Monday, July 7, 2014


A comprehensive world view (or worldview) is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society's knowledge and point of view. A world view can include natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and ethics. The term is a calque of the German word Weltanschauung, composed of Welt ('world') and Anschauung ('view' or 'outlook'). It is a concept fundamental to German philosophy and epistemology and refers to a wide world perception. Additionally, it refers to the framework of ideas and beliefs forming a global description through which an individual, group or culture watches and interprets the world and interacts with it.
The quoted compact definition of worldview includes two distinct elements that in my opinion should be kept apart for clarity

  • Wide world perception
  • Framework of ideas and beliefs forming a globa description
Perception is subjective understanding, a mental construction of reality that individuals and groups have adopted and learned in very complex manners.It is an interpretation of the world.

Framework of ideas is objective understanding of what is known and believed in the context of the individual or group. It is a description of the world.

Thunder and lightning
The majestic thunder and lightning during stormy weather has always made and still makes a deep impact on us humans. 

In objective terms the phenomenon has been observed throughout human history as loud sound and sometimes fatal flashing in the sky. The meteorological phenomenon is perceived through senses and transmitted to the brain where it is recognized and associated with wind, rain and fire. 

In subjective terms thunder and lightning are understood by individuals and society according to the prevalent worldview. The associations in mind are culturally colored and depend on a multitude of diverse threats of thinking.

Hellenic people heard the sound and associated it with the fearsome wagons of Helios as he is riding on the sky. Zeus shooting his angry arrows.

Variously named storm gods were worshiped in ancient Near East where thunder and lighting occurs. For examples, Canaanites feared Baal of the holy mountains who gave or withheld rain from the thirsty nature. Flashes are the weapons of choice of several Mesopotamian gods and goddesses. 

Similarly, the Bible has texts that describe in Canaanite manner how thunder is the mighty voice of God shaking the high mountains of Lebanon.

In short, thunder and flash are experienced similarly by all humans throughout the ages through our senses and brain activity. What we see and experience, on the other hand, depends on our worldview in a complex network of personal, social and cultural connections and associations.

Scientific worldview
Modern scientists try to adhere to methods and rules that are as objective as possible in the framework of observations and theoretical explanations and free of the coloring of their own perception of the world.

This concentration on the framework of ideas and observations is an essential characteristics of scientific research and has proven invaluable.

However, it is not enough for us humans to know the mechanics of some natural phenomenon such as thunder and lightning. Electricity, friction, air currents - yes. But there is more to it, isn't there!

Not surprisingly, the top scientists of today studying biology or cosmology and other subjects tend to also write about the meaning of things, their perception of the world as Carl Sagan does in his famed Cosmology documentary - a personal voyage (1980).

The immense success of his masterpiece among the people of the world - the documentary has been shown in over 60 countries and seen by millions - witness the importance and need of talking about what this all means, a personal voyage for each of one according to our capacity of perceiving the world as a whole.

Sagan chose atheism. Hawking keeps asking Big Questions. Sir Isaac Newton chose faith in Creator.

It is important to keep the two elements of Weltanschauung separate - and yet it seems to be impossible to avoid drawing personal conclusions of objective facts, of having perceptions of the world based on the framework of ideas, so to say.

Religion definitely has room in this, both negative and positive. But that requires another discussion.

No comments:

Post a Comment