Chapter 5 – Paradigms – A Third Component

LOGO FINALQuality IS…a shared set of assumptions with a purpose.

Why aggregate concepts and principles by providing rules for their application?

If the meaning of paradigms is understood, the meaning of quality will follow.

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 The paradigm is a shared set of assumptions, the way we perceive the world; water to fish. The paradigm explains the world to us and helps us to predict its behavior.

-Adam Smith

Today, “paradigm” is a buzzword and people use it loosely. But it is not a loose idea.

– Joel Barker 

Concepts describe our world to us. Principles associate concepts and make them into something useful. Next, we will cover the final component of the ConPriDigm™, the paradigm. The ConPriDigm™, (Concepts, Principles and Paradigms) is a construct that just happens to be the domain name for this blog. A chapter will be dedicated to the ConPriDigm™ — in the book.

We have all heard someone say, “Our school system needs a paradigm shift”, or perhaps “our political party needs a paradigm shift”. But, what exactly is a paradigm.  You can’t shift one unless you have identified the current one…and understand it.

A paradigm is a collection of principles with an overarching purpose. Paradigms aggregate principles by providing rules for their application. However, the principles must meet the Principle Effects criteria established in the previous chapter.

The architect of the paradigm was Thomas S. Kuhn (1922-1996).  He received his M.S. and PhD in physics from Harvard University. Kuhn developed a passion outside his box: he wrote extensively on the history, sociology and philosophy of science. Perhaps, his seminal contribution was his book entitled The Structure of Scientific Revolution (1962) in which he introduced the paradigm.

Kuhn’s key argument was targeted at the scientific community and relied on his premise that all scientific research, resulting in theory, is impacted by rules that are universally accepted. The rules may be written or unwritten and may be subjective. It is important to think of Kuhn’s concept of a paradigm in the context of the title of his book.

The books subject matter is focused on the aspects of scientific revolutions; major departures from the way people think and apply knowledge for solving problems plaguing mankind. Kuhn felt that scientists can never divorce their subjective perspective from their work; thus, our comprehension of science can never rely on full objectivity, we must account for subjective perspectives as well. It is the belief of this writer that the subjective aspect of the paradigm lead Kuhn to defining the paradigm in many different ways and rightfully so, an objective purview would have been rather straight forward.

A conceptual pattern for the abstract concept of subjectiveness would yield the following specification.

Subjectiveness can lead to a partiality, tendency or inclination that bears on our conscious and unconscious mental processes and activities. Mental processes and activities result in our perception, learning and reasoning, which are responsible for our thoughts and feelings. When we are subjective, thoughts and strong feelings begin to change in form and character for a particular purpose. Meaning becomes restricted and opinion is influenced in advance. The partiality may be directed at an object, person or concept that prevents objective consideration. Purposeful consideration may be prevented, in advance, without knowledge, thought or reason and may eliminate the opportunity for objective unprejudiced consideration.

Think about this…

When we don’t recognize the subjective nature of a concept we become prejudiced toward our own perspectives rather than accept any new idea. We can become quite critical.

In my next post – the nature of a paradigm in the context of subjectivity.