Paradigm wars notes



Paradigm wars: Worldviews for a New Age

Mark Woodhouse. North Atlantic Press 1996.


Chapter 1 World Views in Transition


Mentions M. Ferguson,


Patricia Aburdene and John Naisbitt authors of Megatrends 2000, ß-----when pub?


and historian John White. Mark Satin New Options for America: A second American experiment is underway.  Instead of seeking new answers to old questions, we are asking new questions. P. 2 f.



Spiritual Politics Corinne McLaughlin and Gordon Davidson seek to transform the world from inside out. “ ‘Consciousness precedes being- not the other way around’ noted former Czech President Vaclav Havel in his 1990 address to the US congress.

The human mind is not simply a reflection of prevailing social structures-I creates form” p. 3.



Author concurs that a new worldview, indeed a new world are in the making.  But what is this emerging perspective, this spiritual unfolding? Where did it come from and where might it take us? What is causing the shift? P. 3-4.


Paradigms are models or conceptual frameworks which give a unified perspective over a range of experiences. Their usefulness is tied to their capacity to help s understand why events occur as they do. Without them our experience would lack structure and significance.


Futurist Joel Barker defines a paradigm as “any set of rules … that describe boundaries and tells us what o do to be successful within those boundaries” p. 4


Art, religion, and social thought as well as science have their paradigms. P. 4.


Thomas Kuhn stressed that major paradigms are embedded in a larger social context along with the habits and expectations of leading thinkers.


William James noted the tension between fact and theory is magnified by the “extreme slowness with which the ordinary academic and critical mind acknowledges facts to exist …with no stall or pigeon hole, or as facts which threaten to break up the accepted system.” Major new ideas tend first to be condemned as ridiculous, then dismissed as trivial, until finally they are accepted as truth. P. 4f.


A whole new world view appears to be at hand. A wolrd view is broader than a paradigm; it is composed of multiple paradigms.


The current “new paradigm dialog”, as I shall call it, has not resulted a fully developed wold view waiting to replace the ruins of traditional perspectives. Rather, it is being defined and worked out in every clash with mainstream thought. p. 9.


Provides tenativee list of current paradigm principles from twenty-five hundred years of western culture that have come progressively under closer scrutiny.  we are moving away from, which are from Newtonian science; religion;

Patriarchal ethical, social, and political thought;

Psychology, meaphysics and common sense.


This list is characterized by root metaphors of fragmentation, reductionism, hierarchy, competition,

And fear (Anxiety).

(I would add isolation)


The ascending metaphors are interrelatedness, balance, emergent properties, love, and cooperation.



Ten transformational challenges


In order to make a case for a shift in world view,  a number of issues need to be addressed.


We must indicate the growing gaps between prevailing thought and changing circumstances that challenge that thought. we must show that traditional structures are not accommodating the challenges and how the old ways of dealing with problems are not working. We must show that the challenges cover a broad spectrum of culture; we must show that the challenges and the kinds of responses they evoke exhibit deep structure similarity. P. 17.


Environmental degradation and lack of sustainable practices

Decreasing global capacity for food production to keep up with population growth



Declining standards, grade inflation social promotion, declining expenditures for education; seeing purpose of education as way to get a job; training to accept rather than to question, and to memorize rather than to create.



Social fragmentation: Notes “nowhere is the self-defeating logic of fear based    politics more evident than in the arms race.”


The women’s movement:  response to gender inequality; the patriarchal system has given us war,  fragmented social and political agendas, environmental destruction and endless competition.



History of American economic thought is a quagmire of questionable assumptions

The market place is not a level playing field

growth, conspicuous consumption;

belief that long term undifferentiated economic growth is both desirable and necessary. Failure of “trickle down” theory of economic distribution.

“Pat Robertsons recent (pre 1996) The New World Order links the Illuminati, Freemasons, European banking interests, the Federal Reserve, Council on Foreign Relations, and assorted political figures to an end-times scenario familiar to conservative Christians.  



… What readers who look deper into this long standing debate  may find troubling is hat too much energy is often devoted to showing that someone is anti-Christian, anti-semitic, or paranoid, or influenced by someone they should not be. By contrast, the issue of whether there actually exists hidden economic manipulation at the levels claimed is not given the attention it deserves. “ p. 33



in it’s lead story for November 28 1994, Newsweek wrote “whether it’s middle age, or the coming millennium, or a bad case of blues, many Americans are on a quest for spiritual meaning.” P. 34.


Personal identity:

Three challenges: social fragmentation, encounter with paranormal, and

angst, meaninglessness, spiritual dis-ease



newly discovered phenomena such as Bell’s theorem, have caused a fundamental change in our beliefs about time, space, and matter.

Massive evidence for paranormal phenomena mounts a challenge to mainstream science. What revisions are needed in the fragmented distinction between mind and body?

Holographic paradigm developed by Bohm, Pribram, Paul Pietsch and others. There are significant differences in the various holographic models, but all offer an explanation of how a part can encode information about the whole.  



Biomedical model prevails: health is the absence of disease, and one must be under the care of a physician to return from a state of disease to a state of health.

New modalities becoming recognized.


Extraterrestrial cultures

It has become clear that major governments have covered up both what they know and their own involvement in this area.

Chapter 14 explores why I believe a coverup has been perpetuated, and why the answers to the question of ETs are coming sooner than we might think. The truth about ETs is far more complex than most imagine. P. 41.


These ten transformative challenges are pushing deeply held assumptions regarding fragmentation, hierarchial control, reductionism, fear, competition, and our place in the universe to historical turning points.


Summary of transformative challenges and responses:

Assumptions,  challenges, current corrective responses


Are current challenges greater than in the past? Yes.

Joseph Campbell: “There are certain periods when the … transformation [of culture] is quite special and extremely radical. And ours is certainly one of those periods.” Fn 31 p 44.


In its manifesto “At the Crossroads”, the Communications Era Task Force noted the shift through which we are living is unique in two ways: first, it is taking place within the lifetime of those alive today.  Second, we must develop a win-win strategy based on cooperation. The alternative, based in mutual fear, can end in total destruction. P. 45. 


All of the challenges are interlocking; cannot meet only one, need to meet them all.


Defenders of the traditional ways of thinking are still very much in power, and don’t care for win-win thinking when it effects their agenda.


The critical question is less a matter of who is in control now, but rather which way the winds are blowing. I hope the answer will be clear by the end of this book. P46.


Chapter 2 p. 47 critical questions for the new age

New Age means many things to many people.

Purposes for this chapter: to clarify different senses of the New Age in order to develop a more coherent sense of what it is all about; to defend the New Age against superficial criticisms, and to explain some shortcomings. It is not so much what  New Agers believe that sets them apart from other movements; bur rather how they come by their beliefs and promote them in the public arena.


The new age label cannot be easily distinguished from a wide variety of viewpoints. Concern throughout the book is with the search for a more comprehensive master paradigm, not with a label.


Why is there so much confusion and controversy about the New Age? It has multiple meanings. P. 48


In 1988 Omni magazine asked twelve leading commentators for a definition of new age. Carl Raschke, author of a study on the origins of the New Age movement makes unfounded assumptions in offering a sweeping dismissal.  He  associates it with the 1960s counterculture.


Publisher’s weekly has already declared the New Age dead – not  because it fizzled, but because it was loosing its identity vis-a-is the mainstream. P.51


Some new ager transformationists pick different labels, like “futurists”; yet other futurists reject the new age label but adopt many new age ideas under different names.


New age vs New Paradigm


Author uses 3 labels:

New Age: interest in anything unconventional 

New Paradigm dialog: discussion and exploration of the full range of cross-disciplinary  possibilities of new and trsansformative developments.

Rising Culture: term borrowed by Fritjof Capra; refers to all persons, trends, and institutions whose actions and perspectives are informed by the New Paradigm dialog and New Age agendas.


Author sees “New Age” as more restricted and less sophisticated articulation  of its vision than NP dialog.


Chapter 3 p. 71 The Search for a Master Paradigm: Systems Holism and the Perennial Philosophy.


New paradigm thinkers are not necessarily opposed to New Age ideas, but they approach them with a probing mind, open to more interpretations than a New Ager has time for.


Lists 22 “schools” that pertain to the new paradigm, and leading advocates of these schools. Author believes all of these points of view contribute to one of two master paradigms, neither of which is new. One he calls “systems holism”, the other is the “Perennial Philosophy”. These two paradigms complement one another, but are not identical, and the leaders of each paradigm may disagree on a number of issues.  The purpose of this chapter is to sketch the history, key ideas, and shortcoming of each perspective. P. 75


depending on how they are interpreted, may harbor irreconcilable differences p. 75


Author believes the Perennial philosophy, supplemented at key points by systems thinking, is the most viable foundation for the coming age.


Systems holism: history of philosophy, biology, and the social  sciences since Kant’s Critique of Judgement  in 1790.


Systems theorists: Capra,  Prigogine, chaos theorist James Gleick Laszlo, Charles Tart


So it is not the discipline, but the representatifve of the disapline that is “systems”?


Fractals and chaos sciejnc eare a special form of systems theory; has to do with how the whole and the part are interrelated



Perennial Philosophy: includes most major spiritual and philosophical systems from both east and west.



Biology has proved to be the richest discipline for holistically inclined scientists.

Holism also in history, sociology, and anthropology. Oppose reductionism

Linguistic holism; cognitive science. Reality based on linguistic and social systems.


Systems theory




System holism is integration of systems theory and holism.

Char of SH:

Emergent properities

Parts and wholes are equally real

All things are interconnected within their levels.

Nature cretively advances into an  open future

Change is all pervasive

Feedback loops can transform a system


Tao of holism: a defense of Fritjof capra

In his review of the turning point, Harvard paleontologist Stephen j. Gould raises 5 objections to capras call for a systems and holistically oriented master paradigm.


 systems holism is not rigorously developed

Capra fails to distinguish between meaningful and superficial similarities in nature.

Continue: p 85


Central challenge for holism: cluster of problems known as problem of vertical depth.

Says holists deal with mater/energy,  living things, and mind/consciousness, do not deal with paranormal, transpersonal, and the form that underlies materiality. P 89


Chapter 4 Paranormal Perspectives on Reality


Chapter 5 p. 154 Energy Monism I: Consciousness and the New Physics


Chapter 6 p. 182 Energy Monism II: Beyond Dualism and Materialism


Chapter 7 p. 205 The One-in-the-Many


Chapter 8 p. 250 Order in the Flux


Chapter 9. p 282 Time:Leading Edge of Eternity


Chapter 10. p 307 Transpersonal Psychology and Personal Growth


Chapter 11. p 349 Health and Healing at the Crossroads


Chapter 12. p 404 Paradigm Wars: Abortion, Education, and the Environment


Chapter 13. p 439  Shaping a New Religious Consciousness


Chapter 14. p 476 Galactic Destiny: A Transformational Vision for Our Time

Integrates aspects of biblical prophesy, government cover-ups, the Perennial Wisdom,  UFOs and alien encounters, the CIA and NASA, the clash between light and darkness, and the hopes and fears of persons in positions th know things they are not supposed to know.


Appendix  p. 535


Notes p. 569