Skip to comments.The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Posted on 06/13/2006 8:12:51 AM PDT by Thebaddog
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas S. Kuhn
Outline and Study Guide prepared by Professor Frank Pajares Emory University
Chapter I - Introduction: A Role for History. Kuhn begins by formulating some assumptions that lay the foundation for subsequent discussion and by briefly outlining the key contentions of the book.
A scientific community cannot practice its trade without some set of received beliefs (p. 4). These beliefs form the foundation of the "educational initiation that prepares and licenses the student for professional practice" (5). The nature of the "rigorous and rigid" preparation helps ensure that the received beliefs exert a "deep hold" on the student's mind. Normal science "is predicated on the assumption that the scientific community knows what the world is like" (5)scientists take great pains to defend that assumption. To this end, "normal science often suppresses fundamental novelties because they are necessarily subversive of its basic commitments" (5). Research is "a strenuous and devoted attempt to force nature into the conceptual boxes supplied by professional education" (5). A shift in professional commitments to shared assumptions takes place when an anomaly "subverts the existing tradition of scientific practice" (6). These shifts are what Kuhn describes as scientific revolutions"the tradition-shattering complements to the tradition-bound activity of normal science" (6). New assumptions (paradigms/theories) require the reconstruction of prior assumptions and the reevaluation of prior facts. This is difficult and time consuming. It is also strongly resisted by the established community. When a shift takes place, "a scientist's world is qualitatively transformed [and] quantitatively enriched by fundamental novelties of either fact or theory" (7).
Chapter II - The Route to Normal Science. In this chapter, Kuhn describes how paradigms are created and what they contribute to scientific (disciplined) inquiry.
(Excerpt) Read more at des.emory.edu ...
While we wait for the revolution we will have to accumulate more data and keep an eye out for data that do not fit. As to what direction the revolution will come from: we can only guess.
Me, too... only in the 90's. :) It's a very accessible read.
I read this for more than one class in the early 1980's. I was impressed by the book.
Read carefully word-for-word and discussed as part of a Biochemistry class in early 1990's.
Interesting, well-written book---but then, it was written in the early '60s :)
Sort of a catastrophist with regard to scientific progress, and not always agreeable, but Kuhn kept it interesting. Kepler and Galileo weren't just problem solvers, they were problems.
Gee, and I thought I had every jerk professor possible at U of M, looks like I dodged one!
Both my Physics and Political Science professors had us read this. Introduced "shifting paradigms" into the popular lexicon.
Some of Kuhn can be easily abused. With a bit of twisting, you can easily cull an irrationalist epistemology from his works. His belief that the old paradigms don't shift away until the old guard dies is both patronising towards experienced scientists and flattering to any nut or arrogant student who says "they all laughed at Chris Columbus too!"
But abuse doesn't abolish use.