Friday, October 27, 2006



What the heck is a “world view”?

Before I proceed into some serious definitions and explanations, first a little humor. I must share some images that have popped into my head. I can’t help but imagine one of the late night comics (LNC) going out into the big city and asking the “man on the street” (MOTS) the question: “What is your world view?” The following imaginary dialogue has provided me with some late night chuckles.

LNC: Hello there! We are asking folks tonight about “world views.” What is your world view?

MOTS #1: Gee, I don’t have one. My apartment only has one window, and it overlooks an alley!

MOTS #2: Does that have something to do with the UN?

MOTS #3: I don’t think I have a world view. I think that photograph of the Earth from outer space is pretty neat, though. I do have a photo of the Grand Canyon in my den.

MOTS #4: I’m just too busy to do any world viewing! I’m plenty stressed just with the price of gasoline. What do you expect from a low-paid worker?

Well, do you get the picture? Except for serious academics and deep thinkers, the average person just doesn’t think about world views. In fact, my old unabridged dictionary (1966) doesn’t even list the term. Still, as I said before, everybody has a world view. They just don’t know that they do. Therefore, we need to clarify just what a world view is, how we develop that view, and how it relates to our thinking, our behaviors, and our attitudes toward life. So now we will get serious.

The internet is a place where one can find discussions about world view, along with discussions about any possible topic one can think of. When I use material in any discussion in my blogs, I will always try to cite the source. Since I often like the way someone else states something, I will sometimes quote them. My first source is an article called “What is a world view?” ( Their explanation is simple and clear. They explain that a “world view” is a kind of “framework,” a kind of personal structure that “ties everything together, that allows us to understand society, the world, and our place in it.” This kind of inner thought-structure usually “synthesizes the wisdom gathered in the different scientific disciplines, philosophies and religions.”

When we think about this definition, we start to comprehend the complexity of what a world view is and why it is so difficult for nearly all of us to articulate our own world view. I am discovering that nearly everything I write in my blog is inter-related in some way. We could refer back to the blog (See Sept. 25) relating to why each of us is unique. Many of the factors discussed there relate directly to individual world views. Each person’s life experiences contain multiple components. The majority of those components are internalized largely subconsciously over one’s lifetime. Seldom do we bring them out into conscious awareness in order to delineate them and to write them down.

Let’s look at some other definitions and sources. Another website presents an interesting discussion of the topic: “What is a worldview?” ( This site offers two definitions, apparently from a more recent dictionary than mine: “The overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world,” and “A collection of beliefs about life and the universe held by an individual or a group.” This site notes that a worldview can be “religious or nonreligious,” and it is a personal insight about reality that is often called a “life understanding.” What does this include? “The personal insight comprising a worldview will encompass notions of the existence or nonexistence of the supernatural and a deity or deities; the origins of the universe and of human life; the source of morality and values; identification of what is good or evil; how to live one’s life; and the meaning of life and of death.” Do we all start to see why I say this concept is a complex one? How can anyone state her world view in a few sentences? I don’t find that possible; at least, for me it is impossible. I will admit, however, that persons raised from childhood with strict fundamental religious beliefs might be able to recite the “world view” from their particular religious theology. It’s certainly true that it is simpler to recite an indoctrinated belief than to develop one largely by oneself. There is no judgment implied here; just an observation.


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