Worldviews are vast and comprehensive ways of seeing the world that include the “big questions” of philosophy about what is real, how we know, and what we value.  Western, Asian, Indigenous American, and Traditional African worldviews ask these questions and offer guidance in the search for meaning as well as a context in which to navigate the joys and sorrows of life.  Core Beliefs are usually quite specific; so it is easy to find points of disagreement.  Core Values, on the other hand, are much more spacious and tend to be more universal.  The Buddhist belief in rebirth might differ sharply with your own beliefs about life and death.  However, the Core Values of Buddhism — Wisdom and Compassion — seem much easier to embrace from the points-of-view of many different belief systems.

In our study of World Philosophy this semester, we have explored three major worldviews –Western [including the Greek Rationalist and Hebrew Religious traditions], Asian [including Buddhism and Taoism], and Traditional African [including East and West Africa].  Each section of our text has explored one of the three major categories or divisions within philosophy:

Metaphysics [What is Real?] especially questions related to Human Nature and Personhoo

Epistemology [How Do we Know?] especially questions related to What Counts as Reliable Knowledge

Axiology [What Do We Value?] especially questions of Ethical Decision Making – Virtue Theory (Path of Virtue, Ethic of Care), Teleological Theory (Utilitarian Ethics), and Deontological Ethical Theory (Duty Ethics)

Part One:  Defining and Analyzing three major Worldviews

(7.5 points) Using the categories and philosophical language used above, write three short, coherent essays, describing the key features of each of the following worldviews:

Western views of Metaphysics (reality), Epistemology (knowing), and Axiology (valuing)

Asian views of Metaphysics (reality), Epistemology (knowing), and Axiology (valuing)

Traditional African views of Metaphysics (reality), Epistemology (knowing), and Axiology (valuing)

Part Two:  Applying Worldviews to Questions/Issues

(7.5 points)  Apply one of the three Worldviews [Western, Asian, or Traditional African] to each of the following three situations – using all three eventually.  Use philosophical language – particular views or theories of Human Nature, specific Knowledge Theories, and specific Ethical Theories.  Be sure to indicate how the worldview of each theory shapes a response to the issues/questions raised:

Metaphysics – Human Nature or Personhood: Imagine that the “person” you have fallen in love with admits that he/she is an android. Though he/she seems fully “human,” this is a mechanical creation.  Will this new knowledge cause a problem in your relationship or will things go on as usual?  In war, we deny our “enemies” personhood in order to kill them.  Persons have moral claims on us.  Choose Western, Asian, or Traditional African.

Epistemology – Knowledge Theory: NASA claims to have a Rover vehicle on Mars, sending back vital information. How would you decide whether you can reliably “know” what you see on TV about the Rover? Deciding on what counts as reliable knowledge affects global decision-making.  Choose Western, Asian, or Traditional African.

Axiology – Ethical Theory: Several years ago, on the basis of what it called “actionable intelligence,” the United States entered the territory of a sovereign nation and ally [Pakistan] on a mission that ended with the shooting death of Osama bin Laden, the nation’s Most Wanted “terrorist.” Was this an ethically-defensible thing to do? Why or why not? Choose Western, Asian, or Traditional African.

Part Three:  Placing My Core Beliefs (my personal worldview) within the Western, Asian, and Traditional African worldviews

Core ethical values have their deepest roots in our beliefs about the world, ourselves, other people and beings, and the natural environment in which we live.  What we believe  and what we value will shape how we choose to live our lives.  If only some parts of the world are sacred, they will receive special care.  If everything is sacred, then our duties extend far more broadly and comprehensively.  If  humans are viewed as superior to other animals and plants, our duties to humans will be primary.  If all beings are part of one unified whole, then our duties extend to everything we see and all that we experience.

Name and describe the key elements that make up your own core beliefs and provide the framework for your worldview.  Now that you have completed a course in Philosophy, place your personal core beliefs within the three Worldviews you have studied this semester.  Where are the specific places at which your core beliefs resonate with specific aspects of these worldviews