The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Thomas Kuhn’s paradigm-changing book.

Joshua Clements

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I first learned about Thomas Kuhn’s 1962 game-changing book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, in my undergrad “History of Science and Technology” class. After reading the book, I see how Kuhn looks at science, not as necessarily a truth-seeking endeavor, but more of a rhetorical process. Scientists aren’t discovering truth, but studying and advocating for better paradigms, much like Greek and Roman sophists in the forum. It’s not necessarily the best theory that always wins, so much as the better-argued and most applicable.

Kuhn suggested that the revolutions in scientific history are not necessarily cumulative patterns, but that one paradigm in many ways rejects another (e.g., Einsteinian physics rejected much of Newtonian). In many instances, the language and vocabulary changes with the new paradigm, signifying the obsolescing of the old. The new vocabulary is then used by future theorists, thereby making the old paradigm even less significant. This pattern repeats itself, not in an attempt to obtain the truth, but to effect a better reality.

Scientific Revolutions, in my understanding, is an attempt to give a historical account of how scientific theories evolve. Kuhn explicitly addresses the “out-of-date” ideas that some label as myths. He then points out that those myths were once accepted as science and fact. Kuhn paints a picture of how these ideas shifted, who was involved, and the effects these shifts still have…

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Joshua Clements

Writer, Martial Artist, and student of Philosophy and Communication. You can see more of my work at joshuaclementswrites.com and thephilosophicalfighter.com.