Saturday, December 15, 2007

Kuhn Correspondence Intro.

In February 1994 I sent Thomas Kuhn the following letter with a copy of an article, ‘On Misunderstanding Science’ which subsequently became chapter 11 of my book: Philosophy and Mystification. His generous response to the letter and to the article began a correspondence which lasted until his death in 1996.
Since I first read The Structure of Scientific Revolutions shortly after it appeared I regarded Tom Kuhn as having opened up a whole new perspective on the sciences which made it possible to see how the attempts to produce logical or metaphysical models of scientific reasoning and development were incapable of producing genuine understanding of how the sciences and the scientists actually worked and developed, or even of providing a model for the scientists to use as a guide or against which to be judged. Starting from a concrete and practical background in the sciences, Kuhn was able to turn his back on the long tradition of attempting to make the sciences into a kind of ‘theology of the real’ and to see them as a historical, practical human enterprise. This revolutionary change of perspective produced a great many misunderstandings and misrepresentations of his view which I tried in my piece to address.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for publishing this!

Your comments, and some of those of Kuhn's, seem to me to represent the way I see things too.

Except, I go further, and trace mystification (and thus philosophical nonsense) back to the Greeks (in the West), applying Marx's conception that the ruling ideas are always those of the ruling class, even if they appear in a different form in each Mode of Production.

Anonymous said...

If it is true that "the ruling ideas are always those of the ruling class," then it is extremely important that we have a way of identifying classes. There must be a clear and distinct demarcation between classes if we are to talk about them at all. What is the name and essence of each class today? Do we still have an aristocracy or a proletariat? For instance, what is the class of a home-owning member of the United Auto Workers?

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for sharing your correspondence and the wonderful work 'Philosophy and Mystification' which I am currently engrossed by.
I see a battle of the discourses ongoing at present with the battle lines drawn through seemingly unrelated issues.
Much of the arguments,such as the free will argument seem to me,perhaps naively,to be incoherent and as unfalsifiable,unscientific.(as well as many of the determinist advocates falling under 'exo logos')
The rationalist discourse also seems unable to looses its dualist inheritance,as spiritual mysticism makes its inevitable come back under the guise of quantum/relativity/the immortal self model.
Well these are a few of my no doubt naive ideas.
Thank you again for the wonderful work!