RE: What is a 'paradigm'?

Zoom (
Tue, 24 Mar 1998 12:09:30 +0100

From: Zoom <>
To: "''"
Subject: RE: What is a 'paradigm'?
Date: Tue, 24 Mar 1998 12:09:30 +0100

<> wrote:
>Can anyone refer me to, or supply, a rigorous definition of the term
'paradigm', in the sense of "a well-defined world view - based
behavior pattern", or something similar.>

The first occurence of the word that I remember (as the word started
becoming vogue to use in busuness) came from Stephen Covey's "The
7 Habits of Highly Effective People". Here is the excerpt:

"... The word paradigm comes from the Greek. It was originally a
sceintific term, and is more commonly used today to mean a model,
theory, perception, assumption, or frame of reference. In the more
general sense, it's the way we 'see' the world--not in terms of our
visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving, understanding,
"For our purposes, a simple way to understand paradigms is to see
them as maps. We all know that 'the map is not the territory.' A map
is simply an explanation of certain aspects of the territory. That's
exactly what a paradigm is. It is a theory, an explanation, or model
of something else."

Since this book was published in 1989, and went on to become a US
national best-seller, I would attribute much of the spread of the word
'paradigm' to this book. Before then, the word was rarely used, but
when the book was successful, the word usage spread. Just as there
is a 'meme' meme, I would say there is a 'paradigm' paradigm (or
'paradigm' meme?).

Other than Covey's recent work, I don't know where else this word
has come up as much.


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