project WORLDVIEW                           copyright 2015                                Home

Worldviews--An Introduction

1) Worldview Related Definitions and Terminology  2) Concepts, Emotions, Learning and Worldview Development
3) Relating to Others, Values, Education and Worldview Development 4) Using Worldview Themes to Assess Worldviews; Examining Beliefs
5) More To Explore: Links to Worldviews--An Introduction 6) Thoughts To Take With You: Quotes Related to Worldviews

1. Worldview Related Definitions and Terminology 
A worldview is a conceptual framework and a set of beliefs used to make sense out of a complex, seemingly chaotic Reality based on  your perceptions, experience and learning.  Besides incorporating a purpose or "raison d’etre," it provides an outlook or expectation for the world as it exists or is perceived to exist–one that you base predictions about the future on.  It continually evolves–indeed, you spend the rest of your life testing and refining it, based on feedback you get.  As it develops, it increasingly becomes the source of your goals and desires, and as such it shapes your behavior and values.

Worldview Themes refer to the beliefs, thoughts, feelings, and behavior that come together in a way that is articulated in similar fashion by lots of people. 
Project Worldview has formally identified eighty one of them--with formal names and descriptions. Many such themes can be used to characterize a person's worldview.  In a philosophy class, one might consider worldviews in terms of epistemological, metaphysical, cosmological, teleological, theological, anthropological, and axiological beliefs. A more accessible approach is to undertake this assessment in terms of worldview themes. A worldview theme typically links beliefs with behaviors, orientations, and values. Your worldview fundamentally affects what you perceive, think, feel, and do. Certain beliefs, thoughts, feelings and behaviors often come together in a way that is articulated in similar fashion repeatedly by multitudes of people. Given a name and  formal description, this is called a worldview theme. Many such themes can be used to characterize an individual’s worldview. click here for a list of those eighty-one worldview themes

Worldview Literacy refers to mastery of the concepts, terminology, and background related to a wide range of beliefs and worldview component themes, and at least basic understanding of these beliefs and themes.  Such mastery and understanding are indicative of someone whose own worldview is well developed.  This shows one has benefited from past or ongoing consideration of many diverse beliefs and worldview themes and has selectively incorporated a few of them into his or her worldview only after an examination of how compatible they are with the rest of the framework.  

Reality can be defined as the totality of all things, structures (actual and conceptual), events (past and present) and phenomena, whether observable or not. Reality is what a worldview (whether it be based on individual or shared human experience) ultimately attempts to represent, describe or map. 

Reality Marketplace is an imaginary place (made real on the Project Worldview website!) where important ideas, beliefs, values, and worldview themes are bought and sold, and where someone might go to find answers to life’s important questions, like: “Why am I here?”, “How does nature work?”, “How can I find God?”, “How should I live?”, etc. As implemented on
the Project Worldview website, the "shops" in the "marketplace" are actually worldview themes pages. click here for a Map of The Reality Marketplace as implemented on the Project Worldview website.

Related Words, Beliefs, Background--14 entries  

2. Concepts, Emotions, Learning and Worldview Development
As a child, as you grow and experience the world, you see relationships, categorize, discriminate and generalize about what your senses reveal. You replace the sensory experiences and memories with abstract generalized ideas and understanding in forming concepts.
For example, after handling many similar but different objects-- rectangular blocks, orange, beach ball, tennis ball, toy cars, globe, etc--you eventually form a concept of "roundness"–that some of the objects handled fit with, others don’t.  The conceptualization process involves observing, abstracting, recalling memories, discriminating, categorizing, etc. You fit many concepts together into schemes, and structure your conceptual schemes into a framework. Though the rate of acquiring new concepts generally slows as you age, your conceptual framework can change as new experiences provide new insights. In this way, your comprehensive conception of the  world as  a whole, that is, your worldview, develops. 

Of course worldviews and human behavior in general are profoundly affected by emotional factors. Most generally, human beings are thinking, feeling, joining, and doing creatures. Given all of the interconnections between how we learn, acquire concepts, relate to language, interact with other people, come to value certain abstract ideals, etc. and our feelings, it seems pointless to try and distinguish where thinking--or any of these other activities--ends, and  feelings begin! Suffice it to say that as we grow, our worldviews can change as we learn to protect our feelings (with emotional armor) and acquire / discard emotional baggage. And that mature, healthy  worldviews require not just a certain amount of worldview literacy, but also some emotional intelligence. Just  as we employ coping mechanisms to shield ourselves from pain, sometimes we respond to (perhaps futile?) attempts to made sense of the world with laughter!

Worldviews develop not only with your increasing language and concept acquisition, and as you emotionally mature, but also with your learning about the surrounding environment. Such learning proceeds via a feedback process that most basically begins with sensing you're uncomfortable and taking steps to rectify the situation. Starting as an infant with crying to get your mother's attention, what you do to better fit into the surrounding environment becomes increasingly sophisticated. You discover technology, and your increasing technological literacy is typically linked to acquiring new skills and capabilities.   Your worldview and your behavior changes accordingly.
                                   Related Words, Beliefs, Background --17 entries

3. Relating to Others, Values, Education and Worldview Development 
At some point in growing up you find yourself with others engaged in a group activity. You discover that joining with other people can be a powerful way to accomplish things that would be much more difficult to do by yourself. And you discover the need to modify your behavior to better fit in, to become more comfortable in relating to others.  Ideally your behavior will be both driven by and consistent with your beliefs and values. Such coherence in your worldview can be an important source of strength--one that leads to increased self esteem, greater effectiveness in interacting with others, and to your becoming a healthy, self actualized person.  But beyond understanding your own worldview, you find that your ability to relate well to other people depends on understanding where they are coming from: their feelings, beliefs, values, etc.

Encounters with those whose behavior / lifestyle is quite different from your own are important in both understanding yourself and the society you are part of.  You may find that making sense of their behavior requires understanding their worldview--something that may present challenges to your own beliefs and values. Likewise, if others understand your worldview, they can better understand your behavior and values. When one makes a value judgment, one makes a statement about the way the world "ought to" be--and of course people do this differently depending on their worldviews. So as you'd expect, differences  in the underlying worldviews are typically of critical importance in disputes which arise over conflicting values, ethical concerns, societal stresses, technology assessment, environmental or quality of life issues, etc.

Of course your worldview develops with your continuing education. Accordingly many people establish basic working knowledge in various fields--which might variously be termed cultural literacy, financial literacy, scientific literacy, technological literacy, etc.--and mastery of a smaller body of knowledge. For many people, one's education never ends and one's worldview continues to evolve.  
                               Related Words, Beliefs, Background--18 entries                               

4.Using Worldview Themes to Assess Worldviews; Examining Beliefs 
     The Project Worldview website provides either eighty or eighty one worldview themes*, depending upon how they are categorized. There are two different categorization schemes:
1) the playing cards categorization is built on eighty worldview themes presented on fifty-two playing cards. (Obviously some cards house  more than one worldview theme description; they are labeled A and B--so card #7 houses themes #7A and #7B for example.) With this classification scheme, the eighty themes are split into four groups of twenty, with each group linked to the cards suit: diamonds, hearts, clubs, and spades. Roughly speaking, those themes predominantly concerned with
                       thinking <==> diamonds; with feeling <==> hearts; with joining <==> clubs; and with doing <==> spades 
2) the TFJD code categorization. This more refined method provides a numerical value (from 1 to 3) that gauges the relative importance of thinking (T), feeling (F), joining (J), and doing (D) contributions to the theme. It is built around eighty-one worldview themes. From a theme's TFJD code, a so-called emotional volatility index (VI) can be derived.  click here for a more complete description of TFJD codes, etc. 

The Project Worldview website and related books can help you step back and examine your attitudes, beliefs, values, etc. Like a good life coach, they can help you with much that's important, including figuring out what you believe in / value, and why. They can help you determine the basis for your beliefs (such as reason, faith, etc.), which of your beliefs or values are  justified, which conflict with other beliefs or values, which beliefs are important to your emotional / mental health, etc. They'll help you  fully explore each worldview theme and assess how compatible your own worldview is with that theme. Starting points for doing that on this website are Characterizing Your Worldview--An Overview  and the Basic Choices follow up, or Shopping in the The Reality Marketplace.  After acquainting yourself with the individual themes, the website's  Top Cards and Discards Program can provide a quick characterization of your overall worldview.  The more involved Quick Worldview Analysis Program will begin your quantitative look at it.  Analyzing your own worldview in terms of its component parts is a big step forward in the ongoing process of discovering who you are, relating to other people and understanding how you fit into the world.  Likewise the process of examining your beliefs, values, and long-term behavior with respect to their consistency, coherence and the extent to which they promote both your own well being and the health of society in general is one that should be encouraged!

                     Related Words, Beliefs, Background --7 entries
           *(theme #19 is either one theme #19, or two separate themes: #19A and #19B)

More to Explore -- Worldviews--An Introduction 

Worldview (from online encyclopedia)
Mindset (from online encyclopedia)
Conceptual System (from online encyclopedia)
Concept  (from online encyclopedia)
Belief (from online encyclopedia)
Value Theory (from online encyclopedia)
Mental Model (from online encyclopedia)
Cognitive Model (from online encyclopedia)
Cognized Environment (from online encyclopedia)
Model Dependent Realism (from online encyclopedia)
Memetics (from online encyclopedia)
Cognitive Behavior Therapy (from online encyclopedia)
Spiral Dynamics (a theory of human development, from online encyclopedia)
The Passion of the Western Mind--Understanding Ideas That Have Shaped Our Worldview by Richard Tarnas (info about book from online encyclopedia)
Worldview Watch #27: Critical Thinking, Prayer,  and the Free Inquiry Path to a Worldview
A Few Examples of Worldview Conflicts in Fiction (from Project Worldview)
Links to Scholarly Papers related to Worldviews (from Project Worldview)
"What is a Worldview?", by F. Heylighen (from Principia Cybernetica website)
Center Leo Apostel (Belgium research group promoting  development of world views that integrate the results of different disciplines)
Worldviews: from fragmentation to integration (classic 1994 paper by Leo Apostel, etal)
"How Language Shapes Thought" by Lera Boroditsky (article on Edge website; see also Feb 2011 Sci. Am.)
"How to Acquire a Concept" by Eric Margolis (classic 1998 paper)
Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages by Guy Deutscher (NY Times review of this 2010 book)
The Evolution of Childhood: Relationships, Emotions, Mind by Melvin Konner (read excerpts from this 2010 book)
Worldviews: An Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science, by Richard DeWitt (2004 book)
Worldviews: Crosscultural Explorations of Human Beliefs, by Ninian Smart  (1999 book)
War of the Worldviews--Where Science and Spirituality Meet, And Don't  by Deepak Chopra and Leonard Mlodinow (more about this 2011 book)
Worldviews, Science and Us, by Gershenson, Aerts, and Edmonds (2007 book about Philosophy & Complexity) 
Worldviews and their Components -- A Theoretical Framework (from book Viewing the World Ecologically)
A Worldview Bibliography, by David Naugle (Naugle is professor of philosophy at Dallas Baptist University)
On Worldviews, by James Olthuis (1983 paper offers academic, faith-based,  perspective)
"What is a Worldview?" by Ken Funk (Funk is an Oregon State University engineering professor)
The Universe Next Door: A Basic Worldview Catalog , by James Sire (excerpts from 2nd edition of book)
Worldviews, by Tracy F. Munsil (Christian perspective, on Focus on the Family website)
The Road to Character by David Brooks (review by Michael Gerson of this 2015 book  posted on Washington Post website)
The Righteous Mind--Why Good People Are Divided by Politics and Religion by Jonathan Haidt (NY Times review by William Saletan of 2012 book) 
The Geography of Thought: How Asians and Westerners Think Differently--And Why, by Richard Nisbett
What We See with Fred Dretske (UCTV 2008 program on nature of conscious perceptual experience)
Cosmos and Psyche by Richard Tarnas (more on this 2006 book that sketches "an emerging worldview that returns soul to the cosmos")
"You Are What You Speak" (New Scientist 2002 article about how language shapes one's worldview)
"Cultural and Worldview Frames", by Michelle LeBaron (connects conflicts and underlying worldviews)
The Filter Bubble by Eli Pariser (2011 book re: how "personalization filters serve up...autopropaganda")
World Values Survey (international social scientists' ongoing study)
Beyond Concepts: Ontology as Reality Representation, by Barry Smith (2004 paper by philosophy professor)
The Foundational Questions Institute ("exploring the foundations and boundaries of physics and cosmology")
Worldview, by Scott Bristol (the values heavy theory behind Bristol's "Life Journey's Maps")
Criteria for Evaluating Worldviews, by J. Kineman (from his 1997 book Theory of Autevolution)
U Turn: What If You Woke Up One Morning and Realized You Were Living the Wrong Life, by Bruce Grierson (2007 book)
Life Strategies--Doing What Works, Doing What Matters by Phil McGraw (read excerpts of 2000 book at Google Books)
Levels of Existence--chart from Human Nature Prepares for a Momentous Leap by Clare Graves (from April 1974 article in The Futurist)
Humor, Sublimity, and Incongruity, by John Marmysz (the origin of laughter and worldview development)
Consilience--The Unity of Knowledge, by Edward O. Wilson (book review of this important 1998 book)

The Interface Theory of Perception: The Future of the Science of the Mind? by Gregory Hickok (September 2015 review of theory of Donald Hoffman)

"The Myth of Objectivity" by Daniel Klein (article re: how political beliefs prejudice us, The Atlantic December 2011)
Khan Academy (offers over 2700 free videos on all topics, emphasis on math & science)
TED: Ideas Worth Spreading (videos / "Riveting talks by remarkable people, free to the world")
Free Online Courses and Education (Education Portal website)
Online College Classes (website with links to free classes, textbooks, ebooks, etc. )
Academic Earth ("thousands of video lectures from the world's top scholars")
Worldview Diversity (from teaching about religion website)
Worldview Tests, by Kenneth Richard Samples (nine methods for testing worldviews; fundamentalist perspective)
Worldview Weekend (an "I Know What's Best for You" approach?)
The Truth Contest ("seeking answers to the big questions of life, the truth about life and death")
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, by E.D. Hirsch, Jr., Joseph Kett, and James Trefil
Character Education Partnership (goal: developing "people of good character for a just and compassionate society")
Four Spiritualities, A Psychology of Contemporary Spiritual Choice by Peter Richardson  (commentary on this 1996 book by Joyce Ramay, UU minister)
Religious Literacy, by Stephen Prothero (review of 2007 book by chair of Boston University Religion Dept.)
Even Secular Parents Are Religious Educators, by Roberta Nelson (excerpt from Parenting Beyond Belief)
Those Unsure of Own Beliefs More Resistant to Beliefs of Others (report on 2009 study led by D. Albarracin)
Bible Literacy Project ("An Educated Person is Familiar With the Bible")
Belief-O-Matic (a personality quiz about your religious and spiritual beliefs from Beliefnet. com)
The Worldview Quiz (from Reason for the Common Good website)

Thoughts to Take With You:  

"The project of world-view construction consists...[of]...elucidating... the whole of reality starting from certain parts."


Leo Apostel, etal. in "Worldviews: from fragmentation to integration".


"[T]here is in mankind a persistent tendency to achieve a comprehensive interpretation, a Weltanschauung, or philosophy, in which a picture of reality is combined with a sense of meaning and value and with principles of action..." Wilhelm Dilthy, from The Encyclopedia of Philosophy
"If we make fundamentally different meaning of the world, then all our attempts to improve communication...will fail because we may not be addressing our deeper differences that continue to fuel conflicts" Michelle LeBaron, from "Cultural and Worldview Frames"
"If you consider a worldview a private matter and take steps to prevent the open discussion of worldviews, you are in fact imposing your worldview on others; by doing so you...effectively restrict public discourse to trivialities and ungrounded assertions." Ken Funk, Oregon State University
[A worldview consists of]"...beliefs and assumptions by which an individual makes sense of experiences that are hidden deep within the language and traditions of the surrounding society" Mary Clark, from In Search of Human Nature
"An acceptable worldview will avoid 'self-stultification', but will have component parts that hang together as a coherent whole" Kenneth Richard Samples, from "Worldview Tests"
"A worldview supplies a particular community with...basic assumptions about what is real and what is unreal, and criteria for distinguishing what is true from what is false" Center for Sacred Sciences
"Our children long for realistic maps of a future they can be proud of. Where are the cartographers of  human purpose?" World Future Society
"By understanding the processes by which worldviews come about and develop over time we may well be able to map out routes and strategies (unlearning?) for conscious future developments...As the world we live in is very much shaped by the relative dominance /subordination of various worldviews we might be able to work out how to turn the volume down on some and turn it up on others ..." Andrew Langford, Gaia University 

Questions For Use In Worldview Development

                  I'm ready to start building or refining my worldview now!                      

"As you shop in "The Reality Marketplace" avoid spending your "reality cash" too early,  before you have seen everything. " 
from Coming of Age in the Global Village,  by Stephen P. Cook,  with Donella H. Meadows.


project Worldview                   Home