ABSTRACT. Thomas Kuhn (1922–1996), one of the most popular philosophers of science of the 20th century, has been celebrated as the founder of science studies (Ian Hacking), but it has also been pointed out that his seminal book entitled The structure of scientific revolutions (1962) embraced and engendered what Frederick Crews called “theoreticism” (Ken Wilber). The following review essay on Kuhn’s notion of paradigm, with focus on scientific revolutions, the literature-and-science movement and associated matters like Herbert Dingle’s refutation of the special theory of relativity (which to date has been almost totally ignored by the scientific community), tries to clarify why Chicago University Press had in their hands in 1962 indeed a “bombshell” (as Ian Hacking called Kuhn’s 1962 book) that was to create one of the greatest creative-destructive intellectual tsunamis to date. At stake was the reputation of the Western empirical science of the past four hundred years. What Kuhn did was to show that empirical science had also a social aspect, which was fully integrated with the empirical one, together structuring the scientific “paradigms,” i.e. the engines of science. In this context, it became clear that all creative activities possessed “paradigms” as vital engines to push them forward. From Kuhn’s idea of paradigm sprang an endless torrent of misreadings and misinterpretations that remind us of “misprision,” the process Harold Bloom talked about later in The anxiety of influence (1973), when “theoreticism” had already taken root, threatening no less than to effect the fall of science. Why? The answer is simple: once science was shown to have an extra non-empirical facet – the social facet (which theoreticism took to be the only facet science actually has), who could say that there existed not also other hidden aspects? Who could say that the social facet is not so composite as to make science look more like myth, which had been shown by Campbell in 1949 to talk about a mythical hero with a thousand faces? What if science, like myth and art, had also a thousand faces? Ken Wilber showed that the situation is even more complicated than what Kuhn presented in 1962 (Kuhn’s Janus Bifrons becomes a Janus Quadrifrons). However, we will show that Kuhn missed two elements of reality which are fundamental – he missed optical illusions like the Ebbinghaus illusion and, even more importantly, he missed the case of the people with sense-organ impairment like the blind from birth. Kuhn emphasized that perceptions are connected with education and all prior experience (“nurture”); people with sense-organ impairment from birth and illusions like the optical Ebbinghaus illusion, conversely, show that perception has also a purely empirical face. The consequences are the following: 1) Nature for humans is [Nature] and [Nature + Nurture]. 2) For humans [Nurture] without [Nature] has no power. This understanding restores the empirical facet of science to its proper traditional place, even if science shows itself to be, in the wake of Kuhn’s 1962 revolutionary book, like a living tree with a thousand faces.

Keywords: community; paradigm shift; disciplinary matrix; scienteme; anomaly; cognitive gestalt switch; incommensurability; (non-)cumulativeness; crisis; puzzle-solving; regressive progression; progressive regression; theoreticism; Ebbinghaus effect; sense-organ impairment from birth; (non-)correlativity; Janus

Stroe MA (2021) Thomas Kuhn and the cognitive matrix: the thousand faces of science and art. Creativity 4(1): 391–514. doi:10.22381/C4120217

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University of Bucharest,
Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literatures,
English Department;
Bucharest, Romania;

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