21. august 2008

paradigm.shift

The title of this entry is related to my current course this semester at aho called "technoForm". The course aims to physically explore the words: "evolution, revolution and paradigm shift" within product design.

What is a paradigm?
The word ”paradigm” is originally used to describe a table of all the different forms of a word. In 1962 Thomas Kuhn shaped the word to describe a ruling framework of ideas, theories, methods in science that empirical facts are placed into. The resulting picture is thus a result of not only the cold facts, but also the intrinsic experience in becoming a scholar with all the reading of previous scientists work and experiences.

Every so often there is anomalies that does not fit into the dominant framework and those are often forcefully fitted, or even fitted by bending the framework, which makes the ruling paradigm less elegant and more fragile. Then a concurrent paradigm, which tries to fit more of the anomalities without bending the framework, are constructed. And when the previeous paradigm becomes too fragile there can be a revolution that tears down the ruling framework and rebuilds it into the new. The revolution has then led to a paradigm shift.

The resulting new dominant paradigm is argued by Kuhn to be better than the previous one, if within the natural sciences, it can be argued that when paradigms evolve in the social sciences they can survive side by side without a definitive paradigm shift. I wonder if this relativism also can be true for practices within product design? That is something i will discuss at a later stage.

Sources: Torstein Thurén, Thomas Kuhn, Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary

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