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Thomas S. Kuhn (1922-1996)

  • Born

    Thomas Kuhn was the firstborn of two, on 18 Jul. 1922 to Samuel L. and Minette Kuhn in Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Early Life

    Early Life
    Thomas' academic passion began with his love of physics and later switched to the history of science. As his career developed, he moved to the philosophy of science. He attended Hessian Hills School before graduating from The Taft School in 1940.
  • Harvard University (BSc, MSc, Ph.D)

    Harvard University (BSc, MSc, Ph.D)
    Thomas Kuhn graduated from Harvard summa cum laude in the spring of 1943 with a BSc in Physics. He went on to earn his MSc in 1946 and his Ph.D., both also in Physics.
  • UC Berkeley

    UC Berkeley
    In 1956, Kuhn began teaching at the University of California at Berkeley, a class in science for undergraduates in the humanities. In 1961, he became a professor in the philosophy department.
  • "The Copernican Revolution"

    "The Copernican Revolution"
    In 1957, Thomas Kuhn wrote his first book, "The Copernican Revolution." In this book, Kuhn analyzes the revolution. He documents the pre-Ptolemaic understanding through the Ptolemaic system and its variants up to the point of the eventual acceptance of the Keplerian system.
  • "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions"

    "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions"
    This book is one of the most cited academic books of all time. It is about the history of science and was a landmark event in the philosophy, history, and sociology of science. Kuhn argues that science does not traverse through a linear progression of new knowledge but undergoes periodic revolutions and solves puzzles. This is where he introduces "paradigm shifts" and discusses phases of science that include pre-paradigm science, normal science, crisis, and scientific revolution.
  • Professor at Princeton

    Professor at Princeton
    In 1964, Kuhn joined Princeton University as the philosophy and history of science professor; later serving as the president of the history of science society from 1969-70 before joining MIT as their professor of philosophy, where he worked until 1991.
  • “The Essential Tension”

    “The Essential Tension”
    Kuhn compiled a collection of his essays on the history and philosophy of science and was published in 1977, titled The Essential Tension which was taken from one of Kuhn's earliest essays in which emphasized the importance of tradition in science.
  • Death

    In 1994, Thomas Kuhn was diagnosed with lung cancer and passed away in 1996 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
  • Video and Resources

    Video and Resources Bird, Alexander, "Thomas Kuhn", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2022 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),