Sunday, November 06, 2005

Minicast #1 - Worldviews

In this first SciPhi show minicast, I look at the concept of a worldview. What they are and how you determine your or someone elses worldview.

MiniCast #1 (5 minutes 47 seconds)

Show Notes

The Universe Next Door By James W. Sire

Seven Questions to a Worldview

  1. What is prime reality--the really real?

  2. What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?

  3. What is a human being?

  4. What happens to a person at death?

  5. Why is it possible to know anything at all?

  6. How do we know what is right and wrong?

  7. What is the meaning of human history?

Do you have an idea for a minicast feedback ? Email


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great first minicast! I have enjoyed both regular episodes so far and look forward to more. As a high school English teacher I am always looking for new types of questions to ask my students to get them to think about the world through literature and popular entertainment. This is right up that alley.

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Wyrd said...

1. What is prime reality--the really real?
We can never know. We have to begin with the assumption that we exist, and move on from there.

# What is the nature of external reality, that is, the world around us?
Referencing #1, we can never ultimately know the nature of external reality. However, if we are willing to assume we exist, then we can start figuring some stuff out. The scientific method, and the principle of gathering evidence that either supports (fnord) or breaks a theory over a period of time seems to be a good way to proceed. The best thing about this approach is that it leads to practical benefits.

2. What is a human being?
Based on available evidence, after a long time, I have chosen to believe that a human being is entirely an organic thing with no supernatural component whatsoever.

3. What happens to a person at death?
Based on available evidence, I think what happens at death is said person's consciousness goes away for the last time. As far as I can tell, there is no way to ever know this with certainty, it's just something I have chosen to believe because all of the other ideas supposing a life-after-death. I could go into greater detail on this, but it's very likely I'd just be using my worldview to justify itself, and that's circular reasoning. (fnord)

4. Why is it possible to know anything at all?
I'm not sure how other people "know" things, but by now, my method should be becoming pretty clear. We have memory. We learn from our experiences. We also, often, *don't* learn from our experiences, or else we think we've learned something that turns out not to be true. Sometimes we will go into a situation thinking we *know* something with certainty only to find out that we did *not* know it afterall, i.e. what we thought we knew was wrong. This is unavoidable.

5. How do we know what is right and wrong?
It seems that people work out a sense of right and wrong based largely on the customs of the society they're born into. More specifically, I think a person's sense of right and wrong will be shaped by their upbringing. It's not possible to make a simple generalization though like "a child will believe what their parents' believe" because there are numerous counter-examples. Further that generalization fails to account for situations in which there are not two parents. There might be zero, one, or weirdly even three or more persons acting in a parental capacity.

6. What is the meaning of human history?
The question is far tricksier than it appears. It depends on whom you're asking. See, the way it's written, you could be asking "What is the meaning of human history in the "grand scheme of things"?" or you could be asking "What does human history mean to you personally, dear reader?"

In the "grand scheme of things", I have no idea what the meaning, importance, or significance of human history is, or might eventually turn out to be. I tend to believe it's signifcance will be nill, but then, that's just an assumption on my part, and a fairly massive one, I'll be the first to admit.

For me personally, the meaning of human history is, it's really significant because it lets us know how we got to where we are. Sometimes it might help us find a way forward, but even when it fails to do that, at least it allows me to be thankful for what we (well some of us lucky folks in the West) now have.

So, to reveal the cat from within the bag: I'm a skeptic, a rationalist, an atheist (except when it gets really boring--see below) a naturalist (probably), a pragmatist (in a layperson sense, not in the strictly philosophical sense--I've not yet read anything by John Dewey although I guess I'll have to eventually), a fan of science, an iconoclast, and a freethinker. And when that all becomes a bit too much of a burden, I'm an absurdist and Discordian (fnord) (Hail Eris!) as well. Recently I've become a Pastafarian because the folks in the state next door (Kansas) have decided evolution is optional.

Furry cows moo and decompress.

5:43 PM  
Anonymous Wyrd said...

argh. I should have edited better. I misnumbered the questions, I used "it's" instead of "its", and one of my sentences ended prematurely. Other errors may also be present.

Anyway, you can probably guess how I *would* have ended the sentence based on my worldview. :-)

5:50 PM  

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