July 18, 2009
A self-described “physicist turned historian for philosophical purposes,” THOMAS KUHN (1922-96) was largely an autodidact in his eventual home — the then-new field of the history of science. With his scattershot academic background, it seems only appropriate that his major work, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), became a cynosure for intellectuals from all fields for several decades. Kuhn inspired calumny from fellow scientists for arguing that every scientific paradigm is eventually replaced by a new paradigm that’s no closer to “truth.” Although humanist-baiter Alan Sokal has laid the blame for the Science Wars at his feet (because, for Kuhn, science was “fundamentally a social undertaking,” as one of his followers paraphrased him), Kuhn rejected the anti-scientific rants of the cultural leftists as vehemently as he skewered the scientific theism of the positivists. He was an intellectual evolutionist — in his view only those theories that best suited the problems of the time would develop and thrive — and a heretic in what we can now recognize as a religious war.
On his or her birthday, HiLobrow irregularly pays tribute to one of our high-, low-, no-, or hilobrow heroes. Also born this date: | M.I.A. | Screamin Jay Hawkins | Hunter S. Thompson |
READ MORE about members of the New Gods Generation (1914-23).