Perspectives

It will be suggested that humanity has used a mixture of three perspectives, i.e. philosophy, theology and science, in the construction its worldviews. In an attempt to provide an initial segregation of the differences between these perspectives, the following table is introduced:

Table : Perspectives
Category Premise Rational Empirical
Theology Belief No No
Philosophy Idea Yes No
Science Fact Yes Yes

While the simplicity of table above is accepted, it is argued that it will serve as a starting point. It will also be suggested that while philosophy, theology and science do provide different perspectives of the world, they can combine to form a composite worldview. So while any one of these perspectives can take a contradictory stance on any issues, with respect to the other two, this is not necessarily the case within the context of what appears to be a single, coherent worldview. For example, religious fundamentalists may well accept a range of philosophical ideas and scientific facts provided they do not contradict their central theological beliefs. As a result, there can be a flow of beliefs, ideas and facts within a single worldview, but this may not extend to different worldviews. Historical evidence suggests that theological beliefs have not only formed the foundations of religious order, but in many cases, the entire social and political infrastructure of a society. In such cases, the historic development of rationalism that underpinned philosophy and empirical verification required by science was initially subordinate to a given theological belief.

Flowchart

Today, there still exists examples where one perspectives may dominate the other two. For example, in some cultures, religious doctrine can take precedence over both philosophic ideas and scientific inquiry, while in others, the absence of scientific verification is then seen as an absence of proof.

By way of a footnote, if you accept the idea of Darwinian evolution, the earliest cultures possibly made little distinction between these perspectives in the sense that beliefs, ideas and facts were driven by survival needs. Only as the lowest survival needs were satisfied, i.e. physiological, safety and social, did the sophistication of the perspectives under discussion develop. This observation will be highlighted in many of the subsequent sections that discuss some of the major catalysts along a timeline starting with the Greeks towards the present-day.