Ryan Murphy is rightfully impressed by a passage from Kuhn that I actually had in mind this morning when writing this comment about Newton on a Jonathan Catalan post.
Murphy writes: "Kuhn says a bunch of novel things in the book. Like so many others, there are many subtleties in the book that you don’t get by reading the “Whig” summary of Kuhn’s ideas."
I think that's exactly right, and I think the degree of this in Structure of Scientific Revolutions is much higher than in your average book. On my less charitable days, I say that those who consider Kuhn a relativist have clearly never actually read him. But that's probably unfair, because as Ryan points out there is a lot of subtlety to the argument. It's probably better to say "those who consider Kuhn a relativist have clearly never read Kuhn carefully".
I still feel lost in Ryan's discussions of essentialism (although I think I agree with him). That's his interest in this passage. It's just like Gene Callahan's discussions of idealism, although in those I feel lost and I don't know where I fall. I probably should have taken a philosophy class or two at some point. The nice thing about getting attached to the American Pragmatists is I can convince myself it's OK that I never did.
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