There are different ways of understanding what a worldview is, or what questions it seeks to answer or how it is gained or what it is shaped by.
When people of different perspectives, beliefs (and yes, different worldviews) discuss what a ‘worldview’ is, it is easy for their own worldview to influence things. I freely admit the likelihood of my Christian worldview/perspectives/beliefs to influence me in this process, and I’d hope others would admit the same tendencies.
For example, I think most would agree that ‘world’-view means the same thing as ‘reality’-view. Different claims will be made between different people with different views on what ‘reality’ is. Indeed, sorting through these different kinds of claims is very much (if not exactly) the same thing as sorting out what a reality/world-view is.
In the comments of my last post, I mentioned Apostel’s seven components of what he thinks makes up a worldview. As yet, I see no reason why this is not a helpful indicator of what makes up a worldview. One can be needlessly mystifyed by the big words, so I summarise them here:
- An assessment of the world’s ‘being’ (ontos) or existence (what can/does and what cannot/does not exist? – ontology)
- An assessment of how the world ‘works’ (explanation).
- An assessment of the world’s future (where is the world heading? – futurology).
- An assessment of value, answers to ethical questions (what should we do).
- An assessment of actions needed to attain goals (praxeology, or methodology, or theory of action – how should we attain our goals?).
- An assessment of how we know anything (epistemology, theory of knowledge – what is true and false?).
- An assessment of its own make-up (etiology).
N.T. Wright provides a somewhat simpler understanding of what a worldview is: “Worldviews may be studied in terms of four features; characteristic stories, fundamental symbols; habitual praxis; and a set of questions and answers.” He explains each of these:
- ‘[worldviews] provide [characteristic] stories through which human beings view reality. Narrative is the most chacteristic expression of worldview, going deeper than the isolated observation or fragmented remark.’
- ‘[F]rom these stories one can in principal discover how to answer basic questions that determine human existence: who we are, where are we, what is wrong , and what is the solution?’
- ‘Stories and the answers provided to the questions are expressed in cultural symbols’
- ‘Worldviews include a praxis, a way-of-being-in-the-world.’
Certainly, a worldview has to do with ‘making sense of the world’ or ‘connecting the dots’. One thing that makes these two proposals different from the 3-step approach in my last post is that they (broadly speaking) roll all my 3 steps into one (or 7 or 4).
Worldviews are the stuff of life. Life in the world. Obviously, I’ve not drawn any conclusions here. For the moment, I’m interested in discussing why we live and think differently about these things.