The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

By Thomas S. Kuhn,

Book cover of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

Book description

A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were-and still…

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Why read it?

6 authors picked The Structure of Scientific Revolutions as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Perhaps one of the greatest books ever written. Kuhn is one of the most brilliant thinkers in human history, the creator of the word “paradigm.” This book examines how science progresses over time, one worldview replacing another. More significantly, Kuhn argued that defenders of the current paradigm resist any challenge to its tenets to maintain respect and privilege. In short, science is limited by human insecurity and ego. I found this book to be imperative to any understanding of how the world works. 

From Richard's list on reality and destiny.

This classic book is relevant to anyone interested in the brain. Our teachers told us that our knowledge evolves linearly, small discoveries accumulating over time. But Kuhn (1922-94), a theoretical physicist, reviewed the history of discoveries and concluded they happened after “crises.” He defined and popularized many of the terms we still use today. A “paradigm” creates the boundaries within which “normal science” can operate to answer “puzzles.” Normal science does not aim at novelty but at discovering what it expects to discover based on a hypothesis. Any “anomalies” that cannot be resolved with further studies lead to a “crisis”…

This is a brilliant book explaining why scientific thought processes never escape the realm of their paradigm. I’m recommending this book because, if interested in pushing thought, if interested in examining personal belief, if interested in learning how to live without traditional standards, then this book is an eye-opener. Traditional thought, whether religious or secular, rules how we react to what occurs in life, and this book helps shed light on the fact that responses can be structured, but that an unstructured response is something generating original and unique knowledge to live by.

Said to be the best-selling academic book of the Twentieth Century, this is a bit more technical in so far as it deals with the history of science. Kuhn introduced the idea that science isn’t just a collection of facts but undergoes periods of radical cultural change – the most well-known example is the switch from Newton’s to Einstein’s view of the physical world. Kuhn said these ‘paradigm shifts’ involve ‘incommensurability’ – you cannot experience both ways of seeing the world at once and they cannot be translated into one another. It is an enormously influential idea.

From Harry's list on making reality.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is a philosophical analysis of the history of science that lays bare the elusive nature of progress. Giving us terms like “paradigm shift”— that I love to use—Thomas Kuhn turns the way we think about advancement on its head and shows how unforeseen often vilified discoveries end up being the touchstone for landmark scientific development. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is insightful and impactful far beyond science and philosophy—its groundbreaking revelations will liberate your creativity, enable you to embrace the intellectually unexpected, and teach you how to think.

From Rachel's list on intellectual and creative inspiration.

The book shows that scientific progress is only sometimes rational and incremental. Sometimes it proceeds like an unanticipated avalanche, wiping out much of what went before and utterly altering the landscape. The book preceded the success of the cognitive revolution in psychology, which was a perfect example of its ideas. One day the behaviorists such as Pavlov and Skinner were the unchallenged rulers of the roost. The next day the cognitive revolution, begun by people who were knowledgeable about artificial intelligence, research on visual perception, and epistemology, showed that much of their work was wrong. More importantly, it suggested fresh…

From Richard's list on thinking.

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