Thomas Kuhn changed the way people think. Although his 1962 book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, was specifically about scientific thinking, his ideas have become part of our cultural language. Kuhn proposed that,
- Scientific thinking has a context created by culture and previous knowledge called a paradigm.
- A paradigm is a way of thinking about the world.
- Scientific thinking does not progress in a linear, continuous fashion.
- Scientific thinking undergoes paradigm shifts that open up new ways of thinking.
The concept of paradigm shifts caught on quickly, perhaps because our culture and our understanding of the world has become too complex for simpler theories to explain. A paradigm is a world-view rather than a theory, a tool for how-to-think rather than a description for what-to-think.
Everyone has a world-view, even if it is not formal, because everyone has some idea of how the world works. As E. Brian Davies observes in Why Beliefs Matter,
World-views can be evaluated, compared and changed,
but you cannot avoid having one.