Re: Kuhn & paradigms

Agner Fog (
Wed, 11 Jun 1997 12:27:19 +0100

From: (Agner Fog)
Subject: Re: Kuhn & paradigms
Date: Wed, 11 Jun 1997 12:27:19 +0100
Message-Id: <>
In-Reply-To: <> (Bill Benzon) wrote:

>Historians of science have pondered this question. That's what Thomas Kuhn
>was up to when he came up with the notion of a paradigm. Some people, in
>fact, give up one paradigm in favor of another. More often, though, those
>holding the "old" paradigm die, leaving more "cultural space" for adherents
>of the new paradigm. It seems that on really deep and fundamental matters,
>few of us ever change our minds, opps, I mean memes.

I have discussed exactly this question in:

I call this a barrier in cultural evolution. The new meme is incompatible with
the old meme-complex, and you have to replace several memes before the new idea
makes sense. You cannot convince a person of the new meme unless you convince
him of all the memes in the new meme-complex (= paradigm) at once. This is very
difficult, and that is what a paradigm shift is about.

Analogous barriers exist in genetic evolution when more than one gene has to be
replaced before a fitness-gain turns up.
Agner Fog, Ph.D. See my electronic book: 'Cultural Selection'
Denmark at:

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