Did Thomas Kuhn Kill Truth?

David Kordahl at The New Atlantis:

Multiple exposure portrait of historian Thomas Kuhn of Princeton University, an exponent of scientific paradigms. (Photo by Bill Pierce/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

Kuhn’s skepticism, in Morris’s view, is poisonous, leading to a cultural devaluation of objective truth. Tellingly, Morris only glancingly notices Kuhn the historian, whose The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought (1957) and Black-Body Theory and the Quantum Discontinuity, 18941912 (1978) are both carefully documented, in apparent contradiction to the recklessness Morris alleges.

A certain theatricality is at play in Morris’s articles on Kuhn — the first article is accompanied by a few seconds of video, an ashtray and cigarettes spewing across a black background — and Kuhn emerges mainly as a personality, not a thinker. Morris’s Kuhn is an imposing man, a tall bully, an “incredible chain-smoker. First Pall Malls and then True Blues…. Alternating. One cigarette lighting another.” He barks at students for “Whiggishness” whenever they incorporate knowledge of the present into talk of the past. When Morris mentions he is interested in hearing the philosopher Saul Kripke, Kuhn commands, “Under no circumstances are you to go to those lectures. Do you hear me?”

more here.