The way Kuhn used the term “paradigm,” of course, has been badly misunderstood by the public and by most critics and appropriators of the term, who incorrectly use it to mean some sort of theory or super theory. Fritjof Capra, Stan Grof, Duane Elgin, Richard Tarnas, Charlene Spretnak—the list is virtually endless—would say that a new holistic or ecological theory should replace the old atomistic, Newtonian-Cartesian worldview, and that would be a new paradigm. But that typically incorrect use has Kuhn exactly backward. “Paradigm,” for Kuhn, does not mean the theory or the superstructure, but the base or social practice. Paradigm is an almost exact equivalent of techno-economic base, social practice, behavioral injunction, or exemplar.
That is, a paradigm is a set of social practices and behavioral exemplars—specific types of experiments, for example, that generate a specific set of data or factual occasions. A paradigm, exemplar, or injunction brings forth, enacts, and illumines a particular set of phenomena, data, experiences, or apprehensions. (This is why my own broad theory of good science has three major strands: injunction or paradigm, enacted data or apprehensions, and confirmation/rejection. The first strand was modeled to take account of Kuhn’s important work, while setting it in a larger context of phenomenology, falsifiability, and other equally important if partial factors.)
Thus a paradigm, as Kuhn used it, might be a particular set of experiments that produce X-rays. These experiments, injunctions, or social practices (the Lower Right) becomes the models or exemplars of how good science in that field is to be done. Other scientists use and model those exemplary practices to produce (enact and bring forth) more data, phenomena, or factual occasions. And—almost exactly as in Marx (because they were both onto the AQAL nature of this thing)—around this base or paradigm (LR) grow various superstructures, theories, or worldviews (LL) that are molded and determined by the base.
Thus, for example, around an entire set of physical experiments and paradigms had grown the entire edifice of Newtonian physics theory. That is, around the LR base of technological production grew LL theories and worldviews. Or again, around the LR base of data production and injunctive paradigms (which enact and bring forth various types of data, experiences, and phenomena) grew various LL theories, superstructures, and worldviews that attempted to explain the factually enacted data. The base or paradigm helps determine the consciousness of the scientists in this regard (just as the techno-economic base helps determine the consciousness of individual in any society—although, again, for us it is an AQAL affair that does not privilege any single quadrant, level, line, or state). As we saw with Marx, the essential point is that third-person materialities have a profound effect on first- and second-person realities.
This arrangement—which is Kuhn’s “normal science”—works well as long as the data generated by the paradigm continues to fit within the prevailing worldview. The Newtonian theory, for instance, worked very well for a very long time to explain all of the data that had been generated to date. With a few exceptions… such as black body radiation. That is, as more and more sophisticated experiments were invented, new data were generated that could not in any way be explained by the old theories. Thus, the base of technological production—the new paradigm—was generating experiences that could not be accounted for by the old theories. The new base needed a new worldview, and thus science was set for yet another “revolution,” or dramatic change in worldview to account for the progressive increase in depth of the new paradigm demanding an increase in depth in a new theory.
And yes, this was scientific progress, as Kuhn made very clear (“I am a firm believer in scientific progress”), again showing his (correct, I believe) agreement with Marx in this essential regard (namely, there is a progressive Eros to the sequence, or else “revolutions” are not really revolutionary but are merely the old cyclical going nowhere).
Of course, virtually all of today’s “new paradigm” theorists—including all of the authors just mentioned, and literally hundreds of others—claimed that they had a new paradigm, when in fact they had no such thing. All they had was a new theory, not a new base, not a new set of injunctions to generate new data, not a new exemplar at all. The wildly popular version of “paradigm” had the cart before the horse, and simply presented a new theory with no new paradigms at all—that is, the “new paradigms” were entirely a boomeritis version of Kuhn’s important research (see Boomeritis, chap. 8).
Whenever a new (and real) paradigm enacts and brings forth new data, the old worldviews and theories are thrown into a crisis that can only be resolved by a progressive increase in depth to keep pace with the increase in depth in the new paradigm or techno- productive base. Whether this crisis (or paradigm clash—which means, clash between various technological forces of data production, or a clash between the types of experiments and exemplars that will be taken as producing the most significant data)—whether this crisis is resolved through overt revolution or quieter reform (see below), the results are the same: an increase in depth in both Lower Right and Lower Left (and therefore Upper Right and Upper Left for all those involved). In short, all four selection pressures in AQAL space swing into play and conspire to move Eros yet another notch forward in the Kosmic game. (This does not mean that all progress is sweetness and light; as we will see below, new progress and new pathologies often go hand in hand, but that fact in itself is not enough to deny the aspects of development that can and do represent genuine and progressive increases in depth.)
But let us immediately note that a paradigm clash is actually a small subset of a much larger and more important phenomena, so let us move forward to that larger discussion.