theoretical Approaches and practices; or the idea of Paradigm in Kuhn

Among all the discussions that were held around the Structure of Scientific Revolutions Kuhn says relationship with the idea of paradigm. Rapturosamente received in Social Sciences or strongly criticized as an idea that showed a lack of ‘objectivity’ of the so-called hard sciences, and as validating the relativism , for Kuhn this reception was extremely wrong (as mentioned by Ian Hacking in his introduction to the edition of the 50th anniversary). the idea that ‘normal science’ that showed Kuhn was a’ bad’ science (from the traditional criteria) was something that matched both popperianos (to say that the normal science of Kuhn was when the science ceased to be science) as relativistic (to say that the normal science of Kuhn showed that never the science was as scientific).

I think that behind this there is a profound difference in the way of approaching science. Those who view the paradigm as a form of relativism, approaching science as if it were a set of assertions (such as ‘theory’). If normal science does not dispute assertions basic then that dogmatism shows that the science was not what it claimed to be (or falls in what should not be). But Kuhn does not see the science from this perspective that, for him, science is the activity of investigating. And the paradigm, as model of research, as an exemplary that shows me paths and ways to investigate, then there is the repetition of a dogma, but rather a search for new results (of new puzzles to solve). The following quote, in relation to the time of change of paradigms, is illustrative:

In science occurs as in manufacturing: the change of tools is an extravagance that is reserved for the occasions that demand it. The meaning of the crisis is that they offer an indication that the time has come to change tools (VII, p 208)

This comparison between paradigm and tools, it is natural in Kuhn because, in last instance, it is not metaphorical: the paradigm is a tool to solve problems.

The misunderstanding was due, as we can see, that paradigm is understood as another synonym, but deeper, of the word theoretical; when in reality it was not referring to it but rather a model to investigate. In other words, a paradigm is a practice rather than a set of assertions.

This implies something fairly important, because the idea of practical approach versus theoretical approach is more profound than the difference between assertion / activity. From the eye handy is that it explains why the paradigm has nothing to do with relativism loses meaning. Not that it will not be reasonable, adequate, (even, the ‘best decision’) what you end up deciding the scientific, is only that is not allowed to catch in a few generic rules (what the eye theorist can observe). Is that not being able to become encased in an algorithm what is the reasoning practical.

So, when Kuhn tells us that scientists have the promise of power to solve new puzzles (XII, p 322) it is essential to choose paradigms is not posing any conduct irrational, and discusses reasons for choice that are close enough to Lakatos (XII, pp 316-318). Only, who is reluctant to give it as an algorithm of a formal decision: the good reasons are reluctant to be ordered that way, without ceasing to be good reasons (i.and that might convince and seem appropriate to outside observers). The famous and much criticised idea of “anything goes” of Feyerabend is explicitly raised by him as a ‘rationalist’ (someone who only understands rules apply universally) would have to conclude from the practice of scientists, being that when examining each case study is found regularly that the decisions of scientists are usually quite reasonable. Much closer to us, Sokal and Bricmont in their Fashionable Intellectuals (who poses as a critic of positions that we are outlining) say exactly the same thing, although with a rhetoric more objectivist: That science is a rational activity and objective but this does not mean that you follow an abstract logic and application of rules (and it is for this reason that, for example, Popper was so wrong).

We meet here with the difficulty of understanding the practical activity (the same topic that we discussed in a recent entry on the activity of prosecution, which also shows this need for a valid judgment without the application of a rule). Here is a recurring problem in our conceptions of how we think, and shows the limits of what Bourdieu always denounced it as the point of view of scholastic. Something that Bourdieu argued in all his work, and reinforced in one of his last texts, Meditations Pascalianas; where it is to this root of the old opposition of Blaise Pascal, between the spirit of finesse and the spirit of geometry.

Get away from the point of view scholastic allows you to retrieve the wealth as a way of thinking and doing of the practice. Who approaches with theoretical insights evaluates everything from the point of view of a scholastic, and therefore the ‘normal science’, as well as the daily practice, appear as inconsequential, spaces where nothing happens. But when one is about practical vision then they both appear as spaces full of activity and it becomes meaningful to give them interest.

Here we can return to Kuhn: the important thing is to give up the opposition between the thinking (theoretical) doing (practical); the practice is his knowledge and his thought -that the way scholastic you can not see it is another thing. But it reminds us that the research academic (scientific) is also a practical way; and then allows us to rethink the power of practical thought, that she is an active form of thinking and not only the execution of a pattern unconscious. To overcome opposition is not just that we have to choose the eye practical for on the scholastic, or remember (such as Bourdieu) that does not correspond to look escolásticamente the practice, but directs us rather to overcome the opposition, and that same distinction.

I quote according to the 4th edition in Spanish (Culture Fund 2013), which translates the 3rd edition in English (2012)

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