We all have a world view. A world view is the way each of us sees and understands the world, especially regarding issues such as politics, philosophy, and religion. A simple definition can be: how a person perceives the world. Another definition says: a comprehensive conception or image of the universe and of humanity’s relation to it.
But on what do we base this world view?
Most of us have been taught that life has value and there is right and wrong, good and evil in the world. Many of us have grown up in the church. Others have never set foot inside one. But how does our life experience help shape our world view?
As we journey through this life we all experience good things and bad things. Sometimes our own wrong choices lead to bad consequences. Sometimes the choices of others affect our life negatively or positively. We learn along the way that not everything we heard is true, but many things were true, at least for us.
My world view has a few foundations upon which I develop a set of core values and principles for my own life and how I see the world.
Philosophies are continually debated with no concrete answers. In western philosophy there is an emphasis on the pillars of philosophy to develop our world view. That approach has some merit, but there are always certain assumptions that are made that can bring each of us to a different philosophical perspective.
Western philosophy has at its core several basic premises:
We must establish reason and logic as our means of thinking and understand that life itself is the value that defines all other values.
Philosophy in world views seeks to answer three questions:
1. Metaphysics – what kind of world is it?
Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy concerned with the nature of existence, being and the world. Arguably, metaphysics is the foundation of philosophy: Aristotle calls it “first philosophy” (or sometimes just “wisdom”), and says it is the subject that deals with “first causes and the principles of things”.
It asks questions like: “What is the nature of reality?”, “How does the world exist, and what is its origin or source of creation?”, “Does the world exist outside the mind?”, “How can the incorporeal mind affect the physical body?”, “If things exist, what is their objective nature?”, “Is there a God (or many gods, or no god at all)?”
Are we making decisions based on reality or what we want reality to be? What is our view of the world? Is it getting better or worse? What assumptions are we making? We need to virtually analyze why we believe what we believe.
When we allow ourselves to be blinded by our own senses we are open to believing anything as long as the person saying it sounds authoritative. Because we believe we can’t trust our own judgment we need to trust someone else’s.
(Thinking critically for ourselves and seeking truth can be an arduous process. However, I would rather search out truth and do research than allow someone else to think for me).
2. Epistemology – how do I know?
Epistemology is the theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope. Epistemology is the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion. IN other words – “how to I know what I know?” Epistemology can tell you specifics on how to do things. It can tell you if your conclusions are logical and the way you came about the knowledge is accurate. It helps us to understand how we arrive at conclusions.
From Wikipedia: The word epistemology is derived from the ancient Greek epistēmē meaning “knowledge” and the suffix -logy, meaning “logical discourse” (derived from the Greek word logos meaning “discourse”). J.F. Ferrier coined epistemology on the model of ‘ontology’, to designate that branch of philosophy which aims to discover the meaning of knowledge, and called it the ‘true beginning’ of philosophy
Knowledge is a familiarity, awareness, or understanding of someone or something, such as facts, information, descriptions, or skills, which is acquired through experience or education by perceiving, discovering, or learning. Knowledge can refer to a theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.
The key is to acquire small chunks of knowledge and then apply them in different ways. Input, process, output. Teach, solve problems, or build something. Retrieving information from memory is the process of learning. When you use information in a new setting, that’s when you start understanding it.
3. Ethics – what should I do?
Ethics are the generalities of right and wrong, good and evil.
o They are moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity
synonyms: moral code, morals, morality, values, rights and wrongs, principles, ideals, standards (of behavior), value system, virtues, dictates of conscience
o the branch of knowledge that deals with moral principles.
Ethics is really the application of metaphysics and epistemology. What is good for man’s soul? What causes life and what causes death? Ethics also assumes action. What must man to live, survive, and flourish? Every living things acts to survive. What we believe is good for our soul is revealed in our actions. Values motivate us to act. Values are the meaning of life, the purpose of everything we do, the thing that motivates us and moves us forward. We must think and learn how to do things that give us the results to match our values. What are those values?
Can you see that on the surface philosophy appears to be reasonable and logical? But there are basic assumptions that each of us make even as we search out the answers to all the philosophical questions.
As I stated in the beginning of this post, core values and beliefs system are really the basis for all other questions and views. In the next post I will talk more about how I see the world and how logic and reason are not always the answer to our questions.