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the so-called visualism in science, which says what contemporary scientists have
been doing in their daily work is, in essence, to visualize, to interpret, and to explain
(Ihde 1998 ). What is the metaphor that we can use to visualize scientific frontiers?
Our quest of knowledge domain visualization starts from mapping of terrestrial and
celestial phenomena in the physical world, cartography of conceptual maps and
intellectual structures of scientific literature, to static snapshots and longitudinal
maps featuring the dynamics of scientific frontiers.
There are three simplistic models of how scientific knowledge grows. The most
common one is a cumulative progression of new ideas developing from antecedent
ideas in a logical sequence. Hypotheses derived from theory are tested against
empirical evidence and either accepted or rejected. There is no ambiguity in the
evidence and consequently no disagreement among scientists about the extent to
which a hypothesis has been verified. Many discussions of the nature of scientific
method are based on this model of scientific growth.
An alternative model is that the origins of new ideas come not from the most
recent developments but from any previous development whatever in the history of
the field. In this model, there is a kind of random selection across the entire history
of a cultural area. Price ( 1965 ) argues that this kind of highly unstructured growth
is characteristic of the humanities.
The first of these models stresses continuous cumulative growth, the second its
absence. Another type of model includes periods of continuous cumulative growth
interspersed with periods of discontinuity. A notably representative is Kuhn's theory
of scientific revolutions. In Kuhn's terminology, periods of cumulative growth are
normal science. The disruption of such cumulative growth is characterized by crisis
or revolution.
Competing Paradigms
One of the most influential works in the twentieth century is the theory of the
structure of scientific revolutions by Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996) ( 1962 ). Before
Kuhn's structure, philosophy of science had been dominated by what is known as
the logical empirical approach. The logical empiricism uses modern formal logic
to investigate how scientific knowledge could be connected to sense experience.
It emphasizes the logical structure of science rather than its psychological and
historical development.
Kuhn criticized that the logical empiricism cannot adequately explain the history
of science. He claimed that the growth of scientific knowledge is characterized by
revolutionary changes in scientific theories. According to Kuhn, most of the time
scientists are engaged in a stage of an iterative process - normal science. The stage
of normal science is marked by the dominance of an established framework, or
paradigms . The majority of scientists would work on specific hypotheses within
such paradigms. The foundation of a paradigm largely remains unchallenged until
new discoveries cast more and more doubts, or, anomalies, over the foundation.
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