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Chapter 2 - The Route to Normal Science 
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Post Chapter 2 - The Route to Normal Science
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
by Thomas S. Kuhn


Chapter 2 - The Route to Normal Science



Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:49 pm
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Post Re: Chapter 2 - The Route to Normal Science
In this chapter, Kuhn defines a paradigm as an achievement that is sufficiently unprecedented to attract an enduring group of adherents away from competing modes of scientific activity, while being sufficiently open-ended to leave problems to resolve. Commitment and consensus around a paradigm are the basis for normal science.

It seems to me that the model of change that Kuhn defines here has much broader application than just to science, and in fact it describes the evolution of all living systems. Stephen Jay Gould, with his theory of punctuated equilibria, explains that complex ecosystems are stable for long periods, and only really change when they encounter a crisis. The same is true for societies, beliefs and scientific paradigms.

Kuhn uses the example of the emergence of electrical theory in the 1700s. Starting from diverse and incompatible hypotheses, ideas gradually emerged that had higher explanatory power, leading to a paradigm shift. This process looks very similar to another theme that Gould examines in depth, the Cambrian Explosion of 530 million BC. Numerous diverse body plans (phyla) evolved, but only those that were most efficient survived. This is much like the way only scientific theories with highest explanatory power survive. And a paradigm shift can be similar to the PT extinction event.


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Post Re: Chapter 2 - The Route to Normal Science
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In this chapter, Kuhn defines a paradigm as an achievement that is sufficiently unprecedented to attract an enduring group of adherents away from competing modes of scientific activity, while being sufficiently open-ended to leave problems to resolve. Commitment and consensus around a paradigm are the basis for normal science.


This brings to mind Einstein's revolutionary physics that altered Euclidian conceptions of space and its philosophical impact.
Was the paradigm shift just as great philosophically as it was scientifically?
How are the two schools of thought dependant on one another?

Although cordial he was with the scientific community that supported "logical positivism," Einstein strongly disagreed with LP's consensus that ethics and politics lacked any real cognitive meaning.

Despite going his own way, Einstein still was a true revolutionist.


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“For it is owing to their wonder that men both now begin to and at first began to philosophize; they wondered originally at the obvious difficulties, then advanced little by little and stated difficulties about the greater matters, e.g. about the phenomena of the moon and those of the sun and of the stars, and about the genesis of the universe. And a man who is puzzled and wonders thinks himself ignorant” (Metaphysics, 350 BC)


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Post Re: Chapter 2 - The Route to Normal Science
I ordered the book.
Should be here early next week :)


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“So I hated life, because what is done under the sun was grievous to me, for all is vanity and a striving after wind!” (Ecclesiastes 2:17)


“For it is owing to their wonder that men both now begin to and at first began to philosophize; they wondered originally at the obvious difficulties, then advanced little by little and stated difficulties about the greater matters, e.g. about the phenomena of the moon and those of the sun and of the stars, and about the genesis of the universe. And a man who is puzzled and wonders thinks himself ignorant” (Metaphysics, 350 BC)


Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:53 pm
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