According to the back cover, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is “considered one of ‘The Hundred Most Influential Books Since the Second World War’ by The Times Literary Supplement. ” I don’t necessarily agree with this assessment. Don’t miss understand what I’m saying; he is probably one of the more brilliant people that have ever walked this earth for all I know. But, I could not get over how difficult his writing style was to interpret. His form of writing is not something that most people who are not scientists are use too.
From being written in a scientific and philosophical manner, to explaining a paradigm and normal science, to using words that I was trying to look up in the dictionary on every single page. The one thing I did care for was his redundancy in his book. His redundancy will grab your attention telling you to pay attention to this certain word or phrase because it will be important to understanding this book. From the start of the book, I’ve come to the conclusion that Thomas Kuhn is almost writing a scientific and philosophical essay.
As he continues to refer back to some of the more brilliant people in the history of the world such as Aristotle, Galileo, Einstein, Newton and Lavoisier, this is where I recognized the scientific and philosophical “writing style” he had. Numerous times he would refer back to one of these names and tell of their scientific development that was associated with their name. This, for whatever reason, made me think his writing was actually organized; I just didn’t understand it. He gave explanations behind why he was referencing this particular person making everything attempt to flow a little bit better.
For me, philosophy was never a subject that I understood well, therefore, it was very hard for me to follow in what he was saying. Throughout this essay, Thomas Kuhn puts a large emphasis on paradigms, and normal science. From what I understood, a paradigm meant that the nature of scientific inquiry within a particular field was going to be largely transformed. That was my own interpretation. I sat for about a day on trying to figure out how I was going to understand what his form of paradigm meant. For all I know, I’m completely wrong. But that’s what I understood so far.
So, for Thomas Kuhn, his argument was that science did not progress on a linear accumulation of knowledge but that it went through so-called periodic revolutions. This is where the term paradigm shift had come from. I believe that it is impossible to go through a paradigm shift without a crisis. When attempting to understand what normal science was to Thomas Kuhn, I was still quite confused since I was trying to interpret paradigm and paradigm shift. Kuhn insists, (p. 52) “Normal science does not aim at novelties of fact or theory and, when successful, finds none. ” Again, not quite sure what he just said there.
So, I sat on it for a few hours to figure out what he was trying to tell the reader. After that day, I felt that he was almost concerned that common occurrence of discoveries was going to disprove his thesis. So, if normal science aims at discovery, and discoveries are novel, then normal science aims at novelty. Kuhn claims that discoveries are always accompanied by changes in the prevailing paradigm. Attempting to understand what each of these meant in his words was a struggle. I would have much rather used the Internet to try to figure out what in the world he was saying.
For me, Thomas Kuhn’s writing style is above and beyond my intellect or knowledge. Having my bachelors in science didn’t help me out whatsoever like I thought it would when beginning this book. The most difficult obstacle for me while reading Thomas Kuhn’s book was no doubt trying to understand what he was saying by the words he used. Just in the first few chapters I was looking up words in the dictionary probably four or five times on each page. I understand his audience was a group of scientists so they should understand this. I won’t knock him for that.
I also feel like he could’ve made the reading a little easier to understand. No to bring anyone down to a lower level, but to “dumb” it down a little bit would have given people like me a huge help at understanding his form of writing. Just in the first two chapters, this was the list of words or phrases I could not pick up on: * Phylogistic chemistry * Arbitrariness * Onslaught * Dichotomies * Elucidate * Esoteric * Corpuscles * Effluvium * Arduous * Recondite * Metallurgy * Morass * Juxtapose Sure, a few of these words I have come across before in another reading.
The book I read these words from was probably a science textbook, and honestly were not words I was going to be using everyday. Lastly, I noticed how redundant Thomas Kuhn was in his writing style. I think that because of who his audience was, he needed to be redundant. He needed to repeatedly bring the importance of a paradigm up for discussion. He was trying to get people to pay attention to certain points in his writing and the best way to do that is to talk about them repeatedly.
With his redundancy I found myself paying more attention to certain words or phrases he was pointing out to me, like, “Hey! Grasp this concept and understand because I’m going to bring it up a lot in this book. ” This was the only form of his writing style that I cared for. Again, I’m not trying to knock him for what he has written, because from reviews I’ve read on him and his book, he’s pretty brilliant. The redundancy is always annoying, but in this case it helped me to grasp concepts that he was really trying to focus on and bring my attention to so I could fully understand this book. Did it completely help me in understanding this book? No, not at all, I’m still blown away at what in the world I’ve read and am still reading to understand him.
Courtney from Study Moose