Worldviews and Ways of Being

Jeff CarreiraBlog Posts, Evolving Self10 Comments

Immanuel Kant, the great German philosopher of the 18th Century, presented the radical idea that the world is not the way it appears to be. What we see as the world is not a real something out there. It is – at least in part – a creation of our own mind. Whatever direct perceptions we have of reality are ordered and interpreted by our mind so that by the time we become aware of those perceptions they have already been arranged into a particular worldview.

Kant explained that human beings carry around, in their heads as it were, a synthetic unity of apperception. This is the total arrangement of all of our raw experience into one coherent picture of reality. I believe that Kant used the phrase ‘unity of apperception’ rather than ‘unity of perception’ because that unity occurs prior to (apriori) our experience of perception.

This is a fairly common understanding of what a worldview is even today. Many of us understand that we hold a model of what reality is in our heads and that all of our experience is interpreted through and against that model. We all have been conditioned with a worldview which consists of specific beliefs, attitudes, values and habits. If you travel from one country to the next you often become more aware of your worldview because you start interacting in a society and with other people that have a different one. Things that you thought were simply true you realize are not universally so, but are only held to be true among people of a certain culture with a certain worldview. This is of course one of the great benefits of travel.

Recently I have been revisiting the writings of Martin Heidegger and studying the American Pragmatist George Herbert Mead for the first time. Heidegger is an Existentialist and the Existentialists and the Pragmatists shared a great deal in common. One thing that they share is that they were expanding on some of the fundamental notions of Kant.

Both Pragmatists and Existentialists talk more in terms of “ways of being” rather than “worldviews.” The idea of a worldview tends to engender a sense of having some view of reality in your head that then colors the way you perceive and respond to the world outside of your head. It is something like a picture of reality. If we talk about ways of being we take the “worldview” out of our heads and begin to think about it as an embodiment of a worldview.

Our worldview is not a way of seeing reality – it is a way of being in the world. Our actions, responses, preferences, our thoughts, manner of dress, way of speaking, etc. etc. etc. are where our world view is contained. It is not in our minds – but in our way of being.

Heidegger talks about this in terms of the background practices that we all engage in without realizing it and that become the ‘unity of apperception’ against which we interpret all of the rest of our experience. George Herbert Mead and the other Pragmatists talked in terms of habits of being. We act our these habitual ways of being human without realizing that we are doing it and they become the lens through which the rest of our experience is constantly perceived.

So is a worldview a ‘view of reality’, or a ‘way of being’?

Discover a profound recognition of awakened consciousness with this
FREE 6-part program.
Secrets of Profound Meditation
6 Spiritual Insights That Will Transform Your Life

Image

The Mystery School for a New Paradigm

Members Circle
Ongoing Guidance and Support for Artists of Possibility who want to share their deepest wisdom and live a vibrant and profoundly inspired spiritual life.
Join
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
10 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Blake Anderson
Blake Anderson
8 years ago

Thanks Jeff for this. It really clarified things for me, that a worldview is not a way we see life per se, but a way of being in the world.

Jeff Carreira
Jeff Carreira
8 years ago

that is what the Pragmatists and Existentialists would say – I have to say that I agree.

Gina Hayden
Gina Hayden
8 years ago

I agree with the ‘ways of being’ view – it seems to me less concrete and more fluid as a reality. I feel we don’t just sit there with a reality in our heads but we interact with that reality through our behaviours and that then continually feed our experienced reality, in a continuous circle. What I love is your reference to the idea of how we live in culture (and especially language) – a bit like how a fish lives in water – and don’t see it until we’re outside the water, or in different water :-) I remember… Read more »

Eugene Pustoshkin
8 years ago

Jeff,

The Collected Works of Immanuel Kant that are sitting on one of my desks are very amused by your take on Kant and also they asked me to send you a minor correction saying that Immanuel wasn’t a 16th-century philosopher, he was an 18th-19th century philosopher. He lived in 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Kant

Jeff Carreira
Jeff Carreira
8 years ago

Thank you Eugene, I am curioius, from your reading of Kant is my summation of Kant wrong or just generalized to the point of absurdity – which is what happens when trying to some up a thinker like Kant in the medium of a blog.

Catherine
Catherine
8 years ago

I feel your vision of Kant is quite correct [ although I am also not an expert]. I remember that one of the issues s whether one can touch “reality” with the mind or not and Kant is defending the position that it is impossible. Worldview/ ways of being. What comes to me is that a worldview is at the same time more general and less effective than a way of being. Say you are working very genuinely with a Teacher. It would be a Teacher of Sciences or a Spiritual Teacher, but you are wanting to learn and change.… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 years ago

Thank you Jeff,

it helps me to understand again that self is culture because even if intellectually I get it, often I forget it. And what is important is what we do. That’s why I think a worldview is a way of being.
The way a person acts is a expression of her worldview. You can have a view of reality that is very influenced by your culture (and it is) but you can choose to act in a way that is more or less free from it.

All the best.
Christophe.

Frank Luke
8 years ago

If we can think of our brain as the hard drive and our minds as software, can I submit that the view we have of reality is what our minds form with the hard drive of our brains? Like computers, the input may be infinite though some individuals are able to exploit the potential of programming the mind more than others. We consider really exceptional minds geniuses. It’s said that all learning is actually remembering. Apropos of I’ve been written, it seems that as Einstein believed, imagination was much more important than intellect. I take that to mean that to… Read more »

Eugene Pustoshkin
8 years ago

Jeff, it is too early for me to say. What I would say is that your summary helps making sense. Thank you for your writing. You might find Ken Wilber’s interpretation of Kant’s CRITIQUES interesting. He writes on Kant in THE MARRIAGE OF SENSE AND SOUL.

Shah
8 years ago

“8. We use our mind and seenss as the primary tool for interacting with God.”Ouch! That one hurt. Too close to home.