- Paperback: 212 pages
- Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 3rd edition (December 15, 1996)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0226458083
- ISBN-13: 978-0226458083
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (205 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #64,220 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Structure of Scientific Revolutions 3rd Edition
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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
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Top Customer Reviews
This most recent purchase of "Stricture" is a gift for a young seminarian who's first grade daughter happens to be my student the Sunday School class which I teach.
Only for people who dig science in depth, and philosophy
The book is relatively small, which means you might think it's an easy and quick read. You'd be wrong. Kuhn's book is dense with information and thoughtful presentation, which makes it challenging to sail through quickly. However, I felt that was also one of its strong points; it forced me to work through the book and really think about what I was reading. If you're looking for fluff and pablum; look elsewhere.
So, what's the book about? As has been stated elsewhere, Kuhn's premise is that scientific progress isn't what it's typically made out to be. Generally, such as in most of my high school presentations, science is portrayed as a steadily moving river; progressing inevitably from one port of discovery to the next. Kuhn's book set that perspective on it's ear, by stating that science progresses relatively seamlessly until it gets near the edges of understanding, where it then begins fragmenting into a variety of perspectives and viewpoints. Eventually, a fundmental [paradigm] shift occurs which completely changes the world-view of that science (and which often creates an academic war to go with it). Once the dust has settled, revisionist history takes over, and we romanticize the struggle that our understanding went through in that period of growth and change.
Kuhn presents all this in a logical fashion, strengthing his argument via both a well-thought-out approach and a variety of supporting anecdotes. In particular, he doesn't rely too heavily on the Copernican revolution, which seems to be the only argument that others can present on scientific revolution. That alone contributes perhaps most heavily to the value of the argument.
So what has this got to do with change management? I worked as a management consultant for a few years, all before I read this book. Upon reading it, I was hit with the most blinding flash of the obvious; a lot of what I saw empirically in the business world echoed the issues of scientific paradigm shift that Kuhn so eloquently presented in this text. If your work involves any change to an organization; you -have- to read this book. It communicates, better than any book I've read on the subject, what's happening and why in the midst of change. The title may say "Scientific Revolutions," but the applicability is across the board. Buy it and read it.