TRINPsite, 56.31.7-56.31.7 



After having reviewed some of the similarities, or possible similarities, between the history and future of science and the history and future of denominationalism, we should now briefly consider some of the differences. The major difference appears, then, to be one in the frequency of occurrences. Whereas a scientific paradigm is supposed to span decades or centuries, a denominational paradigm would span rather centuries or millenniums. (This illustration is meant to be relative, for both scientific and denominational paradigms might succeed each other more frequently in the future. Moreover, whereas denominational evolution may take a much longer time than scientific evolution, it may be that political, or other specialist, ideological paradigms span a much shorter time than those in science.)

The corollary of the difference of the role of the factor time is that a denominational interparadigmatic period (that is, the period between the heyday of the one paradigm and that of the next) may be expected to last much longer than a scientific interparadigmatic period, namely centuries instead of decades. This explains why the community or society in question may be multidenominational (bidenominational, for instance) for a very long time. But even in this period its multidenominationalism is a partial one: the old paradigm, now well beyond its heyday and coexisting with alternative ideologies, still remains the dominant one, even tho its dominance may eventually be one in name only. However, in the denominational field a 'dominance in name' is a form of 'real' denominational dominance because of the symbolic aspect or emotive function of denominationalism.

From the point of view of ideological power, the adherents of the old paradigm can allow the denominational pluriformity of their community or society so long as no ideology emerges which is to become a serious threat to the preponderant influence of their own denomination -- threat not in terms of political or military power, but in the sense of the force of its argumentation and the appeal of its symbolism. In the centuries of denominational instability (or 'interdenominationalism') preceding the genesis of the ideology which is to become the new paradigm, the influence of the old religion or other denomination will perhaps wax and wane (dependent on the fashion of the decade, so to say). But while its power may vary during those centuries, it does remain in control until a radical denominational change puts an end to its domination forever. The hallowed tree which is hollowed out more and more by its own factual-modal and normative anomalies is destined to finally collapse under the confrontation with a new denominational doctrine which has had enough time to reach maturity.

Now, it might be argued that, apart from times of crisis, the nature of science presupposes general agreement about its postulates, methods and findings, and that the nature of ideology, and also of philosophy, presupposes the existence of conflicting, ideological and philosophical views. Without opposing parties there would be no controversial theories, and ideology and philosophy would be 'science'; that is, ideology and philosophy inclusive of denominationalism. On this assumption it would not only be unnecessary that one denominational paradigm succeeds another (after a long time of crisis, anomie or multidenominationalism), it would even make such a paradigm into a scientific one. Yet, as we have discussed in the previous divisions of this chapter, a denominational doctrine or theory has characteristics which a scientific doctrine or theory lacks entirely, and vice versa, regardless of its being the sole accepted one in a community or not. (Only philosophical theories may perhaps receive the epithet scientific when they are not contested any longer.) The analogy with science of single denominational doctrines succeeding each other as dominant paradigms of their era may therefore still hold, even tho the ideological pluriformity would then only be found in the instable period preceding the advent of a novel denominational paradigm.

We should finally turn our attention to two important features which distinguish a denominational doctrine in itself from a scientific one, and see what bearing this has, or might have, on the succession of, and attitude towards, denominational paradigms in the past and future. The first one is the symbolic aspect: a denominational doctrine is not just a plain collection of plain assertions, coherent or not. In some way it also makes an artistic use of symbols to convey the same message as the one in the assertions. (As said before, some theorists call the function of these symbols "emotive".) Let us include in this 'symbolism' everything not falling under that kind of verbal communication which has to be interpreted literally. This symbolism may therefore consist of the doctrine's literary way of presentation, of visual and verbal symbols, or, for example, of the observance of certain holidays, provided that these symbols and holidays mean something because of the things they represent.

It is not merely the presence of a system of symbols which distinguishes a theodemonical or other denominational doctrine from science; in practise it may also be the imposition of such a system on whole societies or communities. If done, it is evidently done as part of the total imposition of the theodemonical or denominational ideology on the people concerned, but symbolism plays a great part in bringing the 'glad tidings of the word' (and, if the ideology is authoritarian, the sad tidings of the sword). In a time of denominational upheaval the system of symbols of what is later to become the new paradigmatic doctrine may even be adjusted or extended in order to make it more attractive to the majority of people who still adhere to the old lights. To take a historical example: a theodemonist religion competing for the place of the 'true faith' in the denominational and political theater of a particular empire, may not only decide to add the celebration of the birth of its divine prophet to its symbolism, but even to move this very birthday a couple of weeks back to make it coincide with a rival theodemonist holiday which the general populace does not feel like giving up. Being well aware that they otherwise would not be able to beat the old paradigm of denominationalism, the leaders of the novel system of theodemonism may thus find it strategically necessary to incorporate some of the traditional feasts, customs and rites into their own doctrine's symbolism. Once they are accepted, however, they are disengaged from the old denominationalism's substantive content and furnished with a new meaning; that is, they are then presented to the community as standing for the new denominationalism's own substantive content.

The fact that symbols play such a significant role in denominational theory and practise is at once a nuisance and an asset: it is a nuisance as it makes it much harder to replace an old denominational paradigm which is, or has become, inferior from the scientific, philosophical and ideological point of view, but perhaps not from an artistic point of view; it is an asset, apart from esthetic considerations, because it enables an alternative doctrine to establish itself as a new denominational paradigm, even tho the general populace is not capable of recognizing its superior normative and intellectual merits or, dependent on the ideology concerned, lack thereof. This adds to the theory of denominational paradigms a dimension which is absent in the scientific field.

The second feature of denominationalism which fundamentally distinguishes it from science is the normative aspect: like every ideology, a denominational doctrine is a normative doctrine which makes normative assertions, not just about utterances and theories, but about the ground-world itself. (This is what some theorists call "the imperative function of ideology".) It follows from this aspect of denominationalism that the anomalies of a denominational paradigm may not only be factual-modal, like those of a scientific paradigm, but also normative. A factual-modal denominational anomaly is, say, the 'explanation' of the existence of two sexes by presenting the unsuspecting woman or man with the image of a god violently sawing asunder single beings into male and female, or, alternatively, taking a man's spare rib and molding it into a woman. A normative anomaly is, say, the image of a male supreme being commanding wives to honor and obey their husbands (while not commanding husbands to honor and obey their wives, for instance). These anomalies merely serve as illustrations -- whether they are conceived of as anomalies, and as important ones, may depend on the time when they are considered. What is of paramount importance, however, is that a denominational doctrine must make normative assertions or have normative nonpropositional principles (since it is an ideology) but need not make factual or modal assertions like a scientific doctrine or theory. It is precisely these factual and modal assertions which are subject to empirical falsification, or which may later receive a certificate of extraordinary implausibility. Hence, the analogy of the eternal succession of denominational paradigms may even on a historicist account come to an end with the emergence of a denominational doctrine which does not venture its credibility by depending on empirical suppositions with regard to the past, the present or the future. The adherents of such a doctrine realize from the beginning on that the part acted by denominationalism in disciplinary thought is quite different from that of science. In this respect it is the least scientific of denominational doctrines which has the best chance of escaping the fate of a scientific paradigm.

There is one thing we can be sure about: the name of a supernaturalist ideology with quasi-factual pretensions and abominable prescriptions will not endure forever.

©MVVM, 41-56 ASWW

Model of Neutral-Inclusivity
Book of Instruments
Paradigms of Disciplinary Thought
Paradigms in Science and Denominationalism