"Hey, this is textbook knowledge, you should know that!"
This is what I would be told, if I were to ask a stupid question about microbiology in the laboratory. (And for the record, I believe that such things as "stupid questions" do in fact exist.)
"Textbook knowledge" is often used to define the core knowledge that a biologist (or any scientist, as far as I can tell) should possess as a result of her education. When I was an undergraduate biology student, we used to talk about "the Campbell" and "the Alberts" to refer to our textbooks of general biology and molecular biology, respectively, and today I talk of "the Brock" to mention a reference textbook in microbiology. Textbooks are not only useful to students; personally, I often find relevant information in them, although most of my readings are scientific papers.
A textbook should provide you with the background knowledge sufficient to operate in the current state of your discipline. (Although, of course, some will be more general or conversely will be more specific than others, depending on their goals.)
|The University of Chicago Press (Image source)|
Kuhn's book is an excellent read because it is rather concise (my edition is about 200 pages, with a 30 pages postscript) and almost devoid of jargon, which makes it very engaging. My only regret was maybe that I felt I already knew too much of it, since Kuhn's ideas have been widely explained and discussed. For instance, I remember reading a very good recapitulation of Kuhn's theses in a French translation of Alan Chalmers' book "What is that thing called science?". Nonetheless, a lot of fascinating details were still to be found.