Tag Archives: Paul Feyerabend

Sheldon Reaven

Paul loved to live. Many periods of his life were a flurry of dinners, plays, operas, romantic evenings, wrestling matches. These occasions were marked by a great sociability. Killing Time itemizes these activities, but does not, I think, fully convey their athmosphere.

Feyerabend would hold court at Berkeley’s faculty lunchroom, in later years at the Chez Panisse restaurant. A steady stream of students, faculty, and assorted personages came and went. Paul was the main attraction. Discussions would careen through fine food and wine; music and opera; romantic prospects and dénouements; Feyerabend’s revered classics of literature, history, and philosophy—perhaps he would be rereading an old favorite, perhaps a new book offered a novel treatment; Perry Mason, mystery books, and the best soap opera actors—soap opera being the sole repertory acting on TV; intellectual celebrity gossip; even philosophy of science. Feyerabend would discuss the state of his ailments, and his newest try for a remedy (e.g., acupuncture). Discussion would continue afterward, as Feyerabend with difficulty would make his way to a class or his bus stop; it was a big occasion when he got a specially outfitted car. His house was a dense labyrinth of books; indeed for years one of my functions was to scout out interesting books on any topic, and interesting musical discoveries, to recommend to him. These were immensely sunny times. Feyerabend was like champagne, sheer fun to be around.

Sheldon Reaven, ‘Time Well Spent’, in John Preston, Gonzalo Munévar and David Lamb (eds.), The Worst Enemy of Science? Essays in Memory of Paul Feyerabend, Oxford, 2000, p. 24

Paul Feyerabend

You [Lakatos] say that Sir K just messed up Hume’s problem. This is precisely what Schrödinger said, and I was there when he said it. It is a very interesting story. Karl wanted to dedicate the English edition of the Logic of Sci. etc. to Schrödinger. He had never given the book to Schrödinger to read and wanted to know, desperately, what he thought of it. Karl was sitting at the Böglerhof, Schrödinger was at another restaurant in Alpbach, in a very bad temper: “This Popper! There he gives me this confused book of his and wants me to consent to have my name on the first page. He says he does something about Hume’s problem – but he doesn’t, he just talks, and talks, and talks, and Hume’s problem is still unsolved”. So I tried to explain to him the difference between the problem of demarcation and the problem of induction. “Yes, yes,” he said, “I know, he solves the one BUT HE DOESN’T SOLVE THE OTHER and that is just what Hume said, that it couldn’t be solved…” etc. etc

Paul Feyerabend, Letter to Imre Lakatos, January 11, 1974, in Matteo Motterlini (ed.), For and Against Method: Including Lakatos’s Lectures on Scientific Method and the Lakatos-Feyerabend Correspondence, Chicago, 1999, p. 353