The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Background

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Background

Thomas Kuhn was an American physicist born on July 18, 1922 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was raised in a family that strongly valued science considering his father was an engineer and instilled in him a passion for the subject. After graduating from The Taft School, a private school in Connecticut, he attended Harvard University to study physics. To support himself, Kuhn taught as a professor at various universities, including Harvard, UC Berkeley, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Princeton. His foray into novel writing began with the publication of his first book, The Copernican Revolution (1957), which explored scientific theory during the Renaissance.

In 1962, Kuhn released his second book entitled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. It discusses the history of scientific thought and how developing theories are altered over time. For example, he references the Ptolemaic system, a model of the Solar System in which the Earth is at the center. It was not until the Copernican Revolution of the 16th century that more people started to accept the Heliocentric model that put the sun at the center of the universe. Kuhn asserts that these watershed moments in science history only occur when individuals challenge what is commonly accepted by society.

Upon its publication, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was not an immediate bestseller, but over the years, it has sold over 1.4 million copies globally. Writer Scott London praised Kuhn for “shattering our conventional way of looking at change” and “representing perhaps the best thinking on how transformation happens, who drives it, why it’s so vehemently resisted, and what it really asks of people.” Thus, Kuhn’s novel remains as one of the best studies of scientific philosophy to this day.

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