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Archive for the ‘Insight’ Category

The first text I will attempt to “blog through” is Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Why this text? To begin with, its impact on 20th century thought – not just in the history of science but in the popular mind as well – is immeasurable and quite possibly unparalleled. His introduction of the idea of a “paradigm,” which I will discuss at more length as we get further on, has infiltrated politics, business, theology, and all manner of scientific enterprises. If you use the word paradigm in any sense for describing the complex of ideas (i.e. a “worldview”) that organize our activities and self-understanding, then you are indebted to Kuhn.

In addition to being such a popular and influential work, it also appears on the majority of syllabi for philosophy of science courses. Again, this can be attributed to the fact that Kuhn’s work established its own paradigm for how scientists understand the history of their discipline and the nature of scientific advancement. While it has come under criticism, most current works in the history of science seem to articulate themselves in relation to Kuhn.

Finally, and most importantly, it raises a number of fairly fundamental questions about the nature of scientific claims to adequately* describe reality. It places itself as a work between logical positivism** and postmodernism, generating criticism from both sides. This seems, then, like a nice place to start a discussion about the nature of scientific discovery and the (ontological) status of theory.

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