Thomas Kuhn's "Structure of Scientific Revolutions"

April 21, 2013

Why do new scientific ideas suddenly catch on and change how we see the world?  Fifty years ago, Thomas Kuhn called this a "paradigm shift."  University of Wisconsin historian of science Tom Broman reflects on Kuhn's influence, and we hear excerpts from his landmark book, "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions."



It's been at least 15 years since I read Kuhn's analysis of scientific revolutions. I remember enjoying it thoroughly--made absolute sense.

What puzzled me, however, was his failure to mention how his thinking paralleled that of Hegel and his concept of 'thesis-antithesis-synthesis'. Kuhn's paradigm shift follows the same pattern: current paradigm-challenged by new paradigm (shift)-resulting ultimately in what is then established as the new 'current paradigm'. Change will then occur in the same way at some future date.

Both these thinkers have nailed the way 'progress' seems to work.