Incommensurability revisited.

Title: Incommensurability revisited.
Authors: Li, Chuang Tong.
Date: 1993
Abstract: In the dissertation, I propose to consider the vicissitudes of Thomas Kuhn's historical approach to science with an eye to clarifying his controversial notion of incommensurability. Although the notion of incommensurability, one of the most significant results of Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, has been much criticized in recent Anglo-American philosophy, I argue that it incorporates insights that are still worth reviving and defending. Moreover, since these insights derived from Kuhn's syntheses of the ideas of thinkers such as L. Fleck, A. Koyre, L. Wittgenstein, N. Hanson, M. Polanyi, H. Gadamer and P. Feyerabend, my defence of Kuhn's concept of incommensurability provides a review of some profound issues in recent Anglo-American philosophy. Also in this connection, I assume that the"Kuhnian Revolution" in philosophy of science in the 1960s did not occur by chance in the avenue of contemporary American philosophy. Rather, the appearance, the reception and the subsequent criticism of The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, including Kuhn's later conversion to the "analytical tradition", must be interpreted in their respective philosophical contexts. I maintain that the debate between the Kuhnian school and its opponents should be examined historically in the light of the deeper and broader cultural and philosophical issues involved, issues that even Kuhn seems not to have fully appreciated. Through investigating the debate, I argue that the critiques of Kuhn's original ideas, including his own later objections to the ideas, presuppose as well as impose the analytical standard of legitimatization that underlies present-day Anglo-American ways of reasoning. It is this standard, however, that presupposes the very requirement whose feasibility Kuhn's notions of paradigms and incommensurability put into question. More specifically, I defend Kuhn's historical approach to philosophy of science in 1962 against those criticisms which are guided merely by ahistorical and linguistic requirements of analyzability, and criticize Kuhn's acceptance of the precepts of the analytical tradition since 1969. Central to this research is the view that there are phenomena of incommensurability in the process of communication and understanding and that no account of rationality is valid unless it recognizes the development of reason in history. In light of this, I hold, the analytical approach should always allow a historically-oriented vision in order to detect the real picture of our everyday thinking. To understand different rationalities in history and culture, philosophy must go to the history of sciences and to the real process of our everyday thinking. Methodologically, I approach the vicissitudes of Thomas Kuhn's notion of incommensurability in two ways: in Part I by historical case studies of Kuhn's changing views, and in Part II by philosophical reflections on those consequences of the historical case studies. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
CollectionTh├Ęses, 1910 - 2010 // Theses, 1910 - 2010
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