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The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, 3rd Edition [Paperback]

by Thomas S. Kuhn
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)

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Book Description

December 15, 1996 0226458083 978-0226458083 3rd
Thomas S. Kuhn's classic book is now available with a new index.

"A landmark in intellectual history which has attracted attention far
beyond its own immediate field. . . . It is written with a combination
of depth and clarity that make it an almost unbroken series of
aphorisms. . . . Kuhn does not permit truth to be a criterion of
scientific theories, he would presumably not claim his own theory to be
true. But if causing a revolution is the hallmark of a superior
paradigm, [this book] has been a resounding success." --Nicholas Wade,

"Perhaps the best explanation of [the] process of discovery." --William
Erwin Thompson, New York Times Book Review

"Occasionally there emerges a book which has an influence far beyond its
originally intended audience. . . . Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of
Scientific Revolutions . . . has clearly emerged as just such a
work." --Ron Johnston, Times Higher Education Supplement

"Among the most influential academic books in this century." --

--One of "The Hundred Most Influential Books Since the Second World
War," Times Literary Supplement

Thomas S. Kuhn was the Laurence Rockefeller Professor Emeritus of
linguistics and philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
His books include The Essential Tension; Black-Body Theory and the
Quantum Discontinuity, 1894-1912; and The Copernican

Editorial Reviews Review

There's a "Frank & Ernest" comic strip showing a chick breaking out of its shell, looking around, and saying, "Oh, wow! Paradigm shift!" Blame the late Thomas Kuhn. Few indeed are the philosophers or historians influential enough to make it into the funny papers, but Kuhn is one.

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is indeed a paradigmatic work in the history of science. Kuhn's use of terms such as "paradigm shift" and "normal science," his ideas of how scientists move from disdain through doubt to acceptance of a new theory, his stress on social and psychological factors in science--all have had profound effects on historians, scientists, philosophers, critics, writers, business gurus, and even the cartoonist in the street.

Some scientists (such as Steven Weinberg and Ernst Mayr) are profoundly irritated by Kuhn, especially by the doubts he casts--or the way his work has been used to cast doubt--on the idea of scientific progress. Yet it has been said that the acceptance of plate tectonics in the 1960s, for instance, was sped by geologists' reluctance to be on the downside of a paradigm shift. Even Weinberg has said that "Structure has had a wider influence than any other book on the history of science." As one of Kuhn's obituaries noted, "We all live in a post-Kuhnian age." --Mary Ellen Curtin


Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996) argued that scientific advancement is not evolutionary, but rather is a "series of peaceful interludes punctuated by intellectually violent revolutions", and in those revolutions "one conceptual world view is replaced by another". The University of Chicago Press has released The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions to the benefit of all students of the history of science, philosophy, and the impact of science on society (and society on the development of science). If every there were a true classic on the history and development of science that is "must" reading for each new generation, it is Kuhn's benchmark work, The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions. -- Midwest Book Review

Product Details

  • Paperback: 226 pages
  • Publisher: The University of Chicago Press; 3rd edition (December 15, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226458083
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226458083
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.2 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (174 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,728 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
156 of 172 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Myth of Linear Progression November 1, 2001
I'm not sure if it is still the case, but there was a time when Kuhn's book was _the_ most frequently cited book in scientific literature. With all respect to my fellow reviewers, it might be a tad bit arrogant to dismiss such a book as "puerile."
Before Kuhn, we were taught in school that scientific progress was linear, that it was an unending progression of refinements and developments, with one "truth" leading to the next "truth." Kuhn's insights including pointing out that such a linear progression was mostly a lie. His thesis was that the major developments in science were mostly revolutionary. That some "truths" turned out to be false. Astronomy was revolutionized by Galielo and Copernicus, and man was divested from the center of the universe. Physics was revolutionized by Newton. Biology and Darwin. It didn't hurt that plate tectonics came along shortly after Kuhn published, and Kuhn looked like his model was predictive, too.
Part of Kuhn's impact, I have to admit, was a result of the time which the book was first published. In the middle and late 1960's, questioning authority was the heart of any undergraduate's thinking, and Kuhn's ideas were read by some as a license to question all authority.
Perhaps as a consequence, Kuhn's model has been carried by other writers beyond all reason, with everyone from sociologists to New Age fuzzies usurping his terminology, making "paradigm shift" a nearly instant cliche. But his influence has gone far beyond those who want to mis-apply his ideas to everything from post-modern dance to sociobiology. Uniformitarianism has been bloodied, perhaps permanently. By geologists, evolutionists, archaeologists and more; the influence has been pervasive and real.
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336 of 385 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The two Kuhns August 12, 2001
Thomas Kuhn performed a signal service for historiography of science by studying how new ideas and new ways of thinking displace the old. He invented the term 'paradigm shift' to describe what happens when 'normal science' runs into 'anomalies' and enters a 'crisis', which in turn leads to a 'scientific revolution'. Nobody had heard of such things before, so Kuhn had a scoop. He sketched some historical examples in iconoclastic style; the result is this short book, first published forty years ago and still wowing Cultural Studies students today.

Much of what Kuhn the historian of science says here is sensible and well taken. It has certainly been influential, perhaps in ways the author never intended, and should be read for that reason. But there are odd omissions. The greatest paradigm shift in physics since Newton - the adoption of fully-fledged quantum mechanics after 1925 - finds no significant place in this study. Eminent physicists, including Einstein, and even Schrodinger, one of its founders, regarded the new paradigm with deep distaste on aesthetic and philosophical grounds. Yet the methodology was adopted universally almost at once. What sociological factors, what structures of power and patronage brought this about? We are not told.

It is when Kuhn puts on his philosopher-of-science hat and tells us about the 'incommensurability of paradigms' that we should question what he means, and more especially what some people have read into it. The idea is that Archimedes or Aristotle, encapsulated in their ancient world-view, would have been unable to see what Newton was getting at in his 'Principia'; and likewise Newton if you gave him a copy of Dirac's 'Quantum Mechanics'.
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48 of 52 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant April 25, 1997
By A Customer
Kuhn, doesn't need any more appreciation (at least not from me), and there's more than enough in the other reviews, so what I'll try to provide is a brief synopsis of how the book outlines Kuhn's radical theory.In many ways, the theory is still radical, because people still want to believe that science marks progress, and moves unerringly from one theory to the next, better one. What Kuhn did, was decimate the idea that the 'progress' of science was a steady movement towards the truth, and the never articulated preconception that the "truth" itself (or if you prefer the better theory) was self-evident and would be recognized on sight.Illustrated with hilarious examples of the manner in which the most scientific of all sciences, Physics, has floundered about over the centuries, the book makes its point very forcefully. There is no science disembodied from scientists, there is no scientific theory that is not profoundly influenced by the scientific and social milieu it finds itself in. Kuhn isn't saying science is completely divorced from "reality" or "truth", the Structure of Scientific Revolutions just looks very closely at major and minor scientific "advances" of hte previous centuries and finds no evidence that suggest the dynamic of scientific progress is smooth.
Kuhn was a physicist, but gave that up to work in History of Science. This book is rather compact for a text that would so radically alter its entire discipline (and many others besides), but that is probably what gives it the broad appeal it has. It's not a "difficult" book, nor is it unduly academic. It's certainly not going to be a cake-walk, Kuhn's conception is sufficiently strange to make demands on the reader (as is his language).
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Don't ever buy this book unless you must for a course
This book is quite painful, especially for those not active in the scientific community. It was a requirement for a course I took. Stay away at all costs!
Published 20 days ago by doublehelix
4.0 out of 5 stars Important work, could have been better written.
I'm giving this 4 stars on the 1) comprehensiveness of the research 2) the importance of the work and 3) the relevance to my own epistemology. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Daniel A.
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read: whether you're a scientist or not
This book is a very difficult read, and worth the effort. More learned people than I will review the contents of this book. I will give a more personal account. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mark Sirinides
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is a paradigm, just read it!
I am not sure if Kuhn was trying to be funny when he observed that people go into the sciences "to feel useful" and because they like challenging puzzles ("they demand... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Eunlee08
4.0 out of 5 stars Helpful
The book is full of good information. I recommend purchasing if there is an urge to gaining a deeper understanding. Was very helpful for me.
Published 3 months ago by PhD Leaner
5.0 out of 5 stars as an architect who designs for science this was a Life Changing Book,
The most comprehensive book in history, not only about science but the whole system of the universe. recommended for graduate students
Published 5 months ago by Maryam
5.0 out of 5 stars Good read
Some of the concepts are easy to understand, while some are rather hard to grasp that I had to stop and reread a couple of times. Read more
Published 6 months ago by anstha
5.0 out of 5 stars Paradigm !
Great book for a young person to learn about the history when 'technology' was not a household term. Now I know where the term came from !
Published 8 months ago by yeuchi
4.0 out of 5 stars Normal Science vs. Paradigm Shift
Thomas Kuhn, through the concept of paradigm shift, has demythologized science as an accumulation of knowledge through smooth progress. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Leonard Seet
2.0 out of 5 stars Item not as described, appears to be from Public Library with all...
The book arrived quickly, however it appears to be from a Public Library on the East coast as it has all the markings and stickers from the Library on it. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Sam Malik
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