Incommensurable numbering

Mon 26 Aug 2013 06:56 AM

I'm teaching an undergrad course on scientific revolutions this term. The central pivot, naturally, is Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

There is a new, fourth edition of Structure. It's just called the "50th Anniversary Edition" on the cover, and it boasts an index and an introductory essay by Ian Hacking. Hacking writes, sensibly, that readers should skip his essay.

The new edition is typeset in a smaller font. Aesthetics and readability aside, this means that the pagination is different from prior editions by just a little bit. This means that I won't be able to teach from the copy I've owned since the mid-1990s, the one that I've carefully annotated marks and marginalia.

What's worse is that nobody will ever be able to cite Kuhn in a sensible way ever again. Any good edition of Descartes, Hume, or Kant (for example) has marginal page numbers which correspond to what's taken to be the canonical edition. Now there simply is no canonical edition of Kuhn. Scholars will cite one or the other willy-nilly. It will be within a few pages of right either way, but not quite. The 'not quite' means that it will never be entirely clear what to do when citing Kuhn.

Why did University of Chicago Press do this?

It's not about length. They're about the same, with the new edition ending on page 208 and the old one ending on page 210.

It might be about design. Because the pagination is not too far from older copies, marginal page numbers would be odd.

It might also be commercial. Everybody has to buy a new copy now.

Still! Argh.