Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Worldviews or Wrongviews?

When you try to explain to someone what Postmodernism is, you have to clarify perspective or worldview. It is not a concept unique to postmodern thought, but it is one of the main building blocks. From as far back as Plato’s “Cave” all the way to Baudrillard’s “Simulacra and Simulation,” philosophy has been preoccupied with how people see reality.

An easy clarification would be to imagine two men at opposite ends of a room, looking out the same window. They would both have differing views of the reality outside the window, but their views would simply be different aspects of the same reality.

That is all fine until you realize: just because there can be various views and interpretations of reality, does not mean that all perspectives reflect something real. People can and do have worldviews that are completely false, or at least seriously messed up. Some people are not even looking out a window. People act on these false perspectives everyday and that goes a long way towards explaining why things are so wrong in this world. Postmodernism is so enamored with the concept of perspectives that it often fails to test them. In fact, it says they can’t be tested.

In the real world, however, they can be. Take as an example the competing worldviews of Bush vs. Obama, sometimes referred to as pre or post-911. Bush’s perspective was that there were evil people in the world who wanted to destroy western civilization. He governed from this worldview and did so successfully in that he avoided allowing further attacks. You might differ from him on aspects of his worldview and his responses to it, but one of the products of his worldview was continued safety.

Obama’s worldview says that the United States’ policy under Bush was the true evil in the world and that we should apologize for our actions and talk to people who hate us because of that policy. We are not at war.

Looking at the results of Obama’s perspective and approach to reality shows that there have been two further attacks against the US from Islamic extremists—both of which have been denied by the current administration until the evidence embarrassed them into admitting they were wrong. Those evil people that want to destroy free loving civilizations (the ones Obama’s worldview says don’t exist) promise that there are more attacks to come.

So it seems that worldviews can be compared to reality and measured by the results of the actions they produce. Some people live in a worldview that corresponds to the real world and others live in a dream.

All that, of course, is just my perspective.

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