Although the word “revolution” is used for changes of mainstream ideologies / conceptual schemes in science and society alike, there are apparent distinction between the two in terms of the way that they come to existence. While a scientific revolution must be founded, at least partly, on the more widely accepted conceptual schemes, a social revolution will at least try to present its ideology as being very different from the previous one. Such discrepancy is caused by the fact that the purpose of scientific revolution is to pursue knowledge through reason, while the goal for social revolution is to obtain power for one’s own social group.
The purpose of scientific revolution can be easily illustrated by Copernican Revolution. Copernicus embarked on his journey of founding a new conceptual scheme for no purpose but to obtain more accurate knowledge about celestial bodies. According to Kuhn’s Copernican Revolution, Copernicus was “so perturbed by discrepancies of a few degrees in astronomical prediction that in an attempt to resolve them he could embrace a cosmological heresy, the earth’s motion.” (184) As a widely recognized scientific revolution, characteristics of Copernican Revolution should well represent those of scientific revolution in general. Thus, it can be said that the purpose of scientific revolution is to obtain knowledge through reason.
With the purpose of scientific revolution in mind, we may now prove the link between the purpose and the phenomenon mentioned in the opening. Two premises must be laid before the discussion: firstly, conceptual scheme is a set of knowledge that people use as base for obtaining new knowledge through reason; secondly, combination of knowledge from existing ideology and experience is necessary to obtaining knowledge through reason. Base on the two premises, it is apparent that if scientists are to pursue the goal of knowing through reasoning, they will inevitably make use of existing conceptual schemes.
From discussion above, it can be concluded that due to characteristics of reason as a way of knowing and the purpose of a scientific revolution to know through reasoning, these revolutions must be in some way, related to previous conceptual scheme.
Relationship between the fact that ideologies of social revolution being completely different from the existing mainstream ideologies and the purpose of social revolution can be seen from Audre Lorde’s famous declaration The Master’s Tool Will Never Dismantle Master’s House. In the speech, Lorde argues that feminists should abandon the tags that patriarchal society use to divide female into groups: lesbian and straight, colored and white. By calling people to take such action, Lorde is severing ties that feminist movement has with patriarchal society.
There are two aspects from which the previously mentioned relationship can be seen. First, the title of the speech suggests a strong intention of obtaining power by disagreeing. Since house is often used as demonstration of power (example can be Forbidden City of China, or any other palaces), “master’s house” can be viewed as a symbol of established power. Therefore, the attempt to “dismantle master’s house” is the attempt to seize power. “will never” suggests that the speaker is looking for a means to realize her attempt, while “master’s tool”, according to the summary above, is the classification that patriarchal society use, which is part of the ideology of current society. In short, the title strongly suggests that those who advocate for social revolution prefer to sever the tie between current ideology and their proposed ideology to gain more power for their own social group.
Moreover, functions of her rhetoric also imply such relationship: by abandoning tags, women may bound together more closely, which makes their effort to achieve more institutional power more effective; more importantly, as the tags are created by patriarchal society, saying “no” to those tags also creates a stronger sense of “us” against “them”, which again helps feminists to bound more closely and strive for power more effectively.
One may argue that the feminists are only striving for equality in rights, rather than seizing power. However, those who make such argument ignores a significant point: gaining equality is another form of increasing ins share of power. Such fact is as obvious as the truth that going from negative one to zero and going from zero to one are both increase in number.
Also, it needs to be clarified that seizing power in
this context does not imply a zero-sum game – increase in power of one party
does not result in decrease in power for another group. An example can be the
civil rights movement, where there was no discrimination against white people
arose after the movement. It seems that the secret of nonviolent revolution
lies in the nature of conflict – whether the source of people’s desire for
revolution relates to essential interest of establishment or not. When social
revolution does not touch the essential interest of the establishment, it may
be completed in peace, for the establishment would prefer to compromise when
the cost of such action is relatively low. However, when the source of
revolution concerns the core interest of establishment, a compromise would be
remotely possible, and physical conflict is more likely to arise. Here is the
simple reasoning for the establishment: if they compromise, there is no doubt
that they will lose all the privileges they have, but if they fight, they may
still be the establishment. It is important to note that such reasoning goes
both ways: advocators of social revolution may also think this way, and they
will eliminate the threat of former establishment even after major victory in
revolution. Example can be seen from China’s land reform conducted by Mao
Zedong. In early and mid-20th century, as China relied heavily on
agriculture, land was China’s most important and stable economic source, which
is source of power of establishment (land reform qualifies as revolution due to
its immense impact and its position as a part of China’s communist revolution) Land
reform seeks to seize such power source for the government. Fearing that the
ex-gentry would be a threat to future political stability, advocators of the
revolution started mass killing of gentries during and after the reform.
scientific revolution and social revolution are completely different in terms
of their purpose – one strives for knowledge, another one contends for power. Such
fact causes the different approaches that they take in dealing with existing
mainstream conceptual schemes / ideologies.
 Thomas Kuhn, The Copernican Revolution: Planetary Astronomy in the Development of Western Thought (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1957)
 “The Master’s Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master’s House | Audre Lorde (1979).” The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro by Frederick Douglass. Accessed October 03, 2018. https://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/lordedismantle.html.