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A world view, (or worldview) is a term calqued from the German word Weltanschauung (pronounced /ˈvɛlt.anˌʃaʊ.ʊŋ/) meaning a "look onto the world". It implies a concept fundamental to German philosophy and epistemology and refers to a wide world perception. It refers to the framework through which an individual interprets the world and interacts in it. 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 also almost coincide with a map of the world drawn on the basis of music across people. [citation needed]

Weltanschauung as generative system

A worldview 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 structure 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 1940s, but declined in prominence after a decade. In the 1990s 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 work of Lera Boroditsky at Stanford University.

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 to 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 include 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 Arab 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. Weltanschauung serves as a framework for generating various dimensions of human perception and experience like knowledge, politics, economics, religion, culture, science, ethics.

For example, worldview of causality as uni-directional, cyclic, or spiral generates a framework of the world that reflects these systems of causality. A uni-directional view of causality would generate a monotheistic view of the world with a beginning and an end and a single great force with a single end, e.g. Christianity and Islam; while a cyclic worldview of causality generates a religious tradition which is cyclic and seasonal and where in events and experiences recur in systematic patterns, e.g. Zoroastrianism, Mithraism and Hinduism.

These worldviews of causality not only underlie religious traditions but also other aspects of thought like the purpose of history, political and economic theories, and systems like democracy, authoritarianism, anarchism, capitalism, socialism, and communism.

The worldview of linear and non-linear causality generates various related/conflicting disciplines and approaches in scientific thinking. The Weltanschauung of the temporal contiguity of act and event leads to underlying diversifications like determinism v/s free will. A worldview of Freewill leads to disciplines that are governed by simple laws that remain constant and which are static and empirical in scientific method; while a worldview of determinism generates disciplines that are governed with generative systems and rationalistic in scientific method.

Some forms of Philosophical naturalism and materialism reject the validity of entities inaccessible to natural science. They view the scientific method as the most reliable model for building an understanding of the world.

Other aspects

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.

An opposed concept can be found in the non-judgment attitude, found in some religions.

See also

External links

Aerts D., Apostel L., De Moor B., Hellemans S., Maex E., Van Belle H., Van der Veken J. (1994) "World views. From fragmentation to integration". VUB Press.

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