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The Road since Structure: Philosophical Essays, 1970-1993, with an Autobiographical Interview Paperback – November 1, 2000

ISBN-13: 978-0226457994 ISBN-10: 0226457990

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It is possible that no book written in the last 50 years has had an influence as profound and far-reaching as Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Kuhn's argument that scientific knowledge does not develop cumulatively, but rather proceeds by a series of "paradigm shifts," captivated not only philosophers of science, but scholars in a wide range of academic disciplines. The Road Since Structure is a follow-up to his landmark work and a look at Kuhn's theory since the book's original publication in 1962.

In keeping with Kuhn's wishes (he died in 1996), editors James Conant and John Haugeland organized The Road Since Structure to include 11 philosophical essays written since 1970. In the first part of the book, Kuhn spells out his theory as it developed in the 1980s and 1990s; in the second part, he replies to a number of criticisms and misreadings. The third section is a fascinating interview with Kuhn conducted less than a year before he died. For general interest readers, the lengthy interview--in which Kuhn candidly and engagingly discusses the trials and tribulations of his life and philosophical career--will probably be the most interesting part of the book. For those attuned to Kuhn's controversial work, The Road Since Structure is an indispensable aid for understanding his theory as it developed and for appreciating the full force of his replies to a host of critical objections. As always, Kuhn's clarity and fluid prose render accessible a field fraught with opaque writing. --Eric de Place --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Scientific American

The title refers to Kuhn's seminal The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Published in 1962, in which he argued that the history of science is not gradual and Cumulative but instead is punctuated by a series of more or less radical "paradigm shifts." The new book reprints 11 essays in which Kuhn defends, develops and, in some cases, modifies the views he put forward in Structure. Trained as a physicist, Kuhn as a young man turned his interest to the history and philosophy of science. He discussed that change in an absorbing three-day interview that he had with three Greek scholars in 1995, the year before he died. "I think I would have been a damn good physicist," he remarked, but increasingly the field seemed to him to be "fairly dull, the work was not interesting." Of Structure, he said: "I wanted it to be an important book; clearly it was being an important book--I didn't like most of the ways in which it was being an important book." And, surprisingly for such an influential writer, he said that he had always found it "very hard to write."

EDITORS OF SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Philosophical Essays, 1970-1993, with an Autobiographical In
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (November 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226457990
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226457994
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #472,810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996)was professor emeritus of philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His many books include The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and Black-Body Theory and the Quantum Discontinuity, 1894-1912, both published by the University of Chicago Press.


Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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48 of 57 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 9, 2001
Format: Hardcover
There are three parts to this book: essays Kuhn wrote to respond to the most substantial criticisms of THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS, essays that extend and elaborate on his thinking since STRUCTURE, and, most remarkable, a very long and revealing interview or discussion with three Greek philosophers of science less than a year before his death.
To me, the interview is the most interesting part of the book, mainly because it's autobiographical. I am told by people who knew him that, after the hullabaloo over STRUCTURE, Kuhn became quite reticent, at least in public, and certainly about himself. Well, reticent is the last thing he is in this interview. He speaks quite openly about his parents, his early education, his attraction to physics, his time at Harvard, his decision to move from physics to philosophy and history of science, the issues in history and philosophy of science that moved him most deeply, his opinions of colleagues. In this interview, Thomas Kuhn becomes a person, not merely an icon. It's surprising, moving, and instructive, and anyone who's ever wondered about the man who wrote THE STRUCTURE OF SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTIONS will find the interview, as well as the essays in this book, well worth the read. Enjoy! And wonder!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Viktor Blasjo on December 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
Aristotle's physics (ch. 1). Aristotelian physics is about qualities: temperature, position, colour, etc. Matter is a mere substrate, a sponge imbibed with qualities. This proves the nonexistence of vacuum: in a vacuum there is no matter, no sponge, to absorb the quality of place; thus there can be no place which is vacuous. Motion means change in quality. Locomotion is the special case where the quality in question is that of place, but there are also other motions, such as that from sickness to health, or that from acorn to oak. These natural motions have a natural end point: a rock wants to rest at the centre of the world, a man wants to grow healthy. This is the state they reach when left to themselves. Violent motion (lifting a rock or poisoning a man) is required to perturb this state.

Metaphor of "evolutionary epistemology" (ch. 4). The faith of rival organisms (=rival theories) is determined by the relative fitness of each, not by comparing them with an ideal organism (=absolute truth). One cannot assess the evolutionary benefit (=truth) of a particular trait (=proposition) without knowing to which organism (=theory) it belongs. Organisms, like theories, need not fit a static, immutable world; rather their world is largely defined through their own actions. Scientific theories fly south in the winter, as it were. Progress is often possible only by narrowing the niche, i.e., through speciation (=specialisation).

Linguistic incommensurability (ch. 2). Interpretation does not equal translation. One can learn a second language (or a rival scientific theory) as one learned the first, by immersion. But that does not imply the ability to perfectly translate between them (or effect an objective comparison).
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32 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
As with (to a lesser extent) Feyerabend, Kuhn wrote his contreversial opus in the mid 60's. I think it's safe to say that anything hinting at anti-authoritarianism, as it seemed to do on the surface, was begging to be misunderstood. Honestly, after 'paradigm shift' became a bastardized slogan for everything from class-struggle to new-age revelations through meditation, I'm not sure Thomas Kuhn ever recovered from this world-wide misunderstanding. What I read in "The Road Since Structure" corroborates that as we find an author that constantly needs to clarify, "This is what I'm saying. This is what I'm not saying. Now that we're clear, let me repeat myself!"
First, as anyone who's read "Structure of Scientific Revolutions" knows, Kuhn has no talent for clear writing. Nothing's changed since. These essays, although more concise and to the point (perhaps that's Kuhn having learned his lesson) are still difficult reads. The first section, I think, is the book's 'payoff'. It is here that he reiterates, clarifies and expands on what is and is not scientific revolution, incommensurability and paradigm. Two essays in particular, "What are Scientific Revolutions?" and "The Road Since Structure" are worth the price of the book alone.
The second section consists of replies to Kuhns many and in an ideological sense, far ranging critics. Most of these papers were written for symposia and are difficult in the sense of listening to only one end of a phone dialogue. As he is generally responding to papers of others, without access to those papers, it is akward reading to say the least.
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10 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Benjamin B. Eshbach on September 30, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Unless you're a research scientist or have found yourself wrapped up in the miniscule debates over Kuhn's writings ( eg. "What exactly IS a paradigm, perfesser?"), this book is delightful! Of particular interest are the two essays "What Are Scientific Revolutions?" and "The Trouble With The Historical Philosophy of Science." Some of this can be found in "The Essential Tension" as he was always repeating himself to different audiences.
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The Road since Structure: Philosophical Essays, 1970-1993, with an Autobiographical Interview
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