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In its most general sense, the term "world" refers to the totality of entities, to the whole of reality or to everything that is. The nature of the world has been conceptualized differently in different fields. Some conceptions see the world as unique while others talk of a "plurality of worlds". Some treat the world as one simple object while others analyze the world as a complex made up of many parts. In '' scientific cosmology'' the world or universe is commonly defined as " e totality of all space and time; all that is, has been, and will be". '' Theories of modality'', on the other hand, talk of possible worlds as complete and consistent ways how things could have been. ''
Phenomenology Phenomenology may refer to: * Empirical research, when used to describe measurement methods in some sciences * An empirical relationship or phenomenological model * Phenomenology (architecture), based on the experience of building materials and the ...
'', starting from the horizon of co-given objects present in the periphery of every experience, defines the world as the biggest horizon or the "horizon of all horizons". In ''
philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch of that studies the and nature of the and its relationship with the body. The is a paradigmatic issue in philosophy of mind, although a number of other issues are addressed, such as the and the nature of parti ...
'', the world is commonly contrasted with the mind as that which is represented by the mind. ''
Theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed ...
'' conceptualizes the world in relation to God, for example, as God's creation, as identical to God or as the two being interdependent. In ''
religions Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated religious behaviour, behaviors and practices, morality, morals, beliefs, worldviews, religious text, texts, sacred site, sanctified places, prophecy, prophecies, ethics in reli ...
'', there is often a tendency to downgrade the material or sensory world in favor of a spiritual world to be sought through religious practice. A comprehensive representation of the world and our place in it, as is commonly found in religions, is known as a ''
worldview upright=1.8, Religious practices will tie closely to a religion's worldview. A worldview or world-view is the fundamental cognitive Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thoug ...
''. ''
Cosmogony Cosmogony is any model concerning the origin of either the cosmos The cosmos (, ) is another name for the Universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and ...
'' is the field that studies the origin or creation of the world while ''
eschatology Eschatology is a part of theology Theology is the systematic study of the nature of the divine Divinity or the divine are things that are either related to, devoted to, or proceeding from a deity.
'' refers to the science or doctrine of the last things or of the end of the world. In various contexts, the term "world" takes a more restricted meaning associated, for example, with the
Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% is Water distribution on Earth, covered wi ...

Earth
and all life on it, with humanity as a whole or with an international or intercontinental scope. In this sense, ''
world history World history or global history as a field of historiography, historical study examines history from a global perspective. It emerged centuries ago; leading practitioners have included Voltaire (1694–1778), Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Hegel ( ...
'' refers to the history of humanity as a whole or ''
world politics ''World Politics'' is a quarterly peer-reviewed Peer review is the evaluation of work by one or more people with similar competencies as the producers of the work ( peers). It functions as a form of self-regulation by qualified members of a ...
'' is the discipline of political science studying issues that transcend nations and continents. Other examples include terms such as "
world religion World religions is a category used in the study of religion Religious studies, also known as the study of religion, is an academic field devoted to research into religion, religious beliefs, behaviors Behavior (American English) or beha ...
", "
world language In sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any and all aspects of society, including cultural Norm (sociology), norms, expectations, and context, on the way language is used, and society's effect on language. I ...
", "
world government World government or global government, sometimes called one-worldism or cosmocracy, is the concept of a single authority for all humanity. It generally entails some form of through a single or with jurisdiction over the entire . Such a gover ...

world government
", "
world war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newsp ...
", "
world population In demographics Demography (from prefix ''demo-'' from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is oft ...

world population
", "
world economy The world economy or the global economy is the economy of all humans of the world, referring to the global economic system which includes all economic activities which are conducted both within and between nations, including production (economics ...
" or "
world championship A world championship is generally an international competition open to elite competitors from around the world, representing their nations, and winning such an event will be considered the highest or near highest achievement in the sport, game, o ...
".


Etymology

The
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
word ''
world In its most general sense, the term "world" refers to the totality of entities, to the whole of reality or to everything that is. The nature of the world has been conceptualized differently in different fields. Some conceptions see the world ...
'' comes from the
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family The Indo-European languages are a language family A language ...
''weorold (-uld), weorld, worold (-uld, -eld)'', a compound of ''
wer
wer
'' "man" and ''eld'' "age," which thus means roughly "Age of Man." The Old English is a reflex of the
Common Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the reconstructed Reconstruction may refer to: Politics, history, and sociology *Reconstruction (law), the transfer of a company's (or several companies') business to a new ...
''*wira-alđiz'', also reflected in
Old Saxon Old Saxon, also known as Old Low German, was a Germanic language The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family native to western and southern Eurasia. It comprises most of ...
''werold'',
Old Dutch In linguistics, Old Dutch or Old Low Franconian is the set of Franconian dialects (i.e. dialects that evolved from Frankish Frankish may refer to: * Franks The Franks ( la, Franci or ) were a group of Germanic peoples The historical ...

Old Dutch
''werilt'',
Old High German Old High German (OHG, german: Althochdeutsch, German abbr. ) is the earliest stage of the German language, conventionally covering the period from around 750 to 1050. There is no standardised or supra-regional form of German at this period, and ...
''weralt'',
Old Frisian Old Frisian was a West Germanic language spoken between the 8th and 16th centuries in the area between the Rhine ), Surselva Surselva Region is one of the eleven administrative districts Administrative division, administrative unitArticl ...
''warld'' and
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian is a stage of development of North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia Scandinavia; : ''Skades ...
''verǫld'' (whence the
Icelandic Icelandic refers to anything of, from, or related to Iceland and may refer to: *Icelandic people *Icelandic language *Icelandic alphabet *Icelandic cuisine See also

* Icelander (disambiguation) * Icelandic Airlines, a predecessor of Icelandai ...
'' veröld''). The corresponding word in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with") is "an appa ...

Latin
is ''mundus'', literally "clean, elegant", itself a loan translation of Greek ''
cosmos The cosmos (, ) is another name for the Universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prev ...

cosmos
'' "orderly arrangement". While the Germanic word thus reflects a mythological notion of a "domain of Man" (compare
Midgard ''á Miðgarði'', meaning "in Midgard" – "in Middle Earth", on the Fyrby Runestone (Sö 56) in Södermanland, Sweden. In Germanic cosmology, Midgard (an anglicised form of Old Norse language, Old Norse ; Old English , Old Saxon , Old High Ger ...
), presumably as opposed to the divine sphere on the one hand and the
chthonic The word chthonic is derived from the Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into ...

chthonic
sphere of the underworld on the other, the Greco-Latin term expresses a notion of
creation Creation may refer to: Religion * Creation ''ex nihilo'', the concept that matter was created by God out of nothing * Creation myth A creation myth (or cosmogonic myth) is a symbolic narrative of how the world began and how people first came t ...
as an act of establishing order out of
chaos Chaos or CHAOS may refer to: Arts, entertainment and media Fictional elements * Chaos (Kinnikuman), Chaos (''Kinnikuman'') * Chaos (Sailor Moon), Chaos (''Sailor Moon'') * Chaos (Sesame Park), Chaos (''Sesame Park'') * Chaos (Warhammer), Chaos ('' ...
.


Conceptions

Different fields often work with quite different ''conceptions'' of the essential features associated with the term "world". Some conceptions see the world as unique: there can be no more than one world. Others talk of a "plurality of worlds". Some see worlds as complex things composed of many substances as their parts while others hold that worlds are simple in the sense that there is only one substance: the world as a whole. Some characterize worlds in terms of objective spacetime while others define them relative to the horizon present in each experience. These different characterizations are not always exclusive: it may be possible to combine some without leading to a contradiction. Most of them agree that worlds are unified totalities.


Monism and pluralism

''
Monism Monism attributes oneness or singleness (Greek: μόνος) to a concept e.g., existence. Various kinds of monism can be distinguished: * Priority monism states that all existing things go back to a source that is distinct from them; e.g., i ...
'' is a thesis about oneness: that only one thing exists in a certain sense. The denial of monism is '' pluralism'', the thesis that, in a certain sense, more than one thing exists. There are many forms of monism and pluralism, but in relation to the world as a whole, two are of special interest: existence monism/pluralism and priority monism/pluralism. Existence monism states that the world is the only concrete object there is. This means that all the concrete "objects" we encounter in our daily lives, including apples, cars and ourselves, are not truly objects in a strict sense. Instead, they are just dependent aspects of the world-object. Such a world-object is simple in the sense that it does not have any genuine parts. For this reason, it has also been referred to as "blobject" since it lacks an internal structure just like a blob. Priority monism allows that there are other concrete objects besides the world. But it holds that these objects do not have the most fundamental form of existence, that they somehow depend on the existence of the world. The corresponding forms of pluralism, on the other hand, state that the world is complex in the sense that it is made up of concrete, independent objects.


Scientific cosmology

''Scientific cosmology'' can be defined as the science of the universe as a whole. In it, the terms "
universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological description of the development ...

universe
" and "
cosmos The cosmos (, ) is another name for the Universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prev ...

cosmos
" are usually used as synonyms for the term "world". One common definition of the world/universe found in this field is as " e totality of all space and time; all that is, has been, and will be". Some definitions emphasize that there are two other aspects to the universe besides spacetime: forms of energy or matter, like stars and particles, and laws of nature. Different world-conceptions in this field differ both concerning their notion of spacetime and of the contents of spacetime. The
theory of relativity The theory of relativity usually encompasses two interrelated theories by Albert Einstein: special relativity and general relativity, proposed and published in 1905 and 1915, respectively. Special relativity applies to all physical phenomena in ...
plays a central role in modern cosmology and its conception of space and time. An important difference from its predecessors is that it conceives space and time not as distinct dimensions but as a single four-dimensional manifold called
spacetime In , spacetime is any which fuses the and the one of into a single . can be used to visualize effects, such as why different observers perceive differently where and when events occur. Until the 20th century, it was assumed that the three ...
. This can be seen in
special relativity In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular s ...
in relation to the
Minkowski metric In mathematical physics Mathematical physics refers to the development of mathematical methods for application to problems in physics. The '' Journal of Mathematical Physics'' defines the field as "the application of mathematics to problems i ...

Minkowski metric
, which includes both spatial and temporal components in its definition of distance.
General relativity General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity, is the of published by in 1915 and is the current description of gravitation in . General generalizes and refines , providing a unified description of gravity as a geome ...
goes one step further by integrating the concept of
mass Mass is the quantity Quantity is a property that can exist as a multitude or magnitude, which illustrate discontinuity and continuity. Quantities can be compared in terms of "more", "less", or "equal", or by assigning a numerical value ...
into the concept of spacetime as its curvature.
Quantum cosmology Quantum cosmology is the attempt in theoretical physics to develop a Quantum field theory, quantum theory of the Universe. This approach attempts to answer open questions of classical physical cosmology, particularly those related to the first pha ...
, on the other hand, uses a classical notion of spacetime and conceives the whole world as one big
wave function A wave function in quantum physics is a mathematical description of the quantum state of an isolated quantum system. The wave function is a complex number, complex-valued probability amplitude, and the probabilities for the possible results of ...

wave function
expressing the probability of finding particles in a given location.


Theories of modality

The world-concept plays an important role in many modern ''theories of modality'', usually in the form of
possible worlds A possible world is a complete and consistent way the world is or could have been. They are widely used as a formal device in logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, label=none, lit=possessed of reason, ...
. A possible world is a complete and consistent way how things could have been. The actual world is a possible world since the way things are is a way things could have been. But there are many other ways things could have been besides how they actually are. For example, Hillary Clinton did not win the 2016 US election, but she could have won them. So there is a possible world in which she did. There is a vast number of possible worlds, one corresponding to each such difference, no matter how small or big, as long as no outright contradictions are introduced this way. Possible worlds are often conceived as abstract objects, for example, in terms of non-obtaining
states of affairsIn philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, langua ...
or as maximally consistent sets of propositions. On such a view, they can even be seen as belonging to the actual world. Another way to conceive possible worlds, made famous by
David LewisDavid or Dave Lewis may refer to: Academics *A. David Lewis (born 1977), American comic writer and scholar of religion and literature *David Lewis (academic) (born 1960), English scholar of development *David Lewis (lawyer) ( – 1584), Welsh ...
, is as concrete entities. On this conception, there is no important difference between the actual world and possible worlds: both are conceived as concrete, inclusive and spatiotemporally connected. The only difference is that the actual world is the world ''we'' live in, while other possible worlds are not inhabited by us but by ''our counterparts''. Everything within a world is spatiotemporally connected to everything else but the different worlds do not share a common spacetime: They are spatiotemporally isolated from each other. This is what makes them ''separate'' worlds. It has been suggested that, besides possible worlds, there are also impossible worlds. Possible worlds are ''ways things could have been'', so impossible worlds are ''ways things could not have been''. Such worlds involve a contradiction, like a world in which Hillary Clinton both won and lost the 2016 US election. Both possible and impossible worlds have in common the idea that they are totalities of their constituents.


Phenomenology

Within ''
phenomenology Phenomenology may refer to: * Empirical research, when used to describe measurement methods in some sciences * An empirical relationship or phenomenological model * Phenomenology (architecture), based on the experience of building materials and the ...
'', worlds are defined in terms of ''horizons'' of experiences. When we perceive an object, like a house, we do not just experience this object at the center of our attention but also various other objects surrounding it, given in the periphery. The term "horizon" refers to these ''co-given'' objects, which are usually experienced only in a vague, indeterminate manner. The perception of a house involves various horizons, corresponding to the neighborhood, the city, the country, the Earth, etc. In this context, the world is the biggest horizon or the "horizon of all horizons". It's common among phenomenologists to understand the world not just as a spatiotemporal collection of objects but as additionally incorporating various other relations between these objects. These relations include, for example, indication-relations that help us anticipate one object given the appearances of another object and means-end-relations or functional involvements relevant for practical concerns.


Philosophy of mind

In
philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch of that studies the and nature of the and its relationship with the body. The is a paradigmatic issue in philosophy of mind, although a number of other issues are addressed, such as the and the nature of parti ...

philosophy of mind
, the term "world" is commonly used in contrast to the term "mind" as that which is represented by the mind. This is sometimes expressed by stating that there is a gap between mind and world and that this gap needs to be overcome for representation to be successful. One of the central problems in philosophy of mind is to explain how the mind is able to bridge this gap and to enter into genuine mind-world-relations, for example, in the form of perception, knowledge or action. This is necessary for the world to be able to rationally constrain the activity of the mind. According to a realist position, the world is something distinct and independent from the mind. Idealists, on the other hand, conceive of the world as partially or fully determined by the mind.
Immanuel Kant Immanuel Kant (, , ; 22 April 1724 – 12 February 1804) was a German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about r ...

Immanuel Kant
's
transcendental idealism Transcendental idealism is a philosophical system founded by German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Meta ...
, for example, posits that the spatiotemporal structure of the world is imposed by the mind on reality but lacks independent existence otherwise. A more radical idealist conception of the world can be found in Berkeley's
subjective idealism George Berkeley is credited with the development of subjective idealism. Subjective idealism, or empirical idealism, is a form of Monism, philosophical monism that holds that only minds and mental contents exist. It logical consequence, entails a ...
, which holds that the world as a whole, including all everyday objects like tables, cats, trees and ourselves, "consists of nothing but minds and ideas".


Theology

Different ''theological'' positions hold different conceptions of the world based on its relation to God. ''
Classical theism Classical theism is a form of theism Theism is broadly defined as the belief in the existence of a Supreme Being or deities A deity or god is a supernatural The supernatural encompasses supposed phenomena that are not subject to the law ...
'' states that God is wholly distinct from the world. But the world depends for its existence on God, both because God created the world and because He maintains or conserves it. This is sometimes understood in analogy to how humans create and conserve ideas in their imagination, with the difference being that the divine mind is vastly more powerful. On such a view, God has absolute, ultimate reality in contrast to the lower ontological status ascribed to the world. God's involvement in the world is often understood along the lines of a personal, benevolent God who looks after and guides His creation. ''
Deists Deism ( or ; derived from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the p ...
'' agree with theists that God created the world but deny any subsequent, personal involvement in it. ''
Pantheists Pantheism is the belief that reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent within a system, as opposed to that which is only Object of the mind, imaginary. The term is also used to refer to the ontological status o ...

Pantheists
'', on the other hand, reject the separation between God and world. Instead, they claim that the two are identical. This means that there is nothing to the world that does not belong to God and that there is nothing to God beyond what is found in the world. ''
Panentheism Panentheism ("all in God”, from the Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is ap ...
'' constitutes a middle ground between ''theism'' and ''pantheism''. Against ''theism'', It holds that God and the world are interrelated and depend on each other. Against ''pantheism'', it holds that there is no outright identity between the two. ''
Atheists Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of Deity, deities. Less broadly, atheism is a rejection of the belief that any deities exist. In an even narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that the ...

Atheists
'', on the other hand, deny the existence of God and thereby of conceptions of the world based on its relation to God.


History of philosophy

In philosophy, the term ''world'' has several possible meanings. In some contexts, it refers to everything that makes up
reality Reality is the sum or aggregate of all that is real or existent within a system, as opposed to that which is only imaginary Imaginary may refer to: * Imaginary (sociology), a concept in sociology * The Imaginary (psychoanalysis), a concept by ...

reality
or the physical
universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological description of the development ...

universe
. In others, it can mean have a specific
ontological Ontology is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Ph ...

ontological
sense (see
world disclosureWorld disclosure (german: Erschlossenheit, literally "development, comprehension") refers to how things become intelligible and meaningfully relevant to human beings, by virtue of being part of an ontological Ontology is the branch of philosophy ...
). While clarifying the
concept Concepts are defined as abstract ideas A mental representation (or cognitive representation), in philosophy of mind Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the ontology and nature of the mind and its relationship with the bo ...

concept
of world has arguably always been among the basic tasks of
Western philosophy Western philosophy encompasses the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality ...
, this theme appears to have been raised explicitly only at the start of the twentieth century and has been the subject of continuous debate. The question of what the world is has by no means been settled.


Parmenides

The traditional interpretation of
Parmenides Parmenides of Elea (; grc-gre, Παρμενίδης ὁ Ἐλεάτης; ) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit ...

Parmenides
' work is that he argued that the everyday perception of reality of the physical world (as described in ''
doxa Doxa (; from verb ), and . 1940.δοκέω" In ', edited by and R. McKenzie. Oxford. . – via . is a common or popular . In , ''doxa'' is contrasted with ' ('knowledge'). Etymology The term ''doxa'' is an term () that comes from the verb ' ...
'') is mistaken, and that the reality of the world is 'One Being' (as described in aletheia): an unchanging, ungenerated, indestructible whole.


Plato

''
Plato Plato ( ; grc-gre, wikt:Πλάτων, Πλάτων ; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Classical Athens, Athenian philosopher during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder of the Platonist school of thoug ...

Plato
'' is well known for his
theory of forms#REDIRECT Theory of forms {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from move {{Redirect from other capitalisation {{Redirect unprintworthy ...
, which posits the existence of two different worlds: the sensible world and the intelligible world. The sensible world is the world we live in, filled with changing physical things we can see, touch and interact with. The intelligible world, on the other hand, is the world of invisible, eternal, changeless forms like goodness, beauty, unity and sameness. Plato ascribes a lower ontological status to the sensible world, which only imitates the world of forms. This is due to the fact that physical things exist only to the extent that they participate in the forms that characterize them, while the forms themselves have an independent manner of existence. In this sense, the sensible world is a mere replication of the perfect exemplars found in the world of forms: it never lives up to the original. In the
allegory of the cave As a literary device, an allegory is a narrative in which a character, place, or event is used to deliver a broader message about real-world issues and occurrences. Authors have used allegory throughout history in all forms of art to illustrate ...
, Plato compares the physical things we are familiar with to mere shadows of the real things. But not knowing the difference, the prisoners in the cave mistake the shadows for the real things.


Hegel

In
Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (; ; 27 August 1770 – 14 November 1831) was a German people, German philosopher. He is considered one of the most important figures in German idealism and one of the founding figures of Western philosophy, with hi ...
's
philosophy of history Philosophy of history is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality Reality ...
, the expression ''Weltgeschichte ist Weltgericht'' (World History is a tribunal that judges the World) is used to assert the view that History is what judges men, their actions and their opinions. Science is born from the desire to transform the World in relation to Man; its final end is technical application.


Schopenhauer

''
The World as Will and Representation ''The World as Will and Representation'' (''WWR''; german: Die Welt als Wille und Vorstellung, ''WWV'') is the central work of the German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer Arthur Schopenhauer (; ; 22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was ...
'' is the central work of
Arthur Schopenhauer Arthur Schopenhauer (; ; 22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a Germans, German philosopher. He is best known for his 1818 work ''The World as Will and Representation'' (expanded in 1844), which characterizes the Phenomenon, phenomena ...
. Schopenhauer saw the human will as our one window to the world behind the representation; the Kantian thing-in-itself. He believed, therefore, that we could gain knowledge about the thing-in-itself, something Kant said was impossible, since the rest of the relationship between representation and thing-in-itself could be understood by analogy to the relationship between human will and human body.


Wittgenstein

Two definitions that were both put forward in the 1920s, however, suggest the range of available opinion. "The world is everything that is the case," wrote
Ludwig Wittgenstein Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein ( ; ; 26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) was an Austrian Austrian may refer to: * Austrians, someone from Austria or of Austrian descent ** Someone who is considered an Austrian citizen, see Austrian nationali ...

Ludwig Wittgenstein
in his influential ''
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus The ''Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus'' (widely abbreviated and cited as TLP) is a book-length philosophical work by the Austrian philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of gene ...
'', first published in 1921. This definition would serve as the basis of
logical positivism Logical positivism, later called logical empiricism, and both of which together are also known as neopositivism, was a movement in Western philosophy whose central thesis was the verificationism, verification principle (also known as the verifiab ...
, with its assumption that there is exactly one world, consisting of the totality of facts, regardless of the interpretations that individual people may make of them.


Heidegger

Martin Heidegger Martin Heidegger (; ; 26 September 188926 May 1976) was a key German philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, ...
, meanwhile, argued that "the surrounding world is different for each of us, and notwithstanding that we move about in a common world". The world, for Heidegger, was that into which we are always already "thrown" and with which we, as beings-in-the-world, must come to terms. His conception of "
world disclosureWorld disclosure (german: Erschlossenheit, literally "development, comprehension") refers to how things become intelligible and meaningfully relevant to human beings, by virtue of being part of an ontological Ontology is the branch of philosophy ...
" was most notably elaborated in his 1927 work ''
Being and Time ''Being and Time'' (german: Sein und Zeit) is the 1927 ''magnum opus 's ''The Creation of Adam'' (c. 1512), part of the Sistine Chapel ceiling The Sistine Chapel ceiling ( it, Volta della Cappella Sistina), painted by Michelangelo Mich ...
''.


Eugen Fink

"World" is one of the key terms in Eugen Fink's philosophy. He thinks that there is a misguided tendency in western philosophy to understand the world as one enormously big thing containing all the small everyday things we are familiar with. He sees this view as a form of forgetfulness of the world and tries to oppose it by what he calls the "cosmological difference": the difference between the world and the inner-worldly things it contains. On his view, the world is the totality of the inner-worldly things that transcends them. It is itself groundless but it provides a ground for things. It therefore cannot be identified with a mere container. Instead, the world gives appearance to inner-worldly things, it provides them with a place, a beginning and an end. One difficulty in investigating the world is that we never encounter it since it is not just one more thing that appears to us. This is why Fink uses the notion of play or playing to elucidate the nature of the world. He sees play as a symbol of the world that is both part of it and that represents it. Play usually comes with a form of imaginary play-world involving various things relevant to the play. But just like the play is more than the imaginary realities appearing in it so the world is more than the actual things appearing in it.


Goodman

The concept of worlds plays a central role in
Nelson Goodman Henry Nelson Goodman (7 August 1906 – 25 November 1998) was an American philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit=philosophos, meaning 'lover o ...
's late philosophy. He argues that we need to posit different worlds in order to account for the fact that there are different incompatible truths found in reality. Two truths are incompatible if they ascribe incompatible properties to the same thing. This happens, for example, when we assert both that the earth moves and that the earth is at rest. These incompatible truths correspond to two different ways of describing the world:
heliocentrism Heliocentrism is the astronomical model in which the Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. About 29% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continent A continent ...
and
geocentrism In astronomy Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and celestial event, phenomena. It uses ma ...

geocentrism
. Goodman terms such descriptions "world versions". He holds a
correspondence theory of truth In metaphysics Metaphysics is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of ...
: a world version is true if it corresponds to a world. Incompatible true world versions correspond to different worlds. It is common for theories of modality to posit the existence of a plurality of possible worlds. But Goodman's theory is different since it posits a plurality not of possible but of actual worlds. Such a position is in danger of involving a contradiction: there cannot be a plurality of actual worlds if worlds are defined as maximally inclusive wholes. This danger may be avoided by interpreting Goodman's world-concept not as maximally inclusive wholes in the absolute sense but in relation to its corresponding world-version: a world contains all and only the entities that its world-version describes.


Religion

Mythological cosmologies Myth is a folklore genre consisting of narratives that play a fundamental role in a society, such as foundational tales or origin myths. The main characters in myths are usually gods, demigods, or supernatural humans.Jacqueline Simpson, Simpson, ...
often depict the world as centered on an ''
axis mundi In astronomy, axis mundi is the Latin term for the Axial tilt, axis of Earth between the celestial poles. In a geocentric coordinate system, this is the axis of rotation of the celestial sphere. Consequently, in ancient Greco-Roman astronomy ...
'' and delimited by a boundary such as a
world ocean The ocean (also the sea The sea, connected as the world ocean or simply the ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water which covers approximately 71% of the surface of the Earth.
, a world serpent or similar. In some religions, worldliness (also called carnality) is that which relates to this world as opposed to other worlds or realms.


Buddhism

In
Buddhism Buddhism (, ) is the world's fourth-largest religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whether they are aware of it or not, and ...

Buddhism
, the world means society, as distinct from the
monastery A monastery is a building or complex of buildings comprising the domestic quarters and workplaces of monastics, monks or nuns, whether living in Cenobitic monasticism, communities or alone (hermits). A monastery generally includes a place res ...

monastery
. It refers to the material world, and to worldly gain such as wealth, reputation, jobs, and war. The spiritual world would be the path to
enlightenment Enlightenment, enlighten or enlightened may refer to: Age of Enlightenment * Age of Enlightenment, period in Western intellectual history from the late 17th to late 18th century, centered in France but also encompassing: ** Midlands Enlightenment ...
, and changes would be sought in what we could call the psychological realm.


Christianity

In
Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic, Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testament, life and Teachings of Jesus, teachings of Jesus, Jesus of Nazareth. It is the Major religious groups, world's ...

Christianity
, the term often connotes the concept of the fallen and corrupt world order of human society, in contrast to the World to Come. The world is frequently cited alongside ''the
flesh Flesh is any aggregation of soft tissue Tissue may refer to: Biology * Tissue (biology), an ensemble of similar cells that together carry out a specific function * ''Triphosa haesitata'', a species of geometer moth found in North America * ''Tri ...
'' and ''the
Devil A devil is the personification of evil as it is conceived in various cultures and religious traditions. It is seen as the objectification of a hostile and destructive force. It is difficult to specify a particular definition of any comple ...

Devil
'' as a source of
temptation Temptation is a desire to engage in short-term urges for enjoyment that threatens long-term goals.Webb, J.R. (Sep 2014). Incorporating Spirituality into Psychology of temptation: Conceptualization, measurement, and clinical implications. Spi ...

temptation
that Christians should flee.
Monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via ''monachus'') is a person who practices religious by living, either alone or with any number of other monks. A monk may be a person who decides to dedicate his life ...

Monk
s speak of striving to be "''in'' this world, but not ''of'' this world" — as
Jesus Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it ...

Jesus
said — and the term "worldhood" has been distinguished from " monkhood", the former being the status of merchants, princes, and others who deal with "worldly" things. This view is clearly expressed by king
Alfred the Great Alfred the Great (848/49 – 26 October 899) was king of the West Saxons This is a list of monarchs of Wessex until 886 AD. For later monarchs, see the List of English monarchs. While the details of the later monarchs are confirmed by a numbe ...

Alfred the Great
of England (d. 899) in his famous Preface to the '''': Although Hebrew and Greek words meaning "world" are used in
Scripture Religious texts, also known as scripture, scriptures, holy writ, or holy books, are the texts which various religious traditions consider to be sacred Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of ...
with the normal variety of senses, many examples of its use in this particular sense can be found in the teachings of
Jesus Jesus, likely from he, יֵשׁוּעַ, translit=Yēšūaʿ, label=Hebrew Hebrew (, , or ) is a Northwest Semitic languages, Northwest Semitic language of the Afroasiatic languages, Afroasiatic language family. Historically, it ...

Jesus
according to the
Gospel of John The Gospel according to John ( el, Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Ἰωάννην, translit=Euangélion katà Iōánnēn, also known as the Gospel of John, or simply John) is the fourth of the four canonical gospels. It contains a highly sc ...
, e.g. 7:7, 8:23, 12:25, 14:17, 15:18-19, 17:6-25, 18:36. In contrast, a relatively newer concept is Catholic imagination. '' Contemptus mundi'' is the name given to the belief that the world, in all its vanity, is nothing more than a futile attempt to hide from God by stifling our desire for the good and the holy. This view has been criticised as a "pastoral of fear" by modern historian Jean Delumeau. During the
Second Vatican Council The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, commonly known as the , or , was the 21st ecumenical council An ecumenical council (or oecumenical council; also general council) is a conference of ecclesiastical dignitaries and theological e ...
, there was a novel attempt to develop a positive theological view of the World, which is illustrated by the pastoral optimism of the constitutions ''
Gaudium et spes ''Gaudium et spes'' (, "Joy and Hope"), the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, is one of the four constitutions resulting from the Second Vatican Council in 1965. It was the last and longest published document from the counci ...
'', '' Lumen gentium'', '' Unitatis redintegratio'' and '' Dignitatis humanae''.


Eastern Christianity

In
Eastern Christian monasticism , considered the Father of Christian Monasticism Eastern Christian Monasticism is the life followed by monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to ...
or
asceticism Asceticism (; from the el, ἄσκησις, áskesis, exercise', 'training) is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from sensual pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals. Ascetics may withdraw from the world for their pr ...
, the world of mankind is driven by passions. Therefore, the passions of the World are simply called "the world". Each of these passions are a link to the world of mankind or order of human society. Each of these passions must be overcome in order for a person to receive salvation ( Theosis). The process of Theosis is a personal relationship with God. This understanding is taught within the works of ascetics like
Evagrius Ponticus upright=0.7, Evagrius Ponticus (left), John of Sinai, and an unknown saint. 17th-century icon. Evagrius Ponticus ( el, , "Evagrius of Pontus"; Georgian: ევაგრე ქართველი), also called Evagrius the Solitary (345–399 ...
, and the most seminal ascetic works read most widely by Eastern Christians, the
Philokalia The ''Philokalia'' ( grc, φιλοκαλία "love of the beautiful, the good", from '' philia'' "love" and ''kallos'' "beauty") is "a collection of texts written between the 4th and 15th centuries by spiritual masters" of the Eastern Orthodox ...
and
The Ladder of Divine Ascent ''The Ladder of Divine Ascent'', or ''Ladder of Paradise'' (Κλίμαξ; ''Scala'' or ''Climax Paradisi''), is an important ascetical treatise for monasticism Monasticism (from Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Gre ...

The Ladder of Divine Ascent
(the works of Evagrius and
John Climacus John Climacus ( grc-gre, Ἰωάννης τῆς Κλίμακος; la, Ioannes Climacus), also known as John of the Ladder, John Scholasticus and John Sinaites, was a 6th–7th-century Christian monk at the monastery on Mount Sinai. He is rev ...

John Climacus
are also contained within the Philokalia). At the highest level of world transcendence is
hesychasm Hesychasm () is a mystical tradition of contemplative prayer in the Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, officially the Orthodox Catholic Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, second-large ...
which culminates into the Vision of God.


Orbis Catholicus

''Orbis Catholicus'' is a Latin phrase meaning ''Catholic world'', per the expression
Urbi et Orbi ''Urbi et Orbi'' ('to the city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd edition. London: Rou ...
, and refers to that area of
Christendom Christendom historically refers to the "Christian world": Christian state A Christian state is a country that recognizes a form of Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the ...
under
papal supremacy Papal supremacy is the doctrine Doctrine (from la, doctrina, meaning "teaching, instruction") is a codification of beliefs or a body of teachings or instructions, taught principles or positions, as the essence of teachings in a given branch ...
. It is somewhat similar to the phrases secular world, Jewish world and
Islamic world The terms Muslim world and Islamic world commonly refer to the Islamic Islam (; ar, اَلْإِسْلَامُ, al-’Islām, "submission o God Oh God may refer to: * An exclamation; similar to "oh no", "oh yes", "oh my", "aw goodne ...
.


Islam

In Islam, the term "dunya" is used for the world. Its meaning is derived from the root word "dana", a term for "near". It is mainly associated with the temporal, sensory world and earthly concerns, i.e. with ''this world'' in contrast to the ''spiritual world''. Some religious teachings warn of our tendency to seek happiness in ''this world'' and advise a more ascetic lifestyle concerned with the afterlife. But other strands in Islam recommend a balanced approach.


Mandaeism

In
Mandaean cosmology Mandaean cosmology is the Gnostic Gnosticism (from grc, γνωστικός, gnōstikós, , 'having knowledge') is a collection of religious ideas and systems which coalesced in the late 1st century AD among Jewish Jews ( he, יְהו ...
, the world or earthly realm is known as
Tibil In Mandaean cosmology, Tibil ( myz, ࡕࡉࡁࡉࡋ) is the Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and isla ...
. It is separated from the World of Light (''alma d-nhūra'') above and the World of Darkness (''alma d-hšuka'') below by ''ayar'' (
aetherAether, æther or ether may refer to: Metaphysics and mythology * Aether (classical element), the material supposed to fill the region of the universe above the terrestrial sphere * Aether (mythology), the personification of the "upper sky", spac ...
).


Hinduism

Hinduism constitutes a wide family of religious-philosophical views. These views present different perspectives on the nature and role of the world.
Samkhya ''Samkhya'' ( sa, साङ्ख्य, IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation of Brahmic family, Indic scripts as employed by Sanskrit and re ...
philosophy, for example, is a metaphysical dualism that understands reality as comprising two parts:
purusha ''Purusha'' (' or ) is a complex concept whose meaning evolved in Vedic FIle:Atharva-Veda samhita page 471 illustration.png, upright=1.2, The Vedas are ancient Sanskrit texts of Hinduism. Above: A page from the ''Atharvaveda''. The Vedas (, , ...
and prakriti. The term "purusha" stands for the individual conscious self that each of us possesses. Prakriti, on the other hand, is the one world inhabited by all these selves. Samkhya understands this world as a world of matter governed by the law of cause and effect. The term "matter" is understood in a very wide sense in this tradition including both physical and mental aspects. This is reflected in the doctrine of
tattva According to various India India, officially the Republic of India (: ), is a country in . It is the by area, the country, and the most populous in the world. Bounded by the on the south, the on the southwest, and the on the south ...

tattva
s, according to which prakriti is made up of 23 different principles or elements of reality. These principles include both physical elements, like water or earth, and mental aspects, like intelligence or sense-impressions. The relation between purusha and prakriti is usually conceived as one of mere observation: purusha is the conscious self aware of the world of prakriti but does not causally interact with it. A very different conception of the world is present in
Advaita Vedanta ''Advaita Vedānta'' (; sa, अद्वैत वेदान्त, IAST The International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration (IAST) is a transliteration scheme that allows the lossless romanisation Romanization or romanisation, ...
, the monist school among the
Vedanta ''Vedanta'' (; sa, वेदान्त, ), also ''Uttara Mīmāṃsā'', is one of the six (''āstika'') schools of Hindu philosophy Hindu philosophy encompasses the philosophies, world views and teachings of Hinduism Hindui ...
schools. Unlike the realist position defended in Samkhya philosophy, Advaita Vedanta sees the world of multiplicity as an illusion, referred to as
Maya Maya may refer to: Civilizations * Maya peoples The Maya peoples () are an ethnolinguistic group of indigenous peoples Indigenous peoples, also referred to as First people, Aboriginal people, Native people, or autochthonous people, are cu ...
. This illusion also includes our impression of existing as separate experiencing selfs called
Jiva In Hinduism Hinduism () is an and ', or way of life. It is the , with over 1.2 billion followers, or 15–16% of the global population, known as . The word ' is an , and while Hinduism has been called the oldest religion in the world, ...

Jiva
s. Instead, Advaita Vedanta teaches that on the most fundamental level of reality, referred to as
Brahman In Hinduism, ''Brahman'' ( sa, ब्रह्म) connotes the highest universal principle, the ultimate reality ''Ultimate reality'' is "something that is the supreme, final, and fundamental power in all reality". Buddhism In Theravada ...

Brahman
, there exists no plurality or difference. All there is is one all-encompassing self:
Atman Atman may refer to: Religion * Ātman (Jainism), a philosophical term used within Jainism to identify the soul * Ātman (Hinduism) ''Ātman'' (; sa, आत्मन्) is a Sanskrit Sanskrit (, attributively , ''saṃskṛta-'', nominaliz ...
. Ignorance is seen as the source of this illusion, which results in bondage to the world of mere appearances. But liberation is possible in the course of overcoming this illusion by acquiring the knowledge of Brahman, according to Advaita Vedanta.


Related terms and problems


Worldviews

A ''worldview'' is a comprehensive representation of the world and our place in it. As a representation, it is a subjective perspective of the world and thereby different from the world it represents. All higher animals need to represent their environment in some way in order to navigate it. But it has been argued that only humans possess a representation encompassing enough to merit the term "worldview". Philosophers of worldviews commonly hold that the understanding of any object depends on a worldview constituting the background on which this understanding can take place. This may affect not just our intellectual understanding of the object in question but the experience of it in general. It is therefore impossible to assess one's worldview from a neutral perspective since this assessment already presupposes the worldview as its background. Some hold that each worldview is based on a single hypothesis that promises to solve all the problems of our existence we may encounter. On this interpretation, the term is closely associated to the worldviews given by different religions. Worldviews offer orientation not just in theoretical matters but also in practical matters. For this reason, they usually include answers to the question of the meaning of life and other evaluative components about what matters and how we should act. A worldview can be unique to one individual but worldviews are usually shared by many people within a certain culture or religion.


Paradox of many worlds

The idea that there exist many different worlds is found in various fields. For example, ''Theories of modality'' talk about a plurality of possible worlds and the
many-worlds interpretation The many-worlds interpretation (MWI) is an that asserts that the is , and that there is no . This implies that all outcomes of quantum measurements are physically realized in some "world" or universe. In contrast to some other interpretations ...
of
quantum mechanics Quantum mechanics is a fundamental theory A theory is a reason, rational type of abstraction, abstract thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking is often associated with ...
carries this reference even in its name. Talk of different worlds is also common in everyday language, for example, with reference to the world of music, the world of business, the world of football, the world of experience or the Asian world. But at the same time, worlds are usually defined as all-inclusive totalities. This seems to contradict the very idea of a plurality of worlds since if a world is total and all-inclusive then it cannot have anything outside itself. Understood this way, a world can neither have other worlds besides itself or be part of something bigger. One way to resolve this paradox while holding onto the notion of a plurality of worlds is to restrict the sense in which worlds are totalities. On this view, worlds are not totalities in an absolute sense. This might be even understood in the sense that, strictly speaking, there are no worlds at all. Another approach understands worlds in a schematic sense: as context-dependent expressions that stand for the current domain of discourse. So in the expression "Around the World in Eighty Days", the term "world" refers to the earth while in the expression "the New World" it refers to the landmass of North and South America.


Cosmogony

''Cosmogony'' is the field that studies the origin or creation of the world. This includes both scientific cosmogony and creation myths found in various religions. The dominant theory in scientific cosmogony is the
Big Bang theory The Big Bang theory A theory is a reason, rational type of abstraction, abstract thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking is often associated with such processes as obs ...
, according to which both space, time and matter have their origin in one initial singularity occurring about 13.8 billion years ago. This singularity was followed by an expansion that allowed the universe to sufficiently cool down for the formation of subatomic particles and later atoms. These initial elements formed giant clouds, which would then coalesce into stars and galaxies. Non-scientific creation myths are found in many cultures and are often enacted in rituals expressing their symbolic meaning. They can be categorized concerning their contents. Types often found include creation from nothing, from chaos or from a cosmic egg.


Eschatology

''Eschatology'' refers to the science or doctrine of the last things or of the end of the world. It is traditionally associated with religion, specifically with the
Abrahamic religions The Abrahamic religions, also referred to collectively as the world of Abrahamism and Semitic religions, are a group of -originated s that claim descent from the of the ancient and the worship of the . The Abrahamic religions are , with the t ...

Abrahamic religions
. In this form, it may include teachings both of the end of each individual human life and of the end of the world as a whole. But it has been applied to other fields as well, for example, in the form of ''physical Eschatology'', which includes scientifically based speculations about the far future of the universe. According to some models, there will be a
Big Crunch The Big Crunch is a hypothetical scenario for the ultimate fate of the universe The ultimate fate of the universe is a topic in physical cosmology Physical cosmology is a branch of cosmology concerned with the study of cosmological models. ...

Big Crunch
in which the whole universe collapses back into a singularity, possibly resulting in a second
Big Bang The Big Bang is the prevailing of the from the through its subsequent large-scale evolution. The model describes how the from an initial state of high and , and offers a comprehensive explanation for a broad range of observed phenomen ...

Big Bang
afterward. But current astronomical evidence seems to suggest that our universe will continue to expand indefinitely.


World history

''World history'' studies the world from a historical perspective. Unlike other approaches to history, it employs a global viewpoint. It deals less with individual nations and civilizations, which it usually approaches at a high level of abstraction. Instead, it concentrates on wider regions and zones of interaction, often interested in how people, goods and ideas move from one region to another. It includes comparisons of different societies and civilizations as well as considering wide-ranging developments with a long-term global impact like the process of industrialization. Contemporary world history is dominated by three main research paradigms determining the periodization into different epochs. One is based on productive relations between humans and nature. The two most important changes in history in this respect were the introduction of agriculture and husbandry concerning the production of food, which started around 10,000 to 8,000 BCE and is sometimes termed the
Neolithic revolution The Neolithic Revolution, or the (First) Agricultural Revolution, was the wide-scale transition of many human culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior Social behavior is behavior Behavior (Ameri ...
, and the
industrial revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe Continental Europe or mainland Europe is the contiguous continent A continent is any of several large landmasse ...
, which started around 1760 CE and involved the transition from manual to industrial manufacturing. Another paradigm, focusing on culture and religion instead, is based on
Karl Jaspers Karl Theodor Jaspers (, ; 23 February 1883 – 26 February 1969) was a German-Swiss psychiatrist and philosopher who had a strong influence on modern theology, psychiatry, and philosophy. After being trained in and practicing psychiatry, Jaspers ...

Karl Jaspers
' theories about the
axial age Axial Age (also Axis Age, from german: Achsenzeit) is a term coined by German German(s) may refer to: Common uses * of or related to Germany * Germans, Germanic ethnic group, citizens of Germany or people of German ancestry * For citizens of G ...
, a time in which various new forms of religious and philosophical thoughts appeared in several separate parts of the world around the time between 800 and 200 BCE. A third periodization is based on the relations between civilizations and societies. According to this paradigm, history can be divided into three periods in relation to the dominant region in the world: Middle Eastern dominance before 500 BCE, Eurasian cultural balance until 1500 CE and Western dominance since 1500 CE.
Big history Big History is an academic discipline which examines history History (from Greek , ''historia'', meaning "inquiry; knowledge acquired by investigation") is the study of the past. Events occurring before the invention of writing systems ar ...
employs an even wider framework than ''world history'' by putting human history into the context of the history of the universe as a whole. It starts with the
Big Bang The Big Bang is the prevailing of the from the through its subsequent large-scale evolution. The model describes how the from an initial state of high and , and offers a comprehensive explanation for a broad range of observed phenomen ...

Big Bang
and traces the formation of galaxies, the solar system, the earth, its geological eras, the evolution of life and humans until the present day.


World politics

''World politics'', also referred to as
global politics Global means of or referring to a globe A globe is a spherical physical model, model of Earth, of some other astronomical object, celestial body, or of the celestial sphere. Globes serve purposes similar to some maps, but unlike maps, do not dis ...
or
international relations International relations (IR), international affairs (IA) or international studies (IS) is the scientific study of interactions between sovereign states. In a broader sense, it concerns all activities between states—such as war, diplomacy ...
, is the discipline of political science studying issues of interest to the world that transcend nations and continents. It aims to explain complex patterns found in the social world that are often related to the pursuit of power, order and justice, usually in the context of
globalization Globalization, or globalisation (Commonwealth English The use of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which ha ...

globalization
. It focuses not just on the relations between nation-states but also considers other transnational actors, like multinational corporations, terrorist groups, or non-governmental organizations. For example, it tries to explain events like 9/11, the 2003 war in Iraq or the
financial crisis of 2007–2008 The financial crisis of 2007–2008, or global financial crisis (GFC), was a severe worldwide economic crisis An economy (from Greek οίκος – "household" and νέμoμαι – "manage") is an area of the production, distribution and t ...
. Various theories have been proposed in order to deal with the complexity involved in formulating such explanations. These theories are sometimes divided into realism, liberalism and constructivism. ''Realists'' see nation-states as the main actors in world politics. They constitute an anarchical international system without any overarching power to control their behavior. They are seen as sovereign agents that, determined by human nature, act according to their national self-interest. Military force may play an important role in the ensuing struggle for power between states, but diplomacy and cooperation are also key mechanisms for nations to achieve their goals. ''Liberalists'' acknowledge the importance of states but they also emphasize the role of transnational actors, like the
United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization An intergovernmental organization (IGO) is an organization composed primarily of sovereign states (referred to as ''member states''), or of other organizations through formal ...

United Nations
or the
World Trade Organization The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization that regulates and facilitates international trade between nations. Governments use the organization to establish, revise, and enforce the rules that govern international ...
. They see humans as perfectible and stress the role of democracy in this process. The emergent order in world politics, on this perspective, is more complex than a mere balance of power since more different agents and interests are involved in its production. ''Constructivism'' ascribes more importance to the agency of individual humans than realism and liberalism. It understands the social world as a construction of the people living in it. This leads to an emphasis on the possibility of change. If the international system is an anarchy of nation-states, as the realists hold, then this is only so because we made it this way and may well change since this is not prefigured by human nature, according to the constructivists.


See also

*
Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbour and support life. 29.2% of Earth's surface is land consisting of continents and islands. The remaining 70.8% is Water distribution on Earth, covered wi ...

Earth
*
Globe A globe is a spherical physical model, model of Earth, of some other astronomical object, celestial body, or of the celestial sphere. Globes serve purposes similar to maps, but unlike maps, they do not distort the surface that they portray except ...

Globe
*
List of sovereign states The following is a list providing an overview of sovereign state A sovereign state is a polity, political entity represented by one centralized government that has sovereignty over a geographic area. International law defines sovereign s ...
*
Universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological description of the development ...

Universe
*
World map A world map is a map A map is a symbol A symbol is a mark, sign, or that indicates, signifies, or is understood as representing an , , or . Symbols allow people to go beyond what is n or seen by creating linkages between otherw ...

World map


References


External links


World
''
The World Factbook ''The World Factbook'', also known as the ''CIA World Factbook'', is a reference resource produced by the Central Intelligence Agency The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA; ), known informally as the Agency and the Company, is a civilian ...
''.
Central Intelligence Agency The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA; ), known informally as the Agency and the Company, is a civilian foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States The federal government of the United States (U.S. fed ...
. * {{Authority control Ontology Earth