on evolution and evolutionary reality (me and you)

Archive for February, 2016

The Worldview: An Old Concept and a New Idea

This post is going to be published as a part of Worldview Owner’s Manual.  It is posted on my blog to invite you to cooperate in this project.                                           

In my effort to define and to illuminate the concept of the worldview which is fascinating to me, I am in the bind, facing a paradox.

The concept of the worldview, in this or that form, for millennia, was the domain of philosophers.

From the Vedas, Lao-Tze and Plato to Vidal and Merinoff, all of them were talking about Big Questions.  Funny thing (hint, hint) that they talked much more about the questions than the answers….The other funny thing about these questions is that the more these philosophers divide, categorise and put them in separate domains – like ontology, axiology, praxeology etc, the more they stay the same.   So, Immanuel Kant was apparently the first to use the term Weltanschauung, but in the more perceptual sense, Adler wrote in late 20th century huge treatise summarising our concepts of the worldview, but the best information about worldview I found in Clement Vidal’s brilliant and funny paper “Metaphilosophical Criteria for Worldview Comparison” 2008.

Kenneth Funk from the Oregon State University wrote a nice essay about the worldview and he quoted a good set of definitions including his own. He discussed following  aspects of the worldview:

  • epistemology: beliefs about the nature and sources of knowledge;
  • metaphysics: beliefs about the ultimate nature of Reality;
  • cosmology: beliefs about the origins and nature of the universe, life, and especially Man;
  • teleology: beliefs about the meaning and purpose of the universe, its inanimate elements, and its inhabitants;
  • theology: beliefs about the existence and nature of God;
  • anthropology: beliefs about the nature and purpose of Man in general and, oneself in particular;
  • axiology: beliefs about the nature of value, what is good and bad, what is right and wrong.

 

This booklet is not for the philosophers (even, as I know some of them, they could benefit greatly!), it is for the modern, 21st century curious, educated persons. So, the worldview we want to talk about is somehow different than the thing in the philosophical books. It is much more practical, personal and useful. I want to demystify the worldview, I want to take it out from the hands of philosophers, out of academia, out of the doctrine, no matter which authority it may follow.

It is why the plan for this chapter has changed. After all books, all research, I think, that philosophical history of the concept is unnecessary for the creating of the personal worldview. You do not need PhD in psychology, political science and (often) criminal justice to vote. You did not read Sun Tzu’s Art of war before you were sent off to Vietnam and the problems of entropy shouldn’t bother you at the gas station. Similarly, a modern human needs to be aware of his or her worldview without being  a professional philosopher. On the other hand, the more we explore the everyday life the deeper it leads us.

 

The worldview we are going to work on is the set of rules and values you live your life by. Your human nature and your life experiences, including possibly spiritual ones, made you who you are. Now, the processes and forces that are responsible for creating you, the human being, are controversial and are the part of your worldview. But everybody has one and uses it all the time to make every decision, every move. Most of this system are automatic, subconscious – always or almost always. I get up in the morning and go to work, I am a pediatrician, and there is always the tapestry of mechanical routines, joy and pain, worry and searching for solutions. Big Questions are not there but are floating further or closer, or out of sight, for a moment.

So, this is it. This is the hard act to do- we need to shift and shift and shift- from the abstract, primordial dilemmas of humanity to the simplest, warmest human pain and joy.

 

   In the books, the criteria for the worldview evaluation was very simple: the truth. If it is true it is my worldview, if it is mine worldview it must be true! The problem is that if you look at the big questions, again and again, the only answer you can truthfully give is “ I do not know” or “I am not sure” Well, let’s close the shop and go home. But we can’t. We need to live the rest of our life and live it well. Also, we can see that we have lived the first part of our lives as if we would have known the answers. So now there is an obvious task: to tease out them from the life we lived, fine tune them, make them more clear and coherent and live the rest of the life more “examined” as Socrates would put it.

   

   We do not know these answers, but still we would like to believe in the true values and principles, rather than in false. We’d like to be working on the answers which feel true to us, trying to build a coherent worldview. So, at the end of the chapter about the concept of the worldview I am going to leave you with that: there are no true answers, nobody knows true answers, the smartest people’s definitions did not help us the slightest. If your answer is a piece of a story, a metaphor or even a joke and if it resonates with you as your own, you are a million miles ahead, stronger, with more integrity and resilience.

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How to Use this Manual

This post is going to be published as a part of Worldview Owner’s Manual.  It is posted on my blog to invite you to cooperate in this project.                                           

This manual has two parts. In the short part one, we talk about general problems and pleasures of creating your personal worldview. Working on this project for the last two years we learned a lot and I will share with you insights and tricks. Part two consists of 13 chapters, one for each question.

When you want to work on the particular question, you go to this chapter and you find tons of support.  Every chapter has the similar organization.

First, I’ll quote a famous philosopher.  

Then, the pompous philosophical question is softened by the number of “subquestions”.

We were trying to figure out the relationship between the problem representing by the question with your decisions in the everyday life.

Working on the particular question will address specific worries, problems  or even psychological weaknesses- I will point that out.

I will also quote my favorite answer published on Philozophy.com. You will get a working version, maybe a story related to the question, rather than the abbreviated, condensed “end product”.

I will encourage you to study the question by reading “suggested readings” and links to the history of the particular question.

 

   Everybody has a Worldview, but our worldview is mostly implicit. If you, my reader, are like the most of us, humans, this set of personal principles and values lives inside of you in the form of memories, stories, fears, hopes or instincts. A mixed emotional bag, most of which you are even not aware of.  And yet, you function somewhat, you make decisions, choices, you make plans, you can even attach some reasons or explanations to them.

 

   The other part of my thesis is that if you work on building a personal, written down, Worldview, this work creates substantial benefits.

I strongly believe that this work would make you smarter, happier and more resilient in the crisis. Secondly, it would make you more productive, efficient and successful whatever are your projects.

But the third is the most important: it would make you better, I mean “gooder”, more compassionate, non-violent, tolerant and cooperative.

This claim is pretty risky and big isn’t it? I know but look, it is our only hope. The smartest people on the planet, the mystics, the intellectuals and wise men unanimously say that digging into the core of the human nature, brings good, levels boundaries and makes peace.

And it is what you and I embark on.  And not a second too early, I say….

 

I hope we are going to work on this project of the personal worldview together. Of course, I would like that this manual was exciting, captivating, and beautiful. But I am not a writer, and if I’d worry about that, I would never write this thing. I am a pediatrician and I care about children. Naturally, my concern is the most clear and emotional when I think about my own children and grandchildren and the children I know personally.

 

    There are lots of books about the Worldview, most of them, at least in English, about Christian Worldview. Nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is labeling, is boxing yourself in, is the desperate search for the name of your worldview, preferably with the “-ism” ending.

“Oh, it is who I am!” Noooo, you are you, critically and mystically thinking individual human of the 21st century.    The World is trying to define itself. We witness the paroxysms of the violence of the heroism, the faith, and nihilism. But all of that is nothing else but the sum of each human personal struggle. People define themselves by living their lives, and desperately trying to make sense of it. For millennia, some of them attempt to express this in literature, art, and music. For yourself, for your children and for my children, I am going to work with you on building a personal explicit worldview. Yours.

 

    The philosophers distilled the concept of ‘Worldview’ to several basic categories, represented by the infamous “Big Questions”. This is the worldview. It is how you see the World, your opinions, your attitude and your guts. In the innate, experiential form, or implicit form- it is in the everybody’s bones.

In modern times, as more and more people, are educated, reflective, even obsessed with mindfulness and examining your own mind, the explicit (written down) worldview has become more popular. The domain of philosophers, religious doctrines, and scientific theories has become the object of TED talks, self-improvement books and even party conversation.

In Philozophy.com we are trying to encourage and help an ordinary thinking person to work on his or hers worldview. We think that the answer, or as Vidal call it, ”position”, should be short enough to be easily digested and compared with others, but long enough to be meaningful and personal- yours. We arbitrarily decided on the wording of each question, but we included alternative wording or “sub-questions”.

These statements, if they feel yours and true, we believe, can be the very important signposts in your journey to living full and good life.

 

      In our site, we combined personal exploration, almost a “self-improvement” thing, with a game and a social experiment. You will be invited to answer 13 “big questions” with the very condensed answer – 250 characters max. As the philosophers grappled with the answers to these questions for millennia, so how can you or I add anything interesting?

Yes, we can. Every  decision we make is related to our “take on the life”, our attitude, our belief system. They are related to big questions, even you do not think that the way you talk to your friend depends on your opinion of “the nature of the mind” – question #6.

Or does it? How about “origins of evil and good” – #3 and 4, and of course:” how do you find the truth?” – #8.

You pack for vacation, throwing socks and underwear into the suitcase.  But somewhere in the back of your mind, it is the travel, unknown, beginning and ending, and even death – #11, the meaning of life – #9 – and how do you find happiness – #7.

Scrambled in the subconscious puzzle these questions are all there.

 

In books about worldviews, it is always reduced down to 6 to 10 questions, with different exact wording, but they are the same questions, “the buck stops there” questions.

Nobody can change them into “lighter, less philosophical”. They are the concentrated, distilled problems of the human mind and of our civilization.

Look at the questions and start with the one your heart resonate with. Write the answer with the idea that it should be changed and improved and refined many times.

It does not need to be the exact answer, the truth, the definition. This is for you, not for me.

On my hook, please hang your own coat… or hat, or umbrella.  Browse and score the answers of other people, they are all real people, like me and you — some try to be funny, some pompous, some academic or religious.  But they have this in common. They had the courage to answer these questions and share these answers with us.This the sign of courage, of the open mind, of course, but also of freedom. They will read and comment on yours if you’re lucky; otherwise, they will ignore them.

Compose your answer….and edit and edit and edit until when you look at it, you will be able to say: “yes, this is me”. I bet you will be surprised. I was.

 

Then if you have time, pick another one, browse, discuss, score. It is your own brave journey inside your brain and heart – maybe the last frontier.

 

  This text can be interesting in itself, but it is meant to work the best with your browsing and your activity on our website: philozophy.com. The name of the domain is catchy, but it might mislead you. This site not much of the philosophy, most philosophers are very ponderous and not practical. This site is the place where different worldviews live together, they mingle, the participants comment on them, borrow them from each other, discuss whatever they want.

So, this manual has four main separate goals:

  1. Invite you to go with your work to Philozophy.com, browse, express your opinions about others’ work, comment and discuss. .
  2. Assist you and lead you by the hand in this arduous task of creating your personal explicit, written-down worldview, distilled to a philosophical Haiku, 250 characters max.
  3. Encourage you to join others and publish your answers in this abbreviated form, allow others to benefit from your hard work, see what they say, respond to comments and most importantly keep editing your answers.  
  4. Build a social experiment. See if creating your worldview can be interactive. Explore the fears and inhibitions in the society. Can we learn something about us, can the participation be fun?

In case you skipped the “invitation for cooperation”, I will repeat:

Both Manual and the Philozophy.com are completely ideology-neutral. This is the place where different worldviews mingle, all are welcome, their only defense consists of the human values and benefits for humanity. But we have preferences; we are for individualism, for cooperation and for the freedom of expression. We are against mob mentality, mindlessness, and stupidity. We are against the fear of being yourself, against the fear of exploring and against the fear of individual thinking.

 

 

Three Worldviews and You.

This post is going to be published as a part of Worldview Owner’s Manual.  It is posted on my blog to invite you to cooperate in this project.                                           

Everybody has a worldview, this is old hat. Philozophy.com users uniquely know that everybody has actually, at least, three.

One sits in the guts, mysterious and unconscious one, showing only sometimes who you really are. You live your life and by your decisions and actions, you declare and stamp out your worldview on the world you interact with. Second is your wishful thinking, how you’d like to be- strong, wise, happy and benevolent.

The third is what you put out for the show, the mixture of the principles you’re trying to live by, of worries, hypocrisy, defiance, and bravado.When you’re growing up, it is what you work on, try to know it, understand it, maybe even modify? It is what you are challenged with when you try to write it down…The relationship between these three reflects your progress in maturation and the level of freedom with which you live your life.

The manual might help you to explore these three worldviews of yours, so you will be able to juggle them, be aware of them and use them in life to your best advantage.

Some people go to the Philozophy.com and work happily on the Big Questions without any help. Others would enjoy Owner’s Manual to explore their personal worldview deeper and better. Nobody reads all manual, people are usually curious about a special aspect of the thing. It is why some parts are repetitive… 

The manual will grow out of my blog. I have been studied the concept of the worldview and have been writing essays about it for 5 years now. My explorations took a new twist and was boosted by my daughter Sophia’st development of  the site Philozophy.com. Moving beyond the idleness of the philosophical musings we gradually were able to work in the “laboratory” of the real people’s worldviews.

We believe, and I will explain this belief later, that participating in our project makes the person happier, smarter and it makes the World a better place.

The major reason that I am going to build this Manual from my blog is that I am counting on your help. In my blog, you’ll find the posts related to all planned chapters – fourteen of them. Some are almost done , some- almost empty. Please comment and discuss the work in progress.

This attitude of transparency and the hope for teaming with you is not accidental.

It reflects the core character of the project itself. In its aspect of the social experiment, it tests the social maturity of the participants, including me- trusting in the goodness of the human nature, in living in the free community without fears or shame, where you are responsible for your life and play and where your life and play matters.

Obviously, your help with the manual is as part of your life as is a reflection of your worldview.

Both Manual and the Philozophy.com are completely ideology-neutral. This is the place where different worldviews mingle, all are welcome, their only defense consists of the human values and benefits for humanity. But we have preferences; we are for individualism, for cooperation and for the freedom of expression. We are against mob mentality, mindlessness, and stupidity. We are against the fear of being yourself, against the fear of exploring and against the fear of individual thinking.

Let’s do it and let The Force be with us, which is very likely, otherwise with whom it would be, like, with Klingons?