Thomas Kuhn and documentary film

I just listened to the new episode of Hi-Phi Nation podcast by Barry Lam. It is called “The Ashes of Truth”. Barry Lam tries to connect story telling with philosophy and does a great job. In this Episode you hear a story about Errol Morris a oscar winning documentary filmer. Before his career as film director he was a pupil of Thomas Kuhn.

Thomas Kuhn vs. Errol Morristhomas_kuhn

I always like hearing about big names and what kind of person they were. As it seems, Thomas Kuhn was not a very kind person. Even though he was well known for this sceptical arguments about the progress of science, he was a very dogmatic person, Morris says. Morris quit his career as a philosopher because of some trouble with Kuhn and became a film director.

The episode is interesting, not only because you can hear some stories about Kuhn as a person and about his theory, but also because it shows that a documentary film director has some problems of a similar kind as a philosopher of sciene. Do our scientific theories really represent the world as it is? Or does the fact that every scientific theory has a specific perspective lead to scepticism and anti-realism.

Realism vs. anti-realism in science and other fields

When the film director of a documentary tries to tell a story about a specific event in the past where she was not part of, and the only evidence she has are the statements of the interviews she takes, does she depict the event as it really was? Or does she just represent the memories of the interviewed people? Can a documentary depict an event as it really was? Can we be realists about documentary films?

Morris think we can be realists in documentary as we can be realists in the philosophy of science. He things Kuhn was wrong and Kuhn was a bad person (he uses some more offensive description of Kuhn as I want to state here). I don’t know about Kuhn as a person, but I will try to get a good picture of his theory. ‘The Structure of Scientific Revolutions’ is lying on my table right now.

Guest contribution at Grasped in Thought

You may have realized that I did not write much here lately. Other than that I am working for the planning of my PhD thesis I was writing an article for the Grasped in Thought blog. There I try to draw some connections between the american pragmatist tradition and the form of liberal naturalism that I have in mind.

Check out my article here: Pragmatism and Two Forms of Naturalism

Check also the blog in general and other contributions to it and the podcast.

Podcast: Informal Hour by J.J. Chipchase


This one is for all the friends of podcasts. Podcasts are an excellent way to spend some time in trains or longer drives. It is a great way to get into your favorite subjects like philosophy or whatever while you cannot read a book or a paper. Also it helps popularize philosophy and get a feeling how to break down technical topics for non-philosophers. The one I want recommend in this post is the Informal Hour by J.J. Chipchase. It is great because it features some of the most important philosophers of our time and some of the hot topics that are discussed in the philosophical community. The last episode is called “Ontic Structural Realism and the Philosophy of Physics with Stephen French”. The topic of structural realism is one I got into just lately and I think it is an interesting idea with a good deal of philosophical puzzles still to solve.

There are also topics like Eliminativism, personal identity, moral philosophy and many more by philosophers like Alex Rosenberg, Scott Soames and Guy Longworth. I love the internet, especially the philosophical opportunities, because you can get information from philosophers all over the world and not just by reading their books.

You can find the RSS feed here.