- Paperback: 226 pages
- Publisher: University of Chicago Press; New ed of 3 Revised ed edition (5 Dec. 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226458083
- ISBN-13: 978-0226458083
- Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 3 x 20.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 29,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Paperback – 5 Dec 1996
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There's a comic strip showing a chick breaking out of its shell, looking around, and saying, "Oh, wow! Paradigm shift!" Blame the late Thomas Kuhn. Few indeed are the philosophers or historians influential enough to make it into the funny papers, but Kuhn is one.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is indeed a paradigmatic work in the history of science. Kuhn's use of terms such as "paradigm shift" and "normal science", his ideas of how scientists move from disdain through doubt to acceptance of a new theory, his stress on social and psychological factors in science--all have had profound effects on historians, scientists, philosophers, critics, writers, business gurus, and even the cartoonist in the street.
Some scientists (such as Steven Weinberg and Ernst Mayr) are profoundly irritated by Kuhn, especially by the doubts he casts--or the way his work has been used to cast doubt--on the idea of scientific progress. Yet it has been said that the acceptance of plate tectonics in the 1960s, for instance, was sped by geologists' reluctance to be on the downside of a paradigm shift. Even Weinberg has said that "structure has had a wider influence than any other book on the history of science". As one of Kuhn's obituaries noted, "We all live in a post-Kuhnian age." --Mary Ellen Curtin
About the Author
Thomas S. Kuhn was the Laurence Rockefeller Professor Emeritus of linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His books include The Essential Tension; Black-Body Theory and the Quantum Discontinuity, 1894-1912; and The Copernican Revolution.
Top Customer Reviews
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.
The insights that Khun has arrived at are still relevant almost half a century after this book has been published. The idea of "paradigm shifts" has even entered the mainstream consciousness, to the point that it can be caricatured in various cartoons and silly t-shirts. However, after reading this book it is not quite clear to me whether Khun wanted this to be a description of the way that science works, or more of a normative prescription for how to arrive at truly fundamental changes in some scientific discipline. This is particularly relevant for disciplines or directions of research that seem to have gotten stuck in some dead end, as has been the case with particle physics for several decades.Read more ›
This is how we do science and as a research scientist for now nearly 20 years it is certainly how I see science from the inside. This is not crank philosophy or something from the creationist movement, this is an intelligent discourse. It does not have any hidden relgious agenda. It just states that science is relativistic and science is relativistic, only very bad scientists would ever argue that they know the absolute truth.
More than this it is well written and accessible and it should be read much more widely. It certainly is a clearer view than Popper's and while they are different in some aspects they do not present a completely different view of science. Both agree that certainty does not exist.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There is no questioning that this book is a tour de force. It is well-argued; the ideas are fully thought through; and the author seems to have all bases covered. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Tufnell Paul
Sorry I didn't get to read this decades ago. Should be given to every young human, alomg with George Orwell's 1984.Published 10 months ago by P. Stokes
Reasonable delivery, well packaged. The product conform. Great price!Published 15 months ago by Amazon Customer
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... Read morePublished 16 months ago by Amazon Customer
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. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Male