Considering this week’s discussion on the role of bias and dogma within science, I figured it would be best for me to write my post on the importance of philosophy and hypotheticals in science, especially in a field such as origin of life. This is a subject matter I somewhat understand and hopefully something the rest of might find a tad interesting.

The most prominent thinker is this subject matter, as far as I am concerned, would be Thomas Kuhn. Kuhn was a physicist and philosopher in the mid-twentieth century whose philosophy was chiefly concerned progress of science and how we reshape our thoughts. He argued that scientific thought does not progress gradually but rather through large “paradigm shifts”. This may seem obvious now, reflecting upon historical examples such as the idea of the cell and heliocentric solar system certainly lend credence to this being the case, but Kuhn was among the first to solidify this phenomenon into a theory. In his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, he wrote about the three stages that science goes through in order to achieve an accepted paradigm. First there is “Prescience” in which scientists search to find the paradigm under which their work will be conducted. This is where I feel the origin of life research currently is, but I will discuss that later. Next comes what he called “normal science”, in which research is done in order to expand the paradigm and research that does not conform with it is rejected as error by the scientist and not a problem with the paradigm. Eventually, as more and more research contradicts the current paradigm, a new paradigm is defined in what is called “revolutionary science”. Kuhn argued that once a paradigm had been agreed upon "the profession will have solved problems that its members could scarcely have imagined and would never have undertaken without commitment to the paradigm" (24).

These concepts have been vital in social science fields, where the presence paradigms can often seem less apparent than in normal science due to their nature being rooted in our humanity. I feel as though the origin of life field should be evaluated by Kuhn’s terms as it too can be biased by our humanity. Frequently when considering the origin of life it can become easy to pigeonhole one’s thinking into narrow corridors by only considering life as we know it. It is hard to imagine evaluating life that is not like the life we see every day, but considering concepts like the shadow biosphere and the vast size of the universe, it is very likely that there is life that goes beyond our simple comprehension of life. I believe it is vital for us first to have an explicitly defined paradigm of what is life before we ask how is life. This ties into another concept Kuhn wrote on, the role of dogma within scientific research. Kuhn argued that dogma could create issues in nearly every step of the scientific process, even when it it came to experimental design as researchers will create tools which search to prove their hypothesis, but this can narrow the scope of information to be found. Our lack of knowledge on all of what life can be could prevent us from understanding the ancient life that existed when life first came about. A true paradigm on what is life is a monumental task and one which would require extensive amounts of time and research to figure out, but is something which appears essential to understanding the origin of life question.


Views: 235


You need to be a member of SAGANet to add comments!

Join SAGANet


  • Add Photos
  • View All

Blog Posts

¿Are the Venusian sulphuric acid clouds the by product of long dead anoxogenic photosynthetic organisms?

Posted by Andrew Planet on May 4, 2020 at 2:51pm 2 Comments

I just read the piece at the link below entitled "Study: Life might survive, and thrive, in a hydrogen world."

I'd been thinking on similar lines recently, on different atmospheres with early life, but I was considering anoxogenic bacteria whose byproduct is sulfur instead of molecular oxygen. ¿Had life evolved on Venus could its sulfuric clouds be the signature byproduct of such life with no branches ever evolving to produce the equivalent of Earth's Great…


100 years tomorrow 26th April 2020 since we looked beyond the Milky Way Galaxy

Posted by Andrew Planet on April 25, 2020 at 11:10am 0 Comments

Exactly 100 years ago tomorrow, the subject on whether this Universe is larger than the Milky Way Galaxy was brought up publicly at an event sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, known as The Great Debate. Until then the Milky Way was thought to be this Universe.  Conference at the NAS

See this…


The 5th Mexican School of Astrobiology

Posted by Tardigrelda on June 24, 2019 at 1:00pm 0 Comments

I am really glad to invite everyone to the next Mexican School of Astrobiology (aka EMA) which is this August.

¡Anímate a participar en la 5ta Escuela Mexicana de…


A consortium of representatives of European Research Organisations has taken the initiative to create a virtual institute named the “European Astrobiology Institute” (EAI) with the ambition of enabli…

Posted by Wolf D. Geppert on February 24, 2019 at 1:33am 0 Comments

A consortium of representatives of European Research Organisations has taken the initiative to create a virtual institute named the “European Astrobiology Institute” (EAI) with the ambition of enabling Europe to emerge as a key player in Astrobiology and to…



  • Add Videos
  • View All


Ask your questions here!

Started by Gina Riggio in SAGANet Discussions. Last reply by Mert Kabalcı yesterday. 121 Replies

If you are trying to ask a question live during Ask an Astrobiologist, please do so in the main chatroom at the bottom of the screen! You can also ask on twitter…Continue

Have we been looking in the wrong time-frame? Requesting feedback on a recent paper.

Started by Christopher J Reiss in The Cutting-Edge of Astrobiology Apr 3. 0 Replies

Let me first say Hi to everyone as a new member here!   I hope you are all safe, sound, and not too stir-crazy during this Pandemic.I recently stumbled upon a notion for SETI which seems so simple I…Continue

Interactive Online Astrobiology for 10-12 yr olds

Started by Julia Brodsky in Education and Public Outreach Mar 9. 0 Replies

If your 10-12 yr old child is interested in space science, I would like to invite them to our courses. I am a former science teacher,  mom of three, and a former NASA astronaut instructor. I also…Continue

Tags: school, education, middle, astrobiology, STEM

zahra cell

Started by adam nurjaman in Education and Public Outreach Mar 7. 0 Replies

Hallo apa kabar ? semoga selalu baik2 saja zahra cell adalah blog yang…Continue

Tags: cell, zahra

© 2020   Blue Marble Space, a non-profit organization committed to science and science outreach.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service