Re: My Mistake and a Lament

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Posted by Jerry Silverman on March 02, 1999 at 01:55:12:

In Reply to: My Mistake and a Lament posted by R. John Howe on March 01, 1999 at 16:48:43:

: Dear Michael et al -

: I can see now that I read too fast.

: Claude's ending line was "Brother can you paradigm?" and was, of course, a take off on an old Depression era popular song "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?" The coincidence seemed too close and I jumped conclusions.

: Michael, I AM sorry that it all happened at Madison for you, although that school has its points: beer in the cafeteria before NYU, I've heard.

: But the main reason for this post is to lament Jerry's use of the word "paradigm" in his initial statement. What a lightning rod it is. I know that Kuhn's book generated at least two books of responding articles but that was among practicing philosophers. Could we retreat to a term that might permit us to discuss what might actually be occurring here? How about "change?" "Big change" if you want. I fear "paradigm" will take us to a place that Claude joked about in another part of his poem, one in which every "thought" is a "conceptualization."

: Regards,

: John Howe

Hey, John! I'll be the one changing my choice of words here!

I chose "paradigm" because I've seen it misused in just about every meeting I've sat in on in the past decade. (Like the rest of you I read Kuhn in college, during my second year on my Master's in, yes, that's right - political science. I just do advertising and public relations because I was cursed at birth by an evil witch.) And if you'll notice this Salon's title, the juxtaposition is between "paradigm" and "oxymoron."

If I'd known so many of you would focus on the term, I'd have thought twice about using it. How was I to know that it might draw more attention to itself than the situation it was employed to examine? A little like using profanity in a discussion with a sanctimoniously pious person - all of a sudden you're talking about who's got a dirty mouth and not what is being said.

Can we get past the philosophical hiccup caused by "paradigm" and get on to the impact of the Internet on all the myriad aspects of the rug world?


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