George Johnson’s superb book explores the method behind some of science’s most dazzling discoveries – from the exquisite ingenuity of Galileo’s experiments on acceleration, to Newton’s fearless use of needles to understand vision.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
Introduced by Ian Hacking
Foreword by Marcus du Sautoy
Published with a new foreword and vivid photography, Thomas S. Kuhn’s book is a cultural icon that changed how we think about the scientific revolutions of Newton, Darwin, Einstein and others.
Great books are rare. This is one. Read it and you’ll see.
- Introduction to the 50th anniversary edition by Ian Hacking
First published in 1962, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions transformed the world of science. In his landmark book, Kuhn challenged the long-standing belief that the great ideas of science emerge from a gradual process of experimentation and accumulated knowledge. His radical theory claimed just the opposite, that revolutions appear as explosive ‘paradigm shifts’ in thought: breakthroughs that sweep away old assumptions for ever. He illustrated his powerful argument with great turning points such as the Copernican revolution, Lavoisier’s discovery of oxygen, Einstein’s overthrowing of Newtonian physics and Darwin’s theory of evolution, taking the reader on an epic adventure through the history and workings of science. The Folio edition opens with a new foreword by the Oxford mathematician Marcus du Sautoy. It includes integrated black-and-white images of scientists’ notebooks and historic experiments, as well as colour paintings of scientists at work, pioneering X-ray photographs and representations of the cosmos.
Quarter bound in blocked cloth with printed paper sides
Set in Haarlemmer with Century Gothic as display
12 pages of colour plates, plus 9 integrated black & white scientific illustrations
A REVOLUTIONARY ACCOUNT OF SCIENCE
Scientific revolutions are inaugurated by a growing sense... that an existing paradigm has ceased to function adequately in the exploration of an aspect of nature to which that paradigm itself had previously led the way.
The Folio edition’s newly commissioned foreword offers a lively personal impression of the book. Marcus du Sautoy, both a practising mathematician and an eminent science communicator, discusses how its ideas have informed his own work, and how they have been borne out in the advances of recent decades. The book also retains philosopher of science Ian Hacking’s essay from the 2012 edition, which deals deftly with the challenges to Kuhn’s theories during the book’s first half-century in print.
Both writers agree that after selling more than a million copies and becoming one of the most cited works of all time, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is unlikely to lose its status as a milestone in science writing. It’s a sentiment best expressed in the scientific journal Nature, on the book’s 50th anniversary: ‘We need hardly agree with each of Kuhn’s propositions to enjoy – and benefit from – this classic book.’
‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions did a gestalt flip on just about every assumption about the who, how, and what of scientific progress... The book still vibrates our culture’s walls like a trumpet call.’
- Chronicle of Higher Education
About Thomas S. Kuhn
Thomas S. Kuhn (1922–1996) was a philosopher of science whose ideas about the progress of knowledge found their classic expression in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962), which has become one of the most cited academic books of all time. Kuhn trained as a physicist at Harvard in the 1940s, and in the latter part of the Second World War he contributed to the development of radar technology. During a postdoctoral research fellowship at Harvard Kuhn began studying the history and philosophy of science, for which he would become famous. A course he taught there gave him the first systematic chance to work on the development of scientific thought since Aristotle. He later taught at the University of California, Berkeley; Princeton University; and, until his retirement in 1991, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Philosophy. Among the honors received by Kuhn in his lifetime were the George Sarton Medal of the History of Science Society (in 1982) and a Guggenheim Fellowship (in 1954). His other books include The Copernican Revolution (1957) and Black-Body Theory and the Quantum Discontinuity (1987), but it is the present book for which he has always been best known.
About Ian Hacking
Ian Hacking is University Professor Emeritus in the Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto, and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. He received his BA degree from the University of British Columbia and MA and PhD from the University of Cambridge. His books include The Emergence of Probability (1975), Scientific Revolutions (1990), and, most recently, Why Is There Philosophy of Mathematics at All? (2014). During a distinguished fifty-year career as a researcher and teacher, Hacking’s work on how statistics and probability have shaped society won numerous awards, including the Killam Prize, which is awarded to active Canadian scholars who have made a remarkable contribution to their field.
About Marcus du Sautoy
Marcus du Sautoy OBE is Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science at the University of Oxford, where he is also Professor of Mathematics and a Fellow of New College. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a past recipient of the Faraday Prize, which is awarded by the Society for excellence in communicating science. His books include The Music of the Primes (2003), What We Cannot Know (2016), and The Creativity Code (2019).
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