Thomas Kuhn. The Structure of Scientific Revolution.
About Thomas Kuhn and this essay
Born in 1922 in Cincinnati, Kuhn obtained a Ph.D. degree in physics from Harvard University in 1949. He will later teach a course of history of science at the University of California, Berkeley. Their, in 1962, he wrote and published The Structure of Scientific Revolutions which will be the object of this essay. This essay will be divided in 5 parts: -the paradigm, -the phases of paradigm cycles (further divided in: pre-paradigm & normal sciences, crisis and new paradigm), -the incommensurability, -the rationality of scientific progress and -the progression of science.
The structure of scientific revolution of Thomas Kuhn focus on the cycle of scientific structure in it's whole. From it’s beginning to its end followed again by the beginning of a whole new scientific structure. Once these scientific structures (or ideas) are universally accessible and acknowledge by of vast majority of scientist in that same exact field, Kuhn will designate it as a paradigm, a common belief among all participating specialist in a theory and its principles. This paradigm will be more than just a theory. It will be a whole scientific outlook on a field of study. A paradigm is the whole constitution of what makes a scientific community. It will, for the time it will be actual, provide standard methods for a whole group of scientist.
The phases of paradigm cycles
Pre-paradigm & normal sciences
The pre-paradigm period is the beginning of everything. It is usually discernible by profound new discussions over rightful procedures. Pre-paradigms occur only once. Paradigms are in constant cycle and the first (or last) real phase of a paradigm cycle is what Kuhn calls normal science. The concept of normal science closely pictures how Kuhn describes a paradigm. All participants within a particular discipline are on a consensus and have an accepted framework, or common way of doing things. The normal science is when a research practice is in a resting mode. “Normal science: the activity in which most scientists inevitably spend almost all their time” (p.3) It is also at its climax. Scientist during that period will have full confidence in the paradigm and will actually see no other way of guiding their research. “…normal science, a pursuit not directed to novelties and tending at first to suppress them…” (p.52) If a scientist failed “to come near the anticipated result (it) is usually failure as a scientist” (p.35) Kuhn compares normal sciences to puzzle-solving. During this stage, practitioners will perfects the paradigm, make it stronger and/or solve small anomalies to fit the paradigm.
At first, the few anomalies appearing now and then will not be sufficient to question the scientists about the validity of the paradigm. However, if after some time, more and more incongruities in the paradigm are revealed, Scientist will start lengthier investigation of anomalies. Then crisis begins and real discoveries are launches. “…during the crises that lead to large-scale changes of paradigm, scientists usually develop many speculative and unarticulated theories that can themselves point the way to discovery.” (p. 61) The researchers will now stop blindly following the paradigm and starts to explore new ways as the old paradigm has become unreliable and questioned by a majority. A scientific revolution is about to begin.
“Often a new paradigm emerges, at least in embryo, before a crisis has developed or been explicitly recognized” (p. 86) In the initial growing periods of a new paradigm, many new alternative will be developed. An overlap of the problems to resolve will occur during the transition from old to new paradigm. “When the transition is complete, the profession will have changed its view of the field, its methods, and its goals” (P. 85) It is more likely that new people to a...
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