Kuhn’s Paradigmatic Thought

Yoram Hazony’s latest is excellent. It’s well worth reading in its entirety, regardless of whether it makes you cheer or sneer, but of particular relevance to this blog is section II.

In assessing the impact of Thomas Kuhn’s highly influential The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, Hazony provides about as good a summary of the problem of factpinions as I’ve come across. The winning quote goes to Kuhn himself:

The proponents of competing paradigms are always at least slightly at cross-purposes. Neither side will grant all the non-empirical assumptions that the other needs in order to make its case…. [Thus while] each may hope to convert the other to his way of seeing…, neither may hope to prove his case. The competition between paradigms is not the sort of battle that can be resolved by proofs.

For some very bad reasons, paradigmatic thought repeatedly trumps intellectual honesty – not in principle but in practice. I would add that while bias has existed forever, recent years have seen a regression in the stature of facts in thought, and in the decision-making process. Not only are facts frequently misinterpreted, today they are often ignored or completely misunderstood, attacked as though they were synonymous with ideology. In such an atmosphere, factpinions manage to become both the dominant currency and the black market in the exchange of ideas.

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2 thoughts on “Kuhn’s Paradigmatic Thought

  1. it seems like you are fighting a losing battle here.
    Kuhn speaks of human nature throughout history, not on a previous trend.

    • Miko.

      First of all – love the name. It perfectly fits your personality. ;P

      I’m only fighting a losing battle if it’s my goal to change human nature. I believe that *some* people out there can benefit from being aware of these biases, and tempering their expectations when it comes to debate – because we are talking about people…

      Step one is simply to be aware that, as you say, this is human nature. At that point, some people will shrug and say, “nu, what can you do.” Others will argue even harder. For whatever reason, I opened a blog. 🙂

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