Develop an Explicit Worldview

September 30, 2013

By contributing blogger Rafael Gomes de Oliveira:

The Importance of Developing an Explicit Worldview

In one of my previous blog entries, “Bridging the Gap to Adulthood”, I explored the topic of what it means to be an adult in today’s context. Not long after writing that post, I discovered a concept that have influenced the way I think about life and adulthood, and therefore I would like to add it as an amendment to the previous text.

The concept in question is called “Explicit Worldview.” Let’s start with the term Worldview (WV). We all have an intuitive understanding of what a Worldview is. It is the way we perceive and interpret the world, ourselves, and others around us. We can use it to describe the world and act in it (Vidal, 2013). Most of us only have an implicit awareness of our own WVs though. We have inside our heads complex ideas about our values, beliefs, how to act in certain situations, what we desire, how the world works, where we fit in it, etc. However, unless the essence of this soup of ideas is made explicit, it will remain somewhat vague and fragmented. The reason it is so valuable to start making your own WV explicit as soon as possible is so that the essence of these vague and fragmented thoughts can be organized in a more clear and comprehensive way early in your life. This, in turn, will lead to more coherent and comprehensive perspectives, and better informed decisions.

On Vidal’s paper (cited above), we can find the Worldview concept being related to six dimensions of philosophy (Figure 1). The paper also offers a detailed description of the process for making your own Worldview explicit, which I will attempt to briefly summarize here. The first-order category is about reality, the second-order category is about knowledge itself, and the third-order category is about synthesizing and integrating first and second-order categories.

The questions they generate are:

  1. What is? Ontology (model of being);
  2. Where does it all come from? Explanation (model of the past);
  3. Where are we going? Prediction (model of the future);
  4. What is good and what is evil? Axiology (theory of values);
  5. How should we act? Praxeology (theory of actions);
  6. What is true and what is false? Epistemology (theory of knowledge);
  7. Where do we start to answer those questions?

Another interesting diagram illustrates the Worldview of an individual in a cybernetic system (Figure 2).

The figure above illustrates 6 of the 7 previously proposed questions. What about the seventh? Where do we start to answer those questions? We do it by defining some type of criteria for Worldview comparison. The criteria can be up to us, but a suggestion is provided in the thesis. It encompasses Objective, Subjective, and Intersubjective aspects (Table 1).

We can also add Assessment Tests (Tables 2 and 3) in order to test our Worldviews. According to the reference work I am using, they can include but are not limited to:

This is a long-term, always-evolving process that might require a while to grasp. But once you do explore it, the rewards will be priceless.

 

We, as individuals and as a community, have only to gain when we develop more coherent and comprehensive Worldviews. Otherwise the opposite would be true, and we would instead pursue incoherence and narrow-mindedness. As we become more aware of our own WVs, we also develop a higher sensibility to how other people think, act and base their beliefs. This makes it easier to connect with them and resolve conflicts. I hope you enjoy the journey of making your own Worldview explicit, wherever it may take you. I’m still currently working on mine.

I also recommend for you to read the full paper that served as a reference to this post. It can be found here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1301.1648.

 

References

All text and pictures:

Vidal, Clément. “The Beginning and the End: The Meaning of Life in a Cosmological Perspective.” PhD thesis defended at the Free University of Brussels (Vrije Universiteit Brussels) (2013). Web. 28 Sept. 2013.

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