7 Keys to help you understand paradigm
“A paradigm is a set of rules & regulations that does two things:
First some of the rules establish the edges or the boundaries of a territory.
Second, the rest of the rules tell you how to act within those boundaries to achieve some measure of success.
Success is most commonly measured in any paradigm by your ability to solve problems using the rules.” – Joel Barker
Paradigm and the mind
Paradigm and mind is recursively inter-connected. Our paradigms are our minds and our minds are our paradigms. Thought is inseparably embedded in our paradigms and our paradigms are developed by thinking. Our paradigms are ‘caused’ by our thinking and at exactly the same time they are the ‘instruments’ with which we think. Our paradigms stand on both sides of our beingness as humans, i.e. they develop because we think and because we think they develop. They are both the containers of our thinking and the ‘tools’ we use for thinking.
Paradigm forming is a circular, self-generating process
This never-ending, circular process of paradigm forming forms our paradigms, or stated differently, our paradigms cause their own paradigm forming. They generate and maintain themselves. This is a natural process not under our control. We don’t have a choice over which territory we are born into. We have more control over which words and category of words we use to name our observations, distinctions and experiences.
Since our paradigms are both our instruments for thinking as well as the containers for our thinking they develop from birth to death. The moment mind cease to exist is the moment paradigm will cease to exist. Our paradigms are ‘looped’ in a continuous process of development that only stops the day we stop thinking. As long as we think, we have paradigms. As long as we have paradigms we have the ability to think.
Our paradigms are unique
Every person who can think applies her paradigm in a unique way. There are no two paradigms alike. There is a lot of similarity, but no two paradigms are exactly the same. Since our paradigms develop in a specific time and space our paradigms are confined to what we are exposed to. Even in a similar context our paradigms develop in unique ways.
Our paradigms are focused
Our paradigms do a lot of thinking. It can process millions of thoughts, but not all at once. We have a limited ability to process thinking simultaneously. Only a limited amount of thoughts can enter our awareness at any given time. We can think of this limited ability as focus. It would have been impossible to focus if we constantly had to deal with all the knowledge in our paradigms. Most of the thoughts we process in a moment is usually ‘triggered’ by what is presented to our senses. In other words we think most about what our senses observe.
Our paradigms are limited
Our paradigms only contain the observations and distinctions, i.e. knowledge, we have made up to this second. Since no one of us have made all observations and distinctions of everything that can be known we are limited. We engage with our ‘worlds’ according to what our paradigms allow us. We can’t make sense of distinctions we haven’t observed and drawn yet. It is not possible for us to interpret the things we have never seen before. Our paradigms are hungry to know (more) and will therefore try to make sense of the things we haven’t observed before.
Since our paradigms are both the camera and the hard drive on which the pictures are stored we will take pictures of all the new observations of our senses. We might not know what to make of the picture or in what folder it should be stored, but we take the picture anyway. The limitations of our paradigms are such that pictures we haven’t taken before we are not able to interpret. We don’t really know how to make sense of things we don’t know. If something is not part of the paradigm we don’t know how to know it. We only know something if we have a picture that connects with it when it is encountered.
Our paradigms are reflections of reality
Our paradigms contain all the pictures we have taken of the world we have encountered. Our paradigms are the pictures. We often forget a picture is only a picture. A picture is not the ‘real thing’ it represents; it is only a picture of the ‘real thing’. Our paradigms don’t carry the ‘thing’ we have a picture of. It only carries a reflection or representation in the form of a picture of the ‘real thing’.
Even though we only carry reflections and representations of anything that can be known we believe we carry the truth of it, i.e. the real thing. Although, like now, we are reminded our paradigms are only reflections of reality for us it feels like these reflections are real, and maybe it’s true. For us our paradigms are ‘real’ even though they only carry reflections of reality.
Our paradigms can change
Our paradigms always grow to make interpretations possible of new things we observe. It never tires of trying to make sense of things we encounter. Change in the context of our paradigms mean that we are constantly making new observations and drawing new distinctions to navigate our way through whatever is presented to us. Those with more pictures of a certain ‘territory’ will be able to navigate more effectively, but that doesn’t deter someone who hasn’t been through that territory to make the most of the given. For the untrained eye it is difficult to see, but still it can see. The more our paradigms are populated with new and unfamiliar experiences, the more our paradigms expand and grow. This is what I mean to say by saying our paradigms are forever changing.
Our paradigms create stability
As much as our paradigms allow us to adapt to new observation and experiences, our paradigms also ‘stay the same’. The pictures our paradigms have taken are already part of the paradigms we will use to interpret anything we might encounter in the next second, minute, day, week and year. Our current pictures make it possible to interpret the things we have already taken pictures of. When you see your dog tonight you will recognize her because in your past you have already taken a picture of her. The ‘stability’ in our paradigms is not a type of control of the external environment. It is more a case of constancy of already acquired knowledge.
We already know what we know.
By guest author Nico Liebenberg