Journal for General Philosophy of Science

, Volume 35, Issue 1, pp 175–200 | Cite as

Of the Same in the Different. What is Wrong with Kuhn's Use of ``Seeing'' and ``Seeing as''

  • Panos Theodorou


Kuhn uses the distinction between `(simple) seeing', and `seeing as' in order to claim that among competing paradigms there cannot be found any middle (experiential) ground; nothing `same' can be located behind such radically different paradigm-worlds. He claims that scientists do not see a common something as this thing at one time and as that thing at another. Each time scientists simply see what they see. To claim the contrary is to claim that scientists arrive at their paradigmatic experiences of the world due to an interpretation of something `same' beyond the paradigms,and Kuhn rejects this. The question of whether a common ground can be found behind two or more different paradigmatic world-views relates to many issues in philosophy of science and in general epistemology (e.g., realism-idealism, relativism-objectivism, etc.). As a first approach to these, in this paper I examine the presuppositions of Kuhn's claim, its consistency in the exposition, and its overall viability. I conclude that the actual way in which Kuhn refers to the historical examples he examines undermines his explicit thesis. But also the paradox he himself recognizes in his thought that `though the world does not change with a change of paradigm, the scientists afterward works in a different world' can be solved only if we start to think seriously about the necessity and nature of a `same in the different' behind the competing paradigmatic world-experiences.

gestalt switch interpretation Kuhn paradigm shift seeing-as 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Panos Theodorou
    • 1
  1. 1.Evergeti Giavasi 36BAttikiGreece

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