Our understanding of the reality is based on our interpretation of the information around us which is driven by our paradigm.
A paradigm is a set of concepts that are commonly agreed upon that we base our logical reasoning upon. It consists of a system of knowledge, beliefs and ideas that are commonly accepted and applies in a specific field of work. In the case study of Mark Twain, Twain’s paradigm was largely different to that of his friend, hence inferring different things from the same reality that they saw.
I think we can never just see what is in front us as our brain’s function is to make sense of what we see. The friend sees the logs, the sunset, the water and sees the landscape as breathtaking. The association of an aesthetic value is what he sees out of the same image that is interpreted differently by the pilot. The pilot’s association and understanding of the same logs, sunset and water allows him to come to the conclusion that ‘we are going to have wind tomorrow’, and that ‘the river is rising’, these are conclusions that his friend would have never thought about as they have different associations and judgements on the unchanged reality.
As they have different narratives, this causes them to have different perceptions of the same image that is highly subjective, and their paradigm that helps them to come to such perception draws back to their past knowledge to make sense of the present. This story showcases the many possible interpretations or perception of the same world around us, and perhaps also reveals the extent of the reliability and subjectivity of our different narratives. I think paradigms definitely serves to further our understanding, however, does it also alter our understanding of the truth?
In my opinion, it is almost impossible for us to see the truth. In the story, the truth is that there is a river, there is floating log, and that sun is setting. The friend sees beauty whilst the pilot sees danger. They both see beyond than just the truth as the truth does not bring ‘value’ to our understanding if we don’t make sense of it. Another point that the story highlights is that once one accepts one paradigm, it is very difficult to revert to another paradigm as how one makes sense of the world has changed, and hence it is difficult for two paradigms on the same matter to co-exist rationally, as they often contradict each other which is not favoured as it no longer allows us to be certain about the truth that we have constructed.