UCL Department of Science and Technology Studies


Podcast: Gillies' recollections

12 March 2011

Gillies talk by Tom Dalziel

Podcast now available

link to Gillies Website (link)

listen to podcast (mp3)

On 28 February 2011, Donald Gillies presented memories of meeting and working with some of the heroic personalities in philosophy of science, including Karl Popper, Imre Lakatos and Paul Feyerabend. This podcast records his presentation. One of the STS undergraduates, Alex Patel, introduces Donald and moderates the discussion. This lecture was the 2011 annual lecture of the STS Lunar Society. 

Abstract: I had the good fortune to get to know three famous philosophers of science while I was a graduate student working on my PhD which I began in 1966. My PhD supervisor was Imre Lakatos, and I also got to know Sir Karl Popper who was head of the philosophy department at LSE at that time. Paul Feyerabend was Professor of History and Philosophy of Science at UCL for some of my graduate years. However, he came frequently to LSE to see his great friend Imre Lakatos, and this is how I got to know him. In this talk I will describe some of the characteristics of these three figures who were all unusual, not to say eccentric, characters. When I first met Lakatos, he was very friendly with Popper and a strong supporter of Popper’s philosophy. However, within a few years a great quarrel had developed between these two philosophers. I will describe how this quarrel came about, how it was carried on, and what effects it had. I will also describe Feyerabend’s lecture course in which he argued that, during the Scientific Revolution, the theory of witchcraft was much more rational than science. I hope my talk will give the present generation of students some impression of the lost world of the 1960s.