Embracing Our New Post-Modern Worldviews, Especially The Mindsets That Give Them Their Power
Take a step or two towards becoming a wiser, more mature adult.
Three months ago, I published an article in Medium titled “Signs Foreshadowing the Emergence of a New Worldview.” I opened this article with these words;
“From where I’m sitting, I see all kinds of signs that are foreshadowing the emergence of a new worldview.
The first sign I ever saw that suggested our consciousness was shifting happened on July 20th, 1969, the day Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon. I remember watching him on TV when he took his “one small step….”
I had to wait 40 years before seeing another sign like this: September 11th, 2001 — the day al-Qaeda brought down the World Trade Center’s twin towers. I remember the exact moment the towers fell in on themselves even more vividly than I remember Armstrong’s “one giant leap for mankind.” That day I whispered to myself, “Wow, this is going to be a real ‘breaking point’ in history. Nothing like it before; all hell to pay after…”
Since September, I’ve been doing research aimed at learning more about what people who devote themselves to studying worldviews are discovering about the signs I’ve been seeing.
In particular, I’ve been reading Richard Tarnas, Peter Berger, and James Underhill. All three of these experts have an abiding interest in discovering how and why ordinary people come to believe what they believe.
I’ve distilled some significant insights while reading their books and aticles about worldviews’ purpose and function. Overall, I’ve identified seven propositions I think summarize what Tarnas, Berger, and Underhill have to say about worldviews and mindsets:
- Worldviews are the unquestioned beliefs we hold about ourselves and the world. Every worldview answers questions buried deep in our psyches like Who am I?, How did I get here? What’s my purpose in life?
- Worldviews explain the mysteries that amaze us. They define how we respond to the ontological and existential questions that confound us.
- Worldviews are our precast perception of reality — networks of incontestable truths, existential presuppositions, and foregone conclusions. Day-to-day worldviews are the cosmological frameworks we/ve. agreed use to understand, relate to, and interact with the world.
- As such, worldviews are a society’s “sacred canopy.” They’re the deeply valued beliefs a community builds over and around itself to give meaning to its members’ deepest sensibilities, fears, and unanswerable questions.
- Human beings can’t live without a worldview. Neither can they live without the mindsets that give their worldview its presuppositional depth and detail.
- Mindsets are the mental attitudes and behavioral skills embedded in our brains’ neuronal networks. Our mindsets predetermine how we interpret our life situations and act in response to them.
- Typically, we extrapolate the attitudes and skills that make up our mindsets from the worldview(s) we absorbed while growing up. Mindsets, like the worldviews they come from, rarely change.
Recently, I’ve been exploring Annick de Witt’s Worldview Journeys website. The research she’s posted on this website has convinced me that in addition to the seven I’ve offered, there are six more worldview propositions worth thinking about;
- Today, villages, towns, cities, communities, and nations worldwide have more than one active worldview. In every location, there are now two or more active worldviews.
- Communities with more than one active worldview typically have at least two — i.e., the Traditional and the Modern Worldview.
- Today, some societies have four active worldviews — i.e., the Traditional, the Modern, the Post-Modern, and the Integrative worldview.
- Societies with more than one active worldview always have one worldview that’s dominant. This worldview provides that society its cosmological foundation, the one view of reality that most citizens subscribe to.
- However, in communities with more than one worldview, alternative worldviews are dominant for those groups that have adopted them as their cosmological framework. These alternative worldviews provide the same kind of cosmological foundation for its groups as the dominant worldview does for its community.
- There’s always tension and conflict between the two most active worldviews in a community over what’s true and real in these multi-worldview societies. Today, this conflict is happening at the local level, the nation-state level, and in our world, writ large.
Today’s New Insights
The idea that societies have a “worldview” and individuals have mindsets that translate this worldview into acceptable and effective behavioral routines emerged in 1790 when first Immanuel Kant introduced these two concepts. In the years since Kant introduced these two concepts, thevy’vve become well accepted.They’ve attracted much attention from philosophers, sociologists, and psychologists.
Through the research I’ve done, I’ve learned that the first six worldview hypotheses I just offered you are thoroughly researched, fully documented, and well-accepted among worldview experts. From what I’ve read, researchers like Peter Berger, Arthur Koestler, Richard Tarnas, W. Andrew Hoffecker, James Underhill, Paul Hiebert, and David Naugle are all clear about this. Their research has transformed my first seven hypotheses into well-established facts.
However, things are different when it comes to the next six hypotheses I want to offer you. These six hypotheses are not yet proven facts. But neither are they speculative hypotheses.
Tension and Conflict In Our Multi-Worldview World
At the moment, Annick de Witt is in the process of translating the second set of six hypotheses I’ve outlined above into agreed-upon facts.
Annick’s research about the active worldviews she’s identified shows us there’s not just one worldview active in the modern world. Instead, there are four different worldviews (with their respective mindsets) active in today’s world; i.e., the Traditional, the Modern, the Post-Modern, and the Integrative worldviews.
Additionally, Annick is discovering that, in most places, the Modern Worldview is the dominant worldview. And that the Traditional, Post-Modern and Integrative Worldviews are active alternatives.
Most importantly, Annick, in her article “What Do Our Politics Tell Us About Out Worldviews”) shows us that, where there are two strong worldviews, tension and conflict between the adherents of these worldviews are always severe. Historians like Samuel Huntington in (“The Clash of Civilizations,”) Colin Chapman in (“Islam and the West: Conflict, Co-Existence or Conversion,”) and Francis Fukuyama in (“The End of History”) confirm Annick’s insights.
Take the ancient schism between the Sunni and Shia sects in the Muslim world. Today, there are 1.6 billion Muslims in the world. In most Muslim communities, 80% of the population are Sunnis. In some Muslim communities, the Shias are 20% of the population. Whatever the percentages are in a given society, Huntington’s and Chapman’s research shows that there’s been cosmological tension and conflict between these two sects over their differences for fourteen centuries.
As we all know, right now, there’s also serious worldview conflict in America between liberal democrats and the country’s radical conservatives. Liberal Democrats are the dominant political worldview in America. Radical Conservatives are the alternative worldview. But they’re powerful. In fact, at this point, there are more than 50 million American’s who are telling pollsters they’re ready, willing, and able to tear down this country’s existing democratic form of government.
In this context, the research de Witt, Huntington, and Campbell have done on worldview/mindset conflicts is proving there are five crucial propositions about worldview/mindset conflicts that are worth highlighting;
- In every community with two active worldviews with significant numbers of adherents, there’s always tension and conflict over what’s true and real. Whether this conflict is happening at the local level, the national level, or in the world, writ large, the actual conflict between these two worldviews is always driven by these worldviews’ respective mindsets.
- Cosmological tension and conflict are this world’s most critical issues. Climate change and worldwide migration dynamics are good examples. Events in these two areas during the last decade have shown us that if we can’t find ways to alleviate the worldview conflicts going on across the globe, we’ll never be able to resolve our climate change and migration problems.
- At present, the most significant worldview conflict is the one between the enlightened liberalism of the Western World and the religious fundamentalism of the Islamic World. In particular, this clash is concerned with the differences between the Western World’s enlightened liberalism (as manifested in its culture, its democratic political ideology, and sense of human equality) and the Islamic world’s fundamentalism (as displayed in its conservative family and gender norms).
- In America, the ideological conflict between those individuals, elected officials, and political parties who believe the enlightened liberalism worldview and those individuals, elected officials, and political parties who believe the radical conservatism’s worldview and the white patriarchy’s ideas and values is equally volatile.
- Both the enlightened liberalist worldview and the radical conservative worldview have associated mindsets. For each worldview, their mindset operationalizes its respective worldview. Generally, enlightened liberals prefer to act through collaborative mindsets. Radical conservatives prefer to act through conflict mindsets. This difference is significant because, at present, enlightened liberals are showing great reluctance to step into this conflict in fierce ways. At the same time, the radical conservatives seem to have no other behavioral routines available to them that they’re willing to use.
A Final Word
The previous article in this series (“Signs Foreshadowing the Emergence of a New Worldview”) closed with these words:
“For me, this article’s most important takeaway is the idea that it might be time for some of us to seriously question whether the world is, in fact, currently navigating its way through a tumultuous breakpoint in human history.”
In this article, I’ve explored all the insights I believe support my origianl assertions, and consequently are worth remembering. Here’s my synthesis of these insights:
- Worldview experts like Richard Tarnas, Peter Berger, and James Underhill have discovered evidence that proves worldviews are real and that they organize and drive our behavior.
- This evidence suggests it’s time for us to realize the worldview we unconsciously absorbed when we were growing up probably needs to be examined for its outmoded and dysfunctional beliefs.
- Annick de Witt’s research has identified four active worldviews — i.e., the Traditional, Modern, Post-Modern, and Integrative Worldviews.
- Annick’s research in this regard suggests we’re living in a multi-worldview world. My research if this issue supports the idea that, in societies and communities that contain two or more active worldviews, cosmological tensions and conflict between adherents of these worldviews are deadly serious and directly threaten thier communities’ coherence and unity.
- Worldview tension and conflict are perhaps this world’s most critical issues. Climate change, the world’s migration issues, and America’s current insurrection are good examples of this. Events in these three areas over the last decade demonstrate the fact that, if we don’t find ways to alleviate the worldview conflicts between The West and the Islamic World going on all over the world, we’ll never be able to address worldview problems like climate change and migration.
- Annick de Witt’s research on the emergence of the Post-Modern and Integrative Worldviews is evidence that supports the idea that real signs foreshadowing the emergence of a new worldview exist.
Last September, I suggested the signs I’m see foreshadowing the emergence of a new order of consciousness don’t yet add up to the firm conclusion that we’re well into a worldview transformation.
Today, what I’ve learned since September, tells me the signs I identified in “Signs Foreshadowing the Emergence of a New Worldview” do exist. They are real, and they’re worth paying attention to. Consequently we, I think, would be wise to reframe our modes of thinking in ways that help us see the worldview conflicts between the Muslim world and America as the kind of distant early warning signs we’re looking for.
In terms of the signs I see that foreshadow the emergence of a new worldview, I believe there’s one sign we need to pay close attention to. This sign is the conflict in America between liberal democracy and radical white nationalism.
If we pay attention to this worldview conflict, we’ll learn why it’s vital to take America’s enlightened liberal versus radical conservative conflict seriously. Most importantly, we’ll see how this civil war is showing us that neither worldview is capable of being America’s “sacred canopy.” Neither worldview can be the cosmological foundation that unifies the kinds of multi-ethnic communities active in today’s new world.
This article is one of a series of articles on worldviews and mindsets published over the last several months. To access the articles I’ve previously posted, click this Worldview and Mindset List