Errol Morris vs. Thomas Kuhn

The latest episode of the consistently fascinating Hi-Phi Nation, “The Ashes of Truth” is about looking back at one’s earlier choices and thinking of what could have been had you made different ones. Among those interviewed for the episode is acclaimed filmmaker Errol Morris, and he has some interesting things to say about Thomas Kuhn.

Morris, creator of such works as The Fog of WarGates of Heaven, and The Thin Blue Line, begins by saying, “If only I could do it all over again, I could have taken, perhaps, a different course.”

What different course? Well, he wasn’t always a filmmaker. He started off in philosophy, and in the early 1970s he was a PhD student in the history and philosophy of science at Princeton. While there, he studied under Thomas Kuhn, author of the well-known The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962).

It didn’t go well.

“Ending up with Kuhn, I believe, was one of my great misfortunes,” says Morris, continuing, “I see him as a fraud. Dogmatic. Inflexible. Abusive…” Morris ended up leaving his studies.

Now, 45 years later, Morris is writing a critique of Thomas Kuhn’s ideas, motivated in part by curiosity about the life he didn’t pursue.

You can hear more about that, and about his conflict with Kuhn, in the podcast below.

The creator and host of Hi-Phi Nation is Barry Lam (Vassar). To learn how to support his work on the podcast, go here.

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