The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

by

Thomas S. Kuhn

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Isaac Newton Character Analysis

Though he is best known for his contributions to physics, 17th-century British scientist Isaac Newton also dabbled in astronomy, theology, and other fields of study. Kuhn is largely interested in Newton’s study of gravity, which moved physics away from the Cartesian model. Kuhn also discusses Newton’s desire to link math and motion, which Newton encoded in his treatise Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy (also called the Principia).

Isaac Newton Quotes in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

The The Structure of Scientific Revolutions quotes below are all either spoken by Isaac Newton or refer to Isaac Newton. 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:
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). 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 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:
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Isaac Newton Character Timeline in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

The timeline below shows where the character Isaac Newton appears in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1. Introduction: A Role for History
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...throughout history. Several of the most well-known revolutions are associated with scientists Nicolaus Copernicus, Isaac Newton, Antoine Lavoisier, and Albert Einstein. However, Kuhn believes that many less famous scientific revolutions are... (full context)
Chapter 3. The Nature of Normal Science
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...of the paradigm’s first major discovery (what Kuhn calls “reformulating the paradigm”). For instance, when Newton’s theories about planets’ rotation neglected the gravitational force that planets exert on one another, many... (full context)
Chapter 4. Normal Science as Puzzle-solving
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...most obvious kind of rule in a paradigm is the explicit laws associated with it: Newton’s laws, for instance, or the laws of thermodynamics.  (full context)
Chapter 7. Crisis and the Emergence of Scientific Theories
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...cites an example from physics. As early as 1815, scientists were struggling to prove Isaac Newton’s ideas that light is merely mechanical wave motion. But rather than paying attention to this... (full context)
Chapter 9. The Nature and Necessity of Scientific Revolutions
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At the same time, old paradigms still offer important answers. This is true both of Newtonian physics, which is still widely respected, and of phlogiston chemistry, which is now mostly scoffed... (full context)
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As an example, Kuhn explains that some people believe Newton’s laws can be derived from Einstein’s. However, Kuhn notes that Einstein has a different view... (full context)
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...of nature) had taken its place. Many people viewed anything innate as “occult” and disreputable—until Newton published his Principia, which argued that gravity was an innate force. As the Principia became... (full context)
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...of their guiding theory; ignoring gravity allowed them to make other valuable discoveries. And though Newton would make sense of gravity, centuries later, Einstein’s work with relativity would return to something... (full context)
Chapter 11. The Invisibility of Revolutions
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...justifying their own paradigms, even some scientists themselves participate in this historical erasure. For example, Newton credits Galileo with discovering gravity in a Newtonian way, when in fact Galileo belonged to... (full context)
Chapter 12. The Resolution of Revolutions
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...Moreover, each paradigm tries to “banish” questions that the other ones hold dear. For example, Newton claimed it was unimportant to understand why certain attractive forces existed; Einstein’s relativity tried, above... (full context)