Kuhn begins by formulating some assumptions that lay the foundation for subsequent discussion and by briefly outlining the key contentions of the book.
- A scientific community cannot practice its trade without some set of received beliefs (p. 4).
- These beliefs form the foundation of the “educational initiation that prepares and licenses the student for professional practice” (5).
- The nature of the “rigorous and rigid” preparation helps ensure that the received beliefs exert a “deep hold” on the student’s mind.
- Normal science “is predicated on the assumption that the scientific community knows what the world is like” (5)—scientists take great pains to defend that assumption.
- To this end, “normal science often suppresses fundamental novelties because they are necessarily subversive of its basic commitments” (5).
- Research is “a strenuous and devoted attempt to force nature into the conceptual boxes supplied by professional education” (5).
- A shift in professional commitments to shared assumptions takes place when an anomaly “subverts the existing tradition of scientific practice” (6). These shifts are what Kuhn describes as scientific revolutions—”the tradition-shattering complements to the tradition-bound activity of normal science” (6).
- New assumptions (paradigms/theories) require the reconstruction of prior assumptions and the reevaluation of prior facts. This is difficult and time consuming. It is also strongly resisted by the established community.
- When a shift takes place, “a scientist’s world is qualitatively transformed [and] quantitatively enriched by fundamental novelties of either fact or theory” (7).