Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What Is a Worldview?

Many attempts to explain what a worldview is fall short of doing the phenomenon justice. And part of the problem is that the word itself (which suggests how we view the world and hence primarily intellectual involvement) points us in the wrong direction. But if the concept doesn't include more than one's mental furniture, or mere mental outlook, it is woefully lacking. (Another problem is that there's also no better word on offer at the moment.)

So how ought we to define "worldview"? And specifically, how should we define a worldview that attempts to connect with the true, the good, and the beautiful, and attempts to comport with reality? I'm acknowledging that some worldviews don't attempt to approximate ultimate reality or logical coherence or epistemic loveliness. In other words, I'm pointing out that there are defective worldviews. But I want, and I want others to want, to pursue a worldview that really does make sense of all things and accounts for the entirety of life lived on the stage of our world, and not one we wished existed.

So here's my attempt: A worldview (a sound one, more or less) is a comprehensive understanding of reality in word and deed. It includes the culture of a group or people. And the elements that make it up are narrative, catechesis, liturgy, and lifestyle.

Theses four aspects of worldview I've identified here I learned from N. T. Wright and Doug Wilson. These elements cover the ground of word and deed necessary for achieving a biblical worldview that is theologically satisfying and faithful. And, as you can see, I refuse to reduce understanding worldview to one's way of looking at the world, though of course such is included in my definition.

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