The Perihelion Effect

Thomas S. Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions

The fact that such anomalies emerge in several places at approximately the same time, signals the need of paradigm change and the impending revolution. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the Kuhnian theory of science and scientific advance is his model of social repercussion after a scientific revolution. The shift of world vision is that social effect, and Kuhn suggests that such revolutions necessitate such re-orientations. But how far does such a revision extend into the non-scientific realm? Kuhn asks “Do we really see different things when looking at objects (in the wake of scientific revolution) ?” Kuhn suggests that such answers are both pressing and important. In fact the final conclusion of this point is a direct result of his total commitment to the notion of paradigm. Kuhn states the the structure of the paradigm itself obscures as much reality as it exposes. When the theory of oxygen was ultimately formulated, it ruled out a great deal of opposing methods and explanations of phenomena. Thus Kuhn believes that with such standardization of theory, the world view given the existing phenomena, all facts and observations fall within the limitations of the paradigm. Kuhn is also more than willing to address the notion of scientific progress. The Kuhnian idea of progress is itself worthy of an essay. Kuhn suggests that progress in science is the ability to explain phenomena more and more comprehensively. If theory can be revised so that such phenomena can be explained by it, and if a society can take such explanations as revisions of its existent world view, there can be no other choice but to regard this as progress. Kuhn, however, does not see the “goal” of science to understand nature in its entirety. Such an expectation runs counter to the entire ideal of paradigm. For as is explained above, science is simply a formulation of an explanation. It is not the explanation. Kuhn looks down on such narrow minded evolutionary theory as naive. Science cannot predict its direction discoveries nor there for its ultimate form. Kuhn seems to feel that there is no single answer to nature. Furthermore, no formulation is “better” than another, no paradigm superior in and of itself. Rather such explanations must be seen in the context of adequately accounting for the phenomena as it is presently understood. Kuhn’s culturally relative position seems a good one, since it preserves both a notion of progress (one which he suggests western culture seeks to preserve), and gives respectability to antecedent beliefs about science and the cosmos which it attempts explanation of.