Thomas Samuel Kuhn
Thomas Samuel Kuhn (pronounced Template:IPA)(July 18, 1922 – June 17, 1996) was an American intellectual who wrote extensively on the history of science and developed several important notions in the philosophy of science.
He was born in Cincinnati, Ohio to Samuel L. Kuhn, an industrial engineer, and Minette Stroock Kuhn. He obtained his bachelor's degree in physics from Harvard University in 1943, his master's in 1946 and Ph.D. in 1949, and taught a course in the history of science there from 1948 until 1956 at the suggestion of Harvard president James Conant. After leaving Harvard, Kuhn taught at the University of California, Berkeley, in both the philosophy department and the history department, being named Professor of the History of Science in 1961. In 1964 he joined Princeton University as the M. Taylor Pyne Professor of Philosophy and History of Science. In 1979 he joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) as the Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Philosophy, remaining there until 1991. In 1994 he was diagnosed with cancer of the bronchial tubes, of which he died in 1996.
Kuhn was married twice, first to Kathryn Muhs (by whom he had three children) and later to Jehane Barton (Jahane R. Kuhn).
 The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962)
Thomas Kuhn is most famous for his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (SSR) (1962) wherein he argued that science does not progress via a linear accumulation of new knowledge, but undergoes periodic revolutions that he called "paradigm shifts", in which the nature of scientific inquiry within a particular field is abruptly transformed. In general, science is broken up into three distinct stages. Prescience, which lacks a central paradigm, comes first. This is followed by "normal science", when scientists attempt to enlarge the central paradigm by "puzzle-solving". Thus, the failure of a result to conform to the paradigm is seen not as refuting the paradigm, but as the mistake of the researcher, contra Popper's refutability criterion. As anomalous results build up, science reaches a crisis, at which point a new paradigm, which subsumes the old results along with the anomalous results into one framework, is accepted. This is termed revolutionary science. In SSR, Kuhn also argues that rival paradigms are incommensurable—that is, it is not possible to understand one paradigm through the conceptual framework and terminology of another rival paradigm. For many critics, this thesis seemed to entail that theory choice is fundamentally irrational: if rival theories cannot be directly compared, then one cannot make a rational choice as to which one is better. Whether or not Kuhn's views had such relativistic consequences is the subject of much debate; Kuhn himself denied the accusation of relativism in the 3rd edition of SSR, and sought to clarify his views to avoid further misinterpretation.
The enormous impact of Kuhn's work can be measured in the changes it brought about in the vocabulary of the philosophy of science: besides "paradigm shift", Kuhn raised the word "paradigm" itself from a term used in certain forms of linguistics to its current broader meaning, coined the term "normal science" to refer to the relatively routine, day-to-day work of scientists working within a paradigm, and was largely responsible for the use of the term "scientific revolutions" in the plural, taking place at widely different periods of time and in different disciplines, as opposed to a single "Scientific Revolution" in the late Renaissance.
Kuhn's work has been extensively used in social science; for instance, in the post-positivist/positivist debate within International Relations. Kuhn is credited as a foundational force behind the post-Mertonian Sociology of Scientific Knowledge.
 Kuhn and the Multicultural History of Science
Although Kuhn opened the door to multiculturalism by making others more receptive to it his two most influential studies The Copernican Revolution and The Structure of Scientific Revolutions are both fundamentally Eurocentric. In his Copernican Revolution he treats Arabic civilization as simply conserving, adding and transmitting the Greek heritage to Europe. He writes:
"Islamic civilization is important primarily because it preserved and proliferated the records of ancient Greek science for later European scholars." (Kuhn 1957, p.102)
In his Structure of Scientific Revolutions he ignores the significant impact of Arabic optics on modern theories of light when he writes:
"No period between remote antiquity and the end of the seventeenth century exhibited a single generally accepted view about the nature of light. Instead there were a number of competing schools and subschools, most of them espousing one variant or another of Epicurean, Aristotelian or Platonic theory. One group took light to be particles emanating from material bodies; for another it was a modification of the medium that intervened between the body and the eye; still another explained light in terms of an interaction of the medium with an emanation from the eye; and there were other combinations and modifications besides. Each of the corresponding schools derived strength from its relation to some particular metaphysic, and each emphasized, as paradigmatic observations, that particular cluster of optical phenomena that its own theory could do most to explain." (Kuhn, 1962, pp. 12-13)
This ignores the impact of the work of the Arabic scientist Ibn al-Haytham (Alhazen) whose optical paradigm influenced not only medieval thinkers such as Roger Bacon and Grossteste, but also early modern thinkers such as Galileo and Kepler.
It leads Kuhn to a profoundly Eurocentric conception of science even though he is seen as opening the door to multicultural perspectives on science:
"Every civilization of which we have records has possessed a technology, an art, a religion, a political system, laws and so on. In many cases those facets of civilizations have been as developed as our own. But only the civilizations that descend from Hellenic Greece have possessed more than the most rudimentary science. The bulk of scientific knowledge is a product of Europe in the last four centuries. No other place and time has supported the very special communities from which scientific productivity comes." (Kuhn 1962, pp. 167-168)
In his study The Dialogue of Civilizations in the Birth of Modern Science (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) the physicist and philosopher Arun Bala criticizes Kuhn’s postmodern epistemological framework for obstructing any recognition of non-Western influences on modern science. This leads Kuhn to treat different cultural paradigms as separate intellectual universes isolated from one another. Instead Bala rereads the Copernican Revolution, which led to the birth of modern science, by including influences from Arabic, Chinese, ancient Egyptian, and Indian traditions of philosophy, mathematics, astronomy, and physics that went into shaping the Scientific Revolution.
- Kuhn interviewed and taped Danish physicist Niels Bohr the day before Bohr's death. The recording contains the last words of Niels Bohr caught on tape.
- Bird, Alexander. Thomas Kuhn. Princeton and London: Princeton University Press and Acumen Press, 2000. ISBN 1-902683-10-2
- Fuller, Steve.Thomas Kuhn: A Philosophical History for Our Times. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. ISBN 0-226-26894-2
- Kuhn, T.S. The Copernican Revolution: planetary astronomy in the development of Western thought. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957. ISBN 0-674-17100-4
- Kuhn, T.S. The Function of Measurement in Modern Physical Science. Isis, 52(1961): 161-193.
- Kuhn, T.S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1962. ISBN 0-226-45808-3
- Kuhn, T.S. "The Function of Dogma in Scientific Research". Pp. 347-69 in A. C. Crombie (ed.). Scientific Change (Symposium on the History of Science, University of Oxford, 9-15 July 1961). New York and London: Basic Books and Heineman, 1963.
- Kuhn, T.S. The Essential Tension: Selected Studies in Scientific Tradition and Change. Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1977. ISBN 0-226-45805-9
- Kuhn, T.S. Black-Body Theory and the Quantum Discontinuity, 1894-1912. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. ISBN 0-226-45800-8
- Kuhn, T.S. The Road Since Structure: Philosophical Essays, 1970-1993. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000. ISBN 0-226-45798-2
 See also
 External links
- Thomas Kuhn (Biography, Outline of Structure of Scientific Revolutions)
- Thomas Kuhn, 73; Devised Science Paradigm (obituary by Lawrence Van Gelder, New York Times, 19 June 1996)
- Thomas S. Kuhn (obituary, The Tech p9 vol 116 no 28, 26 June 1996)
- Thomas Kuhn at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
- Review in the New York Review of Books
- Color Photo
- History of Twentieth-Century Philosophy of Science BOOK VI: Kuhn on Revolution and Feyerabend on Anarchy - with free downloads for public use.
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