile and are frowning
on those who still remember? Shall we then not
spread another disease, comparable to the one we
want to remove, the disease of puritanical selfrighteousness? Do not object that dedication and
humour do not go tog~ther – Socrates is an excellent example to the contrary. The hardest task
needs the lightest hand or else its completion
will not lead to freedom but to a tyranny much
worse than the one it
~’

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