Kuhn’s Defense

Kuhn’s defense against the accusation that he cheapens theory change to the level of mob psychology exposes his peculiar perspective on paradigm shift. He bases his defense on the fact that paradigms or theories are essentially closed systems. The thrust of his argument is that proponents of different paradigms can never agree on the basic rules of engagement. In other words, there is never a middle ground between the contesting parties. Loyalists of the different paradigms can only perceive reality within the narrow boundaries that are defined by their respective paradigms. Kuhn borrows the example of people speaking different languages to illustrate the fundamental difficulty that disabled the communication between people of two different paradigms.

Therefore, it might be argued that Kuhn defense is an active attempt to dissolve the hierarchy that exists between old and new systems of ideas. The point that he attempts to make in his arguments is that old ideas might not be necessarily obsolete, and new ideas may not be essentially grand. My assessment of this position is that Kuhn may have adopted this position to advocate for the universalism of knowledge by discouraging the development of closed systems. It is important to note that the Kuhn’s point of view generally contests the Hegelian conception of development that begins from a weaker thesis towards a strong synthesis along the path of progress.

My own assessment of Kuhn’s point of view is somewhat equivocal. The reason for this is that while this debate unsettles some traditions that impose merit according to the age of an idea, it tends nevertheless to ignore the historic possibility of development. The caveat should be that Kuhn’s opinions should be limited within specific contexts. They can only apply within certain situations and conditions especially those that celebrate the developmental process of ideas, things, and processes. The potency of his argument lies in its ability to challenge the place of science in the universe. His statements imply that the external world operates by its own principles that may be beyond the comprehension of scientific systems. He adds that the world itself is not affected by the different paradigms that attempt to interpret its forms and substance.

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