Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Abstract: Kuhn and The Paradigm Shift

In 1962, scientist and philosopher Thomas Kuhn changed the way society views science with his revolution book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In this work, Kuhn identifies the nature of a scientific paradigm and describes the process that must be undergone for one to change. While Kuhn’s work focuses on how paradigms affect science and scientists, his philosophy transfers beautifully to film. For this presentation, our scientists will be Neo from The Matrix and Truman from the Truman Show. With the help of these cinematic scientists, Kuhns views on paradigm shifts become more apparent. This presentation will focus on specific elements of the paradigm shift. For the paradigm to shift, an initial paradigm must be in place. The Truman Show will help us to understand why an initial paradigm can seem completely absurd to those above it, while being completely believable to those who subscribe to it. To follow, The Matrix will help us to identify the grief and denial that a scientist may experience when a paradigm is shifting. The Matrix will also demonstrate Kuhn’s notion that a paradigm shift requires a catalyst. Later, Neo will demonstrate the Kuhnian ideal that a paradigm shift can create enlightenment. To conclude, The Truman Show will provide a word of caution and express the need to keep an open mind when confronting paradigm shifts.

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