Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A Few Random Thoughts on Worldview

aSo, what is your view of the world? Some of you might immediately answer "Who cares?", or "Who wants to know?", or "I'm feeling positive about it", or "We're all doomed!". Everyone has a worldview, and though each of these statements may reveal a little of someone's worldview, there is a lot more that has gone into making our worldview than a passing phrase. A worldview can be summed up as "a total sum of an individual's thoughts, life experiences, and ideas that determine how they interpret the world." There are as many different worldviews as their are people in the world.

And of course, no worldview is a perfect and complete worldview, since not one of us knows everything. However, it is important to become familiar with our own worldview, for it shall determine how we view everything in life... everything! Love, war, peace, relationships, death, religion, parenting, work, and most importantly truth itself, if there is such a thing. Let me give you an example. If your worldview believes that man is generally good, decent, and honest, then you will trust strangers, while another who has a worldview that sees man is untrustworthy will certainly not trust strangers. If your view of the world is that humanity can make a "better" world, then you have in your worldview's mind or eye what you mean by a "better" world. These thoughts and ideas are born from many different life experiences. However, there are certain worldview "cores" that really determine all the rest of our worldview. Philosophers have been wrestling for thousands of years up to the present day about these core ideas, or beliefs.

The following are a few of the major worldviews that you will immediately be able to identify or notice in your own experiences of life in school, at work, or at home. And you will also notice that we are all guilty of holding to a worldview in theory, but not in practice.

Questions that begin the process are the famous "Who am I"? "Where have I come from?" "Why do I exist?" "What am I here for?", and we can segment and make many questions out of these, which is what philosophers do, but so do all of us, yet perhaps much more quickly, and much less thoroughly.


Up to the seventeenth century, a "Theistic" worldview was the main worldview in the West. Simply put, most people believed that there is a "God" who made all things in existence, and this God relates to His creation. This would include Judaism, Christianiy, and Islam.

Following this worldview came "Deism", a worldview that believes there is a God who, like a clockmaker, made everything in existence, and then "went away", and has not relation to His creation. But here, even though this is the idea, many of the deists, because of their earlier upbringing, still practiced theism, though they claimed to be deists. They prayed, they felt that they were accountable to this "God", even though He does not relate to them. They also thought they even though "God" did not communicate with His creation, man could reason and learn their way to God.

Following this came "Naturalism", really evolutionary theory. God was removed from the equation and naturalism is the idea that the only thing that is eternal is "matter", the Cosmos. There is no "God", only matter, which was never created, but changed and changes it's form.

From Naturalism came Nihilism for many. The famous Nietzche is always quoted as saying "God is dead, and we have killed Him." Most Nihilists end up a disaster, and dangerous to themselves or others, or at least living an empty and depressed life. For their very worldview is that life is nothing more than an illusive deception, with no deceiver, and therefore not cure. Since Nihilism led to dark and dismal life and practice, what followed naturally was "Existentialism", the belief that man cannot function without purpose, as a Nihilist, and so he must define for himself, since there is no God, or Higher Being to define for him.

So existentialism arose with the famous and often quoted verse that encapsulates their worldview "I am master of my fate, and I am the captain of my soul". (William Ernest Henley) This idea states in essence that "whatever I determine to be right is right, and whatever you determine to be right for you is right." Of course, there are arguments, disagreements, all the time, between families, workers, siblings, and nations, that argue that their heart determines what is right and wrong. Yet if this were the case, then no one could ever find fault with anyone else, for that would be hypocritical to their own worldview. This became a major problem in the philosophical field.

Then we have Karl Marx with his "Communist Manifesto", and others who were advocating that the only determining factor for what is right is that which is right for the community to carry on toward a utopian perfection of sorts. The community would determine, the tribe would determine, or the nation would determine what is "moral" or "right". Of course, history is filled with horrible examples of how this works out. Morality must be born from that which is, not popular, or accepted, but true. Is there such a thing as absolute truth? Those who argue against it are defeating their argument by arguing.

I once heard it stated that "the only absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth." I responded with "Is that absolutely true?" And if it is, then your statement is false.

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