An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 4

The following is an attempt to interpret Thomas Kuhn’s ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ using the framework of a discipline which is eclectic, pragmatic and empirical in approach. The starting point of this interpretation is a review of ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ which the reader will find via the link in the Appendix. This third part is a response to Chapter 3 of Thomas Kuhn’s ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’. In this chapter, Kuhn focuses on the nature of normal science.

In moving from a specific science to an eclectic science whose community interacts with many other scientific communities, Kuhn’s conclusions imply that the eclectic scientific community will have a limited role in the normal science of these other scientific communities. However they can play a more influential role in the revolutionary period marking paradigm changes although the conditions under which this occurs are not specified. However in building up a more accurate picture of the complexities of nature, the eclectic scientist must work with a multimodal model with each component sitting within a different community. Whilst a single model may enable a single community to work within relatively controlled conditions, a better approximation to nature through multimodal models necessitates a transition from controlled conditions to increasing boundaries of uncertainty.

This transition necessitates an understanding of the scientific community as well as the need to understand other scientific communities and to be able to build a valid bridge between the central paradigms. This is the crux of the problem. Can an essence of the paradigm within a community be abstracted and integrated with the essence of another paradigm or are the paradigms inherent within the scientific communities.

The question raises three possible answers. Firstly that the paradigms of different communities are incommensurable which Kuhn suggested was true of paradigms within a community at a time of revolutionary science. The second possibility is that the paradigms are reconcilable but they require an integration of the abstracted essences of these paradigms. The third possibility is also that they are reconcilable but are embedded within the communities and any reconciliation will result from communication between communities and perhaps even the development of a specialised interface language.

Appendix

Review of Chapter 3 of ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ (see also below)

In Chapter 3 of Thomas Kuhn’s ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ he focuses on the ‘nature of normal science’ and interestingly gives due consideration both to qualitative and quantitative approaches.  The core essence of this chapter lies in three tenets:

1. That ‘normal science’ within a paradigm establishes significant facts

2. That ‘normal science’ attempts to relate facts to theory

3. That ‘normal science’ aims to expand upon theory

These key features of Kuhn’s concept of ‘normal science’ also pre-empt his later discussion of scientific revolutions. What is also interesting about this chapter is that Kuhn again relates scientific paradigms to social structures within the scientific community. For example a successful paradigm will address some of the acute problems faced by the scientific community. Kuhn also makes a point about the complexity of nature being made to ‘fit’ into the relatively rigid structure of a paradigm. While on the subject it is also tempting to apply the same argument to Kuhn’s approach to paradigms in the sense that this is a generalisation about quite complex activities in a vast range of different sciences. This in itself deserves further reflection as it would mean that the concepts of paradigms, normal science and revolutionary science can be subject to the same iterative process he suggests to apply to science itself although strictly speaking this is philosophy. Kuhn has some interesting comments about those that do not work in paradigms and how such scientists are generally ignored by the scientific community unless they are part of a revolutionary movement. As with previous chapters Kuhn offers the reader much to reflect on.

Related Resources on the TAWOP Site

A Review of the Structure of Scientific Revolutions

An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 1

An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 2

An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 3

Index: There are indices for the TAWOP site here and here Twitter: You can follow ‘The Amazing World of Psychiatry’ Twitter by clicking on this link. Podcast: You can listen to this post on Odiogo by clicking on this link (there may be a small delay between publishing of the blog article and the availability of the podcast). It is available for a limited period. TAWOP Channel: You can follow the TAWOP Channel on YouTube by clicking on this link. Responses: If you have any comments, you can leave them below or alternatively e-mail justinmarley17@yahoo.co.uk. Disclaimer: The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.

17 thoughts on “An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 4

  1. Pingback: An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 5 « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

  2. Pingback: An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 6 « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

  3. Pingback: Doing Science 4.0. Deconstructing Web 2.0. Rich User Experiences « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

  4. Pingback: An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 7 – A Discussion of the Anomaly and Beyond « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

  5. Pingback: Towards a Definition of Psychiatry 2.0 « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

  6. Pingback: Are We Witnessing a Scientific Revolution? The Discovery of a Higgs boson-like Particle at CERN « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

  7. Pingback: Do We Need A Crisis in Science For A Revolution to Occur? – An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 8 « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

  8. Pingback: What is the Effect of a Scientific Crisis in Neuroscience? An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 9 « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

  9. Pingback: Has Neuroscience Been Undergoing a Limited Political Revolution Rather Than A Scientific Revolution? An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 10 « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

  10. Pingback: Is Neuroscience a Collection of Neuroscience Memes?: An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 10 « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

  11. Pingback: What Would An Accurate Historical Narrative of Neuroscience Look Like? An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 12 « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

  12. Pingback: Is Criticism Within Neuroscience Sufficient for a Revolution? An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 13 « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

  13. Pingback: Is A Historical Narrative Central to the Development of Neuroscience? An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions – Part 13 « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

  14. Pingback: A Short Biography of Thomas Kuhn « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

  15. Pingback: Integration in Neuroscience: A Core Problem – Part 2 « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

  16. Pingback: Integration in Neuroscience: A Core Problem – Part 3 « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

  17. Pingback: An Interpretation of Scientific Revolutions « The Amazing World of Psychiatry: A Psychiatry Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s