The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
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This book has 3 recommendations
Mark Zuckerberg (CEO/Facebook)It's a history of science book that explores the question of whether science and technology make consistent forward progress or whether progress comes in bursts related to other social forces. I tend to think that science is a consistent force for good in the world. I think we'd all be better off if we invested more in science and acted on the results of research. I'm excited to explore this theme further.
Andra Zaharia (Freelance Content Marketer/The Content Habit)I’ve gone through quite a few experiences brought on or shaped by what I’ve learned from books. A particularly unexpected one happened in college when our public relations teacher asked us to read a book called The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. As a humanities student, you can imagine that I wasn’t thrilled I’d have to read a book on science, but what followed blew my mind at the time. In the book, Kuhn argues that human knowledge does not accumulate incrementally, but increases in leaps, through paradigm shifts which are brought on by crises and scientific revolutions. This was one of the first books that prompted me to think about how I want to evolve in the context of all the fast-paced changes happening around me.
Tim O'Reilly (Founder/O'Reilly Media)The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, by Thomas Kuhn. Kuhn introduced the term "paradigm shift" to describe the changeover from Ptolemaic to Copernican astronomy. But the book is far more than a classic in the history of science. It's also a book that emphasizes how what we already believe shapes what we see, what we allow ourselves to think. I've always tried to separate seeing itself from the stories I tell myself about what I see. Pattern recognition is impeded if you are trying to overlay an existing pattern on the facts rather than letting the facts sit quietly until they tell their own story. That's General Semantics again.
A good book may have the power to change the way we see the world, but a great book actually becomes part of our daily consciousness, pervading our thinking to the point that we take it for granted, and we forget how provocative and challenging its ideas once were—and still are. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is that kind of book. When it was first published in 1962, it was a landmark event in the history and philosophy of science. Fifty years later, it still has many lessons to teach.
With The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Kuhn challenged long-standing linear notions of scientific progress, arguing that transformative ideas don’t arise from the day-to-day, gradual process of experimentation and data accumulation but that the revolutions in science, those breakthrough moments that disrupt accepted thinking and offer unanticipated ideas, occur outside of “normal science,” as he called it. Though Kuhn was writing when physics ruled the sciences, his ideas on how scientific revolutions bring order to the anomalies that amass over time in research experiments are still instructive in our biotech age.
This new edition of Kuhn’s essential work in the history of science includes an insightful introduction by Ian Hacking, which clarifies terms popularized by Kuhn, including paradigm and incommensurability, and applies Kuhn’s ideas to the science of today. Usefully keyed to the separate sections of the book, Hacking’s introduction provides important background information as well as a contemporary context. Newly designed, with an expanded index, this edition will be eagerly welcomed by the next generation of readers seeking to understand the history of our perspectives on science.
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