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The Constraining Influence of the Revolutionary on the Growth of the Field

Young, Neil Philip and Weimer, Walter B. (2021) The Constraining Influence of the Revolutionary on the Growth of the Field. Axiomathes, 29 (4).

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This article draws attention to a pattern of development within science and other intellectual research communities that has received virtually no mention. We propose that subsequent dominance of a research community by a figure responsible for significant innovation often delays progress in the field. During the period in which the revolutionary continues to influence research in a community, too frequently the effect is to freeze what Kuhn called normal science ‘puzzle solving’ into the limited directions which the revolutionary sanctions. This constrains theorizing to speculation of a type which the revolutionary advocates, and prevents attempts at reconceptualization almost entirely. Having made one revolutionary advance, the dominant figure effectively prevents subsequent progress until he or she either retires from the field or dies. “Science advances one funeral at a time” (Planck, 1949), After his or her initial contribution, the continued presence of an innovative or revolutionary figure frequently stifles progress rather than aids it. We document four cases of this phenomenon as of signal consequence in the history of science and philosophy. We stress at the outset that this is an overview, designed to press the plausibility of our thesis rather than examine it in complete and necessary historical detail. We proceed in section one with a more thorough explication of the problem. Section two examines four examples of just how these revolutionary thinkers often constrains development and growth. In section three we broaden our argument by demonstrating the breadth and general scope of the problem by sketching the import of this phenomenon at the intersection of sociology, philosophy, and psychology of science in light of prominent theories of scientific methodology, and the insufficiency of presumptive methodologies to explain such episodes.

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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Young, Neil
Weimer, Walter
Keywords: Revolutionary, Darwin, Freud, Chomsky, Fischer, Growth of Knowledge
Depositing User: Dr. Neil Young
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2021 06:07
Last Modified: 19 Dec 2021 06:07
Item ID: 20023
Journal or Publication Title: Axiomathes
Publisher: Springer
Date: 19 October 2021
Volume: 29
Number: 4

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