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Tag: paradigm


New paradigms are discovered by asking questions that can’t be answered.

Old paradigms are kept in place by insisting on answers that can’t be questioned.

On framing and schema

We live in interesting times. Times of transition, involving the collapse of an old order and the shift to a new paradigm. Such transitions are often mistaken for technological changes or revolutionary shifts in material conditions. Actually they are neither. Paradigm shifts are fundamentally always shifts of perception, that is, shifts in the way we perceive reality and therefore in the way we act in the world.

Therefore, to understand a paradigm shift we need to understand how perceptions of reality can be modulated and altered at scale. In other words, we need to understand the mechanics of perception. In this lecture I discuss the concepts of schema and frames as the building blocks of the mechanics of perception. I examine the way framing can be used to alter perceptions and discuss the case of Edward Bernays’ Torches of Freedom campaign.

Paradigm Shifts

You better start believing in paradigm shifts Miss Turner, because you’re in one.

Here’s a lecture I recorded recently, discussing the concept of paradigms and the process of paradigm shifts. I discuss paradigm shifts based on Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, though my focus is on a more general understanding of the process, involving awareness of change and the key mechanics of the phase transition from one paradigm to another. I also use Jordan Hall’s excellent short essay On Thinking and Simulated Thinking to illustrate how paradigm shifts necessitate a phase transition in thinking about and orienting ourselves in a given reality.

I think the year 2020 so far bears the marks of a massive socio-political-economic phase transition to a new paradigm, and that the mid 2020s will be unrecognizable to someone from 1996 or 2006.

There is a story that when Zhou Enlai, the late premier of China under Mao, visited France for the first time in the 1950s he was asked what he thinks of the French Revolution. His answer was ‘It’s too early to say.’