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Seeds of Freedom

formations from a particular, materialist and
thoroughly experimental basis., The material base
of socialism is simultaneously its moral base: how
direct producers are, and the thousand’s of struggles
involved in understanding what it is to be a direct
producer under the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie.

Above all, socialist revolution is not equivalent
to a regime change or new management; it is not a
matter of ‘taking’, but of transformation. From
this false conception follows a notion of a ‘new
morality’ which assumes that The Party will ‘see
to it’ that people are donated happier, better and
fuller lives. This is .the morality of the division
of labour making efficient use of otherwise unchanged resources (materials, machines, people),
of arguing dogmatically that the only way to reach
socialism is through the full ripening of capitalism.

Instead we should eschew blind faith and dogmatism, avoid a priori hypotheses, and concentrate
on revealing the conditions of possibility (and
thus the limits of veracity and validity) of moral
statements which are broadcast as inherent characteristics of human nature; homogeneously available
to all classes; and abstractable from the circumstances of their production.

There are severe restrictions, which we hope our
remarks have indicated, on our own activities.

Throwing in one’s lot with the proletariat is a
methodological and theoretical shift which has profound consequences. Trying to understand social
reality from that body of experience is to make
all sorts of things’, relations, people, visible;
‘and, having seen them, there are many other things
which it is no longer possible to say, do, or see.

Feyerabend’s Fairytales
Nicki Jackowska
I came to Sussex as an undergraduate to achieve
certain objectives to expand the experiences and
thought-processes which had been developing over a
long period of time; to articulate that which
existed, in me as intuitive perception; to extend my
existing thinking into new and more dynamic areas,
to experience different ways of thinking, and
thereby to experience a certain liberation of my
own thinking from its established and habitual
patterns. Soon after arrival, I discovered that
any such processes, if they were to happen at all,
would do so with a few isolated individuals, and
otherwise only at my own initiation. It appeared
that the general aim of university teaching was to
reinforce established ways of thinking, to pass on
the completed process from tutor to student. In
the majority of encounters with members of faculty,
I was required to reinforce, not challenge, the
ways of working as well as the subject-matter,
until I began to see that much of my personality
and thinking up to that point would have to be
suppressed, remain unrealised. This, of course,
means that the hoped-for expansion and liberation
did not happen. Instead there was mechanisation
and alienation.

It wasn’t long after arrival also, that Paul
Feyerabend gave a course of lectures. The cramping
sense of the necessity of adapting my own imagina~
tive and intellectual pr~cesses to those laid down
in the university’s invisible rule-book (which
adaptation might itse~f mean three years’ hard
work), mercifully disappeared. Here was a person
who moved easily from analysis to paradox, from

Intellectual workers embody that specific morality
founded upon the major of the Three Great Differences, that between mental and manual labour.

They thus run the constant risk of theorising, or
philosophising, which amounts to the shuffling of
reified concepts and fetishised categories, whose
invention is a product of the relations which they
purport to analyse. Be’ing thus, quite literally,
part of the problem, they cannot assist in a

To conclude, then: moral relations, like State
relations, involve class struggles. It is time that
contradictions and class struggles were seen to
permeate social formations entirely and not be
restricted to convenient ‘industrial’ or ‘political’

contexts. Moral relations, like ‘voting’, or ‘going
to school’,33 are as weak and as strong as the
Americans once were in Vietnam. To defeat bourgeois
moral relations is a historical and not a mental
act, involving the use of the only certain resources
for success: the historical experience of the war
against Capitalism.

32 Cf. Marx’s ‘Letter to the Labour Parliament’

(1854) and his ‘Inaugural Address’ (1864) in
Marx/Engels Articles on Britain (Moscow, Progress
1971) plus the writings on the Commune cited in
our note 2 above. A convenient anthology is
Marx, Engels and Lenin on the Dictatorship of
the Proletariat (Peking, FLP, 1975).

33 On ‘voting’, Cf. S. Lukes ‘Political ritual ••• ‘

Sociology, 9, 1975; on ‘going to school’, Cf.

P. Corrigan, Smash Street Kids (Paladin,
science to art. Or rather, who did not cross
boundaries, but eliminated them, and who did not
create limits to the kind of questions that could
be asked.

The effect of these talks was to create a sense
of physical and intellectual excitement, both in
relation to the original, flexible, expansive
thinking of Paul Feyerabend, and also in relation
to a reversal of the stultifying effects of the
prospect of formal, exclusively analytical study,
and the regeneration of the idea of knowledge as
a means to freedom, vision, understanding and the
expansion of consciousness (which processes are
normally thought of as taking place in the realms
of religion and magic).

I bought Against Method to get more of this
energy, which poured itself out as an educational
experience, rather than as a philosophical

Against Method is a book that speaks directly to
me, and I am not a philosopher of science. In asking myself why, in spite of this, I found myself
deeply concerned with the arguments contained in it,
the discovery was made firstly that this is not a
book concerned primarily with the Philosophy of
Science, or even formal philosophy, and secondly
that this is a book which questions the most fundamental structures of thinking and believing, and so
the tools of all learning and discovery. Paul
Feyerabend is talking about the way we think, our
prejudices, and the way theories take hold and are
sustained. The issue is not the truth or otherwise
of any theory connected with the Copernical Revolution, although the discussion revolves mainly around
this, but is rather concerned, given the events of
the Copernican Revolution as a model, with the way
structures of thinking are built up in any situation. In other words, he is talking about the
growth of knowledge, and the necessity of constant
examination of all structures, or world-views also the necessity of inconsistency, irrationality,

pluralism, counter-inductiv~procedures – in any
situation. As he puts it, the main topic of his
essay is ‘ ••. the problem of rationality vs.

anarchism’. (165) This problem is paramount in
any department of any university. It is also the
key issue in all life situations. It is the ageold problem of bringing together opposites, conscious/unconscious, east/west, male/female, form/
formlessness, control/abandon, chaos/order, thought/

Paul Feyerabend introduces constantly the need
to criticise the states of mind and hidden purposes
of formulating a world-view, concept, theory. E.g.

we may take it for granted that critical rationalism is in our best interests, and in the interests
of the growth of knowledge. But he asks, ‘Is it
desirable to live in accordance with a critical
rationalism ••• for who has the fortitude, or even
the insight, to declare that ‘truth’ might be unimportant, or perhaps even undesirable?’ (171)
Theories, concepts, world-views are only tools,
means to an end. The end of enquiry is not the
construction of a formula as a kind of restingplace and substitute for further questioning or
effort, but is the expansion of understanding or
consciousness which accompanies thought which has
found some release from prejudice and conservatism.

Thus he insists that ‘We must not demand that
the process of learning be structured in accordance
with the categories, laws and perceptions we are
already familiar with’. (272) For this would be
to translate and transform alternative or potentially new forms of knowledge into terms which are
not inherent in their nature, to pass them through
the sieve of old concepts and so extract and
eliminate that which is essentially new. Knowledge
will then remain stifled within the confines of
established patterns and will congeal, become
static, incapable of metamorphosis. And even more
to the point, the gaining of knowledge then
ceases to be a human process. This point is
stressed in the form of a warning: ‘A society that
is based on a set of well-defined and restrictive
rules so that being a man becomes synonymous with
obeying these rules, forces the dissenter into a
no-man’s-land of no rules at all, and thus robs him
of his reason and his humanity’. (218) Fundamental
change – meaning chan~e of attitude towards what
knowledge is, its function and purpose for humans
(not for ‘dogs or logicians’) – is not only possible, but essential, ‘lest we remain forever excluded from what might be a higher stage of knowledge and consciousness’. (229)
This book is not a final statement, but a be~in­
ning. The process begins where ‘the bo’ok leaves
off. This is what Paul Feyerabend is talking about.

The whole aim of the book is to wake up the iptellectually brainwashed, and perhaps prevent brainwashing in those who are mercifully untainted with
the need for ‘absolute truth’. He adds himself to
the list of potential theory-merchants, with a
warning that his own ‘theory’ also is a fairy-tale
to be used, seen through, explored, perhaps discarded. Which does not seem to me to be a slaphappy attitude, as has been suggested. It is a
desperately serious attempt to point to himself as
seducer in the very act of seduction. To catch us
in the act of enslavement, in which we demand of
him the ‘supreme virtue – consistency’. Is this
non-commitment, which he is always being accused
of? I think not. It is commitment to something
that many thinkers have become blind to (or never
saw in the first place) – that is, a commitment to
freedom, fluidity, growth, expansion, and an attack
on sterility, the status quo, stasis, conservatism,
petrification. ‘Anything goes’ does not mean that

any old theory will do. It means that we must
allow anything in order to find what is beyond the
borders of our present limits of consciousness and
understanding. To what is, in fact, waiting outside the boundaries of our current theories. ‘These
“deviations”, these “errors”, are pre-conditions
of progress ••. Without “chaos”, no knowledge.

Without a frequent dismissal of reasgn, no progress’. (179) The book points out first and foremost that knowledge is an ongoing process, that
what we are is a limited version of what we could
be. And we do not contain ultimate answers within
our rational definitions.

‘There is not a single
rule that remains valid under all circumstances and
not a single agency to which appeal can always be
made’. (180)


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Paul Feyerabend
as a thinker? I
is this: that he uses
the actual tactics in the expression of his own
ideas, which he recommends in his arguments as
approaches to both Philosophy of Science and ultimately to the approach of knowledge in general.

He thus achieves a unity of theory and practice
in the actual act of theorising. This has an extraordinary effect, and is very powerful. His power
lies in the fact that he demonstrates his theories
in action.

‘Anything goes’ can be seen in operation, as having produced a mind free from prejudice,
dogma, and insecurity. This is not an academic
treatise only, but a catalyst which operates
simultaneously on several levels. It is a book
about modes of philosophising, about ways of seeing, and it echoes a basic belief that a more
complete picture of experience lies ultimately
beyond the limits of rationality.

Paul Feyerabend may well be important as a
philosopher within the Philosophy of Science. It
is not my intention to discuss that here; The point
is that he is Lmportant outside the Philosophy of
Science. What I want to point out is how important
he is as an educational force, as an experience in

Against Method acts as a mirror: ‘We need a
dream-world in order to discover the features of
the real world we think we inhabit, and which may
actually be just another dream world’. (32) This,
at least, is a move to counteract our incredible
crippling complacency and assurance. It is a
piece of closely reasoned blasphemy within the
religion of ~cience and ‘absolute truth’.


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