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Paradigms


(This page is a continuation from Paradigm


To understand how oursenses trick us, please visit our Paradigm Test page to check the reliability of our senses.




PARADIGMS are integral to how we understand and interpret the world around us. All our ideas and beliefs must be anchored in some paradigm to have meaning, and that has its source or beginning in an axiom.


An axiom is a statement, which we take so much for granted that we never consider it. In other words, which is regarded as being established, accepted, or self-evidently true.


We feel comfortable believing in our paradigm, like Linus's blanket in Charles Schultz's 'Peanuts.'


Unfortunately reality is not always so simple:

  • If first principles are necessary for thinking then the axioms cannot be proven.
  • If first principles can be proven i.e. if axioms are conclusions of prior arguments, then they are not first principles.
  • In other words, not everything can be proved.
  • Some things we call axioms cannot be proved.

An example is the sun rising in the morning and setting in the evening. It does not need to be proved as it is an accepted fact. 2000 years ago, it was self-evident that the sun orbited around the earth. Today we believe the earth orbits the sun. However in India they believed the Earth orbits the Sun about 3000 years ago.


The axiom in Europe 2000 years ago was an earth centred universe, and questioning such an obvious fact was considered daft. Often the axiom itself is derived from an unsubstantiated presuppositional assumption.


Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher put it this way:

“The point of philosophy is to start with something so simple as not to seem worth stating, and to end with something so paradoxical that no one will believe it.”

We start with one or more first principles, or axioms. Every philosophy and every thinker must begin somewhere, and that beginning is with one or more assumptions, called first principles or axioms. Unless there is a first principle, there cannot be a second or a third principle. Unless there has been a logically first thought there cannot be a second or a third thought.


One can’t evaluate beliefs especially others' unless one considers the paradigms, which are the context from which those beliefs developed. Spiritual believers and Atheists have vastly different philosophies on values, behaviour, experience, knowledge and the very nature of reality. And yes, Atheists have belief and faith. The Humanists and Atheists believe in man and man’s reason, and faith in the material world, and that this is all there is, and that everything can eventually be known through our senses.


Please visit our Paradigm Test page to check the reliability of your senses.


Faith does not stand above or against reason, but reasoning itself rests on the presuppositions of faith, and collapses as arbitrary without faith.


What this means is that everybody, whether believer in God or an atheist, is a believer in something. It is impossible not to believe in something.


All scientific laws are based on the principle of induction. Induction is the process of generalising from observed cases to all cases of the same kind. The basic guide is that future cases will be like past cases. All learning is based on observing similarities and projecting them into the future.


Modern science operates through the principle of induction, but the interpretation of what is observed is based on the observer’s paradigm. And that is the problem of the principle of induction. A classic example is swans. All swans were white, until the first Europeans arrived in Australia and saw black swans. The Aboriginals living in Australia thought all swans were black.




                                        



What we call the advancement of science is really developing paradigms through a series of paradigm shifts. Unfortunately, paradigm shifts cannot be planned. Over time research shows one paradox after the other. Making sense of these paradoxes is the driving force towards a new paradigm shift. Implementing a paradigm shift is a process, which can only take place once an acceptance of a new concept has developed from different areas, and a “critical mass” of new ideas comes together.


For an individual, implementing a paradigm shift is well nigh impossible. It is necessary that the ground is prepared by a number of independent scientists or philosophers. The history of science has many cases of scientists and great innovative thinkers, who died unknown and frustrated, as their peers were unable to grasp the new ideas.


An example is Galileo. He grasped the concept of relativity, but the world wasn’t ready for it until Einstein published his Relativity Theory. Galileo’s inspiration came when he was on a ship leaving port. Einstein’s were trains and elevators.


The Greek philosophers, who influenced Western thinking so profoundly, were only a few generations of thinkers within a hundred years, 2400 years ago. The understanding of the universe underwent a paradigm shift following Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo Galilei and Johannes Kepler.


Copernicus’ book, “On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres,” was published when he was on his deathbed. Copernicus was fearful of the controversy his theory on the Sun centred universe (heliocentric) would cause.


After Galileo and Kepler, Europe was ready to accept the new paradigm. However in India, in the Vedic Period, the heliocentric paradigm was described 500 years before the Greek philosophers, with the Sun as the centre of the universe. India had made their paradigm shift 2100 years before Copernicus and Europe.


Apart from science, paradigm thinking influences our daily lives, as there are also social paradigms. If we are to have harmony in this world of ours there is a need for mutual cultural paradigm shifts.



(this article continues with social paradigm shifts)





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