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World view

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A world view, also spelled as worldview is a term calqued from the German word Weltanschauung ("look onto the world"). The German word is also in wide use in English, as well as the "translated" form world outlook.


Weltanschauung and cognitive philosophy

One of the most important concepts in cognitive philosophy and generative sciences is the German concept of ‘Weltanschauung’. This expression refers to the 'wide worldview' or 'wide world perception' of a people. The Weltanschauung of a people originates from the unique world experience of a people, which they experience over several millennia. The language of a people reflects the Weltanschauung of that people in the form of its syntactic structures and untranslatable connotations and its denotations.

A map of the world on the basis of Weltanschauung crosses political borders because Weltanschauung is the product of both political borders and common experiences of a people from a geographical region, environmental-climatic conditions, the economic resources available, socio-cultural systems and the linguistic family. The work of the population geneticist Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza aims to show the gene-linguistic co-evolution of people.

The worldview map of the world would be similar to the linguistic map of the world. However, it would almost coincide with a map of the world drawn on the basis of music across people.

Weltanschauung as generative system

A world view describes a consistent (to a varying degree) and integral sense of existence and provides a framework for generating, sustaining and applying knowledge.

The linguistic relativity hypothesis of Benjamin Lee Whorf describes how the syntactic-semantic structures of a language becomes an underlying structure for the weltanschauung of a people through the organization of the causal perception of the world and the linguistic categorization of entities. As linguistic categorization emerges as a representation of worldview and causality, it further modifies social perception and thereby leads to a continual interaction between language and perception.

The theory or rather hypothesis was well received in the late 1940's, but declined in prominence after a decade. In the 1990's new research has given further support for the linguistic relativity theory, in the works of Stephen Levinson and his team at the Max Planck institute for Psycholinguistics at Nijmegen, The Netherlands [1]. The theory has also gained attention through the works of Lera Boroditsky at the MIT.

The 'construction of integrating worldviews' begins from fragments of worldviews offered to us by the different scientific disciplines and the various systems of knowledge. It is contributed by different perspectives that exist in the world's different cultures. This is the main topic of research in the Center Leo Apostel for Interdisciplinary Studies

Worldview and folk-epics

As natural language becomes manifestations of world perception, the literature of a people with common weltanschauung emerges as holistic representations of the wide world perception of the people. Thus the extent and commonality between world folk-epics becomes a manifestation of the commonality and extent of a worldview.

Epic poems are shared often by people across political borders and across generations. Examples of such epics includes, the Nibelungenlied of the germanic-Scandinavian people, The Silappadhikaram of the South Indian people, The Gilgamesh of the Mesopotamian-Sumerian civilization and the people of the fertile crescent at large, The Arabian nights of the Arabic world and the Sundiata epic of the African people

See list of world folk-epics.

Influences of worldview

The term denotes a comprehensive set of opinions, seen as an organic unity, about the world as the medium and exercise of human existence: politics, economics, religion, culture, science, ethics.

At all times, religious and political teachings were bases for forming worldviews; in fact, they were often worldviews themselves. For example, Christianity, Islam, socialism, Marxism, Scientology may be called worldviews; at least they generate clearly identifiable worldviews.

Historically, world views changed little and slowly, achieving wide (and often unquestioning) support. Post-modernism has encouraged a proliferation of ever-changing Weltanschauungen.

In the language of the Third Reich, Weltanschauungen came to designate the instinctive understanding of complex geo-political problems by the Nazis, which allowed them to openly begin invasions, twist facts or violate Human Rights, in the name of a higher ideal and in accordance to their theory of the world.

See also

External links

Last updated: 05-13-2005 07:56:04