The short answer
Not everyone has time for a phD in philosophy, but at some point most of us realize it is in our best interest to pursue the truth about life — ultimately a worldview. I began the discussion in my last entry What is a Worldview? Part 1. My short definition of ‘worldview’: a logically coherent set of rational beliefs based on reason about the world and our relation to it.
The longer answer
When attempting to nail down a vast definition of a topic such as this, I like to use a list form for the sake of clarity and simplicity. That said, I would say a worldview is an ideological framework an individual holds that includes, but is not limited to and not in any particular order:
- what a person believes to be true about nature, or more precisely the material world
- what a person believes to be true about knowledge and its various forms
- whether a person believes in God, or rather a Being that is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent (one’s religious/theistic point of view)
- how we, as human beings should relate to God if we conclude God’s existence to be probable
- that person’s set of moral beliefs
These five basic beliefs are directly connected with how we answer and approach such common philosophical questions as (again not a comprehensive list):
- What is the meaning of life?
- What is my purpose in life and how is it connected to my fellow human beings?
- Is there a God, and if so, how does that affect me?
- Is there any sort of life after death, and if so, does the chaos, cruelty, disease, and decay the present world includes exist in that one as well?
- What is the purpose of art and its various forms?
- Where do “natural gifts” and “talents” come from?
- Are emotions “real,” and what is the purpose of having them?
- Why must every single human being experience some sort of pain?
- Does reason exist?
- Do we have a free will to exercise?
Many times, it is these questions that nag most of us and are the source for what leads us to form our belief system involving the five philosophical categories in the definition I laid out in the beginning.
Forming a worldview, especially a coherent one, can take decades, because the experiences we all have at different stages of human development, add to our depth and breadth of knowledge. This knowledge — including its many forms — causes us to shape and re-think the truth of reality, in many cases, over many years. I mean, who hasn’t heard of cases of noted intellectuals having dramatic paradigm shifts — where their worldview by the end of their lives was diametrically opposed to one they held in their youth.
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (author of my favorite work of fiction – Crime and Punishment (Vintage Classics) – and The Idiot) is one noted literary figure whose worldview dramatically changed by the end of his life. Another is C.S. Lewis, whose most famous works include both fiction such as his seven book series Chronicles of Narnia Box Set, the most popular of that series being The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and his non-fiction The Problem of Pain and his auto-biography Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life.
These two authors, both whose works I have read and re-read extensively, have been enough, at least for me, to constantly question my worldview and whether my belief system is a rationally coherent one.
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