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The word paradigm comes from the Greek word παράδειγμα (paradeigma) which means "pattern" or "example", from the word παραδεικνύναι (paradeiknunai) meaning "demonstrate".

Table of contents
1 Linguistic Paradigms
2 Epistemological Paradigms
3 Other Uses

Linguistic Paradigms

In linguistics a paradigm is a schema or table of all available inflections for a certain word.

Epistemological Paradigms

From the late 1800s the word paradigm has been used as an epistemological term to denote a "thought pattern" in scientific disciplines.

The most popular use of the word in this context was by philosopher Thomas Kuhn who used it to describe a set of practices in science. It was and is widely abused. Kuhn himself came to prefer the terms exemplar and normal science, which have more exact philosophical meaning. However, in his book The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Kuhn defines a scientific paradigm as:

The formally-defined term groupthink, and the term mindset, have very similar meanings that apply to smaller and larger scale examples of disciplined thought. Michel Foucault used the terms episteme and discourse, mathesis and taxinomia, for aspects of a "paradigm" in Kuhn's original sense. Read more about this in the paradigm shift, sociology of knowledge and philosophy of science articles, where these words are placed in context.

Other Uses

Probably the most common use of the word paradigm is in the sense of weltanschauung. For example, in social science, the term is used to describe the set of experiences, beliefs and values that affect the way an individual perceives reality and responds to that perception. Social scientists have adopted the Khunian phrase "paradigm shift" to denote a particular social phenomena rather than what was originally meant by Khun's study on the practices and development of science. Even occultists, notably chaos magicians, use the term - to describe a shift in personal belief systems concerning magic (magic theory).

Some language purists feel that among "business philosophers" and advocates of any type of change whatsoever, the term paradigm is so widely abused that it bears no meaning whatsoever. Some believe it should be abolished from the English language, and formal studies of this show it as one of the most disliked words in English.

Paradigm is also a Canadian Electronics company. See Paradigm Electronics.