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Paradigms Lost – And Resurrected: A Systematic Path To Transform Culture & Worldview Habits – Part 2

Written by: Barry Borgerson, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Part 1 of this article introduced the breadth and depth of the contextualizing and reality-creating mental process I model as auto-contexts. Part 2 follows up by generalizing a previous penetrating insight into a specific incarnation of auto-contexts.

Part 2: Fundamentals of Auto-Contexts – Starting with Kuhn’s Paradigms

The vast majority of people, likely including you, don’t currently have an auto-context to empower them to understand the highly elusive and illusive mental mechanism of auto-contexts. Accordingly, we will start the process of understanding auto-contexts without an auto-context to empower you to understand them robustly and then incrementally construct an auto-context about auto-contexts by building up from the concept of paradigms previously developed by Thomas Kuhn.


We Need a New Paradigm to Frame How We Understand Kuhn’s Paradigms


We Need a Paradigm about Paradigms: The best previous work on auto-contexts was by Thomas Kuhn in his seminal book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions that he wrote nearly six decades ago in 1962. Unfortunately, the concepts of paradigms that Kuhn described in his book did not end up constructing a widespread paradigm to help us understand and manage paradigms in a larger context. We shall proceed to identify what that expanded foundational paradigm must look like.


Kuhn’s Penetrating Insights: Here are four of Kuhn’s key insights that provide the launching pad for our much greater understanding of this crucial but previously underappreciated and inadequately modeled mental mechanism:

  1. Revolutionary science vs. normal science

  2. Incommensurability

  3. Accumulation of anomalies

  4. Paradigm shifts

The Tricky Bootstrapping Path to Conquer Auto-Contexts: The ways Kuhn presented his paradigm concepts are frustratingly vague, which likely contributed to why his penetrating insights never created the widespread impacts we need. A major problem we must transcend is trying to understand paradigms without having an embedded paradigm to empower us to understand well the concept of paradigms. That statement may confuse you now, but you should understand it by the time you finish reading this article because it is at the heart of the nature of auto-contexts – among other attributes, they control our ability to understand topics.


The next section starts the process of understanding and expanding Kuhn’s paradigms to empower us to solve many currently mysterious yet highly consequential problems.


We Need Some Realities Transformations to Resurrect Paradigms Lost


The lead part of the title of this article, Paradigms Lost, refers to the fact that the potential usefulness of Kuhn’s great insights into paradigms have been lost in crucial ways.


Paradigms Lost: The first way paradigms were lost was that neither Kuhn nor subsequent investigators effectively expanded paradigms beyond their limited scope within science theories. A second way in which paradigms have been lost is that they have remained limited primarily to problem solving. We can now identify many other types of important activities in which a generalized concept of paradigm plays a key role. An additional way paradigms have been lost is that they generally appear as mysterious standalone phenomena instead of as a particular type of automatic mental activity. Still another sense of paradigms lost is that the word “paradigm” has entered the general vocabulary, but mostly with a different meaning than Kuhn ascribed to it.


In Addition to Generalizing Kuhn’s Paradigms, We Need to Learn to Manage Them: Kuhn’s insights in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions were primarily descriptive and we urgently need a prescriptive extension. That is, in addition to broadening the scope and identifying additional ways in which this enigmatic mental mechanism impacts us, we must add techniques for effectively managing paradigms. Our technology-driven social environments now require it!


Contemporary Usage of the Word Paradigm: The word paradigm has been around for a long time, but Thomas Kuhn gave it a new more specific meaning. Today, people who use the word “paradigm” usually mean exemplar or prototype or archetype rather than something that creates boundaries in how we solve problems or that controls our realities.


Resurrecting Paradigms Lost: To resurrect the key points of Kuhn’s insights from their near-death experience, we need to generalize his paradigms concept. We start that process by broadening his main theme of revolutionary science.


We Need a Mental Revolution so We Can Better Understand Kuhn’s Science Revolutions


This section explores Kuhn’s key insight 1 listed previously in this article: Revolutionary science vs. normal science.


Modeling Paradigms as Specific Types of Mental Activities: We can better understand Kuhn’s concept of paradigms by recognizing that they actually constitute a specific type of mental activity. That is, rather than dealing with paradigms as mysterious stand-alone phenomena, we benefit greatly by viewing them as particular examples of a specific type of auto-self activities – auto-contexts.


Mental Revolution: The mental revolution we now must foment to understand the broader ramifications of Kuhn’s paradigms is to create a new auto-context about auto-contexts, which includes paradigms. That is, paradigms actually are elusive and illusive mental constructs that frame the way we perceive the world about us. They control many of our deepest realities.


From a Mystery to a Specific Type of Mental Process: Kuhn’s normal science vs. revolutionary science is too vague to serve our rapidly escalating needs. With 2Selfs Theory, we now understand the underlying mental processes involved in these two distinct types of problem solving. As a result, we can now broaden this potent insight of Kuhn by creating a mental revolution in how we understand Kuhn’s science revolutions. Normal science refers to improvements by the thinking-self within a shared science auto-context (his paradigm) used by a particular scientific community. Revolutionary science refers to reconstructing the foundational auto-context (his paradigm) of a particular science discipline. So, Kuhn’s normal vs. revolutionary distinction is fundamental because it indirectly identifies improvements carried out by different types of mental activities – by our two separate “selfs.”


We Need to Expand Kuhn’s Concept of Paradigm so We Can Understand Paradigm Expansions


The Automatic Emergence of Contextual Foundations: The thinking-self and auto-self often work cooperatively but other times try to pull us in opposite directions. As an example of strong interactions between our two modes, our thinking-self can only understand a particular type of topic [domain] effectively if over time an auto-context forms within our auto-self that provides a contextual foundation that frames the topic. Thus, a budding scientist goes through the process of learning the discipline through repeated studies and successful problem-solving. Gradually this process imperceptibly constructs the auto-context (Kuhn’s paradigm) that provides the problem-solving foundation for that science segment. That same phenomenon occurs when we now encounter the extremely elusive challenge of trying to understand auto-contexts because you start out trying to understand them using your existing suite of auto-contexts, which most likely does not include a hidden auto-context lens that frames your understanding of auto-contexts.


Construction of an Auto-Context about Auto-Contexts: As with all auto-contexts, this one about auto-contexts will unnoticeably emerge through thinking-self usage. The previous section started that process by situating Kuhn’s normal science vs. revolutionary science within our two different “selfs.”


Expanding Kuhn’s Paradigms: Now we will expand Kuhn’s concept of paradigms by incrementally broadening the scope of his paradigms.

  • Expand normal vs. revolutionary science to normal vs. revolutionary problem-solving

  • Expand paradigms as science problem-solving auto-contexts to worldviews as general problem-solving auto-contexts

  • Expand paradigms to include their most potent phenomena – certainty illusions and certainty delusions

  • Expand paradigms beyond general problem-solving worldviews to other forms of auto-contexts

  • Expand paradigm foundations to other types of auto-context foundations beyond problem-solving

Expand Normal vs. Revolutionary Science to Normal vs. Revolutionary Problem Solving


Normal vs. Revolutionary Distinction: When we understand this distinction exists because our two different “selfs” execute each type of problem-solving, we can see that confining this insight to science paradigms creates an unnecessary and debilitating restriction. Hence, we should now start resurrecting this paradigm concept by generalizing it to the form of normal problem solving vs. revolutionary problem-solving. This distinction certainly applies to science, which was the source of Kuhn’s inspiration. However, it works for any kind of problem-solving including in business.


Expand Paradigms as Science Problem-Solving Auto-Contexts to Worldviews as General Problem-Solving Auto-Contexts


Worldviews: When we generalize paradigms (auto-contexts) as problem-solving foundations beyond science, we refer to them as worldviews. Thus, worldviews will be the form of auto-contexts that provide the hidden mental lenses that frame how we go about solving problems we encounter including for science but also in many other areas such as business. We use the term “worldview” here in a manner consistent with common usage of worldview (or world view or world-view), but we create a much more specific meaning for it by identifying it as a particular type of automatic mental activity. Penetrating even further, we model worldview as a specific type of auto-context.


Expand Paradigms to Include Their Most Potent Phenomena – Certainty Illusions and Certainty Delusions


Certainty Illusions: The most potent, self-deceiving, and currently unmanaged aspect of auto-contexts are the certainty illusions they impose on all of us. This mental mechanism creates a massive barrier to our future successes, prosperity, and well-being. Certainty illusions cause us to feel confident about such notions as assumption, theories, beliefs, assertions, and attitudes independent of whether that deep certainty corresponds with facts in the world outside of our mind or aligns with our success needs. What had become an increasing problem for us has now become critical as we work our way through this digital era where even certainty illusions that start out corresponding with facts of the world or align with our success needs quickly become misaligned.


Certainty Delusions: This mental mechanism demonstrates the potency of certainty illusions because it causes us to feel deeply certain about something that verifiably does not correspond with facts in the world outside of our mind or align with our success and well-being needs. This mental mechanism is part of human nature and so has been with us throughout recorded history. However, we have now entered the digital era where changes are accelerating and widespread communications are easy. Perhaps the two most dramatic examples of clear-cut certainty delusions are the widespread beliefs that the 2020 US presidential election was stolen and that the universe, the earth, and life magically appeared in a very short time about 6000 years ago. These are clear-cut proofs of the existence of the auto-context phenomenon of certainty delusions whereby people deeply believe something that is verifiably false due to the existence of massive numbers of anomalies (information that shows a theory or deep assumption does not correspond with facts or align with success needs). I will identify an overwhelming number of anomalies for these and a few other certainty delusions in future articles. I also develop the phenomenon of anomalies much further later in this article. People who have certainty delusions constructed within their auto-self think they struck gold with their passionate beliefs. However, what they are really experiencing is mental pyrite – it is shiny fool’s gold. We cannot have a successful future unless and until we instill the widespread capability to distinguish between certainty delusions and facts in the world.


Expand Paradigms beyond General Problem-Solving Worldviews to Other Forms of Auto-Contexts


Auto-Contexts beyond Problem-Solving: We situated Kuhn’s revolutionary science vs. normal science as the product of two different modes of the human mind. We then identified that Kuhn’s paradigms are actually auto-contexts. Then we expanded Kuhn’s paradigms from something mysterious regarding science problem-solving to include worldviews that provide the foundation for solving problems in general. Next, we made a great expansion to Kuhn’s previous concept of paradigms by identifying an intoxicating characteristic they possess of creating certainty illusions and certainty delusions. Now we are going to expand the scope of auto-contexts still further.


Some Additional Human Activities Controlled by Auto-Contexts: Auto-contexts are hidden mental mechanisms that control much of our realities. As such, they create contextual frameworks that control other parts of our lives besides problem-solving foundations. Here are some important types of human activities that auto-contexts control:

  • Cultures (including for businesses and for whole societies)

  • Attitudes/perceptions

  • A second untethered form of “truth” – due to a certainty illusion

  • A certainty that an assertion is true even when it is verifiably false – caused by the construction of a certainty delusion

  • Values

  • Self-images

You will see examples of these ways that auto-contexts impact us later in this article.


Expand Paradigm Foundations to Other Types of Auto-Context Foundations beyond Problem-Solving


We Need a New Auto-Context Foundation so We Can Understand Auto-Contexts as Mental Foundations: Auto-contexts frame our realities, so they provide mental foundations for our thinking-self processes for many types of activities including problem-solving, communicating, working cooperatively, and establishing and maintaining shared values.


2Selfs Worldview: As you study and successfully use 2Selfs Theory, a new worldview will gradually and unnoticeably emerge as an auto-context for you. Not surprisingly, we label this new worldview 2Selfs Worldview. Once 2Selfs Worldview inculcates within an auto-context for you, it will become the new mental foundation that empowers you to recognize the existence of, and understand the nature of, other types of mental foundations.


We Need a Different Paradigm for How We Understand Paradigm Incommensurability


This section explores Kuhn’s key insight 2 listed previously in this article: Incommensurability.


Kuhn’s Incommensurability Approaches Incomprehensibility: Kuhn’s concept of incommensurability is difficult to wrap one’s head around. The previous inability to understand the underlying mental processes involved contributed to the inaccessibility of this mental artifact. With the advent of 2Selfs Theory, we can now attain better insights into this mental mechanism that causes so much consternation.


The Certainty Illusion Creates Incommensurability: Kuhn meant by incommensurability that there is no neutral place from where one can adjudicate the viability of competing paradigms, which in his case he meant specifically science paradigms. We can now emancipate Kuhn’s incommensurability by bringing the potent mechanism of certainty illusions prominently into the discussion. Auto-contexts create certainty illusions within us that we experience as profoundly true. We refer to this auto-context property as a certainty illusion because the certainty impacts us independent of whether any correspondence exists with the world outside of our internal auto-context. Therefore, if two people have incompatible science (or political, values, religion…) auto-contexts constructed within their auto-self about the same topic, there is no way to adjudicate the differing conclusions they draw because each is based upon an intense internal certainty.


Another Knowing-Doing Gap: With 2Selfs Theory, we now understand that problem-solving worldviews (a generalization of Kuhn’s paradigms for science) are internal mental mechanisms that our experiences gradually and imperceptibly construct as auto-contexts. However, realizing that many of our certainties are nothing but untethered internal mental states does not create the immediate ability to do something about that often destructive situation. You will soon see that recognizing and rejecting malevolent auto-context construction processes is the best way to derail inculcating certainty delusions within you and others including voters. You will also learn other processes to manage internal certainties later in this article and in my future Brainz Magazine articles.


We Need a New Auto-Context “Compartment” to Understand Auto-Context Compartmentalization


Auto-Context Domains of Effectiveness: Auto-contexts have specific domains of application where they are effective. Human nature has evolved to create auto-contexts, and one of their serendipitous properties that with 2Selfs Theory we now recognize explicitly is that we can function effectively with multiple simultaneous auto-contexts that control our realities for different domains.


We Have Done It Before on a Massive Scale: With 2Selfs Theory, we can now recognize in hindsight that a major problem encountered during the Science Revolution of the West was to challenge the almost universally propagated (but not recognized as an auto-context or even as a specialized mental construct) worldview that physical activities occurred through capricious supernatural mechanisms. That is, our ancestors believed that such physical activities as lightning, comets, eclipses, volcanoes, tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, and pandemics occur via vindictive supernatural processes that they must propitiate rather than through systematic natural processes that we could model and then manage to our benefit. We all now understand the amazing benefits (and sometimes harms) that this powerful naturalistic worldview provides us. Since the Science Revolution, we have used compartmentalization to enjoy the benefits of science and religion by implicitly confining them to their own domains of effectiveness – at least most of the time. Now, for the first time in human history, we have the capability to understand and manage auto-context compartmentalization explicitly.


We Now Must Explicitly Add a New Overarching Worldview Compartment: In the modern West, we have implicitly used two top-level worldview “compartments.” We use a universal natural worldview compartment to solve problems in the physical world including for science, technologies, products, medicines, and vaccines. Many people also have embedded within their auto-contexts a sectarian supernatural worldview to satisfy their spiritual needs. We have finally reached the point in the human adventure where we need to construct a third top-level worldview to empower us to understand and manage automatic human activities. That will allow us to escape our fall from our current descent and to open up a new, more systematic ascent to greater successes, prosperity, and well-being than was previously possible. Not surprisingly, as people and organizations continue to use 2Selfs Theory to manage their way through otherwise intractable issues, 2Selfs Worldview will automatically emerge to satisfy that crucial need.


Now that you have seen an overview of different aspects of auto-contexts, we can move on to investigate how to manage them – starting with the crucial topic of creating the courage to recognize when the contents of auto-contexts do not align with facts or with success needs.


You can locate previous Parts of this article and other Parts as they appear by following this link: https://www.brainzmagazine.com/executive-contributor/barry-borgerson.


Connect with Barry on LinkedIn and visit his website for more information!

 

Barry Borgerson, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Dr. Barry Borgerson graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Ph.D. in computer science and one of his minors in the management of human resources. Barry co-led a multi-year DARPA-funded research project at the University and then went on to a highly successful career in the computer industry starting as a lead computer architect and progressing through successive promotions to increasingly responsible leadership positions in technical management up to executive-level general management. When he took over a business that was failing and initiated actions to change some dysfunctional behaviors and the outdated culture of that business, he encountered so much counterproductive resistance that he started a long-term study into why very smart, highly educated, and extremely experienced people frequently cannot enact externally obvious changes they need to make to succeed.


That study led him to discover that the underlying cause of so many dysfunctional activities and the tenacious, normally uncontrollable, resistance to deep changes reside in enigmatic automatic human activities that business leaders normally do not notice, cannot change on their own if others point out their dysfunctions, and often deny they even exist. Barry then developed 2Selfs Theory, a comprehensive, business-friendly, generalized theory of the mind that models the sometimes cooperation but often competition between our explicit problem-solving abilities (using our “thinking self”) and our previously mysterious involuntary activities (driven by our “automatic self”) and provides systematic, reliable processes to align our elusive automatic actions with our explicit intentions and needed success priorities. Dr. Borgerson has repeatedly verified the effectiveness of the pragmatic 2Selfs Theory by applying it in many venues including through transformation coaching to reconstruct counterproductive behavior habits of business leaders and to change obsolete or dysfunctional company cultures, where the transformation processes worked immediately and repeatedly as the theory predicted.

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