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Naming the Elephant

James W. Sire (InterVarsity: June, 2004), 172 pages.

For more than thirty years James W. Sire has grappled with this issue. In this book he offers readers his most mature thought on the concept of a worldview, addressing such questions as: What is the history of the concept itself? What is the first question we should ask in formulating a worldview: What is the really real? or How do we know anything at all? How are worldviews formed existentially as well as intellectually? Is a worldview primarily an intellectual system, a way of life or a story? What are the public and private dimensions of a worldview? What role can worldview thinking play in assessing our own worldview and those of others, especially in light of the pluralism within which we live? In his widely used textbook The Universe Next Door, first published in 1976, Sire offered a succinct definition of a worldview and cataloged in summary fashion seven basic worldview alternatives. Students, critics, new literature and continued reflection have led him to reexamine and refine his definition of a worldview. This companion volume to The Universe Next Door is the fruit of that effort. Here is an excellent resource for all who want to explore more deeply how and why worldview thinking can aid us in navigating our pluralistic universe.

Table of Contents

    • 1 Camel, kangaroo and elephant 15
    • 2 Worldview definitions: from Dilthey to Naugle 23
    • 3 First things first: being or knowing 51
    • 4 Flesh and bones: theoretical and pretheoretical 75
    • 5 Rational system, way of life and master story 91
    • 6 Worldview: public and private 107
    • 7 Worldview: a refined definition 121
    • 8 Intelligent people who clash by day: worldviews as a tool for analysis 137