Worldview: The History of a Concept

Worldview: The History of a Concept

Worldview: The History of a Concept

Worldview: The History of a Concept

Synopsis

The concept of 'worldview' is first encountered with Kant & later became a key philosophical & theological ideal. Naugle traces the history & development of the concept from the 18th century, in both the secular & religious traditions of Western thought.

Excerpt

It was just after the Second World War that I first heard the phrase “world and life view.” After nearly five years in the military, a young person trying to see life and live it from a Christian perspective, I had finally made it to college. One or two of my teachers, I noticed, would draw attention to presuppositions and use the term “Christian worldview.” It could not have been more timely, for the terrible conflict we had just survived—as well as barrack room debates— had revealed conflicting perspectives on life. More than half a century later, worldview disagreements continue in international affairs, culture wars, bioethics, and all the academic disciplines, and for that matter in everything we think and do. For it is the very nature of world and life views to be all-inclusive.

This was recently brought to the fore by public reactions to George Marsden’s revealing study of secularization in The Soul of the American University and by his subsequent title, The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship, which proposed that Christian perspectives should be acceptable in a pluralistic university. In arguing the legitimacy of Christian learning, he effectively called into question the Enlightenment myth of worldview-neutral reasoning. What Christian academics have long asserted is that biblical religion is not inimical to serious scholarship but motivates it, illumines the mind, opens new avenues for inquiry, and draws things together in a meaningful whole. All truth in the final analysis is about the ways and works of God. But the secular academy under the spell of modernity found it outrageous that a place be given to scholarship from a religious point of view: the rule of “reason alone” excludes it.

Christians are by no means alone in rejecting modernity’s claims to intellectual neutrality. The postmodern mind defines itself over against the modern, and claims a place at the table for a plurality of perspectives, be they genderbased, ethnic, or whatever. But the Christian objection is more premodern than . . .

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