Re: Kuhn, was Re: new to list

From: Mike Lorrey (
Date: Wed Aug 29 2001 - 10:57:56 MDT

Lee Corbin wrote:
> I agree with your "reading of Kuhn that it takes time for people
> to accept...", but Kuhn minimalize the importance of physical
> reality on our theories: Here is what Steven Weinberg says about
> Kuhn in this context:
> "In his celebrated book...Kuhn went a step further and argued that in scientific
> revolutions the standards by which scientists judge theories change, so that the new
> theories simply cannot be judged by the pre-Revolutionary standards. There is much in
> Kuhn's book that fits my [Weinberg's] own experience in science. But in the last chapter
> Kuhn tentatively attacked the view that science makes progress toward objective truths:
> "We may, to be more precise, have to relinquish the notion, explicit or implicit, that
> changes of paradigm carry scientists and those who learn from them closer and closer to
> the truth." Kuhn's book lately seems to have become read (or at least quoted) as a
> manifesto for a general attack on the presumed objectivity of science."
> I thought S.W. said more; but in any case, that explains where Mike
> was coming from, because what Kuhn is saying, even if he didn't mean
> to, is that the theories are changing just due to people and societies.

Thank you, Lee. I don't have my Kuhn handy (currently living out of a
suitcase at my parents' while I'm unemployed) to contest others, but
this is, to me, a most important conclusion of his, which others have
picked up on. I've also read reviews of Kuhn by others who were with him
at Harvard at the time he wrote these works, that have generally
concluded that Kuhn posessed the common lay left winger opinion that
scientists are simply bottle washers and bean counters who are
politically active, and that science is as much propaganda as art is.

While I'm sure that Kuhn has something positive to say about the
progress of science, but his work has to be filtered by the fact that he
was as much victimized by Marxist theology as other members of the elite
western intelligentsia in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.

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