— Paradigm Shift —

An immodest proposal, in regards to Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions By Patrick McEvoy-Halston June 2001 I am not convinced by Kuhn’s argument that scientists should relinquish their belief that they are getting closer and closer to an objective and complete account of nature. Kuhn offers us a new paradigm to understand scientific revolutions which emphasizes discontinuity—the losses accrued, not simply the gains acquired. He tells us that accepting a new paradigm is a matter of persuasion, and though there are aspects of his argument which are persuasive, on the whole, I am not swayed by it. Upon encountering it, in fact, I sensed a dishonest quality, which inspired a search for a conceptual paradigm similar in structure to his but which does not make the discovery of fundamental universal “laws” seem something necessarily beyond human acquisition. At the end of reading his piece, I cannot say that I felt what he had to say about scientists reorienting themselves should be dismissed, though—I would prefer scientists not need for their research to be about finding final truths, even if any such awaits to be found. Since I would like to see scientists attend primarily to what Kuhn suggests they should (but significantly “beyond,” as you will see), regardless of whether his account of science’s history is persuasive, his thesis, for my purposes, may actually be counter-productive. Kuhn believes the current scientific quest should be abandoned because it cannot be realized, but he thereby leaves us with the implicit corollary that should his own paradigm not stand the test of time, then scientists should continue as they had previously toward a “goal set by nature in advance” (Kuhn 1970, 171). Kuhn’s attention to the limitations of text-book learning in science—even when used in support of a nevertheless productive scientific community—compared with the breadth of sources he sees used in history, philosophy, and the social sciences, is terrific substance for a humanist argument against a strict diet of text-book learning for any student—including would-be scientists. Also, the renewed attendance upon

2 the importance of living, of the good and satisfying life, suggested/implicit in his proposal that science concern itself primarily with solving current problems, is too significant a proposal to allow its fate to seem dependent upon the truthvalue of his paradigm of scientific development. Kuhn starts off on the wrong foot by not explicitly acknowledging that his own theory offers its own paradigm. He is arguing against “the most prevalent contemporary interpretation of the nature and function of scientific theory [i.e., that theories are fundamentally compatible] [, ] [because it] [. . .] would restrict the range and meaning of an accepted theory so that it could not possibly conflict with any later theory that made predictions about some of the same natural phenomena” (98). He argues against this contemporary “paradigm” by suggesting its consequences—it leaves scientists immune to attack—but also and more importantly by attempting to prove that his own account of scientific revolutions as producing incompatible theories, is more in line with historical truth than are theories emphasizing continuity and compatibility. He is attempting a paradigm shift of his own, but he leaves it to us to recognize it as such. Thus he offers us The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, and not A Paradigm of the Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Why does it matter? Because if we understand his theory as a paradigm, we are more likely to test to see if what he says concerning paradigms of science applies to his own paradigm concerning the nature of scientific revolutions. A scientific paradigm, says Kuhn, cannot be true because: (1) it always overreaches —nature at some point starts introducing anomalies the paradigm cannot account for, and which eventually lead to the adoption of new paradigms to account for them; (2) because a shift in paradigms always involves a shift in emphasis—what was previously emphasized, apparently, becomes merely the subject of subspecialties of a new science. The loss is substantial: with Newton’s sizes, shapes, positions, and motions, we lose Aristotle’s colors, tastes, and weights (104). Therefore, argues Kuhn, “since no paradigm ever solves all the problems it defines, and since no two paradigms leave all the same problems unsolved” (110), scientific truth is always a relative thing. He proposes that scientists spend time considering which problems they could be attending to once they fully have given up on their holy grail quest to uncover a complete accounting of nature’s laws. Yet if we consider his own theory as a paradigm, we may not consider his “truths”

3 conclusive. Perhaps he is overreaching; perhaps facts, anomalies, will appear in the historical record which do not accord well with how argues things went. We might imagine being drawn, after Kuhn’s theory is displaced, much as essences of material bodies, previously discarded, were popularized again with Newton, to theories of scientific theoretical development that argue that in fact nothing worthwhile is left out with theoretical advancements. There may be a reason why we should not consider what Kuhn says is true of scientific paradigms as also holding true for theories which account for the nature of scientific paradigms, but one does not come to mind. Kuhn does suggest that there is something distinctive about scientific paradigms that may not hold true for other paradigms—those concerning political science and art, for instance—but he also tells us that what he has to say about scientific paradigms “are constitutive of nature as well” (110). Moreover, his theory sure “looks” awfully paradigm-like. It appears complete and final. He makes the previous theory, with its emphasis on compatible changes, appear ridiculous, thereby enhancing the progressive flavor of his own. He even highlights a role for those who adopt his theory which looks a lot like the role “assigned” to scientists during the paradigm phase—namely, to fill in the gaps. He asks: “What must nature, including man, be like in order that science be possible at all? Why should scientific communities be able to reach a firm consensus unattainable in other fields? Why should consensus endure across one paradigm change after another?” (173). In other words, we should pursue solving problems which do not challenge his paradigm but rather follow and remain to be explored upon accepting it. Is he offering us, then, a paradigm with characteristics similar to those he ascribes to a scientific paradigm? What walks like a duck . . . But by not explicitly addressing this possibility, I sense possible manipulation, and am therefore less likely to be persuaded by his theory. Kuhn, though, if presenting us with a paradigm, is offering us one which apparently does not lose something substantial as it displaces its predecessor. Kuhn is not telling us that shifting away from seeing scientific theoretical development as progressive is a way to give fair weight to considerations of it as discordant. No, Kuhn is telling us that there is no such consistency—it is a fallacy (apparently) of those accustomed to imagining progress as inherent in all right accounts of the scientific enterprise. Kuhn’s theory (ostensibly) integrates all the

4 “facts” of the previous model, rejects how they were conceptualized, and advances to a true account of science’s development. Yet if this is okay for him, again, why not for science . . .? In order to be persuaded by Kuhn that science ought to abandon its quest for truths, it is important we accept his premise that—at least as far as scientific paradigms are concerned—there no logical inclusiveness (i.e., something important must be left out from paradigm to paradigm) possible as paradigms “advance” through time. Why? Because movement from paradigm to paradigm might then seem progressive, i.e., as unqualified “success,” betterment. If correct, then the scientific enterprise would structurally look very much like it was heading towards something significant—perhaps, even, “the Truth.” One might argue that progress never ends in culmination, it can just go on and on and on, and in its infininace frustrate those who would understand understanding the universe a taming of it, but it is a difficult argument to make: it is simply too easy to imagine progression as heading somewhere significant. Graphically, we have ready recourse to ideas/images which make it is all too easy to imagine progressive stages leading someplace final and notable, e.g., a stairway to heaven, early apes to homo sapiens, child into an adult. In fact, Kuhn might be well advised not to have the word “progress”—with all its associated meanings— anywhere near us for serious consideration. Kuhn is making his case with evidence from the past, but progress affords emancipation from past “dictates.” Kuhn tells us that “[t]hough logical inclusiveness remains a permissible view of the relation between successive scientific theories, it is a historical implausibility” (98; my emphasis). What, though, about the future? Kuhn is telling us that scientists should abandon their quest for truth because the historical trend amounts to a universal constant: we can forever expect more of the same. Anyone grounded in the philosophy of science knows that Kuhn is not the first spectre put forth to frighten scientists into remembering their (supposed) human imperfection. Hume is also used to prove that what holds true for science today, may not tomorrow (or even the next very instant!). Now, an honest philosopher of science, who does not take special and particular pleasure in humbling the scientific enterprise, will admit that if Hume can be used to scold science he can fairly also be used to scold those who mean to humble science as well. So lets imagine, inspired by Hume, a conversation with Kuhn: “Sure, Kuhn, I’ll agree that everything you tell us about the history of science holds true, but

5 tomorrow, you cannot prove to me that science will not turn into a pink, fluffy bunny!” No doubt his response could only be: “ (sigh) . . . I cannot disprove your contention, therefore the universe no longer makes sense to me . . .” Well, maybe not—Hume’s point belongs in the “imagine your a brain in a vat” sort of philosophy: it holds no more lasting effect than a magician’s tricks do—you forget about the miraculous reveal once you’ve left the tent. But you can still use Hume to legitimate countering Kuhn, work against his persuasion, and spur on the creation of testing counter examples with which to engage his theory. Surely, if we try, we can all probably think of examples where something completely novel appeared that left its routine, long familiar past behind it for good. I can— Piaget’s model of the nature of human cognitive development, a paradigm composed of stages similar in many ways in form and in character to Kuhn’s, but which ends in a final stage that persists thereafter without change. Piaget tells us that we all go through various cognitive, revolutionary, schematic shifts through the “history” of our lives. It is not death, however, which terminates the sequence. Instead, during adolescence, we enter into the formal operations mode of thinking, which is with us thereafter. Before reaching formal operations, and thinking in, say, the preoperational mode, a child does not know s/he is thinking irrationally or overly self-centeredly. “He is, rather, manifesting a type of thinking which precedes [. . .] the appearance of logical operation” (Hundert 1989, 112). If we were to imagine the latest scientific paradigm as equivalent to an intermediate (preoperational, concrete) phase of Piaget’s “paradigm,” we might imagine that a scientific paradigm equivalent to Piaget’s final formal operational phase lies ahead. There are reasons, pro and con, for arguing for the relevance of this analogy. I will start with an argument in support. There are striking similarities between the two theories. Both Piaget and Kuhn are interested in cognitive “map-making” (Kuhn 109). Kuhn mentions, specifically, the cognitive functions of paradigms (109). Paradigms offer scientists a map to determine what “nature does and does not contain and about the ways in which those entities behave” (109). And they offer directions for map-making: the gestalt of theories, methods and standards needed to determine the legitimacy of problems and solutions (109). With Piaget, a cognitive schema is characterized as a “‘mobile frame’ successively applied to

6 various contents” (Hundert 110) of the world that determines, to some extent, what a person “sees.” Both Kuhn and Piaget make this point: a scientific paradigm, or a cognitive schema generally finds what it expects to find. This is why Kuhn tell us that “cumulative acquisition of novelty is not only rare in fact but improbable in principle” (96), and that “[t]he man who is striving to solve a problem defined by existing knowledge and technique is not, just looking around [. . .] [: he] knows what he wants to achieve, and he designs his instruments and directs his thoughts accordingly” (96). Edward Hundert tells us that according to Piaget “once a concept [. . .] is constructed, it is applied to experience [ . . . ]: it is immediately externalized so that it appears to the subject as a perceptually given property of the object and independent of the subject’s own mental activity” (114; emphasis in original). Both Kuhn and Piaget imagine, though, that nature eventually throws up challenges to existing paradigms/schemas which accumulate and eventually necessitate a revolution (Kuhn) or revolution-like accommodation (Piaget): a radical reorientation in ways of mapping the world, which would account for the anomalies. Before and after this occurs, with Kuhn’s scientific community, they go about the assured business of dealing effectively and efficiently with problems at hand (64), and with Piaget’s children, they go about happily and effectively assimilating their worlds. With the shift, however, for both theorists, you are left with scientists (with Kuhn) and children (with Piaget) who have trouble understanding those with different paradigmatic/schematic ways of apprehending the world. Thus we learn from Kuhn that scientific communities end up “talk[ing] through each other” (109), and from developmental psychologists that children ahead or behind their peers in terms of cognitive phase will have difficulty being understood. There are, however, several significant ways in which the two theories differ: (1) Kuhn sees inevitable loss through changes in paradigm change; Piaget believes that the succession of cognitive schemas is integrative and progressive: children move from an “inability to experience the reversibility of certain states of affairs” (Hundert 118; emphasis in original) to being able to do so. (2) Piaget’s schemas are irreversible, whereas Kuhn emphasizes reversibility of emphasis over time—so if a science accepts the existence of and studies essential essences, but then later “moves on,” at some subsequent point in time they (i.e., essences as properties of things) may once again find themselves the subject of interest by the

7 scientific community. (3) Since Piaget’s model holds that significant structural change can occur within a lifetime, while Kuhn argues it occurs when generations change over, Piaget’s model of change through time is Lamarkian and Kuhn’s, Darwinian. (4) Finally, Piaget’s final schema of formal relations is not really about a capacity to understand the nature of the world, but, instead, involves a capacity to use our “concrete” knowledge of the “real” world to imagine new truths—that is, it’s not about seeing things more clearly, but about making new things to be seen. How could this be analogous to the scientific enterprise of uncovering truths, the wisdom of which Kuhn hopes his thesis calls into question? I believe the first three differences between Piaget and Kuhn amount to arguments against accepting Kuhn’s premise that truth forever lies outside scientists’ grasp, and the last one can be used to argue that, nonetheless, Kuhn— so long as the reader has been sufficiently persuaded by my listing of the similarities between the theorists to imagine them as, in effect, “models” in competition with one another—is right that this scientific quest for truth interferes with better projects. Is Kuhn correct that scientific paradigms are neither integrative nor progressive, in the sense that they leave very important ways of understanding the world out from paradigm to paradigm? I am not sure, myself; but if we are not looking at the past with Kuhn’s mapping of it in mind, perhaps we will begin to notice the kind of integrative progression he claims does not in fact exist. For instance, Kuhn draws our attention to the once extreme reluctance of “professionals” (171) to accept Darwin’s theory. The one idea that was particularly unappealing to them was Darwin’s idea of natural selection: it seemed to leave no role for a supreme artificer working with a plan towards a goal. Kuhn is both using natural selection to demonstrate the difficulty scientists have switching paradigms and as a model with which to compare his own model of scientific revolutions. He tells us that “the resolution of revolutions is the selection by conflict within the scientific community of the fittest way to practice future science” (172). This fitness, he qualifies earlier, must meet two allimportant conditions: “First, the new candidate [paradigm] must seem to resolve some outstanding and generally recognized problem that can be met in no other way. Second, the new paradigm must promise to preserve a relatively large part of the concrete problem-solving ability that has accrued to science through its

8 predecessors” (169). That is it. Yet Kuhn is telling us that even after natural selection became the key paradigm for accounting for natural diversity, there still exists a need for his own “paradigm” to help convince scientists not to be teleological in their thinking! Is it possible that a third requirement must be met for a paradigm to be adopted by a new generation of scientists—namely, that it be emotionally acceptable? The general impression you get from Kuhn is that during the revolutionary stage, various powers go at it, and with the victor goes the prize of mounting their model as the foundation for successive subsequent generations’ scientific inquiry. So you might have, say, Latitudinarians favoring Newton’s model because they see it a model of the universe which matches up rather well with their own desire for a society predicated on curbing self-interests, maintaining social stability, and commerce (Jacob 1976, 142). They win the revolution, and we then have, supposedly, a generation of scientists who are not by nature all that concerned whether the paradigmatic scientific model they use matches well with their own, say, core religious beliefs—they just want a model, any model, that seems to explain the universe, along with the anomalies unaccounted for by the last paradigm, so they can proceed in neuter-like fashion (not Popper’s bold scientists here!) about their miniscule business of mapping out the details. The model “chosen” may indeed have been one of many possibilities, but once decided, it obstructs from view other possible models that lost the battle for hegemony during the revolutionary phase. For his purposes, Kuhn thereby accomplishes two useful goals: (1) He has us imagining that it is impossible for data to be “explained” by only one paradigm—there exists another out there, though no longer visible, that would do the job equally as well. (2) Though he insists that the paradigm adopted must still fulfill certain requirements (e.g., “preserve a large part of the concrete problem-solving ability that has accrued to science through its predecessors” [169]) in order to be accepted by a scientific community (which is what he says distinguishes scientific revolutions from political revolutions), this qualification, though important, still seems to leave to power-politics a good deal of maneuvering room in the sort of model “it” could “cheerlead,” thereby heightening the sense of subjectivity and decreasing the sense of objectivity we associate with the “progression” of scientific paradigms through time. But Kuhn offers us an anomaly to his own

9 theory that once a paradigm is adopted others, by-and-large, slip from view. Kuhn in fact emphasizes that even well after Einstein first appeared on the scene, many scientists still do not show in their work that they appreciate just how “wrong” (99) he proved Newton. This resistance is maddening to Kuhn because it is well past time for them to have done so! “Wake up you loons, the paradigm has shifted!” Why the extended resistance, that has gone on way longer than the one generation he would allow for it? How do we account that he hasn’t fully claimed the minds, the implicit acceptance of scientists who hadn’t grown up anywhere near one that understood Newton as the only game in town? If we can imagine that a scientific paradigm must be “emotionally” acceptable (e.g., must leave room for God; must leave room for primacy of “man”, etc.) to a generation of scientists for it to reign as the model of choice, something which must be factored in when accessing why any particular paradigm “wins” the battle during the revolutionary phase, and why it is accepted thereafter, then perhaps we could look at the particular nature of the paradigm accepted as a way to gauge the emotional state of a generation of scientists. Therein, might there be signs of a kind of real progress in the scientific enterprise, which Kuhn’s own mapping of change across time fails to show? Before briefly pursuing this possibility, to help further make the point that paradigms might be metaphors with an emotional as well as a logical, character (Abram 1991), I will pursue an example I think might be of particular relevance to my reader. Assume that anomalies appear in our current scientific record and it turns out that all the new, say, dinosaur fossils discovered date as only about a few thousand years old. We recheck all our previous fossil finds and discover that they now all show the same thing: it appears that all these fossils are remains of animals that perished at exactly the same time, and not anywhere near so long ago as we had thought. Should we imagine, then, that while the current generation of scientists would not accept these anomalies as anomalies (as Kuhn would have us believe the case), somehow the next generation of scientists would accept the data within a new paradigm, even though it could not help but be a very good fit for fundamentalist Christian ways of conceiving our universe? I, myself, have difficulty imagining where exactly these scientists would come from —surely they would not be the sprouted sons and daughters of most living scientists! If there was a revolution (with Michael Ruse as General, telling his

10 forces to fight on!), I would guess that the fundamentalists, fortunately, would be badly outnumbered and outgunned in countries with the fire-power to matter (the American Republican Party always distances itself from its fundamental elements, lest it never win a national election), so I cannot imagine fundamentalists populating this post-revolutionary paradigm stage. My best guess is that the likely outcome would be fortuitous to anyone hoping scientists stop their erroneous pursuit of nature’s core truths: I picture a new generation of potential scientists preferring figurative truths to literal ones—“all the world really is a stage, you know; anyone who asks to see the wood and nails is nothing but an annoying fuddy-duddy, or worse, a subversive!” Michael Ruse, in his article “Darwinism Defended” (1982), tells us with great passion not only that creationism does not account for the “facts,” but that if a creationist paradigm prevailed it would stifle the scientific enterprise of accumulating truths—no small thing, for is the scientific enterprise which “distinguishes us from the brutes” (Ruse 327). He tells us that: Human beings have many, many failings. In a century which has seen both Auschwitz and Hiroshima, I need hardly dwell on them. And yet, for all this, there is something noble about humanity. We may be little higher than the apes. We are also little lower than the angels. We strive to live, and thus we produce our technology. But, man does not live by bread alone: he produces art, and literature, and knowledge, for its own sake. Perhaps the model of the double helix will lead, through recombinant DNA techniques, to great technological advances. But, the model in itself is a thing of beauty, and an inspiring testament to human achievement. (327; my emphasis) For those familiar with Ruse, this may be a bit of a stretch, but imagine him as the basis for our conceptual model of the “scientist.” Now revisit Kuhn’s thesis. You might wonder if Kuhn’s scientists, though fitting a popular image of a scientist as detached and unemotive, might be somewhat “unreal.” Ruse, powerfully, is telling us of the importance to him of models as things of beauty. They seem to have near religious significance: they are part of man’s “salvation.” Might this not have been true for scientists throughout history? And if so, are scientists so malleable they are capable of imagining any model they are

11 attendant upon in this way? If Newton’s model allowed no conceivable role, or place, whatsoever for God, yet still accounted for anomalies tripping up the previous paradigm, would the Newtonian model appear a thing of beauty to 17 th century scientists after a paradigm shift? Possibly all that is required is an intermediate generation to struggle with this task, to be followed by a generation of scientists who can move from teleological theories to natural selection, leading to subsequent ones that eventually conceive of universes, like Stephen Hawking does, without a beginning, without a prime mover—and without themselves being different in temperament from scientists who previously needed a fundamental place for God in their paradigmatic universe. But perhaps, instead, the uncertainty of the truth-value of this account of the history of science generates enough dissonance to require our further attention, and prompt our further inquiry, before understanding it as truth. Is it possible that we, our species, are maturing over time? The psychiatrist Casper Schmidt believes (also see deMause 1982) that: [a]s in the case with the Copernican revolution, with the Darwinian theory of evolutionary change, and, most recently, with Freudian psychology (each of which constitutes an assault on the omnipotence and grandiosity of the infant in each of us), each person on earth has to work through each of these revolutions themselves. The closer to home these schemes reach, the more difficult they are to accept and integrate. Thus, more people accept the Copernican revolution than the Darwinian, and the hardest pill of all to swallow is the one that says we are not the masters in our own minds. (339) Lovelock’s theory, for example, of a living mother Earth—Gaia—has us as not even masters of our own minds, in possession of our own minds—instead, we in fact are Gaia’s mind, so we should direct our (her) mind to her purposes (19). Many scientists/scholars have major problems with this claim. James Kirchner, for example, has a difficult time swallowing this particular aspect of the Gaia thesis. Mind you, others haven’t any problem doing so—witness David Abram, for instance. Are we witnessing temperamental differences between the two men, which explains why Kirchner, according to Abram, prefers a mechanistic model, while Abram prefers an ecological epistemology? Abram tells us that “[w]hen

12 the natural world is conceived as a machine, the human mind necessarily retains a godlike position outside of that world. It is this privileged position, the license it gives us for the possession, mastery, and control of nature, that makes us so reluctant to drop the mechanical metaphor” (68). But if only we could do so, because “this human privilege comes at the expense of our perceptual experience” (68). Abram, like Schmidt, imagines the stumbling block to paradigm change to be a need to give up childish but compelling drives. It is beyond this paper to document, and beyond my means to even conduct, a historical investigation of my own to see if there is the gradual maturing of the scientific community over time. However, speculations of this nature are percolating (see deMause 2001; Greenspan 1997). Emotional progress does seem plausible enough a way to account for the change that Kuhn would have to have addressed the emotional appeal of paradigms to help persuade me that what is lost from one paradigm to another paradigm, is not in fact some of its “childish” appeal. As is, given my awareness of counter-arguments, it seems as legitimate to use Piaget’s model of the maturing mind to understand science’s history as it is to use of Kuhn’s accounting for it. Are scientific paradigms meaningfully understood as reversible, so that what was once emphasized and dropped will at some point return as a component of a later paradigm? As mentioned, Kuhn tells us that with Newtonianism science encountered a “genuine reversion to a scholastic standard” (105 emphasis added). “Innate attractions and repulsions joined size, shape, position and motion as physically irreducible primary properties of matter” (105-6 emphasis added). Without Kuhn’s map in mind to guide our historical search, this accounting, too, might seem suspect. In Abram’s essay “The Mechanical and the Organic,” he tells us that science is better understood, as a whole, as imagining substances as passive and barren (67). Newton, according to Abram, is not to be seen as bringing back Aristotilean-like essences, but as having played a part in severing the link between science and alchemical magic by “hid[ing] and very publicly deny[ing] the vast alchemical researches that occupied him throughout his life” (67). He is part of the distancing of science from a “view of the material world, of matter itself, as a locus of subtle powers and immanent forces, a dynamic network of invisible sympathies and

13 antipathies”(67). For Abram, it is the current generation of scientists who must change course, go off course, away from scientific paradigms, and imagine with the help of a new ecological paradigm a world alive with essences once more. Again, as I do not know history well enough to know whose model better applies to the historical record—Kuhn’s or Abram’s—and as I have trouble sufficiently persuading myself that both theories are likely in their own way true (though this may be the case), Kuhn has not persuaded me of the tendency of paradigms to reverse themselves in important ways (and therefore not be a progressive stagelike process akin to Piaget’s cognitive schemas) through time. Kuhn’s theory makes scientists individuals seem “rigid,” unchanging, leaving it to the process of selection across time to move generations of scientists from paradigm to paradigm. He tells us that scientific training is such that: [I]t is not well designed to produce the man who will easily discover a fresh approach. But so long as somebody appears with a new candidate for paradigm—usually a young man of one new to the field—the loss due to rigidity accrues only the individual. Given a generation in which to effect change, individual rigidity is compatible with a community that can switch from paradigm to paradigm when the occasion demands. (166) Should Kuhn’s accounting of change and Piagets’ be understood as necessarily incongruent? It is actually possible to imagine both models as complementary. Just as in science as you move from physics to chemistry to biology, you do not necessarily expect fluid transitions, what applies to the minds of children and adolescents does not hold for the mental world of adult scientists. Yet not all of Kuhn’s scientists are so rigid. In fact, those younger scientists, or new ones to the field that Kuhn refers to, are not simply “fresh”—they are, rather, creative geniuses. They do not command much of Kuhn’s attention, perhaps because like Darwin their role is secondary to “[n]ature itself [undermining] [. . .] professional security by making prior achievements seem problematic”(169), but they must still transcend the paradigm that will be left behind by way of incorporating anomalies within a new paradigm of their own creation. These geniuses, in fact, seem to do what Piaget says formal operations permit everyone to be able to do: namely, to transcend everyday models of experience. The other scientists are

14 presented by Kuhn almost as Piaget imagines the previous stage—the concrete operations stage—as operating. The resemblance is obvious and marked. According to Kuhn, “the new paradigm must promise to preserve a relatively large part of the concrete problem-solving ability that has accrued to science through its predecessors”(169; my emphasis). Fortunately, this is all but certain because “[n]ovelty for its own sake is not a desideratum in the sciences as it is in so many other creative fields” (169), so “new paradigms [. . .] usually preserve a great deal of the most concrete parts of past achievement and they always permit additional concrete problem-solutions besides” (169; emphasis in original). For us to accept Kuhn thesis, it is important that we not too closely consider the possibility that a change in the way scientists are taught might produce scientists—near all of them, not just a select minority—capable of moving from paradigm to paradigm within their lifetimes. Why? Because part of the persuasive appeal of Kuhn’s theory is the consistency of the model he proposes. It is the proposed consistency of the past record of science, with its inevitable future, that informs Kuhn’s argument for scientists to abandon their quest for “total truth.” It helps that his scientists are characterized as being fundamentally limited—not Popper’s adventurous explorers of the unknown, but rather those following in their wake, who make all the observations the explorers could not make owing to the “newness” of their enterprise, and who are essentially coasting on someone else’s coat tails. To help persuade us to adapt his own paradigm, an image of the timid, limited scientist is an ideal impression to leave us with, because if scientists can be bold, emotionally adaptive, capable of integrating different, new, paradigms with relish, then nature does not as readily seem something so great it lies forever beyond complete understanding. It is important that, compared to scientists cautiously limiting themselves to assembling data, nature eventually demonstrates its (her) God-like ability to subvert any paradigm scientists have crafted to “cage” it (her). And there is something of Jack Nicholson’s cry, “Truth—you can’t handle the truth!” (my grateful thanks to Jeffrey Foss for this), which informs Kuhn’s thesis that many of us might be pre-disposed to associate as characteristic of the human condition. His model might “fit,” match our own self-understanding. Subliminally persuasive, then? The reason there are now so many Kuhnians about these days? I think so. But an obstacle arises to Kuhn’s paradigm’s claim on staying power if,

15 with the help of a counter model, we can imagine the possibility of a scientific community of, so-to-speak, “Jack Nicholsons,” who can handle the Truth. There is an old conceptual paradigm which has proved to possess considerable staying power, whose accuracy and sense of inevitability must also be challenged so we are sure not to lend Kuhn’s model more persuasive power than it is owed. That is the conception of society, as Charles Pierce, for example, offers us, of being constituted by a few greats and a mediocre many: But [even] in the most priest-ridden states some individuals will be found who are raised above that condition [unable to put two and two together]. These men possess a wider sort of social feeling; they see that men in other countries and in other ages have held to very different doctrines from those which they themselves have been brought up to believe; and they cannot help seeing that it is the mere accident of their having been taught as they have, and of their having been surrounded with the manners and associations they have, that has caused them to believe as they do. (1971: 1877, 37). A scientific community composed of many men and women similar in character to Pierce’s great few, might just be up to the task of finding, of “handling” nature’s truths—if in fact there is any such thing to be discovered. In fact, Kuhn, by drawing our attention to the principle reason for scientists’ limited nature— specifically, their stifling education—increases the likelihood of our considering as possible this particular very exciting possibility—namely, the creation of a community of “formal operation,” superstar scientists! Would such a community find universal truths? Maybe they could—but it would not be their primary concern. Formal operations, “[r]ather than finding in practical problems instances of the constancies of the real world [. . .] [,] [involves] apply[ing] the algebra of formal thought to situations which have not yet arisen” (Hundert 124). The biologist Brian Goodwin, influenced by Piaget, explains what this would mean for lifeforms: appropriate (genetically adapted) organisms can be generated by either a response to a new environmental challenge, a hereditary state arising by some means and resulting in an appropriate organismic form for that environment; or

16 spontaneous reorganizations within the hereditary constraints can occur, producing organisms with new morphologies and behaviour patterns which must then either discover or create appropriate environments. (53-54; emphasis added) Conceive of this community of scientists as a new kind of life-form, which rather than uses science simply to better help us adapt to nature, or to solve relevant problems as Kuhn hopes it would, instead focuses on creating its own preferred surround, its own “nature.” The idea might sound unnatural, so perhaps I will say instead, for the sake of intelligibility, that this community might concern itself with creating its own “unnature.” No, on second thought, I like my idea, so I will not allow it to seem a Frankesteinian one. Instead, I will suggest that scientists should imagine themselves as natural magicians once more (as Abram recommends). Kuhn is right: scientists should reconsider trying to find out universal laws as their primary goal. But only so they can refocus on fashioning their/our very own preferred “nature” into one as enchanting and beautiful as we could wish to exist. They could, of course, continue seeking out current properties of the natural universe (while it lasts) if it expands their tool kit; certainly help us solve the utilitarian problem of bringing about widespread happiness; then get to the important business of making a moon out of green cheese, rivers that flow chocolate, and a “gravity” that works as it does now, but only while you are really attracted to something (once your heart commits to another you can move [upwards! downwards! sideways!] on). Scientists like this would need a flexible and reaching imagination more than they would need a dependable methodology. So they would have to mix their textbook (“Basic Tools to Re-Make the Universe: the Science of Generatology”) learning with a good mix of fantasy, love, and fun. I would recommend they take at least as many history and literature classes as they do science ones. Psychology, too—if they can get through all the “neurons” and “grey-matter” to humanist psychologists like Stanley Greenspan and Carl Rogers. Finally, they could take philosophy courses—especially Jeffrey Foss’s: they would learn what it really means to be subvert the natural order of things. Sound good? I think so. Sound like “childish” regression? Not so!, I assure you! For a child might prefer his/her private fantasy to “reality,” and animism, as

17 pleasant as it seems to the modern reader, might amount to unhealthy projections, but preferring nature as mundane is no indication of a truly mature, truly sensible, outlook. In truth, only senile old fools equate what is with what ought to be. Kuhn knows this, but his counter-offer is too mundane, too modest. Instead, how about you join me, dear reader: let us count amongst the future wizards in mind to magic forth an inspired and satisfying, new world! Works Cited Abram, David. “The Mechanical and the Organic: On the Impact of Metaphor in Science.” Scientists on Gaia. Eds. Stephen Schneider and Penelope Boston. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1991. Print. DeMause, Lloyd. Foundations of Psychohistory. New York: Creative Roots, 1982. Print. Goodwin, Brian. “Constructional Biology.” Evolution and Developmental Psychology. Eds. George Butterworth, Julie Rutkowska, and Michael Scaife. Brighton Sussex: Harvester, 1985. Print. Greenspan, Stanley. Growth of the Mind: And the Endangered Origins of Intelligence. New York: Addison Wesley, 1997. Print. Harding, Sandra. Whose Science? Whose Knowledge?: Thinking from Women’s Lives. Ithica: CornellUP, 1991. Print. Hundert, Edward. Philosophy, Psychiatry and Neuroscience: Three Approaches to the Mind. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1989. Print. Jacob, Margaret. The Newtonians and the English Revolution 1689-1720. Ithica: Cornell UP, 1976. Print. Kirchner, James. “The Gaia hypotheses: Are They Testable? Are They Useful?” Scientists on Gaia. Kuhn, Thomas S. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1970. Print. LePan, Don. The Cognitive Revolution in Western Culture: The Birth of Expectation. Broadview, 1995. Print. Pierce, Charles S. “Approaches to Philosophy.” Classic Philosophical Questions. Ed. James A Gould. Columbus: Charles E. Merril, 1971. Print. Ruse, Michael. Darwinism Defended. Don Mills: Addison-Wesley, 1982. Print. Schmidt, Casper. “Alchemists, Critics, and Psychohistorians.” Journal of

18 Psychohistory 8.3 (1981). Print. Tooby, John and Cosmides, leda. “The Psychological Foundations of Culture.” The Adapted Mind: Evolution and Psychology and the Generation of Culture. Eds. Jerome H. Bakow, Leda Cosmides, and John Tooby. New York: Oxford UP, 1992. Print.