We have seen that Feyerabend’s LAST INTERVIEW takes the form of a progressive deconstruction of the interviewer’s remaining prejudices concerning the necessity of a philosophical position that would give a “systematic account of everything” (p162). When Jung tries to compare Feyerabend’s ideas with the apparently related ideas of the Constructivists (p163), Feyerabend rejects the comparison in the name of alterity: he rejects the model of recognition based on similarity: “The whole of astronomy is another example which goes beyond similarity” (p163). Frustrated in his attempt at proposing a “philosophical unity” between Feyerabend, Kuhn and the Constructivists, Jung affirms that Feyerabend’s worldview is primarily “very critical and negative” and complains that he has not created a “positive philosophical system” (p163).
Feyerabend declares his mistrust of the very desire for a positive philosophical system: “I am very suspicious if someone wants something positive” (p164). This is not because he is against positivity, but because he thinks that this desire for a positive system searches for positivity in the wrong place – in the domain of theory. People want to objectivise their desire, their mania for order, and their prejudices in a system that is nothing more than a compilation of slogans that one “can write down and which one can quote” (p163). The real negativity is there, because reality is simplified and rigidified, and the human relation is lost.
For Feyerabend there is no doubt, positivity lies in establishing human relations, i.e. open and kind and constructive relations, conducive to the affirmation of what is there but that we are unaware of if we are obsessed by the demand for objectivity and the need to make everything fit into our little systems:
“You find positive things not in theories but in human relations…So there may be positive things and people just don’t notice it…So the positive thing is in the people” (p164).
Feyerabend is not against theory and concepts in all circumstances. He is against the monologue that a positive system installs. We see the diffusion of a “position” that, cut off from open dialogue and the complexities of living contexts, becomes a patchwork of slogans and bogus concepts held together by bluff and ignorance and the smug lesson-giving of the founders and joiners of schools and churches to the task of thinking for themselves. For Feyerabend conceit and stupidity are ever-present dangers. Our need for a positive system can lead us to abandon our individuation and fall into the habit of maintaining inhuman relations in our thinking and in our lives, abandoning our freedom to universal principles and abstract phantasms. If people want something positive “they should create it for themselves” (p164).
Feyerabend gives no universal principles, but “rules of thumb” to be applied or not and to be adapted according to the circumstances. One of the rules of thumb he advances is in response to the desire for positive theory which would not be a school philosophy. He recommends to those who want to combine theory and individuation:
“If they want something they should sit down and write themselves a letter” (p164).
One is reminded of a similar recommendation by Lyotard that people should shut themselves in a room and write their anamnesis. I think that the advice is the same, only tinted in Lyotard’s case by his asceticism, and in Feyerabend’s by his hedonism. Later, fearing the egoisim implied in the ordinary concept of hedonism, Feyerabend called it his “humanitarianism”. Writing yourself a letter includes the need for free and open dialogue to avoid the dangers of dogmatism. It interiorises the interplay between transcendent and immanent approaches. Writing a treatise implies taking up the enunciative position of the authority or the expert and using rigid academic language containing philosophical assumptions, such as the “division between something objective and something subjective”, imposing boundaries where in fact “things freely interpenetrate” (p161). Writing a letter to oneself implies hopefully a more democratic enunciative posture, an experimentation with ideas, and a freer more ambiguous style of language. A letter implies an exchange over time and not a static system.
We have also seen that Feyerabend is “post-identitarian”, so the notion of “a letter to themselves” is more complex than may appear at first glance. The self comports an internal multiplicity and is an open system without fixed boundaries in constant exchange with other such open systems, whether people or otherwise My blog posts are letters to myself, part and parcel of my process of individuation, of my anamnesis (remembering who I am outside the system of identities). So they are letters of invitation to you who read them, inviting you to share a moment of co-individuation, to be continued each in his or her own way.