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Paradigm Shift

 

The introduction of a paradigm shift as a concept comes from Thomas Kuhn's work as presented in The Structure of Scientific Revolution. Unfortunately, the word paradigm is used far too loosely in conversations regarding changing the way we understand and do things.  This use diminishes the gravity of what is potentially occuring, and this use skews the expectations surrounding the process of its acceptance within its constituency. Kuhn's breakthrough concept was to identify the fundamental nature of scientific progress, and the inevitable resistance of the affected community to the shift in thinking. In fact he observed that very frequently the insight that propels the shift comes from outside the discipline as it is currently comprised, and frequently from cross fertilization from a different field. It is much more than a better or deeper understanding. It is in fact a different understanding.


The shift is much more than taking a different perspective; a true paradigm shift demands a different set of assumptions or presuppostions about what is likely true that makes what was previously understood largely obsolete.   The difficult part is to realize that the new assumptions are also not the ultimate truth, but hopefully closer to the actual reality, and therefore a better pathway to understanding and working with the phenomena in question than that currently accepted. This new understanding is also likely to be supplanted eventually by future insight that again moves beyond the new current assumptions and practice.





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