The Structure of Scientific Revolutions


Thomas S. Kuhn

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Structure of Scientific Revolutions can help.
Aristotle was an ancient Greek philosopher who lived and worked in the 4th century B.C.E. His writing impacted innumerable fields of study, from ethics to zoology, but Kuhn is most interested in Aristotle’s work on motion. Aristotle believed that objects were made up of four elements: air, fire, earth and water. Objects’ motion, he believed, was the determined by the innate properties of the elements inside of them (so, for example, an object made of air would fall slower than an object made of fire). His theories of motion, known as Aristotelian physics, were later thrown into question by Galileo.

Aristotle Quotes in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

The The Structure of Scientific Revolutions quotes below are all either spoken by Aristotle or refer to Aristotle. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Linear Progress vs. Circular History Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the University of Chicago Press edition of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions published in 2012.
Chapter 8 Quotes

The marks on paper that were first seen as a bird are now seen as an antelope, or vice versa. That parallel can be misleading. […] the scientist does not preserve the gestalt subject’s freedom to switch back and forth between ways of seeing. Nevertheless, the switch of gestalt, particularly because it is today so familiar, is a useful elementary prototype for what occurs in full-scale paradigm shift.

Related Characters: Thomas Kuhn (speaker), Aristotle, Galileo Galilei
Related Symbols: Bird/Antelope
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 9 Quotes

What occurred was neither a decline nor a raising of standards, but simply a change demanded by the adoption of a new paradigm. Furthermore, that change has since been reversed and could be again. In the twentieth century Einstein succeeded in explaining gravitational attractions, and that explanation has returned science to a set of canons and problems that are, in this particular respect, more like those of Newton’s predecessors than of his successors.

Page Number: 108
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 12 Quotes

These examples point to the third and most fundamental aspect of the incommensurability of competing paradigms. In a sense that I am unable to explicate further, the proponents of competing paradigms practice their trades in different worlds. One contains constrained bodies that fall slowly, the other pendulums that repeat their motions again and again. In one, solutions are compounds, in the other mixtures. One is embedded in a flat, the other in a curved, matrix of space.

Page Number: 150
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Structure of Scientific Revolutions LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions PDF

Aristotle Character Timeline in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

The timeline below shows where the character Aristotle appears in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 9. The Nature and Necessity of Scientific Revolutions
Linear Progress vs. Circular History Theme Icon
...ancient Greek belief that physical objects had innate natures. This idea had been popularized by Aristotle, but by the 1700s, Descartes’s idea of moving bodies (his “mechanico-corpuscular” view of nature) had... (full context)
Chapter 10. Revolutions as Changes of World View
Perception and Truth Theme Icon
Intuition and Emotion Theme Icon
Normal Science vs. Extraordinary Science Theme Icon
The most dramatic example of this shift in perception occurred with Galileo. Aristotle explained the pendulum by saying that heavy objects naturally fall, and the object at the... (full context)