Feyerabend’s Stories of Immanence

Feyerabend’s STORIES FROM PAOLINO’S TAPES is composed of fragments from the recordings he made for his wife Grazia Borrini while they were apart. In the latter part of his life Feyerabend led a nomadic existence as a philosophy lecturer, traveling between Zurich, Berkeley, and Rome. These stories are fragments from an amorous discourse addressed to « Grazia », in which nothing is said of love directly but where Feyerabend talks of his passions: theatre, opera, cinema, science, philosophy, popular song, boxing.

In each story there is a moment where an awakening to immanence takes place, and oppression, viciousness and resentment, the tyranny of opinion and the authority of experts, the power of systems and of abstractions are undermined or provisionally overthrown. There is little personal confession, but we are given a rounded view of Feyerabend’s passions and personality, and of his lifelong commitment to freedom from obfuscation and domination.

Perhaps the best commentary on the recordings is given by Stephen Toulmin:

« As is clear to anyone who knows of Feyerabend’s personal life and interests, he had a passion for Science, just as he did for opera and for the cinema. At one time, he was recognized as being a passable operatic baritone, and considered going on the stage professionally; for the rest of his life, too, he used to say that he would have preferred to be a film director rather than a philosopher. So, when he spoke of being “against method” in the sciences, all he wanted was to protect scientists from unreasonable constraints.
There can no more be a set of fixed rules for making scientific discoveries than there can be for producing a great opera or a fine film. What was true of Verdi and Visconti was true equally of productive scientists: they must be allowed free rein, not criticized for a failure to conform to predetermined rules of composition. » (Toulmin, RETURN TO REASON, p85

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