Monday, April 23, 2012

Review of Atkins and Feyerabend now online

You can read my recent Claremont Review of Books review of Peter Atkins’ On Being and Paul Feyerabend’s The Tyranny of Science here.


  1. Dr. Feser, what philosophical position in the philosophy of science do you consider yourself most in line with?

    It's surprising to see you praise Feyerabend, since from what I gather most Aristotelians are realists with respect to science, whereas Feyerabend was the archetypal anti-realist. (For instance, James Franklin, a modern Aristotelian philosopher of science and mathematician based in Australia, has nothing good whatsoever to say about him in his book, What Science Knows and How It Knows It)

  2. The reason why I like feyerabend is because he is an iconoclast of the idols of scientism and provides a good exposition of the irrationality found within the scientific processes and community as a whole. He is a good antidote to the suffocating if not deranges dogma of positivism.

    I also like his utter destruction of the myth that somehow science stand "outside" and "above" other disciplines, which so many village atheists these days resort to in order to mask the fact that their faith in naturalism is intellectually bankrupt.

    Having said that, if I had to choose between realism and anti-realism I would choose the former.

  3. The physicist Stephen M Barr in his slim book "A Student's Guide to Natural Sciences" celebrates modern physics which he says vindicates Pythagoras.

    Science is a rational endeavor to understand the natural phenomena. It is not merely a method of prediction or tabulating the regularities. It is not that the experience is illusory but that certain details can be ignored so that the intellect can apprehend the underlying universality.
    I suppose that is Parmenides and Xenophanes again.

    The one defect of Stephen M Barr's book is that repeatedly he writes that athe modern physics arose to refute Aristotelian physics but he never offers a concise description of the Aristotelian physics.

  4. My understanding is that the rise of modern physics was largely based on the desire to "save the phenomena". Another reason would be to have command over nature (this is if I am not mistaken Descarte's definition)

  5. I remember reading Killing Time some years ago. The disgust of "science" was palpable.

  6. Dr. Feser:

    Kudos on your excellent book review. After recently watching the Craig/Atkins debate on God's existence, I was glad to find your insightful review of Atkins' book. The apparent ease with which you demonstrate the self-defeating nature of Atkins' position while revealing his abject ignorance of his opponents' arguments is admirable.

    Best Regards,

    Dr. Lee