A friend of mine was so convinced she could not miss something so obvious as a moonwalking bear that she thought somehow the computer knew she had already seen it and therefore always showed the version with the bear in it, at least after that very first time she watched it, which clearly had had no such thing.
A lot of this book is about how people can look at the same thing and yet not see the same things. And then there is revolutionary science — when all of the world changes, when no further facts may have been added, but all is different anyway: as when Copernicus placed the sun in the middle of the solar system or Einstein curved space to explain gravity. Notice that both normal and revolutionary science imply progress. A paradigm is a fundamental way of viewing the world. It is more than a theory, but literally a way of understanding.
Better to think of it on the scale of a worldview — Dawkins and Creationists have separate paradigms. A lot of this comes from Kantian philosophy — and if I was to blame anyone for Kuhn, Kant would be the person I would turn to. Kant said that we can not know the world as it is in-itself. We can only understand the world as humans, with our limited human faculties. This is the subjectivism of Kantian philosophy — we might not know the world as it is in itself how it is objectively but we can come to understand the world partially and subjectively through our limited and even potentially distorting senses was that a witch or a pretty young woman you drew for me?
Now, this is where people go off half-cocked and say that there is no meaning in the universe and that all that exists is our interpretation - the glorious appeal of solipsism to undergraduate philosophy students with our thoughts we make the world and other such nonsense. When I first read Kuhn I assumed that this was, fundamentally or finally, what he was saying.
I still think subjectivism is large part of what he is saying despite his spending pages and pages in the postscript trying to convince me otherwise , but I don't think he is saying either that the world outside our senses does not exist or that the universe is fundamentally meaningless. The best way to understand a paradigm shift is to work through an example of one. Perhaps an equally good way is to think about how your view of the world changed once you stopped counting passes made by the white team and noticed the dancing bear.
Before Copernicus, people thought the earth was at the centre of the universe. Everything else revolved around us: the stars, the planets, the moon. After Copernicus the earth went from the centre of the universe to a place infinitely less significant, just another lump of rock forever falling towards a third-rate star and forever missing it around and around again.
The change in perspective involved in this change of view can only be described as a revolution — not only in how we understood how the heavens work, but also how society worked when Copernicus was alive and how religion worked and so much else as well. The previous paradigm of science, one fitting epicycles into the orbits to account for odd observations like the backward progressions of planets, for example, suddenly seemed no longer necessary to people who accepted the new world view.
But then, the problem was that not only were epicycles no long necessary, but perhaps neither were the strict Medieval social structures of kings and bishops and barons and peasants each in their separate and fixed spheres. Kuhn asks if two people one holding the Ptolemaic view of the heavens and the other the Copernican were to sit down beside an open fire with a glass of wine to chat about the skies, would they actually be talking about the same things? His answer is that what they would have to say to each other would be incommensurable.
That is, what they would say might as well be said in two different and untranslatable languages. For example — to the Ptolemaic astronomer the sun is another, though special, planet — the word planet is from Greek and means wanderer.
To the old astronomy the sun wanders across the sky and so is a planet. To the Copernican the sun is fixed and the planets and comets move around it. So, when they talk each to the other about the sun are they really talking about the same thing? Kahn says that in a sense they are - and this is how he tries to escape the charge of subjectivism — but that this is only true in that the light from the sun falls upon both observers equally. However, in looking at the sun from their separate paradigms it is hardly surprising they seem to be talking across each other, at cross purposes and worse, when they try to describe what they see.
Our choice of paradigm is not simply a matter of us matching our theories to the world with increasing precision. Firstly, it took a very long time for the Copernican system to show itself superior to the Ptolemaic in predicting where planets and stars might be at any given time. Paradigm shifts are not important for the old questions they help to answer, but rather for the new questions they allow us to ask. They allow us to go back to normal science, but now in a way that directs our attention away from counting basketball passes and toward the moondancing bear.
I think I was probably harder on Kuhn when I first read him than I am now. However, I still think incommensurable is far too strong a word. Sometimes we disagree because we understand too well. And that such a shift in perspective could not be anticipated prior to the shift and that those pre and post shift do see the world in quite different ways — but who could really argue otherwise?
But even Newton knew there was a hole a mile wide in his theory of the universe. Not having any idea of what gravity was and only being able to describe how it worked annoyed him all of his life. Gravity could not be explained by Newtonian physics — so if there was ever to be an explanation then something had to change. We are much more likely to hope for paradigm changes today, I think. For example, people both hope for evidence in support of and against string theory — one way or another, a new paradigm will be born. And what if we never find the Higgs Boson? The standard model will suddenly become somewhat non-standard.
To Kuhn, all science is normative — perhaps today that is less true of the outer limits of physics where quarks meet strings. I would suspect this would be more likely to be the case in the social sciences — perhaps where notions like paradigm shifts really do mean something much more akin to worldviews. All the same, most of what I have read of science and scientists is that they are not terribly interested in philosophy at least, those who are not outright contemptuous of it. Paradigm shifts, according to Kuhn, are for the young and often only succeed when the dead have died off.
That is, paradigm shifts are for those not too deeply indoctrinated in the old paradigm.
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The kinds of people who show optical illusions as part of their endlessly boring Power Point presentations are also the kinds of people who talk about paradigm shifts and quantum leaps. In science these phrases mean pretty well the exact opposite to what they generally mean in general chitchat. Mostly, the kinds of people who talk of paradigm shifts, mean something as significant as a new wrapper on a chocolate bar. So, it is not only poor Mr Escher we need to consider being unintentionally abused by the ignorance of PowerPoint Presenters, but poor old Kuhn too.
View all 10 comments. Apr 05, Hadrian rated it really liked it Shelves: philosophy , science , nonfiction , history. A really interesting book, and one that's become ingrained so much that you feel like you're not learning too much at first. Science is not a linear ordered means of progress, within neat and orderly steps as we are taught in grade school. There is the slow steady expansion and exploration of knowledge within a specific ordered system, or paradigm.
Many scientists work within this paradigm, as 'recieved beliefs', and unconsciously work to forward these beliefs, although they may claim to work to A really interesting book, and one that's become ingrained so much that you feel like you're not learning too much at first. Many scientists work within this paradigm, as 'recieved beliefs', and unconsciously work to forward these beliefs, although they may claim to work to explore or expand.
But eventually, some new discovery or phenomenon overturns the whole system violently, and there is a new era of discovery. Hence the 'paradigm shift'. The old and new systems are not always instantaneously compatible, and some do not move instantly towards the new. This is the segment that comes most in doubt - people can change their minds, after all! This shift might be like learning a new language, and thinking solely within this new system. Again, a lot of this is basic stuff to people in hard science today. But it's really interesting to think about it, and apply the methods of science to other fields.
It's a bit of a gristly read, but the ideas, as always, are what count. View 2 comments. May 12, Jamie rated it really liked it Shelves: science. When this book came out fifty years ago it changed the terms of the debate about what scientific progress meant. Using multiple historical examples, and drawing on his own extensive research into the history of science, Thomas Kuhn developed an intellectual framework for how science develops, progresses, and changes in response to new paradigms. At the time of his writing the word paradigm was obscure and unknown to most readers, but it has since entered our common vocabulary, and this book is w When this book came out fifty years ago it changed the terms of the debate about what scientific progress meant.
Science starts with chaos, with multiple competing theories, each answering different but related questions, none of them providing a focal point for explaining a broad range of phenomena or predicting the outcome of future experiments. Importantly, the new understanding does not answer all the questions within its purview no theory ever encompasses one hundred percent of possible situations , but it is sufficiently complete and broadly explanatory enough to serve as a theoretical framework on which to build.
Some scientists embrace it right away, some are gradually convinced of its appropriateness, and some never come around to the new way of thinking. Kuhn points out two important aspects of this. First, the questions the new paradigm answers are generally applicable only within the new framework. The previous theories answered different questions, and their answers were not necessarily wrong, just inapplicable in the new system, so some things of value from the older understanding were lost.
Second, teachers teach and students learn the new way of thinking, which sets boundaries on the kinds of questions they ask, the experiments they perform, and the way they interpret the results. They are not taught to question the paradigm or perform experiments which might invalidate it, so progress, while valuable, stays within the constraints of what is considered possible and appropriate. Eventually gaps are found in the prevailing paradigm and experiments to try to address them only confirm their existence and turn up new problems. The Ptolemaic system was adequate for predicting the positions of stars and planets, but it was never precise.
Copernican astronomy was better but still not perfect; Einsteinian theories, accounting for relativity, are even better, but there are always gaps between the predicted and the observed locations. At some point the issues become a major problem for scientists, and as doubts accumulate chaos starts to return as multiple new theories are put forward. Eventually one of them answers most of the questions and becomes the new generally accepted paradigm, and the process starts over again.
The other term that this book brought into the common discourse is incommensurability, the idea that the holders of the current paradigms look at the world differently from those of previous paradigms, and many of the questions asked by one theory are out of scope for the others.
This is important because we tend to think of science as a steady progression from ignorance to ever greater knowledge, but it is actually more of a step function. Answers to some questions which seem unsolvable today might be found by looking at the data and asking different questions about it. This book is not casual reading. Kuhn writes in dense academic prose. For example, chapter five begins To discover the relation between rules, paradigms, and normal science, consider first how the historian isolates the particular loci of commitment that have just been described as accepted rules.
Close historical investigation of a given specialty at a given time discloses a set of recurrent and quasi-standard illustrations of various theories in their conceptual, observational, and instrumental applications. Since it first came out it has enjoyed a reputation as an essential reference for scientists and historians of science.
It provides a way of thinking about the current state of science, and intriguing ideas about how to enhance and extend the art of the possible, to see the world in ways which are both new and old at the same time, and to answer questions that previously could not even be formulated. Jan 12, Maica rated it it was amazing Shelves: science , philosophy. I can understand why the author thanked his family for their consideration of the author's efforts towards this book, as it must have demanded a lot of painstaking effort not to mention time.
I would have given it 3 stars for its complicated way of delivering its points; the language is highly complex that it tends at many certain points throughout, that the arguments contradict each other. Five stars, however for its complexity and taken as a whole it is actually coherent. Like the choice betw I can understand why the author thanked his family for their consideration of the author's efforts towards this book, as it must have demanded a lot of painstaking effort not to mention time.
Like the choice between competing political institutions, that between competing paradigms proves to be a choice between incompatible modes of community life. However, this paradigm at specific points in history, encounter change brought about by new discoveries, anomalies or crises that can disprove it or demand that it be rejected or replaced.
In this process, as what this book points out, there are resistances by scientists whether they will discard this paradigm or replace it - and thus, the phenomenon of Paradigm Shift will occur or whether practitioners will stubbornly cling to the original paradigm. No wonder, then, that in the early stages of the development of any science different men confronting the same range of phenomena, but not usually all the same range of phenomena, describe and interpret them in different ways.
What is surprising, and perhaps also unique in its degree to the fields we call science, is that such initial divergences should ever largely disappear. For they do disappear to a very considerable extent and then apparently once and for all. Furthermore, their disappearance is usually caused by the triumph of one of the pre-paradigm schools, which, because of its own characteristic beliefs and preconceptions, emphasized only some special part of the two sizable and inchoate pool of information.
This historical process is nuanced and subtle because scientists even though they are eager to discover new phenomena on their field or contribute something original - are prone to protecting that particular paradigm that they follow. But crises and anomalies do certainly have to occur and be encountered, thus earlier theories have the potential to be discarded or new theories modified in such a way as to reduce contradictions with earlier theories.
For reasons that are both obvious and highly functional, science textbooks and too many of the older histories of science refer only to that part of the work of past scientists that can easily be viewed as contributions to the statement and solution of the texts' paradigm problems. Partly by selection and partly by distortion, the scientists of early ages are implicitly represented as having worked upon the same set of fixed problems and in accordance with the same set of fixed canons that the most recent revolution in scientific theory and method has made seem scientific.
The presentation of analyses of the author can also be the reason why the book received critical comments particularly by philosophers of science, for instance, there was a comment whether 'he believes in reality? No theory ever solves all the puzzles with which it is confronted at a given time; nor are the solutions already achieved often perfect. On the contrary, it is just the incompleteness and imperfection of the existing data-theory fit that, at any given time, define many of the puzzles that characterize normal science.
If any and every failure to fit were ground for theory rejection, all theories ought to be rejected at all times. On the other hand, if only severe failure to fit justifies theory rejection, then the Popperians will require some criterion of "improbability" or of "degree of falsification". In developing one they will almost certainly encounter the same network of difficulties that has haunted the advocates of the various probabilistic verification theories [that the evaluative theory cannot itself be legitimated without appeal to another evaluative theory, leading to regress].
He also contrasted his analyses with Karl Popper's method of falsification and demarcation of knowledge, and stated that this method as espoused by Popper, needs a certain criteria as where to base the falsification of theories, and what qualifies that criteria? Or if that criteria were to be stated, an infinite regress is inevitable.
However, whereas Kuhn would propose the concept of "Paradigm Shift" he actually used the perceptual psychology concept of "Gestalt" in this sense , Popper proposed the method of falsification of scientific theories. Kuhn's concept can be regarded in the sense, that it is what actually happens in the enterprise of science it is the actual event , but Popper's falsification even if it is used by practitioners remains an ideal method and the question arises, as to what specific criteria will that 'falsification' be based upon? Although both concepts by Kuhn and Popper appear to be antagonistic as written by critics, I'm looking forward that in a way, what they actually proposed as regards their method of inquiry and analysis are reconcilable.
Shelves: philosophy. Within this book, a page essay somehow gets crammed into tedious pages and crowned by a lengthy page postscript. But at pages, mission creep sinks in. The book does more than propose a new model of scientific progress. It also tells us why other models are mistaken. Kuhn refutes the correspondence theory of truth, logical posit Within this book, a page essay somehow gets crammed into tedious pages and crowned by a lengthy page postscript.
Kuhn refutes the correspondence theory of truth, logical positivism, and falsification as arbiters of scientific progress. A new paradigm, Kuhn tells us, gets scientists no closer to any external reality than its predecessor. I found the discussion of paradigm shifts less convincing than I had expected. But what really turned me off about this essay was its style. Expounding this aversion to popular science, Kuhn notes that scientists engaging in science writing for public consumption are no doubt on the downslopes of their careers.
He then tortures the text as if to avoid his own judgment. The author uses a public venue, a book for general publication, to address the scientific community in a professional capacity. The author nevertheless unpacks the theme as if were a kind of hard science, or at least an abstruse academic paper. Ignoring the scope that history and philosophy allow writers, the author's writing instead becomes dense, annoying, elitist and even rude. His ideas are interesting, but his ponderous execution confuses bad table manners with succinct scholarship.
View all 7 comments. Jul 28, Greg rated it really liked it Shelves: philosophy-and-politics , professional-development. I first read Kuhn's book during my first year as a Ph. It challenges notions of scientific progress as liner by suggesting instead a process of "paradigm shift. Because of this set of accepted beliefs and assumptions, new ways of looking at the world are often suppressed or ignored. Thus, even when presented with anomalous results, researchers often knowingly or unknowingly attempt to force-fit them to the preconceived structure they have embraced.
This continues until a paradigm-busting shift occurs -- a scientific revolution -- that generally abruptly takes the field in a new direction. Understandably, not all scientific revolutions are successful in bringing about a paradigm shift.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
The ideas expressed in this book are provactive, even compelling, and have come back to me often in the 25 years since I read it in the form of questions and thoughts about potential paradigm shifts that may be overdue. It5 one that is worth reading for most people, and the scientific branches affected by it are not limited to the "hard sciences. Oct 07, Adam rated it it was amazing Shelves: philosophy , A positive three-star review says Kuhn's major thesis is that scientific progress is largely illusory, when Kuhn says nothing of the sort and has also defended himself against such objections in the past by explaining, very simply, what a careful reader would have already gleaned fr a response to some of the reviews here: From those giving the book a negative rating, we inevitably get the standard accusation of relativism, which is bullshit and Kuhn and his followers have responded appropriately.
A positive three-star review says Kuhn's major thesis is that scientific progress is largely illusory, when Kuhn says nothing of the sort and has also defended himself against such objections in the past by explaining, very simply, what a careful reader would have already gleaned from reading this book [his actual point is related to the correspondence theory of truth; he argues that while we frequently hear that "successive theories grow ever closer to, or approximate more and more closely to, the truth," that is often not the case; he says "I do not doubt, for example, that Newton's mechanics improves on Aristotle's and that Einstein's improves on Newton's as instruments for puzzle-solving.
But I can see in their succession no coherent direction of ontological development. Others here bemoan the length of the book, even though it is short. As a historian of science, Kuhn has the responsibility to be thorough and clear. Considering the subject matter, Kuhn is actually concise.
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Perhaps some of these readers are better off reading continental philosophy on science, wherein philosophers feel free to assert their theses without rigorous, well-constructed arguments. Kuhn's education was in Physics, but he is most assuredly a sophisticated philosopher, whose style is rooted in the analytic tradition.
Kuhn's arguments are well-constructed, and he takes great care to address a substantial number of possible flaws in his own thinking, to back up his ideas with scientific history, to detail the nature of his thesis. Unfortunately, those who feel this was a 15 page essay with a lot of padding probably so badly mischaracterize Kuhn's position because of their presumptions.
Kuhn does not waste a single sentence here, and there is nothing of insignificance. Perhaps more attentive readers would not strawman him and misrepresent his position. All this is not to say that Kuhn does not have his sophisticated critics, but it's frustrating to see so many comments here that are quite clearly nonsense. I don't say this because I'm a pompous jackass although I am , I say this because of the sheer amount of misrepresentation and misinformation here.
It's refreshing, however, to see that a number of fellow goodreads members, and not just I, think the applicability of this book's arguments is wide. View all 3 comments. Jul 29, Leonard rated it it was amazing Shelves: philosophy , favorite. Thomas Kuhn, through the concept of paradigm shift, has demythologized science as an accumulation of knowledge through smooth progress. That, for Kuhn, is just normal science, the incremental progress within the limits, biases and assumptions of a paradigm. For him, a paradigm is a set of accepted practices within the scientific community, the scientific traditions the scientists have grown up with.
And the latter, like the former, starts with unexplainable phenomena. Later, Niels Bohr formulated the quantized levels of atoms to explain their discrete emissions. Max Planck Niels Bohr But there were oppositions. Even Einstein, who proposed the quantization of light, could not accept the probabilistic nature of matter-energy as described by the Uncertainty Principle. Erwin Shcrodinger Werner Heisenberg Richard Feynman The shift from Newtonian mechanics to quantum mechanics is a shift from a deterministic view of the universe to a probabilistic one, a change of beliefs and values.
Did Thomas Kuhn Kill Truth?
When the way of doing science changes, so do the tools. Whereas calculus was the mathematical tool of Newtonian mechanics, statistics and transforms, Fourier or others, and the related group theories are those of quantum mechanics. And we know, even outside of science, that using different tools creates different results.
Motion under gravitational and electromagnetic forces in the macroscopic world. On the other hand, the preference toward a probabilistic worldview and the corresponding tools predispose scientists to focus on the uncertain boundaries between matter and energy, space and time, position and momentum, and energy and time.
But when string and other theories begin to emerge, scientists must again reevaluate their models and even more importantly their practices and worldviews. And instead of worshiping science, we take on the scientific mindset of observing phenomena and analyzing data and revealing biases and modifying models. Jan 07, Peter Mcloughlin rated it really liked it Shelves: mathematics , good-things , philosophy , coldwar , european-history , intellectual-history , to , to , biology , physics.
Kuhn hit on an interesting idea. Sometimes new discoveries lead to a foundational crisis. The foundation in an area of science come into question and that is when the view of the world changes. I don't think it is so much that science goes through periods of suppressing anomalies while it solves puzzles merely that some puzzles hit the bedrock of unexamined assumptions and revising assumptions can be a messy business.
It is not that the old stuff is thrown out I mean Newtonian Mechanics will still get you to the moon. It does affect are foundational worldviews but that is always a bit of an abstraction from day to day affairs. And revolutions in worldview are not always so messy as say the discovery of dark energy in the s not much of suppression of anomalies in Type I supernova data and the acceptance of dark energy was a very easy switch. Kuhn, a physicist and philosopher and historian of science, wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in , producing other editions until his death in The book was very influential see description , serving as a starting point for reappraisals within several disciplines.
I found the book profoundly stimulating, challengin Kuhn, a physicist and philosopher and historian of science, wrote The Structure of Scientific Revolutions in , producing other editions until his death in I found the book profoundly stimulating, challenging as it did my rather naive understanding of the physical sciences, and went on to read another book which overtly applied Kuhn's analytic template to psychology. View all 4 comments. Sep 01, Coral rated it did not like it Recommends it for: insomniacs. Shelves: did-not-finish , nonfiction , horrible.
Bit of a preface: I hated this book. It contains some really good ideas, which are totally worth discussing, but the whole thing is so much wordier and denser than it needs to be this, coming from me! Still, we were assigned to read it for LIS , Understanding Information, and asked to write a word review, describing "how the content of this book relates to the information Bit of a preface: I hated this book. Still, we were assigned to read it for LIS , Understanding Information, and asked to write a word review, describing "how the content of this book relates to the information professions.
Why do you think this is assigned reading? Although I'm a little embarrassed to post this--and nervous that people who already took the class will say "No! You are so wrong! You'll see! I can't change my answer now or, well, not after 11pm--but I promise not to, now that I've made this public , so I'm curious what people who've been through this hazing ritual book have to say.
When we were assigned Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and asked to define its relevance to the information professions, I falsely assumed my professors were implying that our field is undergoing a "paradigm shift. On the other hand, paradigms point to fundamental thought patterns, and to suggest that our "paradigm" is in flux seems questionable: We still believe that information should be freely available to all, and we still strive to provide it in the best way available to us; that, I claim, is our true paradigm. That we have one at all shows the applicability of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions ; certainly, we make assumptions about the world and about information, and we consider questions relevant or irrelevant based on those assumptions.
Just as scientists are not the impartial observers that we are told they should be, we are not the impartial information providers that we would like to be. Although Kuhn has many interesting and widely applicable ideas, I do not agree that his is the best way to think about science and progress.
Certainly, the book has its fans London , but I was pleased to see that I was not its only doubter: Weinberg , for instance, disagrees with nearly all of Kuhn's central assertions. I do not go quite so far. I think the latter point also applies to the information professions: We may find that any one of the "advancements" we make is really a step back, hampering access to information. Tomer's lecture, my views about Kuhn have changed over the last week. While I stand by my assertion that the information professions, like every field, have sets of accepted viewpoints "paradigms" at their foundation, I no longer contend that that is Kuhn's sole applicability.
Information Science is, after all, not really a science. Rather, I believe that Kuhn's description of incremental advances--and of new paradigms overwriting, if you will, previous work--is relevant to us in our capacity as guardians and gatekeepers of knowledge. A Kuhnian view of progress requires us to remain both vigilant and flexible in our maintenance of the scientific knowledge base; we must catalog the day-to-day work of "normal" knowledge accumulation in every field, particularly science, but we must also be aware that the rules and accepted facts are subject to change.
As such, we must struggle to provide the information that daily practitioners of the field will deem relevant, perhaps in addition to previous "advances," or perhaps instead of them. I would add that I do not think we can expect to determine, entirely on our own, precisely which scientific information is worth keeping; as Kuhn says, people outside of a sub-field stand little chance of understanding the literature, and even people inside a field cannot predict with certainty which research direction will lead to a paradigm change.
Rather, we should maintain a dialog with the experts and seek to improve our collections in collaboration with them. Kuhn, T. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. London, S. Book Review. Weinberg, S. My formal training was in engineering p. Both seem to count strongly against me, in his estimation.
View 1 comment. Mar 25, Jrobertus rated it did not like it. I understand this is a fairly famous book, but I don't understand why. There is enough material for a short essay, and here it is. As scientific instruments and measurements improve, discrepancies appear between what is observed and what the current theory, or paradigm, predicts.
As a result, the theory or paradigm must change, but some people resist it. The change from the geocentric model of Ptolemy to the helio-centric model of Copernicus is an example, as it the change from Aristotle to Newt I understand this is a fairly famous book, but I don't understand why. The change from the geocentric model of Ptolemy to the helio-centric model of Copernicus is an example, as it the change from Aristotle to Newton to Einstein. As if we didn't already know that. This book is unbelievably wordy, self contradictory, pompous, and obscure. I absolutely hated it. I am a practicing "normal" scientist, and I can say that this book has no impact what so ever in science.
I guess its deconstructionist English majors that think its important. Isn't it ironic that a book about paradigm shifts caused a paradigm shift in itself? And isn't it even more ironic that I'm studying this book from a humanities perspective, a science Kuhn himself might not even call a science? The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is a fascinating book because it works out, detail after tiny detail, how a scientific revolution takes place.
One of the most interesting ideas Kuhn posits is that we can't compare two paradigms with each other say, Newtonian physi Isn't it ironic that a book about paradigm shifts caused a paradigm shift in itself? One of the most interesting ideas Kuhn posits is that we can't compare two paradigms with each other say, Newtonian physics and the theory of relativity , because they both encompass a different paradigm, and with that paradigm a different language and way of seeing the world.
Kuhn's writing is terribly dry, and his book could have definitely been shorter. His examples can be repetitive; he often makes the same point two, three, four times throughout the course of the book. Structure isn't exactly light reading, but it contains some very interesting ideas about the nature of science and the nature of the progress of science. Aug 10, Katie rated it really liked it Shelves: history.
Original, 2-star review: I think the common criticisms that have been popping up here - Kuhn's conclusions are very relativistic, and he's not always clear or concise in the way he conveys them - are fair. Kuhn puts forth a very interesting theory, and I think at least a few sections are very helpful when approaching the history of science. But it's certainly not a fun read, and much of the argument's density could have been fairly easily avoided. If you're a scientist, or have an interest in the Original, 2-star review: I think the common criticisms that have been popping up here - Kuhn's conclusions are very relativistic, and he's not always clear or concise in the way he conveys them - are fair.
If you're a scientist, or have an interest in the philosophy or history of science, I'd recommend giving it a go. Otherwise, probably not. I still think that there are some problems with it - and yikes, it is not a terribly pleasant read - but it's a really fascinating and thought-provoking work.
Thomas Kuhn: the man who changed the way the world looked at science
It's really shaped the way I think about things, so I think it's worth a go even if you don't entirely agree with Kuhn's thesis. Feb 04, Mehrsa rated it really liked it. Really fascinating book about how science changes--how old theories paradigms fall apart and new ones develop. I think this theory also applies to political theories and other cultural ideas.
This book is old, but it's a classic and I learned a lot. Jan 14, Laura rated it liked it Recommended to Laura by: Lists of books I'm supposed to have read. Shelves: being-human , seminal-texts , canon , psychology , history.
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Finally read it. For reasons rational and not, a new model becomes accepted. Repeat, with variations. Yes, paradigms shift. Seen it happen. Science, law, economics, whatever. I found myself in the odd position of explaining the gold standard, and what it means to have abandoned it, to a chum last Saturday. A paradigm shifted. In that, by a matter of decree, but still, only after some critical number of those in the relevant field accepted that a currency could be backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, and not just gold.
Social enthusiasm for an idea matters a lot. Apparently that pissed a lot of people off at the time, which again from seems a little silly. He had a commitment to a certain understanding of how tests worked, and the fact that there could be X-rays messing up the procedures was unsettling. Which is pleasingly meta, now that I come to think about it. I have made an update to my review in response to comments. Jun 16, Marcus rated it it was amazing Shelves: science , physics. The premise of the book is that science doesn't progress by the cumulative addition of knowledge, but instead advances by major shifts in paradigms that replace, rather than increment, large parts of previous paradigms.
To begin with, scientific research in a specific subject is carried out within the bounds of a generally accepted framework that defines what scientists already know about the field, as well as the questions that remain unanswered. This is what Kuhn calls a paradigm. A paradigm i The premise of the book is that science doesn't progress by the cumulative addition of knowledge, but instead advances by major shifts in paradigms that replace, rather than increment, large parts of previous paradigms.
A paradigm is useful because it defines puzzles that need to be solved and gives a set rules for them to be solved in. Over time, the paradigm is more fully explored and is broken down into smaller and more specific problems. To solve them, scientists develop specialized equipment and detailed experiments are carried out. Scientists experiment not to generate an unknown result, but with a hypothesis that has an expected result.
The paradigm they're working under has helped them predict results and expect an answer. Eventually however, problems are discovered that can't be effectively solved within the rules of the paradigm. At first, these types of problems can be worked around by making adjustments in rules of the paradigm. Ultimately, as it is explored more deeply and the rules become more complex, a problem or problems arise that simply cannot be answered elegantly with the paradigm. As these difficult problems gain notice, they become recognized as the problems in most urgent need of a solution. When there is a big problem like this it can either be ignored until better equipment is available, made to fit by adjusting the current paradigm or, most interestingly, it can lead to the development of a new theory, or group of theories that attempt to solve the problem.
As alternate competing theories are proposed to address the crises, eventually one gains enough traction among scientists to become the new paradigm. One of the examples used in the book is how Einstein's relativity became the paradigm that replaced Newtonian physics. What happened was not that Newtonian physics was found to be outdated and immediately replaced with the theory of relativity, in fact that theory is still useful within a large number of applications today. Instead, it was recognized that there is a very limited set of parameters in which Newtonian physics is accurate--specifically for calculating interactions between objects moving at relatively low velocities, but that outside those parameters, Newtonian physics will lead to incorrect assumptions.
The theory of relativity solves the same problems that Newtonian physics does, but it also works with objects moving at high velocities. Rather than just building upon Newtonian physics incrementally, relativity supplanted large parts of it, even as scientists recognized that parts of Newtonian physics remain useful in certain contexts. To me, a non-scientist, rather than being controversial, this is a really useful way to think about science, and beyond science to how change and progress occur in almost any field.
To a scientist, I can see how Kuhn's ideas are controversial. They mean that what scientists see and look for in observational and experimental data is not analyzed and recorded completely objectively but that scientists are heavily biased by what they believe and expect they're going to find. It 'accuses' scientists of viewing data and the experiments they choose to perform relatively, rather than objectively or positively there is a long and hairy philosophical argument on relative knowledge that I will avoid getting into.
Kuhn, rather than criticizing scientists for their subjective view on data, believes that viewing science this way is unavoidable, and in fact beneficial because it trains scientists to recognize patterns in data and to become adept with the data that they deal with. When a scientist is proficient at viewing data within the bounds of a paradigm, they are, in turn, well-prepared to view anomalies in the way their paradigm interprets data.
This leads to the tough problems that are escalated to criseses in the paradigm and eventually, to the development of new paradigms. Aug 03, Hoodlum rated it really liked it.
A great and classic work that gives a thorough and eruditious account of the evolution of science throughout history. Very much a humbling work for the sciences that allows a more guided approach. Nov 29, Academic Eric rated it really liked it Shelves: thinking-re-thinking , creativity , innovation , critical-thinking , want-to-read-more , strategic , history , science , library-u-of-u , owned-books. Referred to by the authors of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and Future Edge: Discovering the New Paradigms of Success , this may help one see truths to bring forth new technologies, business models and other re-organizational necessities.
Dec 14, William Liggett rated it it was amazing. Who hasn't heard the term "paradigm shift? Thomas Kuhn was a philopher of science who retraced the history of many scientific discoveries, especially in physics. He demonstrated how the subjective worldview of the scientists led to their paradigms, or mental models, and ultimately supported a paradigm shift in a whole field like physics. Often major scientific discoveries are made by young outsiders who are not yet steeped in the worldview of an Who hasn't heard the term "paradigm shift?
Copernicus complained that in his day astronomers were so 'inconsistent in these [astronomical] investigations In any case, it is too difficult for me, and I wish I had been a movie comedian or something of the sort and had never heard of physics. Kuhn, All crises begin with the blurring of a paradigm and the consequent loosening of the rules for normal research.
It is, I think, particularly in periods of acknowledged crisis that scientists have turned to philosophical analysis as a device for unlocking the riddles of their field. Thomas Kuhn demonstrates a profound truth about the limitations of academic education, which necessarily infects students with the popular beliefs of their time. Almost always the men who achieve these fundamental inventions of a new paradigm have been either very young or very new to the field whose paradigm they change. Now a paradigm is just a common belief in a theory and its principles, and Kuhn was correct when he wrote his book that the principles of reality were not known and thus this incomplete knowledge always left puzzles.
His error is to tacitly assume without evidence that this absolute knowledge of reality can never be found and that there will always be puzzles;. Led by a new paradigm, scientists adopt new instruments and look in new places. Even more important, during revolutions scientists see new and different things when looking with familiar instruments in places they have looked before.
It is rather as if the professional community had been suddenly transported to another planet where familiar objects are seen in a different light and are joined by unfamiliar ones as well. Kuhn is absolutely correct, and this is why Humanity stands upon the brink of a profound new revolution in Human Knowledge.
For once 'Normal Science' becomes aware of the Metaphysics of Space and Motion and the Wave Structure of Matter, then they will very quickly discover, with their new way of seeing things, that it explains and solves their problems very simply and elegantly.
There is a reality, which may be abstract or sensual This error in Postmodern thinking, that our language is too imprecise and relative in meaning to ever absolutely describe Reality, has been caused by the failure of Physicists and Philosophers over many centuries to discover Reality. This failure has resulted in the belief that absolute and ultimate True Knowledge of Reality can not be known. But once Reality is known then it becomes obvious as this Metaphysics explains how lack of True Knowledge led to errors and mistakes, and as Hume remarks;.
It is easy for a profound philosopher to commit a mistake in his subtle reasonings; and one mistake is the necessary parent of another, while he pushes on his consequences, and is not deterred from embracing any conclusion, by its unusual appearance, or its contradiction to popular opinion. Hume , Some of these errors e. Fortunately Truth has a particular power to solve these problems and thus to survive and slowly spread within our human society and culture, as Schopenhauer wryly observes;.
Although as a rule the absurd culminates, and it seems impossible for the voice of the individual ever to penetrate through the chorus of foolers and fooled, still there is left to the genuine works of all times a quite peculiar, silent, slow, and powerful influence; and as if by a miracle, we see them rise at last out of the turmoil like a balloon that floats up out of the thick atmosphere of this globe into purer regions.
Having once arrived there, it remains at rest, and no one can any longer draw it down again. Schopenhauer , On how we can be certain we know the Truth about Reality. This 40 page Treatise written over five years is published in 'What is the Electron' Apeiron, Kuhn, Thomas S. Physical objects are not in space, but these objects are spatially extended. In this way the concept 'empty space' loses its meaning.
The particle can only appear as a limited region in space in which the field strength or the energy density are particularly high. The free, unhampered exchange of ideas and scientific conclusions is necessary for the sound development of science, as it is in all spheres of cultural life. We must not conceal from ourselves that no improvement in the present depressing situation is possible without a severe struggle; for the handful of those who are really determined to do something is minute in comparison with the mass of the lukewarm and the misguided.
Humanity is going to need a substantially new way of thinking if it is to survive! We can now deduce the most simple science theory of reality - the wave structure of matter in space. By understanding how we and everything around us are interconnected in Space we can then deduce solutions to the fundamental problems of human knowledge in physics , philosophy , metaphysics , theology , education , health , evolution and ecology , politics and society.
This is the profound new way of thinking that Einstein realised , that we exist as spatially extended structures of the universe - the discrete and separate body an illusion. This simply confirms the intuitions of the ancient philosophers and mystics. But that depends on you, the people who care about science and society, realise the importance of truth and reality. Just click on the Social Network links below, or copy a nice image or quote you like and share it.
We have a wonderful collection of knowledge from the greatest minds in human history, so people will appreciate your contributions. In doing this you will help a new generation of scientists see that there is a simple sensible explanation of physical reality - the source of truth and wisdom, the only cure for the madness of man! Geoff Haselhurst Updated September, A new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.
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