World view

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Man's general way of thinking of the totality, i.e. his general world view, is crucial for overall order of the human mind itself.
- David Bohm (1980)

A world view (or worldview) is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society's knowledge and point-of-view, including natural philosophy; fundamental, existential, and normative postulates; or themes, values, emotions, and ethics.

CONTENT: A-B - C-D - E-F - G-H - I-J - K-L - M-N - O-P -Q-R - S-T - U-V - W-X - Y-Z - See also


listed alphabetically by author


  • Every culture has a shared pattern of thinking. It is the cement that holds a culture together, gives it unity. A culture's characteristic way of thinking is imbedded in its concept of the nature of reality, its world view.
  • A change of world view not only brings about profound cultural changes, but also is responsible for what historians call a "change of age." An age is a period of time in which the prevailing world view has remained relatively unchanged.
  • The Total Perspective Vortex derives its picture of the whole Universe on the principle of extrapolated matter analyses.
    To explain — since every piece of matter in the Universe is in some way affected by every other piece of matter in the Universe, it is in theory possible to extrapolate the whole of creation — every sun, every planet, their orbits, their composition and their economic and social history from, say, one small piece of fairy cake.
    The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically in order to annoy his wife.
    Trin Tragula — for that was his name — was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.
    And she would nag him incessantly about the utterly inordinate amount of time he spent staring out into space, or mulling over the mechanics of safety pins, or doing spectrographic analyses of pieces of fairy cake.
    "Have some sense of proportion!" she would say, sometimes as often as thirty-eight times in a single day.
    And so he built the Total Perspective Vortex — just to show her.
    And into one end he plugged the whole of reality as extrapolated from a piece of fairy cake, and into the other end he plugged his wife: so that when he turned it on she saw in one instant the whole infinity of creation and herself in relation to it.
    To Trin Tragula's horror, the shock completely annihilated her brain; but to his satisfaction he realized that he had proved conclusively that if life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.
    • Douglas Adams The Restaurant at the End of the Universe chapter 11
  • World views, as related to the sciences, ethics, arts, politics and religions, are integral parts of all cultures. They have a strongly motivating and inspiring function. A socially shared view of the whole gives a culture a sense of direction, confidence and self-esteem. Moreover, interactions between cultures change constantly.
  • A world view is a coherent collection of concepts and theorems that must allow us to construct a global image of the world, and in this way to understand as many elements of our experience as possible.
    Societies, as well as individuals, have always contemplated deep questions relating to their being and becoming, and to the being and becoming of the world. The configuration of answers to these questions forms their world view. Research on world views, although we are convinced of its practical value and necessity, will always be primarily an expression of a theoretical interest. It reflects the unlimited openness of the human mind to reality as a whole. Even if this research would not appear to be of any immediate value or necessity – quod non – we still should promote and encourage it energetically, because it also expresses the most unselfish striving of humanity “the desire to know,” a property of “Homo sapiens sapiens.”
    • Diederick Aerts et al. (1994) World views. From Fragmentation to Integration. p. 8.
  • A world view is a system of co-ordinates or a frame of reference in which everything presented to us by our diverse experiences can be placed. It is a symbolic system of representation that allows us to integrate everything we know about the world and ourselves into a global picture, one that illuminates reality as it is presented to us within a certain culture.
    • Diederick Aerts et al. (1994) World views. From Fragmentation to Integration. p. 8.
  • I see skies of blue and clouds of white
    The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
    And I think to myself what a wonderful world.
  • Systems philosophy brings forth a reorganization of ways of thinking. It creates a new worldview, a new paradigm of perception and explanation, which is manifested in integration, holistic thinking, purpose-seeking, mutual causality, and process-focused inquiry.
  • No one, who knows what the difficulties are, now believes that the crisis of physics is likely to be resolved by any simple trick or modification of existing theories. Something radical is needed, and it will have to go far wider than physics. A new world outlook is being forged, but much experiment and argument will be needed before it can take a definitive form. It must be coherent, it must include and illuminate the new knowledge of fundamental particles and their complex fields, it must resolve the paradoxes of wave and particle, it must make the world inside the atom and the wide spaces of the universe equally intelligible. It must have a different dimension from all previous world views, and include in itself an explanation of development and the origin of new things. In this it will fall naturally in line with the converging tendencies of the biological and social sciences in which a regular pattern blends with their evolutionary history.
  • Man's general way of thinking of the totality, i.e. his general world view, is crucial for overall order of the human mind itself. If he thinks of the totality as constituted of independent fragments, then that is how his mind will tend to operate, but if he can include everything coherently and harmoniously in an overall whole that is undivided, unbroken and without border (for every border is a division or break) then his mind will tend to move in a similar way, and from this will flow an orderly action within the whole.
    • David Bohm (1980) Wholeness and the Implicate Order.
  • Boy: I read that people only absorb the information that supports their world view.
    Slither: Where did you read that?
    Boy: Priviledged White Male Quarterly.
  • I think the reason I choose the comic approach so often is because it's harder, therefore affording me the opportunity to show off. Also, a comic vision is my natural world view, but I've grown up in spite of myself and I can pass the comic twist if it detracts from what the characters need. Yes, the life of a saint is hard.
  • Reader and author alike have their own personal preferences, but what is important to the next world-view and way of thinking is accommodating to the still-widespread longing to believe in a "supreme being" while at the same time, not adopting anything which can disturb natural order and natural cause...
    • Charles Brough (2006) Untwisting the Social Sciences p. 142.


  • If physics leads us today to a world view which is essentially mystical, it returns, in a way, to its beginning, 2,500 years ago. [...] This time, however, it is not only based on intuition, but also on experiments of great precision and sophistication, and on a rigorous and consistent mathematical formalism.
    • Fritjof Capra (1975) The Tao of Physics. Ch. 1, Modern Physics, p. 19.
  • While the new physics was developing in the twentieth century, the mechanistic Cartesian world view and the principles of Newtonian physics maintained their strong influence on Western scientific thinking, and even today many scientists still hold to the mechanistic paradigm, although physicists themselves have gone beyond it.
  • The new paradigm may be called a holistic world view, seeing the world as an integrated whole rather than a dissociated collection of parts. It may also be called an ecological view, if the term "ecological" is used in a much broader and deeper sense than usual. Deep ecological awareness recognizes the fundamental interdependence of all phenomena and the fact that, as individuals and societies we are all embedded in (and ultimately dependent on) the cyclical process of nature.
    • Fritjof Capra, Gunter A. Pauli (1995) Steering business toward sustainability. p. 3.
  • Let me start a different/ analysis by recalling an idea from Max Weber. He characterized cultural modernity as the separation of the substantive reason expressed in religion and metaphysics into three autonomous spheres. They are science, morality and art. These came to be differentiated because the unified world-views of religion and metaphysics fell apart. Since the 18th century, the problems inherited from these older world-views could be arranged so as to fall under specific aspects of validity: truth, normative rightness, authenticity and beauty. They could then be handled as questions of knowledge, or of justice and morality, or of taste. Scientific discourse, theories of morality, Jurisprudence, and the production and criticism of art could in turn be institutionalized...
  • Putting the right book in the right kid’s hands is kind of like giving that kid superpowers. Because one book leads to the next book and the next book and the next book and that is how a world-view grows. That is how you nourish thought.
  • The systems approach goes on to discovering that every world-view is terribly restricted.
    • C. West Churchman (1970) cited in: Michael C. Jackson ( 1992) Systems Methodology for the Management Sciences. p. 137.
  • It has been argued from world view theory that fundamental beliefs about the world exert a powerful influence on how sense is made of events in the world. However, the nature of that influence has remained enigmatic. Hannah Arendt's distinction between thinking and comprehension, and knowing and apprehension provides a clarification. Thinking is the epistemological path to conceptual comprehension. Knowing is the metaphysical path to apprehension - to the acceptance of a concept as true or valid. Comprehension does not necessitate apprehension. One may reject a fully understood concept.
  • It's not sex and drug advice these kids need, so much as help in acquiring a world view, in motivating them to take responsibilty and enabling them to build proper relationships.
  • What is interesting about the scientific world view is that it is true, inspiring, remarkable and that it unites a whole lot of phenomena under a single heading.
    • Richard Dawkins in: Kam Patel (1995-04-28). "Going the whole hog". Times Higher Education.
  • Time travel may be achieved one day, or it may not. But if it is, it should not require any fundamental change in world-view, at least for those who broadly share the world view I am presenting in this book. (Ch. 12)
  • [Though computer science is a fairly new discipline, it is predominantly based on the Cartesian world view. As Edsgar W. Dijkstra has pointed out] A scientific discipline emerges with the - usually rather slow! - discovery of which aspects can be meaningfully 'studied in isolation for the sake of their own consistency.
    • Edsger W. Dijkstra (1982) as cited in: Douglas Schuler, Douglas Schuler Jonathan Jacky (1989) Directions and Implications of Advanced Computing, 1987. Vol 1, p. 84.


  • How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people — first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy...
  • A scientist, an artist, a citizen is not like a child who needs papa methodology and mama rationality to give him security and direction, he can take care of himself, for he is the inventor not only of laws, theories, pictures, plays, forms of music, ways of dealing with his fellow man, institutions, but also entire world view, he is the inventor of entire forms of like.
  • We have always had a great deal of difficulty understanding the world view that quantum mechanics represents. At least I do, because I'm an old enough man that I haven't got to the point that this stuff is obvious to me. Okay, I still get nervous with it.... You know how it always is, every new idea, it takes a generation or two until it becomes obvious that there's no real problem. I cannot define the real problem, therefore I suspect there's no real problem, but I'm not sure there's no real problem.
    • Richard Feynman, in Simulating Physics with Computers appearing in International Journal of Theoretical Physics (1982) p. 471.
  • Conceptions of control refer to understandings that structure perceptions of how a market works and that allow actors to interpret their world and act to control situations. A conception of control is simultaneously a worldview that allows actors to interpret the actions of others and a reflection of how the market is structured. Conceptions of control reflect market-specific agreements between actors in firms on principles of internal organization (i.e., forms of hierarchy), tactics for competition or cooperation, and the hierarchy or status ordering of firms in a given market. The state must ratify, help to create, or at the very least, not oppose a conception of control.
  • One has to stress once again, that the mechanical world view and psychophysical interpretation accompanying it are based not on the instructions of the philosophizing mind, but on the clear and accurate facts discovered by experiment and observation; and in the cases of noncorrespondence (very rare, fortunately) between the requirements of the mind and the facts, reason must adjust to the facts, and not vice versa.
    • Yakov Frenkel (1894 -1953) as quoted Viktor Yakovlevich Frenkel (1996). Yakov Ilich Frenkel: his work, life, and letters. Birkhäuser. pp. 25-26. ISBN 3764327413. 


  • Ninety percent of [contemporary philosophers] see their principle task as that of beating religion out of men's heads. … We are far from being able to provide scientific basis for the theological world view.
    • Kurt Gödel in "Logical Dilemmas: The Life and Work of Kurt Gödel" by John W. Dawson Jr.
  • Especially now when views are becoming more polarized, we must work to understand each other across political, religious and national boundaries.
    • Jane Goodall reported in Elizabeth LeReverend, "The Irrepressible Dr. Jane Goodall", Verge Magazine (2010).
  • Might there not be a connection between the attempt to eradicate religion and the loss of freedom? It is unlikely that Mao, who launched his assault on the people and culture of Tibet with the slogan "Religion is poison," would have agreed that his atheist world-view had no bearing on his policies.
    • John N. Gray (2008) "The atheist delusion," The Guardian, 2008-03-15.
  • If we are to change our world view, images have to change. The artist now has a very important job to do. He's not a little peripheral figure entertaining rich people, he's really needed.
    • David Hockney Interview with Paul Joyce, New York, (September 1986) quoted in Hockney on Photography, ed. Wendy Brown (1988).
  • In Nietzsche’s view nihilism is not a Weltanschauung that occurs at some time and place or another; it is rather the basic character of what happens in Occidental history.
  • Metaphysics reflects on the nature of the existent and on the nature of truth. Metaphysics lays the foundation of an age by giving it the basis of its essential form through a particular analysis of the existent and a particular conception of truth. This basis dominates all the phenomena which distinguish the age. Conversely, it must be possible to recognize the metaphysical basis in these phenomena through sufficient reflection on them. Reflection is the courage to question as deeply as possible the truth of our own presuppositions and the exact place of our own aims.
    • Martin Heidegger M. Grene (1976) "The age of the world view". In Boundary. 2, 1976.
  • Science, and physics in particular, has developed out of the Newtonian paradigm of mechanics. In this world view, every phenomenon we observe can be reduced to a collection of atoms or particles, whose movement is governed by the deterministic laws of nature. Everything that exists now has already existed in some different arrangement in the past, and will continue to exist so in the future. In such a philosophy, there seems to be no place for novelty or creativity
  • I share the belief of many of my contemporaries that the spiritual crisis pervading all spheres of Western industrial society can be remedied only by a change in our world view. We shall have to shift from the materialistic, dualistic belief that people and their environment are separate, toward a new consciousness of an all-encompassing reality, which embraces the experiencing ego, a reality in which people feel their oneness with animate nature and all of creation.
  • Objective reality, the world view produced by the spirit of scientific inquiry, is the myth of our time.


Jainism: An interconnected motif and knots symbolizing karma and the link between all lives in a Jain temple.


  • [Kearney (1984) refers to worldview as] culturally organized macro-thought: those dynamically inter-related basic assumptions of a people that determine much of their behavior and decision making, as well as organizing much of their body of body of symbolic creations... and ethnophilosophy in general."
    • Michael Kearney (1984) World view. p. 1; as cited in: Kenneth G. Tobin (1993) The practice of constructivism in science educaction. p. 58.
  • This lack of a conceptual framework has been one of the main obstacles to the study of particular worldviews and their cross-cultural assessment. Therefore, as a contribution to the theory and study of world view, and also as a means of organizing this book, I am presenting a model of human world view. Though by no means comprehensive, this model does address the major issues having to do with the nature and role of culturally organized macro-thought: those dynamically interrelated basic cognitive assumptions of a people that determine much of their behavior and decision making, as well as organizing much of their body of body of symbolic creations - myth, religion, cosmology - and ethnophilosophy in general.
    • Michael Kearney (1984) World view. p. 1.
  • It happens at times that a person believes that he has a world-view, but that there is yet one particular phenomenon that is of such a nature that it baffles the understanding, and that he explains differently and attempts to ignore in order not to harbor the thought that this phenomenon might overthrow the whole view, or that his reflection does not possess enough courage and resolution to penetrate the phenomenon with his world-view.
    • Søren Kierkegaard (1938) The Journals of Søren Kierkegaard. Pap. V B 53:20 1844 The Concept of Anxiety, Nichol p. 188.
  • The notion of "system" has gained central importance in contemporary science, society and life. In many fields of endeavor, the necessity of a "systems approach" or "systems thinking" is emphasized, new professions called "systems engineering," "systems analysis" and the like have come into being, and there can be little doubt that this this concept marks a genuine, necessary, and consequential development in science and world-view.
    • Ervin László (1972) Introduction to Systems Philosophy: Toward a New Paradigm of Contemporary Thought. xvii.
  • The worldview of the classical sciences conceptualized nature as a giant machine composed of intricate but replaceable machine-like parts. The new systems sciences look at nature as an organism endowed with irreplaceable elements and an innate but non-deterministic purpose for choice, for flow, for spontaneity.
    • Ervin László (1996) The systems view of the world: A holistic vision for our time p. 10-11.
  • When the classical worldview was applied to social science, the dominant notions turned out to be struggle for survival, the profit of the individual, with at best an assumed automatic coincidence of individual and societal good (through Adam Smith's "invisible hand"). When the systemic vision inspires the theories of social science, the values of competition are mitigated by those of cooperation, and the emphasis on individualistic work ethos is tempered with a tolerance of diversity and of experimentation with institutions and practices that foster man-man and man- nature adaptation and harmony.
    • Ervin László (1996) The systems view of the world: A holistic vision for our time p. 12.
  • "Do unto others as you'd have them do unto you" is the greatest phrase ever written. If everyone followed that creed, this world would be a paradise.
  • The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.


  • Whereas the particular conception of ideology designates only a part of the opponent's assertions as ideologies — and this only with reference to their content, the total conception calls into question the opponent's total Weltanschauung (including his conceptual apparatus), and attempts to understand these concepts as an outgrowth of the collective life of which he partakes.
  • I feel like I live in a world made of cardboard. Always taking constant care not to break something. To break someone. Never allowing myself to lose control, even for a moment, or someone could die.
  • If you have been inside my head, then you know what I've seen. The suffering. Every moment in time and space is burning. It must end, and I intend to end it the only way I can.
  • Mesarovic and Pestel are critical of the Forrester-Meadows world view, which is that of a homogeneous system with a fully predetermined evolution in time once the initial conditions are specified
    • New Scientist. Vol. 66, nr. 947. May 1, 1975. p. 272.
  • It’s a jungle out there
    Poison in the very air we breathe
    Do you know what’s in the water that you drink?
    Well I do, and it’s amazing
    People think I’m crazy, ’cause I worry all the time
    If you paid attention, you’d be worried too
    You better pay attention
    Or this world we love so much might just kill you
    I could be wrong now, but I don’t think so!


  • Both Religion and science require a belief in God. For believers, God is in the beginning, and for physicists He is at the end of all considerations... To the former He is the foundation, to the latter, the crown of the edifice of every generalized world view.
    • Max Planck Religion and Natural Science (Lecture Given 1937).
  • Two opposing world-views — the technological and the traditional — coexisted in uneasy tension. The technological was the stronger, of course, but the traditional was there — still functional, still exerting influence...
    • Neil Postman (1992) Technopoly: the Surrender of Culture to Technology


  • To become a token woman—whether you win the Nobel Prize or merely get tenure at the cost of denying your sisters—is to become something less than a man … since men are loyal at least to their own world-view, their laws of brotherhood and self-interest.
    • Adrienne Rich As quoted in Ms. magazine, p. 44 (September 1979).
  • A rigid, blinkered, absolutist world view is the easiest to keep hold of, whereas the fluid, uncertain, metamorphic picture I've always carried about is rather more vulnerable.


The systematic perversion and reinterpretation of the values themselves is much more effective than the “slandering” of persons or the falsification of the world view could ever be.
-- Max Scheler (1912)
  • A crisis in doctrine occurred when they discovered that the square root of two was irrational. That is: the square root of two could not be represented as the ratio of two whole numbers, no matter how big they were. "Irrational" originally meant only that. That you can't express a number as a ratio. But for the Pythagoreans it came to mean something else, something threatening, a hint that their world view might not make sense, the other meaning of "irrational".
    • Carl Sagan (1990 Update) Cosmos: A Personal Voyage.
  • World view theory has its roots in anthropology and Kearney (1984:10) suggests that there are three basic problems in the study of world view:
    - What are the necessary and therefore universal types of images and assumptions which are part of any world view, and what are the specific contents of these universals?
    - What relationship do these images and assumptions have with the world they represent?
    - What influence does this world view have on behaviour?
There has been growing interest in world view theory in science education research Cobern (1993a, 1993b, 1994, 1997) in particular has embraced the notion of world view in arguing the importance of fundamental beliefs with respect to learning


  • The systematic perversion and reinterpretation of the values themselves is much more effective than the “slandering” of persons or the falsification of the world view could ever be.
    • Max Scheler (1912) Das Ressentiment im Aufbau der Moralen'. 'L. Coser, trans. (1973), pp. 76-77.
  • In 1925, the world view of physics was a model of a great machine composed of separable interacting material particles. During the next few years, Schrodinger and Heisenberg and their followers created a universe based on super imposed inseparable waves of probability amplitudes. This new view would be entirely consistent with the Vedantic concept of All in One.
  • Resignation as to knowledge of the world is for me not an irretrievable plunge into a scepticism which leaves us to drift about in life like a derelict vessel. I see in it that effort of honesty which we must venture to make in order to arrive at the serviceable world-view which hovers within sight. Every world-view which fails to start from resignation in regard to knowledge is artificial and a mere fabrication, for it rests upon an inadmissible interpretation of the universe.
  • World-view is a product of life-view, not vice versa.
  • According to the academic world view that markets are efficient, only the revelation of a dramatic piece of information can cause a crash, yet in reality even the most thorough post-mortem analyses are typically inconclusive as to what this piece of information might have been.
    • Didier Sornette (2003) Why Stock Markets Crash - Critical Events in Complex Systems.
  • Even the seeming remoteness of Pythagorean teaching helps one to realize that the current world view, while it seems destined to dominate the planet, is fleeting and temporary and, like others before it, will pass.
    • John Strohmeier and Peter Westbrook. (1999) Divine Harmony : The Life and Teachings of Pythagoras.
  • In spite of the dominance of mechanistic thought in the contemporary world, a perplexing residue of the magical tradition still survives in the form of several issues, solutions to which do not appear possible within the context of a purely mechanical view of the world.... It is important to recognize that the materialist, scientific paradigm that dominates the late twentieth century world and provides the basis for its dominant institutions, has its basis in the life and work of Pythagoras, one of the most significant representatives of the perennial philosophy and a founder of the magical tradition. This spirit, which gave rise to our world view, is a spirit that must be recaptured if our civilization is to flourish. The choice is a clear one to many, and was summed up in a book title by the late Pythagorean and futurist Buckminster Fuller, Utopia or Oblivion.
    • John Strohmeier and Peter Westbrook, in Divine Harmony : The Life and Teachings of Pythagoras (1999).
  • World view, a concept borrowed from cultural anthropology, refers to the culturally dependent, generally subconscious, fundamental organization of the mind. This conceptual organization manifests itself as a set of presuppositions that predispose one to feel, think, and act in predictable patterns.
    • Kenneth G. Tobin (1993) The practice of constructivism in science educaction. p. 58: Talking about world view theory.


  • Our secular constitution has enabled people of all world views to coexist in harmony, undivided by sectarian strife...


  • Under the world view possessed by medieval scholars, the path of learning was a path of self-deprecation.


  • Math is perfect (in principle), but mathematicians are not (because they are humans), hence the mathematics that (human) mathematicians do is influenced by the weltanschauung of the people around them.
    • Doron Zeilberger "Computerized Deconstruction". Appeared in Adv. Appl. Math. v. 31 (2003), 532-543.
  • A frog in a well cannot conceive of the ocean.
    • Zhuangzi (c. 369-286 BC) : Of a person who has limited life experience and hence world view

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