From Homeric Gods to galaxies, from love affairs to perspective in painting, Paul Feyerabend reveled in the physical and cultural abundance that surrounds us. He found it equally striking that human senses and intelligence are able to take in only a fraction of these riches. From this fraction, scientists, artists, all of us construct the stereotypes and abstractions that shape our sense of reality. This basic human trait is at the heart of Conquest of Abundance, the book on which Feyerabend was at work when he died in 1994. This book, his last, is a testimony to major developments in his thought.
Prepared from drafts of the manuscript left at his death, working notes, and articles Feyerabend wrote while the larger work was in progress, Conquest of Abundance offers up rich explorations and startling insights with the charm, lucidity, and sense of mischief that are his hallmarks. Feyerabend is fascinated by how individuals and cultures explain and predict the mysteries of the natural world, and he looks at the ways in which we abstract experience, explain anomalies, and reduce wonder to formulas and equations. When an abundance of worldviews gives way to a few abstract concepts and stereotypical accounts, Feyerabend argues, we are left with the drab world some of us inhabit today-a world obedient only to scientific dicta and economic imperatives. Through his exploration of both the positive and negative consequences of abstractions, Feyerabend reveals the "conquest of abundance" as an integral part of the history and character of Western civilization.
"Conquest of Abundance should be a simple book, pleasant to read and easy to understand," he planned in his autobiography. Indeed it is; filled with pleasure at the diversity of human experience and a genuine humanist engagement with individuals and cultures across the centuries, Conquest of Abundance is a great philosopher's account of the human traits that allow us to make sense of the world we inhabit.