Paradigm

Paradigm

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The word paradigm has been used in science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 to describe distinct concepts. It comes from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

 "παράδειγμα" (paradeigma), "pattern, example, sample" from the verb "παραδείκνυμι" (paradeiknumi), "exhibit, represent, expose" and that from "παρά" (para), "beside, beyond" + "δείκνυμι" (deiknumi), "to show, to point out".

The original Greek term παράδειγμα (paradeigma) was used in Greek texts such as Plato's
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

 Timaeus
Timaeus (dialogue)
Timaeus is one of Plato's dialogues, mostly in the form of a long monologue given by the title character, written circa 360 BC. The work puts forward speculation on the nature of the physical world and human beings. It is followed by the dialogue Critias.Speakers of the dialogue are Socrates,...

 (28A) as the model or the pattern that the Demiurge (god) used to create the cosmos. The term had a technical meaning in the field of grammar
Grammar
In linguistics, grammar is the set of structural rules that govern the composition of clauses, phrases, and words in any given natural language. The term refers also to the study of such rules, and this field includes morphology, syntax, and phonology, often complemented by phonetics, semantics,...

: the 1900 Merriam-Webster
Merriam-Webster
Merriam–Webster, which was originally the G. & C. Merriam Company of Springfield, Massachusetts, is an American company that publishes reference books, especially dictionaries that are descendants of Noah Webster’s An American Dictionary of the English Language .Merriam-Webster Inc. has been a...

dictionary defines its technical use only in the context of grammar or, in rhetoric
Rhetoric
Rhetoric is the art of discourse, an art that aims to improve the facility of speakers or writers who attempt to inform, persuade, or motivate particular audiences in specific situations. As a subject of formal study and a productive civic practice, rhetoric has played a central role in the Western...

, as a term for an illustrative parable
Parable
A parable is a succinct story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive principles, or lessons, or a normative principle. It differs from a fable in that fables use animals, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature as characters, while parables generally feature human...

 or fable
Fable
A fable is a succinct fictional story, in prose or verse, that features animals, mythical creatures, plants, inanimate objects or forces of nature which are anthropomorphized , and that illustrates a moral lesson , which may at the end be expressed explicitly in a pithy maxim.A fable differs from...

. In linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

, Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist whose ideas laid a foundation for many significant developments in linguistics in the 20th century. He is widely considered one of the fathers of 20th-century linguistics...

 used paradigm to refer to a class of elements with similarities.

The word has come to refer very often now to a thought pattern in any scientific
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 discipline
Discipline
In its original sense, discipline is referred to systematic instruction given to disciples to train them as students in a craft or trade, or to follow a particular code of conduct or "order". Often, the phrase "to discipline" carries a negative connotation. This is because enforcement of order –...

 or other epistemological context. The Merriam-Webster Online dictionary defines this usage as "a philosophical and theoretical framework of a scientific school or discipline within which theories, laws, and generalizations and the experiments performed in support of them are formulated; broadly: a philosophical or theoretical framework of any kind."

Scientific paradigm


The historian of science Thomas Kuhn
Thomas Kuhn
Thomas Samuel Kuhn was an American historian and philosopher of science whose controversial 1962 book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions was deeply influential in both academic and popular circles, introducing the term "paradigm shift," which has since become an English-language staple.Kuhn...

 gave paradigm its contemporary meaning when he adopted the word to refer to the set of practices that define a scientific discipline at any particular period of time
Time
Time is a part of the measuring system used to sequence events, to compare the durations of events and the intervals between them, and to quantify rates of change such as the motions of objects....

. Kuhn himself came to prefer the terms exemplar
Exemplar
Exemplar, in the sense developed by philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn, is a well known usage of a scientific theory.According to Kuhn, scientific practice alternates between periods of normal science and extraordinary/revolutionary science...

 and normal science
Normal science
Normal Science is a concept originated by Thomas Samuel Kuhn and elaborated in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. The term refers to the routine work of scientists experimenting within a paradigm, slowly accumulating detail in accord with established broad theory, not actually challenging or...

, which have more precise philosophical meanings. However in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , by Thomas Kuhn, is an analysis of the history of science. Its publication was a landmark event in the history, philosophy, and sociology of scientific knowledge and it triggered an ongoing worldwide assessment and reaction in — and beyond — those scholarly...

Kuhn defines a scientific paradigm as: "universally recognized scientific achievements that, for a time, provide model problems and solutions for a community of researchers", i.e.,
  • what is to be observed and scrutinized
  • the kind of questions that are supposed to be asked and probed for answers in relation to this subject
  • how these questions are to be structured
  • how the results of scientific investigations should be interpreted


Alternatively, the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

defines paradigm as "a pattern or model, an exemplar." Thus an additional component of Kuhn's definition of paradigm is:
  • how is an experiment to be conducted, and what equipment is available to conduct the experiment.


Thus, within normal science
Normal science
Normal Science is a concept originated by Thomas Samuel Kuhn and elaborated in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. The term refers to the routine work of scientists experimenting within a paradigm, slowly accumulating detail in accord with established broad theory, not actually challenging or...

, the paradigm is the set of exemplary experiments that are likely to be copied or emulated. In this scientific context, the prevailing paradigm often represents a more specific way of viewing reality, or limitations on acceptable programs for future research, than the more general scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

.

A currently accepted paradigm would be the standard model
Standard Model
The Standard Model of particle physics is a theory concerning the electromagnetic, weak, and strong nuclear interactions, which mediate the dynamics of the known subatomic particles. Developed throughout the mid to late 20th century, the current formulation was finalized in the mid 1970s upon...

 of physics. The scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

 would allow for orthodox scientific investigations into phenomena which might contradict or disprove the standard model; however grant funding would be proportionately more difficult to obtain for such experiments, depending on the degree of deviation from the accepted standard model theory which the experiment would be expected to test for. To illustrate the point, an experiment to test for the mass of neutrinos or the decay of protons (small departures from the model) would be more likely to receive money than experiments to look for the violation of the conservation of momentum, or ways to engineer reverse time travel.

One important aspect of Kuhn's paradigms is that the paradigms are incommensurable
Commensurability (philosophy of science)
Commensurability is a concept in the philosophy of science. Scientific theories are described as commensurable if one can compare them to determine which is more accurate; if theories are incommensurable, there is no way in which one can compare them to each other in order to determine which is...

, meaning two paradigms cannot be reconciled with each other because they cannot be subjected to the same common standard of comparison. That is, no meaningful comparison between them is possible without fundamental modification of the concepts that are an intrinsic part of the paradigms being compared. This way of looking at the concept of "paradigm" creates a paradox of sorts, since competing paradigms are in fact constantly being measured against each other. (Nonetheless, competing paradigms are not fully intelligible solely within the context of their own conceptual frameworks.) For this reason, paradigm as a concept in the philosophy of science might more meaningfully be defined as a self-reliant explanatory model or conceptual framework. This definition makes it clear that the real barrier to comparison is not necessarily the absence of common units of measurement, but an absence of mutually compatible or mutually intelligible concepts. Under this system, a new paradigm which replaces an old paradigm is not necessarily better, because the criteria of judgment are controlled by the paradigm itself, and by the conceptual framework which defines the paradigm and gives it its explanatory value.

A more disparaging term groupthink
Groupthink
Groupthink is a psychological phenomenon that occurs within groups of people. It is the mode of thinking that happens when the desire for harmony in a decision-making group overrides a realistic appraisal of alternatives. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without...

, and the term mindset
Mindset
In decision theory and general systems theory, a mindset is a set of assumptions, methods or notations held by one or more people or groups of people which is so established that it creates a powerful incentive within these people or groups to continue to adopt or accept prior behaviors, choices,...

, have somewhat similar meanings that apply to smaller and larger scale examples of disciplined thought. Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault
Michel Foucault , born Paul-Michel Foucault , was a French philosopher, social theorist and historian of ideas...

 used the terms episteme
Episteme
Episteme, as distinguished from techne, is etymologically derived from the Greek word ἐπιστήμη for knowledge or science, which comes from the verb ἐπίσταμαι, "to know".- The Concept of an "Episteme" in Michel Foucault :...

 and discourse
Discourse
Discourse generally refers to "written or spoken communication". The following are three more specific definitions:...

, mathesis and taxinomia, for aspects of a "paradigm" in Kuhn's original sense.

Simple common analogy: A simplified analogy for paradigm is a habit of reasoning, or "the box" in the commonly used phrase "thinking outside the box
Thinking outside the box
Thinking outside the box is to think differently, unconventionally, or from a new perspective. This phrase often refers to novel or creative thinking....

". Thinking inside the box is analogous with normal science
Normal science
Normal Science is a concept originated by Thomas Samuel Kuhn and elaborated in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. The term refers to the routine work of scientists experimenting within a paradigm, slowly accumulating detail in accord with established broad theory, not actually challenging or...

. The box encompasses the thinking of normal science and thus the box is analogous with paradigm. "Thinking outside the box" would be what Kuhn calls revolutionary science. Revolutionary science is usually unsuccessful, and very rarely leads to new paradigms. However, when they are successful they lead to large scale changes in the scientific worldview. When these large scale shifts in the scientific view are implemented and accepted by the majority, it will then become "the box" and science will progress within it.

Paradigm shifts



In The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , by Thomas Kuhn, is an analysis of the history of science. Its publication was a landmark event in the history, philosophy, and sociology of scientific knowledge and it triggered an ongoing worldwide assessment and reaction in — and beyond — those scholarly...

, Kuhn wrote that "Successive transition from one paradigm to another via revolution is the usual developmental pattern of mature science." (p. 12)

Paradigm shifts tend to be most dramatic in sciences that appear to be stable and mature, as in physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 at the end of the 19th century. At that time, a statement generally attributed to physicist Lord Kelvin famously claimed, "There is nothing new to be discovered in physics now. All that remains is more and more precise measurement." Five years later, Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 published his paper on special relativity
Special relativity
Special relativity is the physical theory of measurement in an inertial frame of reference proposed in 1905 by Albert Einstein in the paper "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies".It generalizes Galileo's...

, which challenged the very simple set of rules laid down by Newtonian mechanics, which had been used to describe force and motion for over two hundred years. In this case, the new paradigm reduces the old to a special case in the sense that Newtonian mechanics is still a good model for approximation for speeds that are slow compared to the speed of light
Speed of light
The speed of light in vacuum, usually denoted by c, is a physical constant important in many areas of physics. Its value is 299,792,458 metres per second, a figure that is exact since the length of the metre is defined from this constant and the international standard for time...

. Philosophers and historians of science, including Kuhn himself, ultimately accepted a modified version of Kuhn's model, which synthesizes his original view with the gradualist model that preceded it. Kuhn's original model is now generally seen as too limited.

Kuhn's idea was itself revolutionary in its time, as it caused a major change in the way that academics talk about science. Thus, it could be argued that it caused or was itself part of a "paradigm shift" in the history and sociology of science. However, Kuhn would not recognize such a paradigm shift. Being in the social sciences, people can still use earlier ideas to discuss the history of science.

The concept of Paradigm and the social sciences


Kuhn himself did not consider the concept of paradigm as appropriate for the social sciences. He explains in his preface to "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions" that he concocted the concept of paradigm precisely in order to distinguish the social from the natural sciences (p.x). He wrote this book at the Palo Alto Center for Scholars, surrounded by social scientists, when he observed that they were never in agreement on theories or concepts. He explains that he wrote this book precisely to show that there are no, nor can there be any, paradigms in the social sciences. Mattei Dogan
Mattei Dogan
Mattei Dogan is a French political sociologist and senior research officer emeritus of the French National Center for Scientific Research and professor emeritus of political science of the University of California, Los Angeles...

, a French sociologist, in his article "Paradigms in the [Social Sciences]," develops Kuhn's original thesis that there are no paradigms at all in the social sciences since the concepts are polysemic, the deliberate mutual ignorance between scholars and the proliferation of schools in these disciplines. Dogan provides many examples of the non-existence of paradigms in the social sciences in his essay, particularly in sociology, political science and political anthropology.

Paradigm paralysis


Perhaps the greatest barrier to a paradigm shift, in some cases, is the reality of paradigm paralysis: the inability or refusal to see beyond the current models of thinking. This is similar to what psychologists term Confirmation bias
Confirmation bias
Confirmation bias is a tendency for people to favor information that confirms their preconceptions or hypotheses regardless of whether the information is true.David Perkins, a geneticist, coined the term "myside bias" referring to a preference for "my" side of an issue...

.

Examples include rejection of Galileo's theory of a heliocentric universe, the discovery of electrostatic photography
Photography
Photography is the art, science and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film...

, xerography
Xerography
Xerography is a dry photocopying technique invented by Chester Carlson in 1938, for which he was awarded on October 6, 1942. Carlson originally called his invention electrophotography...

 and the quartz clock
Quartz clock
A quartz clock is a clock that uses an electronic oscillator that is regulated by a quartz crystal to keep time. This crystal oscillator creates a signal with very precise frequency, so that quartz clocks are at least an order of magnitude more accurate than good mechanical clocks...

.

Other uses


Handa, M.L. (1986) introduced the idea of "social paradigm" in the context of social sciences. He identified the basic components of a social paradigm. Like Kuhn, Handa addressed the issue of changing paradigm; the process popularly known as "paradigm shift
Paradigm shift
A Paradigm shift is, according to Thomas Kuhn in his influential book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , a change in the basic assumptions, or paradigms, within the ruling theory of science...

". In this respect, he focused on social circumstances that precipitate such a shift and the effects of the shift on social institutions, including the institution of education. This broad shift in the social arena, in turn, changes the way the individual perceives reality.

Another use of the word paradigm is in the sense of Weltanschauung (German for world view). For example, in social science, the term is used to describe the set of experiences, beliefs and values that affect the way an individual perceives reality and responds to that perception. Social scientists have adopted the Kuhnian phrase "paradigm shift" to denote a change in how a given society goes about organizing and understanding reality. A “dominant paradigm” refers to the values, or system of thought, in a society that are most standard and widely held at a given time. Dominant paradigms are shaped both by the community’s cultural background and by the context of the historical moment. The following are conditions that facilitate a system of thought to become an accepted dominant paradigm:
  • Professional organizations that give legitimacy to the paradigm
  • Dynamic leaders who introduce and purport the paradigm
  • Journals and editors who write about the system of thought. They both disseminate the information essential to the paradigm and give the paradigm legitimacy
  • Government agencies who give credence to the paradigm
  • Educators who propagate the paradigm’s ideas by teaching it to students
  • Conferences conducted that are devoted to discussing ideas central to the paradigm
  • Media coverage
  • Lay groups, or groups based around the concerns of lay persons, that embrace the beliefs central to the paradigm
  • Sources of funding to further research on the paradigm


The word paradigm is also still used to indicate a pattern or model or an outstandingly clear or typical example or archetype
Archetype
An archetype is a universally understood symbol or term or pattern of behavior, a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated...

. The term is frequently used in this sense in the design professions. Design Paradigms or archetype
Archetype
An archetype is a universally understood symbol or term or pattern of behavior, a prototype upon which others are copied, patterned, or emulated...

s comprise functional precedents for design solutions. The best known references on design paradigms are Design Paradigms: A Sourcebook for Creative Visualization, by Wake, and Design Paradigms by Petroski.

This term is also used in cybernetics
Cybernetics
Cybernetics is the interdisciplinary study of the structure of regulatory systems. Cybernetics is closely related to information theory, control theory and systems theory, at least in its first-order form...

. Here it means (in a very wide sense) a (conceptual) protoprogram for reducing the chaotic mass to some form of order. Note the similarities to the concept of entropy in chemistry and physics. A paradigm there would be a sort of prohibition to proceed with any action that would increase the total entropy
Entropy
Entropy is a thermodynamic property that can be used to determine the energy available for useful work in a thermodynamic process, such as in energy conversion devices, engines, or machines. Such devices can only be driven by convertible energy, and have a theoretical maximum efficiency when...

 of the system. In order to create a paradigm, a closed system
Closed system
-In physics:In thermodynamics, a closed system can exchange energy , but not matter, with its surroundings.In contrast, an isolated system cannot exchange any of heat, work, or matter with the surroundings, while an open system can exchange all of heat, work and matter.For a simple system, with...

 which would accept any changes is required. Thus a paradigm can be only applied to a system that is not in its final stage.

See also


  • Concept
    Concept
    The word concept is used in ordinary language as well as in almost all academic disciplines. Particularly in philosophy, psychology and cognitive sciences the term is much used and much discussed. WordNet defines concept: "conception, construct ". However, the meaning of the term concept is much...

  • Conceptual framework
    Conceptual framework
    A conceptual framework is used in research to outline possible courses of action or to present a preferred approach to an idea or thought. For example, the philosopher Isaiah Berlin used the "hedgehogs" versus "foxes" approach; a "hedgehog" might approach the world in terms of a single organizing...

  • Conceptual schema
    Conceptual schema
    A conceptual schema or conceptual data model is a map of concepts and their relationships. This describes the semantics of an organization and represents a series of assertions about its nature...

  • Contextualism
    Contextualism
    Contextualism describes a collection of views in philosophy which emphasize the context in which an action, utterance, or expression occurs, and argues that, in some important respect, the action, utterance, or expression can only be understood relative to that context...

  • Perspectivism
    Perspectivism
    Perspectivism is the philosophical view developed by Friedrich Nietzsche that all ideations take place from particular perspectives. This means that there are many possible conceptual schemes, or perspectives in which judgment of truth or value can be made...

  • Programming paradigm
    Programming paradigm
    A programming paradigm is a fundamental style of computer programming. Paradigms differ in the concepts and abstractions used to represent the elements of a program and the steps that compose a computation A programming paradigm is a fundamental style of computer programming. (Compare with a...

  • The history of the various paradigms in evolutionary biology (Wikiversity)

http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Meta-narrative&redirect=no
  • Metanarrative
    Metanarrative
    A metanarrative , in critical theory and particularly postmodernism, is an abstract idea that is thought to be a comprehensive explanation of historical experience or knowledge. According to John Stephens, it "is a global or totalizing cultural narrative schema which orders and explains knowledge...

  • poststructuralism