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[chox] Thomas S. Kuhn (1922 - 1922+73)

Thomas S. Kuhn  

Professor Emeritus Thomas S. Kuhn, the internationally known 
historian of science and philosopher, died Monday, June 17, at his 
home in Cambridge. He had been ill for the last two years with 
cancer of the bronchial tubes and throat. He was 73.  

Kuhn was the author of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions 
(1962), a seminal work on the nature of scientific change and was 
widely celebrated as a central figure in contemporary thought about 
how the scientific process evolves. The New York Times credited 
Kuhn's book with popularizing the word "paradigm"because it 
appeared so frequently.  

Vice President Al Gore, in his June 7 commencement address, 
used Kuhn's theories to frame his argument about the relationship 
beween science and technology. "Well-established theories 
collapse under the weight of new facts and observations which 
cannot be explained, and then accumulate to the point where the 
once useful theory is clearly obsolete," he said. As new facts 
continue to accumulate, a new, more accurate paradigm must 
replace the old one.  

More than one million copies of Kuhn's 1962 book have been 
printed. It has been translated into more than a dozen languages 
and is still a basic text in the study of the history of science and 

Jed Z. Buchwald, the director of the Dibner Institute for the History 
of Science and Technology, said Kuhn "was the most influential 
historian and philosopher of science or our time. He instructed and 
inspired his student s and colleagues at Harvard, Berkeley, 
Princeton, and MIT, as well as the tens of thousands of scholars 
and students in his own and other fields of social science and the 
humanities who read his works."  

Kuhn joined MIT in 1979 from Princeton University. At MIT, his 
work has centered on cognitive and linguistic processes that bear 
on the philosophy of science, including the influence of language 
on the development of scie nce.  

From 1982 to 1991 Kuhn held the Laurance S. Rockefeller 
Professorship in Philosophy. He was the chair's first holder. Kuhn 
retired in 1991 and took the rank of professor emeritus. Focus 
moved to history of science  

Born in Cincinnati in 1922, Kuhn studied physics at Harvard 
University, where he received the SB (1943), AM (1946) and PhD 
(1949). His shift from an interest in solid state physics to the 
history of science, was traceable to a "single `Eureka!' moment in 
1947," according to a 1991 Scientific American article.  

Kuhn, the article says, "was working toward his doctorate in 
physics at Harvard University when he was asked to teach some 
science to undergraduate humanities majors. Searching for a 
simple case history that could illumin ate the roots of Newtonian 
mechanics, Kuhn opened Aristotle's Physics and was astonished 
at how `wrong' it was... Kuhn was pondering this mystery, staring 
out of the window of his dormitory room... when suddenly Aristotle 
`made sense.'"  

"Kuhn," the article said, "realized that Aristotle's views of such 
basic concepts as motion and matter were totally unlike 
Newton's... Understood on its own terms, Aristotle's physics 
`wasn't just bad Newton,' Kuhn says; it was just different."  

Kuhn taught at Harvard and at the University of California, Berkeley, 
before joining Princeton in 1964. From 1978 to 1979 he was a 
fellow at the New York Institute for the Humanities.  

Kuhn is survived by his wife, Jehane R. Kuhn; two daughters, 
Sarah Kuhn of Framingham, Mass., and Elizabeth Kuhn of Los 
Angles: a son, Nathaniel S. Kuhn of Arlington, Mass.; a brother, 
Roger S. Kuhn of Bethesda, Md.; and four grandchildren, Emma 
Kuhn LaChance, Samuel Kuhn LaChance, Gabrielle Gui-Ying 
Kuhn, and Benjamin Simon Kuhn.  

He previously was married to Kathryn Muhs of Princeton, N.J., who 
is the mother of his children. Copyright 1996,95, The Tech. All 
rights reserved. This story was published on June 26, 1996. 
Volume 116, Number 28. This story appeared on page 9.  

This article may be freely distributed electronically, provided it is 
distributed in its entirety and includes this notice, but may not be 
reprinted without the express written permission of The Tech. Write 
to archive the-tech.mit.edu for additional details.  


zum einen wg. thomas kuhn. klaro.  

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