what do you understand about how paradigms affect how we feel about our place in the universe; and how does that affect our conceptions of truth and knowledge?
After a crazy ‘aha!’ and ‘huh?’ moment in grade 8, when my teacher said, “you are looking into the past when you look out into space” I fell in love with physics. I started to realise just how big the universe was, it was so big that we could never be certain about the ‘present’ situation of other faraway celestial objects. This idea frightened me a little because it was a testament to how little we know about our universe, and possibly even how little we are capable of knowing (although I like to be very optimistic about the second one). It made me feel small, it made me appreciate the unique circumstances of the earth that gave us all life, most of all it made me feel weird about existing. All of a sudden the structured way in which our society worked turned into an alienated idea in the grand scheme of the universe. I started to become increasingly aware of how absurd the routines we carried out were, how extremely specific we are about how economies function, how cities are built, how hierarchical systems work etc. Obviously, this experience is synonymous to an existential crisis, which I go through almost every month.
The idea of existentialism is a subset of the postmodern paradigm, where humans have no given purpose in life. After being introduced to the grand paradigms I can clearly see that I have been brought up in the postmodern paradigm. I immediately accepted that humans are an evolutionary phenomenon, partially because of the authority bias, but also because I rationally examine the world through a scientific perspective. It only makes sense to me that we originate from a preexisting being and this scientific perspective of cause and effect makes the theory of evolution a convincing one. It could then be said that technically science is what has led us to this ‘truth’ and therefore it is a reincarnation of the modern paradigm, however, the postmodern paradigm differs from the modern paradigm in the sense that it sees science as a means through which we can explore the ‘truth’ about the universe, not an end itself. We also realise that it is practically impossible to ever know whether we are completely true in our explanation about the universe, although we get close to it as theories withstand falsification.
I would say science is the most predominant way in which we analyse the ‘truth’ of the universe. And it is weird to think that science is only one way to explain how the universe works, it is possible that there is an alien species out there who are just as ‘intelligent’ as us but they explain the universe in a different way. I can barely think of how they might do this because I am so heavily influenced by the scientific paradigm. However humans themselves have different ways of explaining the universe, for some it is science, some it is religion and for some, it is both (as seen by most of the well-known scientists in history). I remember in grade 9 Mr. Suarez told us about the parallels between Hinduism/ Vedanta and modern science (this quora page might be interesting). Although these connections can seem far fetched and subjective to non- believers, it got me thinking that if two systems of thinking draw the same conclusion it might mean we are then closer to the truth than we believe, or it could mean that we are functioning under an even greater paradigm that forces us to draw the same conclusion about world regardless of the area of knowledge we choose to explore the universe through, or it might just be that a text written approximately 2000 years ago was an extremely accurate science- fiction story.
I guess one of the conclusions I am drawing here is that Most paradigm shifts carry traces of the previous one, and therefore build off each other in some aspects (eg. although in the modern paradigm, there was no God that governed the universe, people still had a purpose to ‘investigate the universe’ and it makes me wonder who bestowed this purpose on the people? It has to be some higher power) 2)
Regardless of the limitations, our paradigms pose, it can be seen that over the year humans have massively changed their perspective on our place in the universe, (although Hinduism already promoted ideas about modern science). And although science is not the only way the universe can be explored, it is one that has proven to be practical and useful in sustaining human life, which deems scientific knowledge as useful.
I am sorry if this post is all over the place. I don’t know if I have really answered the question here, and I’m not too sure what the bigger point I was trying to make is. Hopefully, there is a little bit of logic and sense behind what I am saying