from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A paradigm ( plural paradigms or paradigms ) is a fundamental way of thinking. The word comes from the Greek παράδειγμα parádeigma (from παρά pará "next to" and δείκνυμι deíknymi "show, make understandable"). Translated it means " example , role model , pattern " or "delimitation, explanatory model, prejudice"; also "world view" or " world view ".

In ancient rhetoric , it was understood to be an event that was cited as positive or negative evidence for a dogmatic argument or a moral teaching . Since the late 18th century, paradigm has been used to describe a certain type of worldview or doctrine . The term was introduced by Georg Christoph Lichtenberg . According to Ludwig Wittgenstein , paradigms are patterns or standards with which experience is compared and assessed. They come before the experience ( a priori ) and provide an orientation.

In the modern history of science , the term was introduced by Thomas S. Kuhn . It describes the totality of basic concepts that make up a scientific discipline in a historical period. Examples of such a “basic worldview” are the geocentric worldview or the heliocentric worldview . These basic views indicate which questions are scientifically permissible and what can be regarded as scientifically satisfactory solutions. According to Kuhn, scientific revolutions in the natural sciences are associated with changes in paradigms. Finally, the concept of the “paradigm” was also introduced into discourses critical of time, according to Fritjof Capra , based on approaches from the esoteric New Age movement .

Definition and example

A textbook definition commonly used today is, for example: "A science paradigm is a somewhat coherent bundle of theoretical principles, questions and methods shared by many scientists that outlasts longer historical periods in the development of a science." ( Jens B. Asendorpf ) The replacement of a paradigm another is called a paradigm shift .

Paradigms reflect a certain generally recognized consensus about assumptions and ideas that make it possible to offer solutions to a large number of questions. In science, models are often used in this context to try to explain phenomena. In his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, the American philosopher of science Thomas S. Kuhn defines a "scientific paradigm" as:

  • what is observed and checked
  • the type of questions that are asked about a topic and that should be examined
  • how these questions should be asked
  • how the results of the scientific investigation are to be interpreted

The paradigm in epistemology

For Aristotle , παράδειγμα paradeigma is the inductive argument in rhetoric . It describes a rhetorical final process with its individual cases, based on examples. In contrast to other inductive arguments, one does not pass from a particular case to a general one, but from one particular case to another particular one of the same kind.

Giorgio Agamben defines the paradigm in his work “Signatura rerum” as “a form of knowledge that is neither inductive nor deductive, but analogical, thus progressing from one particular to another particular”. In this context, he refers to the paradigm understanding of his teacher Michel Foucault as a “description of discourses as the historical articulation of a paradigm” and shows the connection between Foucault's epistemological understanding of paradigms and the norm-building concept of Thomas S. Kuhn , whereby he points to the double meaning of the concept of paradigm at Kuhn points out: Kuhn's paradigm corresponds on the one hand to a “disciplinary matrix” as “that which the members of a scientific community share with one another, a set of techniques, models and values”, but also applies “to a single element of this set - to the Principia Newton's, for Ptolemy's Almagest -: for an element which, serving as a community example, takes the place of explicit rules and thus defines a specific, self-contained research tradition ”.

Kuhn defines paradigms as “generally recognized scientific achievements that provide a community of experts with decisive problems and solutions for a certain period of time”. With his paradigm definition, Agamben goes back to the philosophical roots of the term in Aristotle 's Analytica priora , where it says “that the functioning of the paradigm is not that of a part that relates to a whole, nor that of a whole that is is related to a part, but that of a part which is related to a part ”(Analytica priora, 69a 13f). Agamben adds: “The epistemological status of the paradigm only becomes clear when we radicalize Aristotle's thesis and begin to understand that he questions the dichotomous opposition between the particular and the universal”. Agamben's “epistemic statute” relates specifically to the medical semiotics of Paracelsus : “The idea that all things bear a sign that manifests and reveals their invisible properties forms the core of the Paracelsian epistemes”. According to Agamben, the function of the paradigm consists in the transmission of the signature of the original concept.

In his much-cited essay "Clues: Roots of a Scientific Paradigm", Carlo Ginzburg also describes the paradigm as an "epistemological model" with express reference to Kuhn and explains the circumstantial paradigm concretely as an interpretation pattern whose origins lie in medical semiotics and as " Morelli method ”became known. The doctor and art critic Giovanni Morelli was able to prove the forgeries of old masters, but also the authorship of unsigned paintings through details such as auricles and fingernails. Sigmund Freud became aware of Morelli early on and described his technique - which, as Ginzburg emphasized, bears great resemblance to Sherlock Holmes' meticulous search for clues - in “Der Moses des Michelangelo” (1914) as follows: “I believe his method is with closely related to the technique of medical psychoanalysis. This, too, is used to guessing hidden things from underestimated or neglected features (...) Ginzburg's "semiotic" understanding of the paradigm is in line with Kuhn, who defines science as "solving riddles" that "only a lack of ingenuity could prevent" . In the foreword of his standard work, Kuhn himself identifies the Polish physician Ludwik Fleck , whose “style of thinking” “separates what is relevant within a collective from what is not relevant”, as the authoritative source of his paradigm understanding.

Semiotics in its self-understanding as a “procedural hypothesis [and] methodological net that we have thrown over the variety of phenomena in order to be able to speak of them” is also the background of the Kuhnian paradigm concept. Its beginnings as a science lie (in addition to Charles Sanders Peirce's theory of signs ) with Ferdinand de Saussure , who had a “ semiology as translinguality” in mind. Linguistics and philosophy, which is linguistically oriented after the “ linguistic turn ”, also contribute to the concept of paradigm. Syntagma and paradigm as elements of the synchronous structure are central concepts for Ferdinand de Saussure, who is not only considered the founder of linguistics, but also the main initiator of structuralism . Kuhn refers explicitly to Ludwig Wittgenstein , who describes the paradigm as "something to be compared with" (Philosophical Investigations § 50) and speaks of "family similarities" (§ 66f). Saussure emphasizes "the arbitrariness of the verbal sign, which, because it is conventional, does not contain an internal and consequently stable relationship to its meaning". This character of the agreement is fundamental to Kuhn's paradigm understanding, which is also a structuralist one. In the foreword of his main work, Kuhn mentions Benjamin Whorf , who assumes that the structures of language shape thinking, and Jean Piaget , who has worked out the psychological structures of personality development.

Kuhn himself ultimately did without a strict definition of his concept of paradigm. While the structuralist components of his work are more associatively linked, the history of science provides the concrete reference point for his theses. In the foreword of his main work, he names the work of Alexandre Koyré , Émile Meyerson , Hélène Metzger and Anneliese Maier , whose study was "almost as important to him as the primary source material" (ibid). After the overturning of physics by relativity and quantum theory, which “created a feeling as if the ground on which natural science stands is being pulled from under our feet”, the history of science and the theory of science were in a general upheaval, the one in France with Gaston Bachelard culminated in epistemology, whose self-image and methodology coincide in many ways with Kuhn's theses and in whose tradition Louis Althusser , Michel Foucault and Giorgio Agamben also stand.

The paradigm understanding of Kuhn, Agamben and Ginzburg shows a connection between structuralism, epistemology and semiotics. Kuhn's “Structure of Scientific Revolutions” shows the structure of the paradigm in its synchronous and diachronic elements of agreement and the history of science. Agamben places the function of the paradigm as an update of the sign in the transmission of the signature at the center of his interpretation. If, according to Jean Piaget, a system consists of the connection of structure and function, the paradigm can be understood as a systematic method of theory formation. Finally, with the semiotic component of the reconstruction, Ginzburg directs the gaze to an expanded “dynamic” understanding of the paradigm as an epistemological model. The intention of semiotics to “show how systems are based on cultural processes” is based on the “ dialectic between structures and historical process”, which is evident as the dialectic of system and process in Kuhn's concept of the paradigm shift.

According to the current Hegelian interpretation, the concept of the paradigm shift “avant la lettre” is already a basis in Hegel's phenomenology of the mind : “In modern terms, phenomenology thematizes the paradigm shift or the result of fundamental crises in science, morality, etc.”. According to this, the change takes place in such a way that "temporally different (but not always successive) conceptions of objects are connected by a dialectical movement that ultimately goes back to ' semantic relations ' of the underlying terms”. These semantic relations can also be seen in Agamben's concept of “signature” and the paradigm of evidence pointed out by Ginzburg.

Usage examples

In computer science one speaks of the "paradigm of the reusability of software" (a so-called programming paradigm ); in business from the paradigm of teamwork or the lean manufacturing ( lean production ).

Organizational theory knows the concept of corporate culture . One of the most cited models is the cultural network according to Gerry Johnson (1998), described as a “network of internal structures and processes that continuously both generate and reinforce the self-perception of an organization”. The seven named elements of the cultural network are: stories and myths, symbols, power structures, organizational structures, control systems, rituals and routines and the paradigm.

In behavioral science, paradigm is used to describe a classic prejudice: an emotional, absolute evaluation (good / bad) before information can be processed intellectually. With paradigm paralysis (a paralysis by prejudice) it is meant that logical thought processes - and consequently consequent action - can be interrupted, paralyzed (paralyzed) or prevented by prejudices (paradigms).

In psychosomatic medicine , the term machine paradigm is used by Thure von Uexküll in order to differentiate the more holistic view of psychosomatic medicine from purely organic medicine. The body medicine have made through the model of physics, the reductionist machine model to own. Physics had succeeded in "developing a self-contained theory of mechanical forces and in liberating the concept of causality from the metaphysical ideas still attached to it."

In the 1980s, the physicist and esotericist Fritjof Capra used the term "paradigm shift" to mark the turn he postulated towards a harmonious, liberal and holistic new age.

See also

Web links

Wiktionary: Paradigm  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations


  • D .G. Cedarbaum (1983): Paradigms. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 14, pp. 173-213.
  • Michael Fischer, Paul Hoyningen-Huene (Ed.): Paradigms. Facets of a conceptual career (Salzburg Writings on Legal, State and Social Philosophy, Volume 17). Bern: Peter Lang, 1997. 309 pp.
  • Paul Hoyningen-Huene : Paradigm / Paradigm Shift. In: Helmut Reinalter, Peter J. Brenner (Hrsg.): Lexicon of the humanities: subject term - disciplines - people. Vienna: Böhlau Verlag, 2011, pp. 602–609.
  • Paul Hoyningen-Huene: Paradigm. In: Ulrich Dierse, Christian Bermes (ed.): Key terms of the philosophy of the 20th century (=  archive for the history of concepts, special issue No. 6). Meiner, Hamburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-7873-1916-9 , pp. 279-289.
  • Thomas S. Kuhn : The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. 2nd edition, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-518-27625-9 .
  • Alexander Peine: Innovation and Paradigm. Transcript, Bielefeld 2006, ISBN 3-89942-458-1 .

Individual evidence

  1. The German pronunciation is in contrast to the ancient Greek according to Duden [para'digma], so with the accent on the penultimate syllable.
  2. Gero von Wilpert : Specialized Dictionary of Literature (= Kröner's pocket edition . Volume 231). 4th, improved and enlarged edition. Kröner, Stuttgart 1964, DNB 455687854 , p. 194.
  3. Stephen Edelston Toulmin: Menschliches Erkennen, I: Critique of collective reason , translated by Hermann Vetter. 1st edition, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 1978, ISBN 3-518-07436-9 , pp. 131f
  4. a b Thomas S. Kuhn : The structure of scientific revolutions. 2nd edition, Suhrkamp, ​​Frankfurt am Main 2009, ISBN 978-3-518-27625-9 .
  5. Personality Psychology. Springer, Heidelberg 2009, ISBN 978-3-642-01030-9 , p. 13.
  6. Rhetorik I.2, 1357b25 ff.5., Quoted from: The Three Means of Persuasion Aristotle’s Rhetoric
  7. ^ Giorgio Agamben: Signatura rerum - to the method , Frankfurt a. M. 2009, p. 37.
  8. Agamben, op.cit., P. 12.
  9. Thomas S. Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions , Frankfurt a. M. 1967, original edition: The Structure of Scientific Revolution , Chicago 1962.
  10. Agamben, op.cit., P. 13.
  11. Agamben, op. Cit., Ibid.
  12. Kuhn, op.cit., P. 11.
  13. Quoted in Agamben, op.cit., P. 23.
  14. ibid
  15. Agamben, op.cit., P. 41.
  16. ^ Carlo Ginzburg, Clues: Roots of a Scientific Paradigm. In: Theory and Society , Vol. 7, No. 3, May 1979, pp. 273-288. Agamben also cites the Ginzburg essay, but with later sources, cf. Agamben pp. 84–86.
  17. Quoted in Agamben, op.cit., P. 86.
  18. Kuhn, op.cit., P. 49.
  19. ibid
  20. Agamben, op. Cit., P. 13; cf. Kuhn, op.cit., p. 8.
  21. Umberto Eco: Introduction to Semiotics , Munich 1972, p. 18.
  22. Eco, op.cit., P. 17.
  23. ^ Jean Piaget: The structuralism , Olten 1973, p. 75
  24. Kuhn, op.cit., P. 8.
  25. Werner Heisenberg: Physics and Philosophy , Berlin 1959, p. 139.
  26. cf. Gaston Bachelard: Epistemologie , Frankfurt a. M. 1974.
  27. Piaget, op.cit., P. 98.
  28. Eco, op.cit., P. 38.
  29. Eco, op.cit., P. 39.
  30. Ludwig Siep: Der Weg der "Phenomenologie des Geistes" , Frankfurt am Main 2000, p. 77
  31. Siep, op.cit., P. 78.
  32. ^ G. Johnson: Rethinking incrementalism. In: Strategic Management Journal , Volume 9, 1988, pp. 75-91
  33. Thure von Uexküll u. a. (Ed.): Psychosomatic Medicine. 3rd edition, Urban & Schwarzenberg, Munich 1986, ISBN 3-541-08843-5 , pp. 3-4.