Historical Paradigm Shifts

Historical Paradigm Shifts: Feudalism, Capitalism & Informationalism

historical paradigm shiftsIn order to clearly understand the forces coming into play in current and future paradigm shifts, it can be helpful to examine historical paradigm shifts. In the Futurica Trilogy provides just such an analysis. The authors show how the concept of God changes in the historical paradigm shifts from Feudalism to Capitalism. “In Feudal times, God was (in mobilistic terms) an assumed constant who’s existence was unquestionable…With the transition to Capitalism, the fixed structures which supported the concept of God collapsed…The authority of both Monarchy and Church rested ultimately upon the existence of something call ‘god’ with a capital G. God was the assumed constant and could therefore never be called into question under any circumstances. If doubt were allowed to spread, the whole power structure would have been in danger of imploding. As a result, of obstinate denials of any movement in the assumed constant and unwillingness to surrender the claims of religion,  Atheism was elevated to the status of a new axiom and became an oppositional and effective tool for the acquisition of power by the developing Bourguoise.” In other words, power in the old paradigm rested upon certain assumed constants and the historical paradigm shifts to the new paradigm revealed these were not ‘immutable truth’ but merely assumed and when this was shown to be the case, power previously held by church and monarchy shifted elsewhere.

The authors speculate that Czar Nicholas might have been able to avoid the Bolshevik Revolution by denouncing the authority of the Russian Orthodox Church, but could not, as doing so would undermine the basis of his own legitimacy as ruler. Consequently, he became a scapegoat when power shifted away from church and monarch to capital (whether or not it resided in a Capitalist or Communist system).

Historical Paradigm Shifts: Power Transfer From Feudalism To Capitalism

historical paradigm shifts feudalismIn Feudalism power lay in the land. This was inherent and had no price tag. In Capitalism power lay in capital. When the historical paradigm shifts occurred, aristocracy was revalued in terms of capital and the moneyed Bourguoise were able to purchase and renovate the estates formerly held by the feudal power class. Indeed, for a while it made sense the two classes to intermarry, as one could contribute their noble name in exchange for the other contributing their money and thus increase the standing of both families for different reasons. Paradoxically, the legal preconditions for the ascendancy of the Bourgoise were created through the attempts of the Aristocracy to preserve itself through state protection of private fortunes.

Eventually, the Bourgoise rewrote history in a way that portrayed the aristocracy and church as quaint relics of the past which had inevitably collapsed due to the newly assumed innate superiority of their own class and its nation-state. To quote the authors, “Man became God, science his gospel, the nation-state his paradise and capital his holy instrument of power.”

Historical Paradigm Shifts: Power Transfer From Capitalism To Informationalism

historical paradigm shifts capitalismTrue to form, a similar pattern of historical paradigm shifts is showing up in the current transition from Capitalism to Informationalism (Netocracy). It is the very attempts by the Bourgoise to preserve their capitalistic power by controlling copyright and patent through legislation and law enforcement that provide the Netocracy with the legal basis for assuming power.

Curiously enough, this resulted in Etatism or belief in the State, governed by democratically elected representatives as the current form of ‘divine right’ that was previously accorded to royalty.  This was reinforced by the media, first in the form of newspapers and later as radio and television. While maintaining the appearance of freedom, these instruments of information dissemination were in fact, tightly controlled (at least in the beginning).  As market forces came into play and the need to appeal to wider audiences became clear, media began to have a voice independent of the existing power structure. (An example of this was the British ‘pirate’ radio stations playing American rock and blues in stark contrast to the BBC playlists).

The media has become a power unto itself, usurping power from the State. This can be seen when television and movie stars come out for or against certain political decisions. Previously, this would have been unheard of.  Nowadays the media assumes the role of keeping politicians in line. It has become quite conventional to assume that all politicians are corrupt and deplorable (whether they actually are or not). The problem is that in order to keep audiences engaged, the media must continue to create sensational scandals and has the side-effect of a cynical populace who sees no point in voting. What happened? The media quietly took control of the state. This explains quite a lot. A media star is now president; one that knew of the media’s need for drama and was expert at providing it, thus getting free coverage throughout the election.

Decision makers within the media are not elected officials. Consequently, it appears that if the media is literally running the show, it amounts to the death of democracy.  Fortunately, the media networks are not the only channels available to people. The internet serves as an alternate channel. The problem is that most users are not fully conversant in the technology. With the transition to Informationalism, power is tied to technological mastery. It also appears that with informationalism, power is shifting from democracy to a plurarchy. What’s the difference? In democracy an individual is subject to the decisions of the group. In plurarchy, the individual is no longer subject to the whims of the group, but is largely self-determined and power comes with mastery.

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Paradigm Shift: Competing Models Of Reality

Paradigm Shift: How Competing Models Of Reality Affect Our Lives

paradigm shift“Paradigm shift” actually means changing the model we use to understand something. (Paradigm means model or metaphor, so a paradigm shift amounts to a new model). Although we tend to use “paradigm shift” as a new way to interpret current events, the truth is that paradigm shifts have taken place in the past and with them shifts in the power structure. The Futurica Trilogy examines what a paradigm shift is in depth. It examines how technology is a driving force throughout history and goes on to show the impacts of Feudalism transitioning to Capitalism and then Informationalism. It shows the death of the State and the crisis of Democracy and the consequences of that. So let’s begin:

Paradigm Shift: Technology as the driving force of history

paradigm shiftThe Futurica Trilogy opens with the tale of a lone Japanese soldier on a remote island, discovered decades after World War II had ended, dutifully manning his post as if peace had never been declared. He was simply doing the best he knew how with the limited information at his disposal. The author shows how we encounter a paradigm shift similarly. We gain our understanding of “reality” based on  models we invent to navigate through a world in which most of the information is beyond our scope, and thus limit our attention to what is most relevant to our lives. This becomes clear to people as they become educated, as the simplified explanations we learn in grade school are replaced with the more complex explanations we learn in high school and again in college, where we may discard our earlier understandings entirely in light of new technology or research.

paradigm shiftEven so, we tend to perceive new things in terms of old understandings. Case in point: When we hear the word “computer” we think tend to think of a device which is composed of known technology: (Part car, part television, part typewriter). A computer could just as well be much more like a friend you talk to who shows you things on the inside of your sunglasses. Indeed, with the advent of Apple’s Siri and similar programs, the technology seems to be moving this direction.

This also raises the question of whether or not the latest technological gadget represents true change to the human experience or is instead business as usual in a shiny new wrapper. The focus of this and subsequent articles in this paradigm shift series is to examine how technology impacts how we model reality and how those models impact human experience in very real ways.

The Either/Or Nature Of A Paradigm Shift

paradigm shiftThere is one other curious aspect to a paradigm shift and that is the “either/or” or “one or the other” property. Just as the spinning dancer appears to be turning one direction and then, in the blink of an eye appears to spin the opposite direction, so it is with a paradigm shift. It either appears to be one way or the other, but not both simultaneously. This can be confusing for some people. Image by Nobuyuki Kayahara – Procreo Flash Design Laboratory, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3526328

Next Up: The Paradigm Shift From Feudalism To Capitalism

We will examine an early paradigm shift and see how both the new and old paradigms compete for dominance even today.

paradigm shift

Orlando Ferguson’s Flat Earth Map (Right-Click image to View full-size in its own tab)

 

 

 

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Paradigm Shift Definition

Paradigm Shift Definition: Going Beyond The Dictionaries

When people search for a paradigm shift definition, dictionaries fall short in terms of helping people understand the deeper implications for their lives.

The Cambridge Dictionary Paradim Shift definition is: “A time when the usual and accepted way of doing or thinking about something changes completely.”

The Merriam Webster Dictionary Paradigm Shift definition is: “An important change that happens when the usual way of thinking about or doing something is replaced by a new and different way.”

paradigm shift definitionFundamentally, the word “paradigm” means model. So a more comprehensive paradigm shift definition would involve realizing the implications of what it means to change the model a person is using to understand something. A simple example of this might be the shift from the model of a flat earth to that of a sphere. In the flat earth model, sailors would hug coastlines for fear of falling off the edge; while a spherical model of the earth would make “sailing around the world” possible.

A Comprehensive Paradigm Shift Definition: Redefining What’s Possible

As can be seen in the above example of the shape of the world, a shift the paradigm (a change in the model) causes a big difference in what’s possible. This can sound enormously freeing, but there’s a problem; arguing for past limitations.

Of Fleas, Absent Jar Lids, Smart Rats & People

When fleas are placed in a jar with a lid, they soon learn not to leap higher than the lid. Even when the lid is removed, they will continue with limited leaps even when the lid is absent. When rats are put in a maze with cheese in a specific tunnel, they soon learn how to find the cheese and remember the location. If the location of the cheese is changed, they will make numerous attempts to retrace their steps to the previous location, but will eventually return to explorations to discover any new cheese.

People are different. When a limitation is removed, people (like fleas) may continue to behave as if the limitation is in place. They may even go a step further and argue that the limitation belongs there. When a rewarding behavior no longer provides a reward, people (like rats) may continue the behaviors that previously provided a reward. They may even go a step further and argue that the reward should be there and halt exploration for new rewards.

What if people welcomed paradigm shifts as expansion of what’s possible?

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