“Structure of Scientific Revolutions” by Thomas Kuhn
Posted by Tanas Gjorgoski on April 22, 2006
In an interesting and easy to read book, Kuhn brings before us picture of development of science based on a concept of paradigm. Paradigm is referring to commonly accepted things by a (specific) scientific community – things like theories, concepts, interpretations of measurements within those theories (or facts in particular paradigm). “Specific” there means that the science is not a whole, but different sciences (like physics, chemistry, biology etc..) have their own paradigms, and that even within one such “big” science, there are lot of sub-fields which have their own sub-paradigms. Those things are accepted in a community as a foundation on which science can advance in little steps, by process that Kuhn names puzzle solving. Such processes are named normal science.
But from time to time, the accepted paradigms get into an obvious inconsistencies, as the facts interpreted as they are in the particular paradigm, go against the theories in the paradigm – there is anomaly. This results with a crisis in the science, which results with search for new paradigms, and eventually replacing of the paradigm, leading back to normal science.
This is the story in short, and while it might be interesting put in few words, it is even more interesting when through Kuhn’s work you get to see each of the phases come to life before you, through big number of examples and anecdotes, particularly colorful when he talks about the state of crisis.
All in all, very exciting read, and for me probably one of the most important philosophy works. Because while it might have been conceived by Kuhn to be philosophy of science, it is more then that… certainly for those who think that the concept of paradigms can be used to tackle more general problems in epistemology.
I guess that most of the readers of this blog already know what Kuhn’s work is about. But I felt I need to have one post for the word (paradigm) I’m likely to use in considerable amount in some of the next posts. So, this post can serve as a short explanation, and reference to the book for those who are not familiar with this concept.