I’ve been waiting for the moment when the above image, long on my desktop, could be inserted into a post. So here we are!
Back when I was a graduate student in philosophy, required to take “formal logic” as one of the prerequisites for the PhD, I asked the professor: “But what is wrong with contradiction?” At this question, he looked at me flummoxed, red-faced. Finally, he stammered, “Because from a contradiction, anything follows! ANYTHING!”
Yes, exactly. Contradictions are nodes in the framework of what we’d now call “the matrix,” and what I like to call “the conceptual helmet.” Bust one of them out, and you are free.
Well, back then, I might have been good at asking fundamental questions, but they were merely theoretical. Meanwhile, internally, I was wrestling with an enormous conundrum: I sensed that all the “facts” that I was “learning” through my five external senses were funneling into some kind of internal framework, or structure. That this structure itself was a kind of prison, holding me in place, preventing real learning. For me, absorbing more and more information was not real learning. I knew with every fiber in my being, that to learn is to change.
My problem was not philosophical, it was personal, palpable. I had to find a way to break through the internal structure. Unless I did so, I would continue to feel deadened to my life, unable to grow and unfold my own nature.
Of course I didn’t use the phrase “unfold my own nature” back then. That would come later, when I commenced devouring the works of C.G. Jung, R.D. Laing, and other psychoanalytic pioneers. But I sure did realize that I was stopped, stuck, somehow cemented in, and determined to free myself.
At that time, Thomas Kuhn’s book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions had been out for a few years (first published in 1962). According to wikipedia, Kuhn was the inventor of the word “paradigm shift,” and used this phrase to distinguish between “normal” and “revolutionary” science.
A paradigm shift, as identified by American physicist Thomas Kuhn, is a fundamental change in the basic concepts andexperimental practices of a scientific discipline. Kuhn contrasted these shifts, which characterize a scientific revolution, to the activity of normal science, which he described as scientific work done within a prevailing framework (or paradigm). In this context, the word “paradigm” is used in its original meaning, as “example” (Greek: παράδειγμα).
The nature of scientific revolutions has been a question posed by modern philosophy since Immanuel Kant used the phrase in the preface to his Critique of Pure Reason (1781), referring to Greek mathematics and Newtonian physics. In the 20th century, new crises in the basic concepts of mathematics, physics, and biology, revitalized interest in the question among scholars. It was against this active background that Kuhn published his work.
To the eight signs the world is undergoing a paradigm shift below, I’d add a ninth, the fact that now, 50 years later, thanks to the internet which delivers endless contradictory streams of so-called “facts,” all of humanity now wrestles with what had been my own, lonely, personal struggle of how to break through “normal” into what might actually become, on a planetary basis, utterly magnificent.