Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Worldviews 101, Part 1

I've often quoted the proverb, "The central work of life is interpretation," and that thought is a good one to begin a discussion of worldviews. Everyone has a worldview, which might be defined as a set of fundamental beliefs about reality (including humanity) that both filters and interprets all of our incoming knowledge and experience. Worldviews are slowly shaped by these same knowledge and experience inputs, but because of the power of the worldview as interpreter, change is often slow if it comes at all.

You might be thinking about worldviews such as Christian versus secular, and those are indeed good examples. But let's look at a foundational philosophical chain that helps explain how our worldviews are shaped.

Type 1 people believe that humans are fallen, sinful, and by nature up to no good.
Type 2 people believe that humans are basically good, and would be good if circumstances permitted.

Type 1 people believe that the solution to human misery, crime, and evil is to reform people, or in Christian terms, to bring them to salvation. Then they will be good and prosper.
Type 2 people believe that the solution to human misery, crime, and evil is to create enabling environments that will allow people to be all they can be.

Type 1 people are generally conservative, adhering to traditional values, morals, and beliefs. They emphasize following structures (law, decorum) and serving others as a means of happiness and fulfillment.
Type 2 people are generally liberal, believing that, since there is so much inequality and poverty, that traditional ideas must be jettisoned and replaced by new experiments that will (or might) lead to happiness.

Type 1 people believe in self-discipline and self-regulation--the traditional view of liberty. They tend to support capitalism because that economic system channels into mutual benefit the selfishness that's a fixed reality of human nature (except when suppressed by faith or moral training).
Type 2 people believe that, while personal morality is up to each individual (contra the traditional values of Type 1 people), government needs to regulate many aspects of life in order to protect the vulnerable or those who don't know better. Type 2 people tend to support big government or even socialism. Some are Marxists because they believe that human nature can be changed from selfish to selfless.

Type 1 people often see humans as created by a loving God, who provides an objective reason for living and for serving others.
Type 2 people often see humans as the result of countless undirected, purposeless, random mutations, whose meaning if any must be a product of mutable social consensus.

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