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Worldview in the Disciplines
Dr. Orville Boyd Jenkins
A review of the book by David K. Naugle
Worldview:  The History of a Concept (Grand Rapids:  Eerdmans, 2002.  356p.)

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This book is the author's exploration of the history and meaning of the term or concept of "worldview."  Naugle surveys the history of the word and its use under various meanings, as defined or used in Philosophy, Natural Sciences, Social Sciences, Theology and Political Theory.

Story-Form Knowledge
Naugle points out the meaning of story forms in oral cultures, and indicates that the error of modern rationalist theories of knowledge is that they ignored the concept of narrative as the primary way all human societies talk about the wholeness of life and the unseen realities.

Concepts of rationality are also investigated.  He determines that the concept of worldview is an epistemological question, and finds the Enlightenment linear, objective concept of knowledge as external is based on a mistaken notion that human reason can somehow get outside itself and stand outside its own worldview assumptions.

I found many of the formulations and concepts and conclusions of the author were statements of concepts I had been propounding in my last thirty years of training people in cross-cultural communication.  The concept of worldview and the uniqueness of worldview from culture/society to culture/society have been the standard reference points.  Christian mission has been approaching peoples of the world this way for some decades, learning the cultural worldview and formulating communication in those forms unique to that culture.

I agree with Dr. Naugle that the concept of worldview is foundational to understanding both the similarities and the differences between human cultures.  Dynamic, symbolic (semiotic) forms of reference to the broader reality of our human existence are presented in the "mythological," story-symbol forms of human cultures and worldviews.  The modern period assumed it had no myths, but in doing so promulgated and ignored its own presuppositions and myths.

Naugle sheds light on the aspects of cognitive culture we refer to by the term "worldview."  The current body of knowledge of Anthropology and Sociology has clearly established the view that all people have myths, figures and supra-historical concepts that give their daily lives meaning.  "Worldview" is the term we use for that.

This "worldview" is the hidden mental organizing principle or set of principles by which society is organized, decisions are made, values are developed and defended or changed and by which new ideas and technologies are evaluated.

In recent decades a whole discipline has developed investigating the concept of oral communication in not only traditional cultures in our world today, but the classical cultures.  The concept of how people thought at different periods in history is given more weight in evaluating other cultures old and new.  Oral cultures, even when literate think and operate differently than our modern rationalistic literate cultures.

See related reviews and articles on this site:
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[TXT] Different Literacy — Different World
(Are Older Bible Manuscripts More Reliable?)

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[TXT] Eye Learning or Ear Learning?
[TXT] God and Literacy
[review] Indigenous Asian Expressions of Christian Faith
[TXT] Literacy — A Modern Phenomenon
[TXT] Orality and the Post-Literate West
[TXT] Orality, Literacy and the Bible
[TXT] Stories and Storytelling: Reclaiming our Oral Heritage
[TXT] Storytelling for Learning and Teaching
[review] Sympathetic Insights towards Traditional Worldviews
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[Resource Menu] Worldview Perspectives

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First reading notes written 8 November 2005
Article finalized and posted to Thoughts and Resources 5 November 2007
Reviewed on Amazon 2 March 2009
Last edited here 29 May 2009

Orville Boyd Jenkins, EdD, PhD

Copyright © 2007 Orville Boyd Jenkins
Permission granted for free download and transmission for personal or educational use.  Other rights reserved.

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