Paradigms, Paradigm Change and Interpretation

       Paradigm for me is knowledge from events that have been translated into beliefs of different groups which they live by. They can be shifted or altered over a period of time and be passed down for generations. Many groups may share similar paradigms but the facts behind them may also be different. Overall I think paradigms give a different perspective of looking at things in life and can make a significant change in one’s life.

       Kuhn describes paradigm as theories accumulated from a group of scientists who individually shared how they perceived the world. He uses two theories, heliocentric; which states that the sun was the center of the universe and geocentric; which stated that the earth was the center of the universe to illustrate differences in paradigms. The geocentric theory was directly related to the Catholic Church. They believed that god created the universe for humans and therefore we had to be the focal point. They church felt obligated to maintain this theory since biblical scriptures coincided with it and they had to keep strength in people’s faith. The heliocentric theory was related to science and technology. The paradigm conflict came about when the telescope was invented which shifted paradigms from normal science to revolutionary science. People started to rise up and did things they would have never done. In the heliocentric paradigm the issue of what was” wrong” and “right”, “facts” and “truths” came about. There was no higher power to decide, it was basically who had the better argument and how many people were willing to convert, whereas in the geocentric paradigm everyone didn’t necessarily agree but accepted it.

       There have been so many paradigm conflicts with respect to paradigms such as education, culture, politics & religion, which have influenced communities worldwide since the beginning of time. From those experiences, people from different parts of the world developed their paradigms which in turn formed their “absolute truths”. It’ll be foolish to make assumptions and proclaim something as “truth” about events that happened 100 years before you were even born. Many paradigms have been passed down for decades and respect should be shown to all of them.

       My awareness on the existence of paradigm differences would undoubtedly alter conversations with various people. But as a scientist it’s always been instilled in me to be open-minded and objective, so it’s nothing new. Nevertheless, I would approach unbiased, cautious and with a “cool” demeanor. For there to be a significant or any little change in how the awareness of paradigms would impact my conversation with someone, firstly, there are some things I would have to improve on. One is being more patient (a virtue I haven’t mastered yet), and not interrupt every 10 seconds. Another, by being more attentive, though it may not be a topic of my interest or one that I even care about, but at least nod occasionally. I would try my best to refrain from derogatory statements and be mindful that many factors influence our paradigms, for example which part of the world we come from.

Kuhn, T. (1962/1996). “The Structure Of Scientific Revolutions” 3rd Ed. University Of Chicago. Pp 43-51