Paradigm Series: Some Definitions of Paradigms

  Previous  |  Next  

Monday June 17, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

At the start of this paradigm series, it is important to specify how the term will be used. The word paradigm comes from the Greek word "paradeigma" meaning pattern or example. In line with this, the American Heritage Dictionary defines paradigms as "examples that serve as patterns or models." The Collins Cobuild Dictionary speaks of paradigms as "clear and typical examples of something."

The on-line gives a similar but slightly different definition, "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." They are a "system of beliefs and the framework by which we live."

Based on these various definitions it is easy to see the role of paradigms in our lives; I have and use them; you have and use them; we (people, organizations, and even countries) all have and use them. They are our viewpoints, our models and our interpretations of life and its environs; they are the many ways we interpret and explain the world and reality that we perceive. They are the building blocks of our lives, our cultures, goals and aspirations. Further, they are the prisms through which we view and judge reality, life and the world. This usage is what we will return to throughout as we see the interpretations of reality that Taiwan and China have of reality.