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on March 9, 2001
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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on December 10, 2008
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). Attempts at reference-preserving translation will always be flawed whenever there is a mismatch of taxonomies, both because a single concept in one language (or theory) typically maps to several concepts in the other or fails to map at all, and because the hierarchy of classes and subclasses in the taxonomy of a language is necessarily projected onto the world when the world is described in this language.

Relationship between history of science and philosophy of science (ch. 5). Kuhn says of the historical trend in philosophy of science that "one can reach many of the central conclusions we drew with scarcely a glance at the historical record itself" (p. 111). What is needed is not actual history, but the realisation that theories are judged only comparatively. A number of well-known implications follow (difficulties for truth and realism, possibility of incommensurability, etc.) which are usually attributed to a historical approach. On the other hand: "I don't think that the [philosophers] who were doing history ... saw everything in it that I was seeing in it. They were not coming back and asking 'What does this do to the notion of truth, what does it do to the notion of progress,' or if they did, they were finding it too easy to find answers that seemed to me superficial." (pp. 311-312).
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on May 19, 2015
Kuhn is nothing short of brilliant. Sometimes the things he says is a bit obscure, but that really doesn't detract from the book. The book itself is essentially a series of essays that he wrote years after his seminal book "The Structure of Scientific Revolution". He is honest enough to point out some of the flaws in his own logic in that book, but also adds many new ideas that expand on the ideas he presented there. If his original book is a must-read, then this one should also be read to give a broader understanding of his ideas.

The only weakness that I will criticize is that it seems as if Kuhn really never abandoned the idea that what he wrote only applies to the physical sciences. There is considerable material by other authors that demonstrate that his ideas also apply to the social sciences and quite probably to the humanities as well without stretching credibility.
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VINE VOICEon February 7, 2003
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. Still, for those of us scientific philosophy nuts, the essays "Reflections on My Critics" (part of a symposium featuring Lakatos, Popper and Feyerabend amongst others) and "The Natural and the Human Sciences" are excellent illucidations of Kuhns thought.
Honestly, the interview, I didn't like. Much of it is Thomas Kuhns history and as for the reviewer below that bemoans a self-absorbed Kuhn talking about himself and his "intellectual project", I'm not sure what else you should expect from an interview of a philosopher. Interviewers like to ask about the interviewee and philosopher's like to talk about what they work on. Honestly though, if you are at all familiar with Kuhns life, this interview offers little that you didn't already know.
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on September 30, 2003
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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on July 29, 2010
In addition to what the others said, I'd like to add that seeing how Khun replies to Khun in this book was very exciting. It is also worth emphasizing that this book is not only about the concepts Khun brought to philosophy of science, but also about other concepts of Khun times. I recommand another book for French reader by Michael Esfled. Philosophie des Sciences - Une Introduction, or see this link:
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on January 11, 2006
This posthumously published book is a collection of Kuhn's papers published between 1970 and 1993 together with a transcript of an autobiographical interview given by Kuhn in 1995, a year before his death. The book also contains a complete bibliography of his works.

Most of the important contributing philosophers of science in the twentieth century formed their views by reflection on the great scientific revolutions in modern physics, notably relativity theory and quantum theory. But in the first paper in this book, "What are Scientific Revolutions?" (1987), Kuhn reports that his most formative intellectual experience was his attempt in 1947 to understand the physics of Aristotle - what in his autobiography he calls his "Aristotle experience."

What distinguishes the contrast between the physics of Aristotle and Newton is the vast gulf in time, which makes their contrast quite radical in comparison to the contrast between, say, Einstein's theory and Newton's immediately preceding theory. Also the ascendancy of Newton's theory was not due to a decisive empirical test, like the eclipse experiment that decided for Einstein's theory over Newton's. It is this radical contrast between Aristotle's and Newton's physics that occasioned Kuhn's comparably radical thesis of scientific revolutions, that they are nonempirical conversions from one "paradigm" to another incommensurably different one.

When Kuhn set forth his thesis of scientific revolutions in 1962 in his famous book titled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the book was not welcomed by philosophers of science, who expected and demanded a coherent philosophy of language and a linguistic analysis for the Kuhnian thesis. The papers in Road Since Structure are in large part the fossil record of Kuhn's successive and unsuccessful attempts to evolve his missing link between history of science and philosophy of science. The papers show his groping, eclectic, and somewhat naive efforts at philosophy of language by a scholar who was firstly a historian of science.

Readers interested on my further comments on Kuhn are invited to read my ebook titled Twentieth-Century Philosophy of Science: A History, and also to read my ebook Philosophy of Science: An Introduction (Second Edition).

Thomas J. Hickey
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on July 26, 2001
Having just finished Steve Fuller's decimation of Kuhn's significance, I come away much less impressed with this book. I immediately noticed that Fuller's claim that Kuhn was beholden to Harvard President James Bryant Conant seems to continue after the grave, since the editor of this set of papers and interviews is none other than Conant's grandson! But putting that aside (sheer coincidence perhaps?), the final interview shows just how self-absorbed Kuhn was. Considering what was going on in the larger world around him, he seemed forever preoccupied by a very private intellectual project that never attracted the attention that buzzwords like "paradigm" did. Fuller read this interview in the original obscure Greek philosophy journal where it appeared, and makes some sharp observations about Kuhn's tendency to deny all influences -- including highly publicized ones like Ludwik Fleck. This is not to say that Kuhn's intellectual project wasn't interesting, but it's amazing just how unwilling he remained to deal with the way his work was used. Lucky for him, he was professionally ensconced in the Ivy League and so never really had to bother much with what the sub-Ivy intellectuals thought.
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