Fifty paradigms of grey

1 minute read

The Guardian has a retrospective in honor of the fiftieth anniversary of publication of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (and you can buy an anniversary edition: The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: 50th Anniversary Edition) “Thomas Kuhn: the man who changed the way the world looked at science”

Kuhn remained at Harvard until 1956 and, having failed to get tenure, moved to the University of California at Berkeley where he wrote Structure and was promoted to a professorship in 1961. The following year, the book was published by the University of Chicago Press. Despite the 172 pages of the first edition, Kuhn in his characteristic, old-world scholarly style always referred to it as a mere "sketch". He would doubtless have preferred to have written an 800-page doorstop.
But in the event, the readability and relative brevity of the "sketch" was a key factor in its eventual success. Although the book was a slow starter, selling only 919 copies in 1962-3, by mid-1987 it had sold 650,000 copies and sales to date now stand at 1.4 million copies. For a cerebral work of this calibre, these are Harry Potter-scale numbers.

The story is a good Sunday read. As far as Structure, Amazon tells me that customers who bought the new edition also were likely to buy The French Lieutenant’s Woman.