When worldview confronts conflicting facts

One’s worldview is the overall perspective from which one sees and interprets the world. Through life experience one develops a collection of beliefs about life and the universe. The German word that comes close to worldview is Weltanschauung [pronounced vel-taan-shau-oon]. Since Weltanschauung is a noun the first letter is always capitalized when used as a German word, but it has come to be used as an English word, weltanschauung, without initial capital. I’ve given you the pronunciation in case you want to impress people by saying weltanschauung when you mean worldview.

But be careful. Not everyone will be impressed.  Someone who knows the difference between the German Weltanschauung and the English worldview might think you are just being pretentious.

This is because worldview and Weltanschauung are not really the same. One may have a worldview at any age. A child has a worldview that will likely change a great deal over a lifetime. A closer meaning of Weltanschauung is a worldview that has changed and become more sophisticated over several decades of living, or one might way “more wise.” Some Germans, I’m told, will only use Weltanschauung to refer to one’s worldview after one has reached age 70.

One past 70 will have necessarily confronted many conflicting facts and circumstances to the worldview held by him at a younger age. If he has processed those conflicts in a mentally-healthy way, the worldview he now holds will have probably changed considerably. Perhaps a good definition of worldview that can properly be called “weltanschauung” [in English] is a person’s conclusions about existence at a particular time of life, after taking a good look at everything he has come across in his life.

There are at least two ways this can go wrong and result in a worldview in one’s golden years not much different than at any time previously in one’s life. First, is if the conflicts are not noticed and second if the conflicts are not processed.

Something I’ve been reading contains this sentence: The latest surge by ISIS has brought to the fore one of the hallmarks of modern leftism, and that is their absolute refusal to process facts that conflict with their worldview.


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