World Destroying ParadigmsNovember 1, 2019
Mental paradigms provide a shared framework for how we understand reality and ourselves. They form the basis for the mindset that we have, the way we think, make decisions, perceive ourselves and the world around us. Paradigms are so pervasive that we do not even know they exist, but they are the underlying cause of the existential crises we are facing in the world today.
There have been four predominant paradigms in Western civilization. They are:
The Magical Paradigm emerged during the time early man tried to control, or stop, natural events by performing magical rituals. Everything was magical, since people had not yet developed to the point of being able to understand how the universe worked. That is why the only way they could feel connected to the universe was through ceremonies and repeating formulas which they believed had magical powers that would insure their survival and satisfy their basic needs.
The next major paradigm transition in Western Civilization was to the Classical Paradigm which emerged around 800 BC when Homer wrote the Iliad and Odyssey. The Classical Paradigm reached its height during Greek and Roman times.
The Scholastic Paradigm was next to emerge during the Dark and Middle Ages in Europe. It was the Age of Faith, a time when religion permeated society. The Scholastic Paradigm, which is inherently imbalanced towards Idealism, continues today under the name,Traditional Paradigm, which is the mental model of fundamental religions and the alt-right.
The fourth paradigm to emerge was heavily influenced by Isaac Newton around 400 years ago. Newton envisioned the universe as a clock mechanism that was created by God, the ultimate clockmaker, who after his creation, retreated to let the clock universe run by itself. The purpose of machines is to produce, which is why so many people today believe in the Mechanistic Paradigm and that the sole purpose of their lives is to produce and make money.
Personally I was brought up in the Traditional Paradigm which resulted in my being religious. I later transitioned into the Mechanistic Paradigm where I was totally focused on achieving success.
The Myth of Progress
Myths provide an underlying meaning and structure to our lives and provide explanations for social realities. The Myth of Progress in the Mechanical Paradigm is one of the most powerful forces in the world today. It promises that industry and science will transform the earth into a material paradise and bring about a golden Age of Prosperity. This myth is reflected in the expectation that people’s income will constantly rise. Progress is one of the highest virtues of the Mechanical Paradigm, and growth and expansion are the engines behind it. Many people around the world are angry and rising up because they have become aware that the Myth of Progress is simply a myth which is not only unsustainable, but prevents us from doing what we need to do to survive.
Inflection Point: The End or Creation of a New Paradigm
Ever since I was a teenager in high school, I knew, and told people, that we were living in a trap gate of history. This was decades before the concept of paradigms had been developed. We are living in an inflection point in the history of civilization. The Traditional Paradigm leads to Armageddon, while the Mechanistic Paradigm leads to global destruction due to excess, greed and the denial of climate change.
The old paradigms are not able to deal with the issues that we face today. The increase in income inequity and the creation of imbalance in the life sustaining global system of the planet are natural outcomes of the inherent imbalance of the Traditional and Mechanistic Paradigms. Either we move beyond the outdated prevailing paradigms, or we, and civilization as we know it, will cease to exist.
If we do not heed the wisdom statement: “Don’t fool around with Mother Nature,” over 300 million people will be homeless due to rising seas caused by climate change in the next 30 years. As Robert Sternberg, the former president of the American Psychological Association and developer of the Balanced Theory of Wisdom (which will be covered in future blogs) said:
“If there is anything the world needs, it is wisdom. Without it, I exaggerate not all in saying that very soon, there may be no world…”
Two Wise Action Steps
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Next week’s Wisdom Blog will share what you need to know to make a successful transition during this world changing paradigm shift.
To be continued…
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