Archive for September 2013
The assumption that there exist universally valid and binding standards of knowledge and action is a special case of a belief whose influence extends far beyond the domain of intellectual debate. This belief… may be formulated by saying that there exists a right way of living and that the world must be made to accept it. The belief propelled the Moslem conquests; it accompanied the crusaders into their bloody battles; it guided the discoverers of new continents; it lubricated the guillotine and it now provides fuel for the endless debates of libertarianism and/or Marxist defenders of Science, Freedom and Dignity. Of course, each movement filled the belief with its own particular content; it changed the content when difficulties arose and it perverted it when personal or group advantages are at stake. But the idea that there is such a content, that it is universally valid and that it justifies intervention always played and is still playing an important role…. We may surmise that the idea is a leftover from times when important matters were run from a single centre, a king or a jealous god, supporting and giving authority to a single world view. And we may further surmise that Reason and Rationality are powers of a similar kind and are surrounded by the same aura as were gods, kings, tyrants and their merciless laws. The content has evaporated; the aura remains and makes the powers survive.
Paul Feyerabend, Farewell to Reason