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4.3 out of 5 stars
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 21 August 2012
Thomas Kuhn's controversial 1962 book produced a radical change in the way of thinking about science and also introduced the now pervasive term 'paradigm shift'.
Before Kuhn, the orthodox view was that science progressed in an evolutionary, cumulative way, gradually getting nearer to the 'truth'. In a nutshell, Kuhn's thesis states that there are alternating periods of 'normal' and 'revolutionary' science. After a revolutionary paradigm shift normal science is resumed with a new theoretical framework. Examples of this shift are the transition from Ptolemy's earth-centred solar system to the Copernican sun-centred paradigm and Newtonian mechanics being superseded by quantum mechanics.
'The Structure of Scientific Revolutions', which has now sold 1.4 million copies, is one of the most influential books of the 20th century and this 50th Anniversary Edition has an excellent new preface by philosopher Ian Hacking.
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on 15 June 2013
Beautifully written. There's a tendency to over-egg the case, and perhaps Kuhn should say more about the extent to which relevant scientists saw themselves as engaging in revolutionary change. But a great account of the struggle for understanding in the field of science; even non-scientists ought to find it gripping. Helpful introduction to this edition by Ian Hacking.
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on 12 November 2015
When I undertook to read this great classic I expected it to be a book about the history of science, but I ended up reading a philosophy of science treatise. But I have to say that I am in complete agreement with almost everything Kuhn says about the process of scientific discovery. So much so that I did not have the impression of learning a great deal because everything Kuhn said in his famous essay was already integrated to my own view of the evolution of science. Perhaps this is due to the fact that the notion of paradigm in science is very well known today, to the point that various authors now take it for granted.

If I don't have any problems with what Kuhn says, I do have problems with the language he uses, which is very formal. This essay is way too academic for my taste. It gave me the impression to have been written for peers rather than the general public. And that is the main reason why I did not give it the full five-star rating it deserves. And the book is also a bit dated. It was originally published in 1962 and was partly based on ideas he had developed as early as 1949. And the way science is practiced today has considerably evolved since that time. But the basic premises still remain valid today. For most scientists the idea that science is a human endeavour fraught with subjective considerations and non-linear progress must be hard to swallow. As for the philosophers of science I think they have taken this book way too seriously. They generally have a tendency to focus on the individual trees and therefore cannot see the forest. Because of that they seem to have had difficulty to put Kuhn's ideas together into a meaningful whole.

If there is one weakness to this book it is a lack of differentiation between the various paradigms of science. My point being that some new paradigms have a more profound impact than others on the scientific community and society at large. If we take the Quantum Revolution as an exemple, it had implications and consequences far beyond what many other new paradigms ever had. Quantum Physics had a huge philosophical influence and continues to have deep repercussions across the intellectual world. And from QP are continuously derived an infinite array of technological applications. Each paradigm in every science had its own influence, but some had more impact than others. I wish Kuhn had discussed this aspect, but I am not sure he even mentioned it.

Potential readers also need to know that the various examples given by Kuhn are mainly taken from the history of physics and chemistry. There is practically nothing about the life sciences, which ironically are dominant today. That may be the reason why I thought the book was a bit dated. Yet it remains a must read for anyone who wish to better understand the fascinating process of scientific discovery.
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on 25 June 2012
the book is a classic, the introductory notes for anniversary edition are insightful and helpful for someone interested but not expert in the problems treated.
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on 13 May 2015
This is a fascinating book - it is a book that demands a certain amount of work from the reader, but pays back many times over. There are some famous examples of scientific discovery among those mentioned in this book - but you won't look at them in the same way again. These concepts probably apply outside of science too as I'm seeing them echoed wherever discovery and creativity are found.
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on 2 September 2014
Kuhn restates and enlarges on the ideas first put forward by N R Hanson, in Patterns of Discovery, published four years earlier. Kuhn shows himself to have digested Hanson's ideas well, but it is arguable to what extent he really improved on them. Hanson's early death removed a brilliant mind who might have developed a truly universal philosophy of science, instead of the incompatible "schools" founded by Popper, Kuhn, Feyerabend and all the rest of them. It is ironic that Hanson is nowadays nearly forgotten, and that the kudos of his ideas accrues to Kuhn, whose acknowledgement of his debt to Hanson was, let us say, muted.
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on 3 March 2016
If you want to understand the way the human ape "thinks" and behaves, this is for you. Should be standard reading for the Twitter and Facebook generation to understand how they are conditioned and brainwashed.
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on 11 March 2015
Enjoyable, instructive, makes you think, short chapters and less than an inch thick. A great reputation fully deserved.
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on 28 May 2014
Although many of the examples which explain how social sciences work today are outdated, it is still an excellent reference for philosophers of science and interested people to understand how scientific revolutions work.
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on 31 January 2016
I read a new book each week. I was looking for an enjoyable and accessible book to read. I graduated from University of Strathclyde, Scotland and so did my sister. We both did biology and chemistry based degrees. We both read a section of the book and agreed that it's is just to dated and to dense. It's very difficult to relate to. Probably good for an academic but not a graduate with a general interest in science. Please read the free sample on iBooks before spending any money. I'm disappointed I spent the money.
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