Thomas Kuhn

Thomas Kuhn
Philosophy of Science - Famous Philosophers - Thomas Kuhn
Discussion of the Philosophy / Metaphysics of Thomas Kuhn's Paradigm Shift
'Structure of Scientific Revolutions' Quotes

..the historian of science may be tempted to exclaim that when paradigms change, the world itself changes with them. (T.S. Kuhn, 1962)
All crises begin with the blurring of a paradigm and the consequent loosening of the rules for normal research. ..Or finally, the case that will most concern us here, a crisis may end with the emergence of a new candidate for paradigm and with the ensuing battle over its acceptance. (T.S. Kuhn, 1962)
It is, I think, particularly in periods of acknowledged crisis that scientists have turned to philosophical analysis as a device for unlocking the riddles of their field. Scientists have not generally needed or wanted to be philosophers. (T.S. Kuhn, 1962)

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Introduction - Thomas Kuhn The Structure of Scientific Revolutions - Postmodernism - Links / Thomas Kuhn - Top of Page

Introduction

Copernicanism made few converts for almost a century after Copernicus' death. Newton's work was not generally accepted, particularly on the Continent, for more than half a century after the Principia appeared. The difficulties of conversion have often been noted by the scientists themselves. Darwin, in a particularly perceptive passage at the end of his Origin Of Species, wrote: "Although I am fully convinced of the truth of the views given in this volume .. I, by no means expect to convince experienced naturalists whose minds are stocked with a multitude of facts all viewed, during a long course of years, from a point of view directly opposite to mine. ..But I look with confidence to the future - to young and rising naturalists, who will be able to view both sides of the question with impartiality." And Max Planck, surveying his own career in his Scientific Autobiography, sadly remarked that "a new scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die, and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it." (T.S. Kuhn, 1962)

Thomas Kuhn - The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Introduction: Philosophy / Metaphysics of Thomas Kuhn

In 1940, two hundred years after David Hume first formalized the Metaphysical Problem of Causation (we do not know the 'necessary connexion' between 'what exists'), Albert Einstein wrote that the problem remained unsolved;

'For the time being we have to admit that we do not possess any general theoretical basis for physics which can be regarded as its logical foundation.' (Albert Einstein, 1940)

This failure has continued to the present day, and it is only natural human behavior (psychological) that this has resulted in our current Postmodern belief that it is impossible to directly describe and understand the reality of what exists. This uncertainty affected Thomas Kuhn who is of the Postmodern Metaphysic that all Truth is approximate and evolving, no absolute truth is possible.

As Thomas Kuhn writes in his famous book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions;

... each paradigm will be shown to satisfy more or less the criteria that it dictates for itself and to fall short of a few of those dictated by its opponent .. no paradigm ever solves all the problems it defines .. (T.S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 1962)

A paradigm is a common belief in a theory and its principles, and Thomas Kuhn was correct when he wrote his book that the principles of reality were not known and thus this incomplete knowledge always left puzzles. His error is to tacitly assume (without evidence) that this absolute knowledge of reality can never be found and that there will always be puzzles.

Recent discoveries of the properties of Space and the Wave Structure of Matter (Wolff, Haselhurst) suggests that we can understand Reality and necessarily connect our language to the One Thing, Space, which exists with the properties of a Wave Medium. Please see below for brief introduction.

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Geoff Haselhurst, Karene Howie, (January, 2005) Email



Introduction - Thomas Kuhn The Structure of Scientific Revolutions - Postmodernism - Links / Thomas Kuhn - Top of Page

Thomas Kuhn - The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Thomas Kuhn - The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

It has been the case for centuries that new theories have been developed which explain more things with less assumptions, and thus help to remove some of the earlier paradoxes and the proliferation of ad hoc solutions to emerging problems. As Kuhn remarks;

Copernicus complained that in his day astronomers were so 'inconsistent in these [astronomical] investigations ... that they cannot even explain or observe the constant length of the seasonal year.' 'With them,' he continued, 'it is as though an artist were to gather the hands, feet, head and other members for his images from diverse models, each part excellently drawn, but not related to a single body, and since they in no way match each other, the result would be monster rather than man.' Einstein, restricted by current usage to less florid language, wrote only, 'It was as if the ground had been pulled out from under one, with no firm foundation to be seen anywhere, upon which one could have built.' And Wolfgang Pauli, in the months before Heisenberg's paper on matrix mechanics pointed the way to a new quantum theory, wrote to a friend, 'At the moment physics is again terribly confused. In any case, it is too difficult for me, and I wish I had been a movie comedian or something of the sort and had never heard of physics. (Kuhn, 1962)

All crises begin with the blurring of a paradigm and the consequent loosening of the rules for normal research. .. Or finally, the case that will most concern us here, a crisis may end with the emergence of a new candidate for paradigm and with the ensuing battle over its acceptance. (Kuhn, 1962)

It is, I think, particularly in periods of acknowledged crisis that scientists have turned to philosophical analysis as a device for unlocking the riddles of their field. Scientists have not generally needed or wanted to be philosophers. (Kuhn, 1962)

Thomas Kuhn demonstrates a profound truth about the limitations of academic education, which necessarily infects students with the popular beliefs of their time.

Almost always the men who achieve these fundamental inventions of a new paradigm have been either very young or very new to the field whose paradigm they change. (Kuhn, 1962)

.. the puzzles that constitute normal science exist only because no paradigm that provides a basis for scientific research ever completely resolves all its problems. (Kuhn, 1962)

..each paradigm will be shown to satisfy more or less the criteria that it dictates for itself and to fall short of a few of those dictated by its opponent. .. no paradigm ever solves all the problems it defines .. (Kuhn, 1962)

Now a paradigm is just a common belief in a theory and its principles, and Kuhn was correct when he wrote his book that the principles of reality were not known and thus this incomplete knowledge always left puzzles. His error is to tacitly assume (without evidence) that this absolute knowledge of reality can never be found and that there will always be puzzles;

..the historian of science may be tempted to exclaim that when paradigms change, the world itself changes with them. Led by a new paradigm, scientists adopt new instruments and look in new places. Even more important, during revolutions scientists see new and different things when looking with familiar instruments in places they have looked before. It is rather as if the professional community had been suddenly transported to another planet where familiar objects are seen in a different light and are joined by unfamiliar ones as well. (Kuhn, 1962)

Kuhn is absolutely correct, and this is why Humanity stands upon the brink of a profound new revolution in Human Knowledge. For once 'Normal Science' becomes aware of the Metaphysics of Space and Motion and the Wave Structure of Matter, then they will very quickly discover, with their new way of seeing things, that it explains and solves their problems very simply and elegantly.


Introduction - Thomas Kuhn The Structure of Scientific Revolutions - Postmodernism - Links / Thomas Kuhn - Top of Page

Thomas Kuhn - The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Postmodernism of Thomas Kuhn

As we have seen, the current Postmodern belief is that the discovery of Reality is impossible. This extreme skepticism, of which Popper and Kuhn are particularly famous, assumes that;
a) All truth is limited, approximate, and is constantly evolving
b) No theory can ever be proved true (we can only show that a theory is false)
c) No theory can ever explain all things
d) Thus absolute and certain truth that explains all things is unobtainable.

As Taborsky writes of Postmodern philosophy;

.. the Mediated concept of Truth, is that it first admits that there is no such thing as absolute, pure Truth. There is a reality, which may be abstract or sensual ... but one cannot access it/know it ..'in-itself'. One can only 'know' it within the socially constructed (or species-constructed) 'mediative-habits' of one's particular society/species/whatever. (Tarborsky)

This error in Postmodern thinking, that our language is too imprecise and relative in meaning to ever absolutely describe Reality, has been caused by the failure of Physicists and Philosophers (over many centuries) to discover Reality. This failure has resulted in the belief that absolute and ultimate True Knowledge of Reality can not be known. But once Reality is known then it becomes obvious (as this Metaphysics explains) how lack of True Knowledge led to errors and mistakes, and as Hume remarks;

It is easy for a profound philosopher to commit a mistake in his subtle reasonings; and one mistake is the necessary parent of another, while he pushes on his consequences, and is not deterred from embracing any conclusion, by its unusual appearance, or its contradiction to popular opinion. (Hume, 1737)

Some of these errors (e.g. the belief in the separate existence of 'Time' and 'Particles', which are both actually caused by the Wave Structure of Matter) have existed in Philosophy and Physics for thousands of years and have resulted in strange paradoxes (e.g. particle / wave duality) that cause such confusion and conflict both for the Philosopher and Human Society at large. Fortunately Truth has a particular power to solve these problems and thus to survive and slowly spread within our human society and culture, as Schopenhauer wryly observes;

Although as a rule the absurd culminates, and it seems impossible for the voice of the individual ever to penetrate through the chorus of foolers and fooled, still there is left to the genuine works of all times a quite peculiar, silent, slow, and powerful influence; and as if by a miracle, we see them rise at last out of the turmoil like a balloon that floats up out of the thick atmosphere of this globe into purer regions. Having once arrived there, it remains at rest, and no one can any longer draw it down again. (Schopenhauer, 1819)


Introduction - Thomas Kuhn The Structure of Scientific Revolutions - Postmodernism - Links / Thomas Kuhn - Top of Page

Thomas Kuhn - The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Links / Thomas Kuhn

Metaphysics: Scientific Language for Describing Reality - Deducing Reality - Science Principles, Scientific Method. A New Metaphysical Foundation for Science - On Space and Motion rather than Space and Time - Wave Motion of Space Causes Matter, Time and Forces.
Metaphysics: Philosophy - Uniting Metaphysics and Philosophy by Solving Hume's Problem of Causation, Kant's Critical Idealism, Popper's Problem of Induction, Kuhn's Paradigm.
Metaphysics: Skepticism / Skeptics - On Truth and Certainty - Scientific Minds are Skeptical and Open. On how we can be certain we know the Truth about Reality.
Physics and Metaphysics - The Metaphysics of Space and Motion Sensibly Unites Albert Einstein's Relativity, Quantum Theory, and Cosmology. This 40 page Treatise (written over five years) will be published in 'What is the Electron' (Apeiron, 2005).
Philosophy: Postmodernism - On Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Popper Kuhn. The End of Postmodernism Relativism & the Rise of Realism.

References

Kuhn, Thomas S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, University of Chicago 1962
Hume, David Enquiries Concerning The Human Understanding and Concerning The Principles of Morals, Oxford University 1737
Schopenhauer, Arthur. The World as Will and Representation, The Falcon's Wing Press 1958





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Biography: Geoffrey Haselhurst, Philosopher of Science, Theoretical Physics, Metaphysics, Evolution. Our world is in great trouble due to human behaviour founded on myths and customs that are causing the destruction of Nature and climate change. We can now deduce the most simple science theory of reality - the wave structure of matter in space. By understanding how we and everything around us are interconnected in Space we can then deduce solutions to the fundamental problems of human knowledge in physics, philosophy, metaphysics, theology, education, health, evolution and ecology, politics and society.

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