Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Paradigm Change

A paradigm is defined as a set of assumptions, concepts, values, and practices that constitutes a way of viewing reality for the community that shares them, especially in an intellectual discipline.

Paradigms are necessary to a coherent and communicative functioning in the world of humans. However, they also tend to get entrenched in our thoughts and understanding, and become resistible to movement and change. Change in the thinking or viewing of a subject is sometimes called a paradigm shift. When we find ourselves unable or reluctant to accept and internalize an important change in the nuance or essence of something, we suffer from paradigm paralysis, that is, the inability to see beyond our current models of thinking. We take what Jane Austen ironically called "a truth universally acknowledged" to be the one and only possible truth.

You may well wonder what has stimulated this reflection on this Wednesday morning?

It was due to Mick Hartley's post about octopuses:

A giant Pacific octopus called Mavis has helped researchers to prove that the one thing everyone knows about the creatures is wrong.

The name octopus is derived from the Ancient Greek for eight feet. Mavis, who lives in a tank at Weymouth Sea Life Centre, actually has six arms and two legs.

It seems quite wonderful, doesn't it, that the image of the octopus as a creature of many tentacles usually associated with conspiracy theories and antisemites' most cherished metaphor, turns out to be not at all suitable to its role in mythology. From now on, we had better refer to an octopus as a creature with two legs and six arms, something more like an Indian goddess...


At 12:32 PM EDT, Blogger SnoopyTheGoon said...

In fact, the whole issue of octopus image ascribed to the Elders is an intentional feint. We us giant squids who are way up there on destruction potential scale.


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