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Worldview: The History of a Concept
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43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
I bought the book several months back, started the first few chapters, and moved on to more pressing material. I finished the book as part of my expanded reading for an adult education class at our church on the topic of Christian worldviews. We know from the introduction that the book began as his PhD dissertation, i would suspect that this is the contents of chapters 1-8, which are just a little dry, factual presentation dominated by philosophers and their writings. Probably the best available introduction to the concepts revolving around 'world and life view', certainly well done and informative.
But it is chapters 9 and 10 that really interest me. 9 is "Theological Reflections of 'Worldview' " and 10 is "Philosophical Reflections on 'Worldview'". These two chapters are worth the time to read the whole book and well worth an occasional reread in the future to keep the ideas fresh, warm and on the top of my thinking. So if you have just a few minutes to analyze if you want to buy and read this book; start with chapter 9, especially for a Christian, or chapter 10, for the more secular, and see if the book is of interest to you. If you are interested in how he presents ideas i would turn to pg 46, a section entitled "Sacramental Worldview" which is a section on the Eastern Orthodoxy worldview, especially from the pen of Alexander Schmemann, and is probably the best 9 pages in the first 8 chapters, i ordered his book immediately on reading this part.
The book is not an easy read, a certain tolerance for names and intellectual history is needed, perhaps not a common quality in today's reading public. But there is nothing that a motivated person with access to the net for more background information can't cure in a few clicks and some supplementary reading. But i am afraid most people would follow a similar trajectory as i did, a few chapters then a slow creep to the bottom of the to-be-read pile, and this is unfortunate, if it happens to you, skip to 9 and 10 and read them, then get back to the harder, less uplifting work of the details rather than the big picture. The author would be well advised to release these 2 chapters onto the (wild)net, for they are standalone, and worthy of greater broadcast then they will get following his dissertation(as packaged in the book), for they would be of great value in discussions like my class at church.
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31 of 36 people found the following review helpful
on January 12, 2003
Having read this book for Dr. Naugle's Philosophy class, I got this book first hand. It was one of our textbooks for his class, and it was a hard read. It was his dissertation, and the language in it can tend to be obscure. He sets out to analyze various worldviews from various perspectives. Being distinctly Christian, Dr. Naugle has three chapters on various Christian worldviews (Chapters 1,2,9). But, his philosophical insights into it at just short of amazing. This is a tremendous book from a tremendous man (And when you get through with it you will definitely know what 'Weltanschauung' means!)
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
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.

Foundational
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.

Orality
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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
TOP 50 REVIEWERon August 12, 2013
David Naugle's "Worldview: The HIstory of a Concept" presents an excellent summary of the concept as found in the writings of a variety of philosophers and theologians. Beginning with the concept of worldview as found in Protestant and then Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox thinkers, Naugle then looks at the idea as developed by philosophers, beginning with Immanuel Kant, the first philosopher of note to use the German equivalent "Weltanschauung," and from there proceeding to trace its history in the writings of Hegel, Kierkegaard, Dilthey, Nietzsche, Husserl, Jaspers, Heidegger, and Wittgenstein. He then discusses the similar concepts found in the philosophers and historians of science, such as Michael Polanyi and Thomas Kuhn. As someone with a doctorate in philosophy (Johns Hopkins, 1973) and more than thirty years of teaching and research in philosophy and theology, I found this to be a great summary and review. I would suggest that this history and description is this book's greatest value.

The last three chapters present Naugle's own analysis of what is a worldview. While this part of the book is also interesting, I was left with a number of questions, particularly because Naugle never makes entirely clear the extent to which he sees the concept of rationality as being intra-worldview rather than extra-worldview. Moreover, it never becomes evident the extent to which he believes it is possible to set aside the presuppositions that govern one's worldview in the examination of evidence. While it appears that Naugle leans toward the presuppositionalist approach (although not to extreme fideism), it is less clear the extent to which he is willing to allow for an evidentialist approach to apologetics. Although I studied the last three chapters carefully and also had a couple extended discussions with another fellow with a doctorate in philosophy, I went away still not clear as to exactly what position Naugle is defending in these chapters.

Despite this weakness, I am still giving the book five stars because of the value of the earlier chapters.
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11 of 16 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2006
For the past 6 months, I have been catching up on reading about worldviews. (Shows you far behind the times I am). I have read all the major worldview books by Christian writers. They all provide their interpretation of what constitutes the Christian worldview perspective. Naugle does that but puts his book into a broader historical and philosophical context. He also acknowledges all the current Christian books on worldviews except Pearcey's "Total Truth" which was published after this book.

There is one area that all the Christian writers ignore or give scant attention in writing about worldviews. This is the economic and business organizational arena. These Christian writers discuss education, science and the political worldview and their impact on society. Some business writers have stated the business community determines the value structure of society more than the churches, political, scientific and educational communities. The scandals in government and economic can be viewed as worldview issues. I recognize that most business executives would probably not realize how important it is to articulate their worldview. IT is probably the single foundational issue that helps the give the business a sense of value, vision and mission.

Overall David Naugle's is very readable and worth the effort.
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In this book David Naugle presents the assumption that conceiving of Christianity as a "worldview" has been one of the most significant events in the church history in the last 150 years and how the contemporary use of worldview is a totalizing approach to faith and life. Naugle first locates the origin of worldview in the writings of Immanuel Kant and surveys the rapid proliferation of its purpose throughout the English-speaking world. Naugle then provides the first study ever undertaken of the insights of major Western philosophers on the subject of worldview and offers an original examination of the role this concept has played in the natural and social sciences. Finally, Naugle gives the concept biblical and theological grounding, exploring the unique ways that worldview has been used in the Evangelical, Orthodox, and Catholic traditions.
This is an outstanding book not just the subject of worldview, but specially when it clarifies Christianity as a worldview. The author suggests that a worldview is best understood as a semiotic phenomenon, especially as a system of narrative signs that establishes a powerful framework within which people think (reason), interpret (hermeneutic) and know (epistemology. The strong point of the book is that it provides summaries of an additional contribution to evangelical reflection on worldview and offer a biography of Christian books on the topic.
If I have to lay a weakness in the book will be on leaving a question to Naugle of how we can influence or straightening the Christian worldview in order that it will be more effective in conveying the relevance of Christ.
As for my personal life and ministry, I will carry this question which I raised as the main target of my evangelist work. I do not know how it can be performed, but I think that the educational system is an open door for us to try.
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on January 6, 2014
'Worldview' is a term that gets thrown around quite a bit and in many different contexts. Naugle's book provides a well-organized exploration of the term: its beginnings and evolution, as well as debate surrounding the term, in many different disciplines. It's easy to read and has lots of references for those who want to explore the topic in more detail. It's well organized so if you are looking for a philosophical or anthropological perspective, you can focus on those chapters without having read the rest of the book. The book may be confusing for those who are not as familiar with history or with key figures in the various disciplines. What is amazing is all the varieties and different interpretations of the term within any given discipline. A must-read for anyone who wants to understand people and where we are coming from.
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on July 4, 2015
This book is foundational to the subject of worldview analysis. It is less popularly written than most other books on this subject, yet it is still very well written (often remarkably so as in the chapter on spiritual warfare). It also does a very good job in answering criticism from Christians on the subject of worldview. Chapters 9 and 11 are worth the price of the book alone. Extreme high recommendation. Read along with Sire's Universe Next Door, and Pearcey's Finding Truth, and you will have a strong grounding in this subject that is so able to increase understanding of ourselves and the world around us.
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on February 23, 2015
This is the best presentation of worldviews I have encountered in my reading so far. One of my reservations is that ihe does not engage Habermas' thorough critique of postmodernism as presented in The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity. Moreover, he does not seem to apply the same thorough analysis to the Christian faith as he does to other worldviews. It, too, is a worldview of human construction needing de-reification.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 14, 2014
The book is a thorough account of this subject and helpfully informative. It is well written and can therefore be fairly easily understood, although there are philosophical concepts here and there which are slipped in under a jargonistic disguise that the ordinary reader may not detect and indeed may not understand.

The 'Worldview' concept comes from modern idealistic German philosophy, specifically G W F Hegel who derived it from Kant. It amazes me that writers in the Reformed evangelical mold, who adopt this genre, don't see how this goes in the face of Christianity. Both Kant and Hegel are notoriously anti-Christian, and Hegel's impact in Europe anti-human also, if it is measured in terms of the body count induced by its consequences. This writer, like the Kuyperians he keeps company with, rejects the possibility of knowing objective reality without distortion by prejudice. The prejudice being your own 'worldview', which he alleges, in line with the fashion current in liberal infidel humanities departments throughout western universities, is inescapable. Thus he is asserting that 'perspective', or in other words 'ideology', determines truth, hoping that if you are 'Christian', having of course the right perspective, you will see the truth, but the others, all being infidels, won't. In so doing he asserts the Platonic theory of knowledge as the correct one, instead of Aristotle's simpler philosophic realism, the formula of which is 'what you see is what you get.' Indeed Aristotle quite perceptively stated, "What we believe is, that we affirm to be, and he who would subvert this opinion, will surely advance nothing further to profit." What these folk are telling us is that this is not so, and set forth instead the crotchet that "The thing perceived is different from the thing that is." That is, your ideology has transformed it into something else. As James Henley Thornwell so tellingly observes "this crotchet, transmitted in various forms, (in this instance under the title 'worldview'), is not questioned until it has brought forth the universal fruit of scepticism." Naugle concedes this more or less when he talks about the "prejudice against prejudice." It is also quite telling that Naugle informs us that no less an authority than Sigmund Freud saw through the 'worldview' principle, remarking of it very helpfully that it is an attempt to "replace the Church catechism with a guide book." Freud also reflected upon the air of arrogant superiority that 'worldview' advocates affect.

Christians need to know that they are fallible also, as evidenced by the fact that they do not necessarily speak with one voice. Also, Plato indicates, in his theory of knowledge, that though most persons adopt Naugle's view, i.e. "perspective determines truth (inescapably)", one way or another, this is primitive and undesirable. Plato recommends as a higher pursuit the search after ideal forms. So both of the great philosophers, Plato and his pupil Aristotle, would reject the 'worldview' formula if it was put to them. Christians should reject it also because it is not truthful and comes from an infidel source, as pointed out.
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