Front Page Titles (by Subject) Feyerabend on Freedom and Diversity - Literature of Liberty, Summer 1981, vol. 4, No. 2
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Feyerabend on Freedom and Diversity - Leonard P. Liggio, Literature of Liberty, Summer 1981, vol. 4, No. 2 
Literature of Liberty: A Review of Contemporary Liberal Thought was published first by the Cato Institute (1978-1979) and later by the Institute for Humane Studies (1980-1982) under the editorial direction of Leonard P. Liggio.
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Feyerabend on Freedom and Diversity
“Freedom, Reason, and Tradition.” Review essay on Paul Feyerabend's Against Method and Science in a Free Society. Reason Papers No. 6 (Spring 1980): 83–91.
In the humanistic and nondogmatic tradition of Protagoras, Socrates, and Nietzsche, philospher Paul Feyerabend has expanded our understanding of the meaning of reason and its bearing on a free society. Feyerabend's two major works, Against Method: Outline of an Anarchistic Theory of Knowledge (1976) and Science in a Free Society (1979), pose the important question: What is the reasonable and humane stance (epistemology) for mankind to take regarding rival beliefs and competing “truths”? The ideals of a humanitarian, free, and progressive society require us to “keep all our options open” and, in Socratic fashion, to welcome an evolving, self-critical, and tolerant attitude to any belief or tradition.
In terms of human knowledge, Feyerabend believes that “nothing is ever settled.” Since “science, history, and human beings are evolving, adhering to a strict system of rules is detrimental to learning and human freedom.” We should not start out with the unreasonable assumption that the tradition of Western science and Enlightenment rationalism have more rational methods than, say, history, myth, or literature. A humane openness to a variety of competing traditions, cultures, and approaches to truth is better calculated to allow for the growth of objective knowledge than any rigid or closed system that asserts its monopoly on truth.
As individuals we are fallible and have to admit our relative human ignorance in a universe that is largely unknown to us. Freedom consists in expanding our options and recognizing that there is no single, immovable Archimedes' citadel of objective, static truth outside the “ever increasing ocean of mutually incompatible (and perhaps even incommensurable) alternatives.” We need to honor a “pluralist methodology” and seek out a method of knowledge that encourages variety as “the only method that is compatible with a humanitarian outlook.”
It follows that Feyerabend views rationalism, scientism, and traditional philosophical standards as embedded in a particular tradition and thus can't be expected to neutrally judge other traditions. His pluralist methodology favors combining different views in a Hegelian-style synthesis. His “interactionism” would combine the “ocean of alternatives” in an unending process of temporary shifting, and relative constructs. Much as a traveller to a foreign country wisely keeps an open mind rather than provincially interpreting the wider world by the standards of his village's traditions, the free and philosophic person accepts truth in all its varieties.
Feyerabend defines a free society as one “in which all traditions have equal rights and equal access to the centers of power... A tradition receives these rights not because of the importance it has for outsiders (“observers”) but because it gives meaning to the lives of those who participate in it.” Freedom is a higher value than one limited tradition's notions of truth or reason. Feyerabend combines his critique of any one tradition having the scientific version of the “One True Religion” with arguments against cultural chauvinism and western imperialism. He seeks a world where divergent cultures and peoples can live with freedom and humanitarian tolerance of one another.