Examining Your Worldview: Making Explicit What's Implicit

My final paper in the MIT Problems of Philosophy course I surveyed with a teacher had to do with "worldview." I came up with the topic because I think it’s a way of thinking about how we think about the world.

People use the word "worldview" liberally, for good reason: its definition is broad and ambiguous. It tends to encompass a set of random beliefs which, somehow, cohere into a larger meaning. In this light, to have a worldview is a sign of sophistication, for a unified, logical view of the world is far preferable to a hodgepodge of opinions which can contradict each other. I would argue, though, that everyone has a worldview; for some their beliefs are simply more explicit thus more conscious thus more bulletproof (if we’re conscientious of our beliefs we’re less likely to tolerate illogical ones). Yet even those who boast a more refined worldview probably have not thought about all the aspects.

In my writing, I looked at three dimensions: belief in a higher power, determinism/freewill, and morality. I examined the connections here. For example, if someone believes in an omnipotent God, she is likely to be less on the free will side of the spectrum. If someone exists less on the free will side of the spectrum, he is likely to not likely to uphold as firm a moral responsibility for actions.

In my conclusion, I noted that for many people their opinions on these matters exist mostly in a political context. Our "beliefs" are mostly political positions. Consequently, they’re rife with inconsistencies. This is evident in how people vote — they vote for politicians with whom they disagree on issues but simply like as a person.

I hold a number of beliefs about life and this world, some of which became more explicit during this exercise. Now that they’re on the table, I can scrutinize them and be depressed at their inconsistencies! Most important, though, I can begin to articulate my worldview to others and seek to understand their perspectives.

2 Responses to Examining Your Worldview: Making Explicit What's Implicit

  1. Chris Yeh says:

    So are you going to post your paper?

    And what about a summary of your own worldview?

    It would be interesting to see how worldviews differ by age, geography, etc.

  2. Ben Casnocha says:

    Someday I will post a summary / analysis…it’s not in publishable stage yet!

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