This began as a response to a comment made on my Blog: Conservatism is Unnatural.
People look back on the societies of the past with an amused superiority. They wonder how people could ever have been so silly. Without even a consideration of what it means to live in the present they have no doubt as to their perfection. What may be required is nearly a perfect opposite: A great loss of trust. It has to come from the final exhaustive admittance of how our horribly inept past has us contemplating a hopeless future.
I became aware of paradigm through my quite unscientific line of work, in the form of a business video improperly titled, "Joel Barker's The New Business of Paradigms."
Later in life, when my curiousity became shadowed by my delusions of grandier, (ie. I began to opine,) I found Kuhn's work lacking for two essential reasons:
1.)He seemed to want to keep the idea of paradigm for himself and other scientists to encapsulate multifaceted concepts. I'm not well versed enough to know to his motives, but out of an inability to understand the social benefit a utilitarian appreciation of "paradigm" provides, Kuhn lost any chance to properly define it's boundaries. Also fascinating to assume is Kuhn's apparent ignorance to the real power his little word contained. (Although he did acknowledge it's "takeover" by FURTHER narrowing his view to coin "exemplars": paradigms generally accepted as rule.)
2.) Kuhn's idea of scientific paradigm incommensurability seems completely valid in it's essential restriction of his definitions, but only then. Kuhn's argument paraphrased is: There will be communication failure (of paradigms) between Scientists with uncomplementary paradigms, particularly over a period of time. (Interestingly, not too long a time. For example, it would probably be easier to convince someone that the world is not flat than it would be to convince them that matter is made up of energy.) The differences of paradigms are the differences of language, of lesson, of opinion, of desire, etc. (or in other words the very stuff that makes us individual, Scientist or not.) He goes on to further state that there is no neutral common language that will remedy this problem. This seems anti-logic to me. It also exemplifies what I believe is the very first instance of what I call Contemplative Paradigm Paralysis. (Which is HILARIOUS when you think about it.)
An imaginary conversation between Kuhn and Myself...
Kuhn: Paradigms are usefull tools of communication I can take a certain series of ideas, cram them into a tidy package and express it quickly.
Me: Nice going Tom! Can you use it to express complicated ideas to everyday morons like me?
Kuhn: Oh no! Without a frame of reference it would be time wasted.
Me: Well at least it's making life easier for you. You can get more work done.
Kuhn: Actually no, because not everyone's paradigms are the same.
Me: You mean there are paradigm paradigms?
Kuhn: What are you talking about?
Me: You've created a disciplinary matrix with which you can communicate systems of thought but some other disciplinary matrix keeps getting in the way?
Me: What do you call that one?
My rules for Paradigm have been borne of the failure of Kuhn to control the social potential of his idea. I'm not alone in this paradigm but I seem to be in my definition. The Anti-Social Engineering movement is strong and there's money to be made. After the idea of paradigm was modernised by Kuhn, even in it's limited infancy, how could Scientists, Authors, Humans et al not "borrow" it's universal nature and hone it as they required? Suddenly you have Dr. Phil talking about Authentic Self ("who you were 'created' to be' instead of who you were taught to be.") You have Eckhart Tolle on Oprah touting the value of 'understanding your past to know your path.'
Walk into any bookstore and go to the New Age section, don't hide yourself, be proud as you gaze upon book after book by earnest Athiests who only want to help. Marvel at the depth of understanding presented by the intermingling of ultramodern technology and old world mysticism as you wonder what else you don't know. Whether or not you choose to actually buy into it is up to you. I think like all considerations, it takes detachment, examination, logic, experiment and assessment.
It's not that Dr. Phil or Mr. Tolle are exactly wrong and I begrudingly will grant that if they can help anyone then they have their worth. My principal complaint against the current popular definition of Authentic Self is that it takes the final leap into the uknown and decides for you. You are created, you are empowered or you are alone, you are responsible, you are sheep, depending on both our points of view.
Further to this, there seems to be an unqualified limitation put upon the posibility of paradigm shift. To put it in the parlance of our times, "Yes we can, unless we can't." Even Kuhn couldn't see the now obvious omission of not realising that having Scientists that couldn't communicate because of what were essentially biases meant that these biases could be explored, communicated and most likely resolved, even historically over a period of ages. It's a circular argument to say that you can't understand that which is wrong.
I agree with Kuhn's idea of how Science goes through stages, much like all things do. A natural, lengthy phase where the norm is established then a more exciting, revolutionary phase where Things Change. Then the change becomes the norm. Thus the birth of the "shift" but where is the over-all Acceptance of it's power? We come to a shift, we accept the shift, we change our paradigm. If we are lucky we REALISE we just made the shift. If we are brave we examine what it means to have made ANY shift and how it might empower us to make pre-emptive shifts where necessary. <Thomas Kuhn rolls over in grave.>
The Athiests want you to believe there is no God. Which is a strange thing to want a group of people to believe. What they should want us to believe is that any Religion you serve is counter-productive and faith is personal and free. The Theists and Spiritualists want you to know that God, in whatever form, hopes you can figure yourself out (before it's too late!) Which is a dangerous and lazily arrogant wish. In a perfect world, they could only wonder out loud about the unknowable and they wouldn't dare presume to understand any intentions beyond their own. (Notice that I go to the causation, the Authors. The people making Eckhart Tolle a number one bestseller are using what I call Assignee's Prerogative: I reserve the right to decide paradigms I'm going to reject or accept.)
Some humans will argue with me on precisely this point: There is no Acceptance or Rejection to a being that is Socially Engineered because any decision he/she makes is made by outsourced paradigms. That is true to the point of understanding and exercising Paradigm Pliancy. Once you've named it, you've claimed it and you've taken away it's power. You are now, ultimately responsible.
I've heard it called third wave existentialism. Whispers on the wires, ssshhhh....
I live in a paradigm where I know what I know and I've learned how to think. I will trust in my own decisions, I will have what faith I need, I will make only the absolutely necessary assumptions and I get to decide what they are.
Anyone wishing to delve into my definition of Authentic Self, Paradigm Utilisation and the like should dive into my first four posts.