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In its most general sense, the term "world" refers to the totality of entities, to the whole of
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 of things, indicating their existence. In ...
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: Art * Phenomenology (architecture), based on the experience of building materials and their sensory properties Philosophy * Phenomenology (philosophy), a branch of philosophy which studies subjective experiences and a ...
'', 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 philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often ...
'', 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 Divinity, divine and, more broadly, of religious belief. It is taught as an Discipline (academia), academic discipline, typically in universities and seminaries. It occupies itself with the ...
'' 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 usually defined as 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, prophecie ...
'', 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 A worldview or world-view or ''Weltanschauung'' is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the whole of the individual's or society's knowledge, culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompas ...
''. ''
Cosmogony Cosmogony is any model concerning the origin of the cosmos or the universe. Overview Scientific theories In astronomy, cosmogony refers to the study of the origin of particular astrophysical objects or systems, and is most commonly used i ...
'' is the field that studies the origin or creation of the world while ''
eschatology Eschatology (; ) concerns expectations of the end of the Contemporary era, present age, human history, or of the world itself. The end of the world or end times is predicted by several world religions (both Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic and ...
'' 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 harbor life. While large list of largest lakes and seas in the Solar System, volumes of water can be found throughout the Solar System, only water distributi ...
and all life on it, with humanity as a whole or with an international or intercontinental scope. In this sense, '' world history'' refers to the history of humanity as a whole or ''
world politics The terms "world politics" or "global politics" may refer to: *Geopolitics, the study of the effects of geography on politics and International Relations (IR) *Global politics, a discipline of political science which focuses on political globalizati ...
'' 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 Religious studies, study of religion to demarcate the five—and in some cases more—largest and most internationally widespread religious movements. Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam ...
", "
world language In sociolinguistics Sociolinguistics is the descriptive study of the effect of any or all aspects of society, including cultural Norm (sociology), norms, expectations, and context (language use), context, on the way language is used, and societ ...
", "
world government World government is the concept of a single political authority with jurisdiction over all humanity. It is conceived in a variety of forms, from tyrannical to democratic, which reflects its wide array of proponents and detractors. A world gove ...
", "
world war A world war is an international conflict which involves all or most of the world's major powers. Conventionally, the term is reserved for two major international conflicts that occurred during the first half of the 20th century, World WarI (1914 ...
", "
world population In demographics, the world population is the total number of humans currently living. It was estimated by the United Nations to have exceeded 8 billion in November 2022. It took over 200,000 years of human prehistory and human history, ...
", "
world economy The world economy or 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, ...
".


Etymology

The 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 worl ...
'' comes from the
Old English Old English (, ), or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest recorded form of the English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language of the Indo-European language family, with its earliest forms spoken by the inhabita ...
. The Old English is a reflex of the
Common Germanic Proto-Germanic (abbreviated PGmc; also called Common Germanic) is the linguistic reconstruction, reconstructed proto-language of the Germanic languages, Germanic branch of the Indo-European languages. Proto-Germanic eventually developed from ...
''*'', a compound of 'man' and 'age', thus literally meaning roughly 'age of man'; this word also led to
Old Frisian Old Frisian was a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language spoken between the 8th and 16th centuries along the North Sea coast, roughly between the mouths of the Rhine and Weser rivers. The Frisian settlers on the coast of South Jutland ...
,
Old Saxon Old Saxon, also known as Old Low German, was a Germanic language and the earliest recorded form of Low German (spoken nowadays in Northern Germany Northern Germany (german: link=no, Norddeutschland) is a linguistic, geographic, socio-cultura ...
,
Old Dutch In linguistics, Old Dutch (Dutch: Oudnederlands) or Old Low Franconian (Dutch: Oudnederfrankisch) is the set of Franconian languages, Franconian dialects (i.e. dialects that evolved from Frankish language, Frankish) spoken in the Low Countries ...
,
Old High German Old High German (OHG; german: Althochdeutsch (Ahd.)) 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 Old High ...
, and
Old Norse Old Norse, Old Nordic, or Old Scandinavian, is a stage of development of North Germanic languages, North Germanic dialects before their final divergence into separate Nordic languages. Old Norse was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and t ...
. The corresponding word in
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as Latium) around present-day Rome, but through ...
is , literally 'clean, elegant', itself a loan translation of Greek ''
cosmos The cosmos (, ) is another name for the Universe. Using the word ''cosmos'' implies viewing the universe as a complex and orderly system or entity. The cosmos, and understandings of the reasons for its existence and significance, are studied in ...
'' 'orderly arrangement'. While the Germanic word thus reflects a mythological notion of a "domain of Man" (compare
Midgard In Germanic cosmology, Midgard (an anglicised form of Old Norse language, Old Norse ; Old English , Old Saxon , Old High German , and Gothic language, Gothic ''Midjun-gards''; "middle yard", "middle enclosure") is the name for Earth (equivalent ...
), presumably as opposed to the divine sphere on the one hand and the
chthonic The word chthonic (), or chthonian, is derived from the Ancient Greek word ''χθών, "khthon"'', meaning earth or soil. It translates more directly from χθόνιος or "in, under, or beneath the earth" which can be differentiated from Γῆ ...
sphere of the underworld on the other, the Greco-Latin term expresses a notion of
creation Creation may refer to: Religion *''Creatio ex nihilo'', the concept that matter was created by God out of nothing *Creation myth, a religious story of the origin of the world and how people first came to inhabit it *Creationism, the belief that ...
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), Cha ...
.


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 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 cosmology, cosmological description of the development of ...
" and "
cosmos The cosmos (, ) is another name for the Universe. Using the word ''cosmos'' implies viewing the universe as a complex and orderly system or entity. The cosmos, and understandings of the reasons for its existence and significance, are studied in ...
" 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 physics, spacetime is a mathematical model that combines the three-dimensional space, three dimensions of space and one dimension of time into a single four-dimensional manifold. Minkowski diagram, Spacetime diagrams can be used to visualize S ...
. This can be seen in
special relativity In physics, the special theory of relativity, or special relativity for short, is a scientific theory regarding the relationship between Spacetime, space and time. In Albert Einstein's original treatment, the theory is based on two Postulates of ...
in relation to the
Minkowski metric In mathematical physics, Minkowski space (or Minkowski spacetime) () is a combination of Three-dimensional space, three-dimensional Euclidean space and time into a four-dimensional manifold where the spacetime interval between any two Event (rel ...
, which includes both spatial and temporal components in its definition of distance.
General relativity General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity and Einstein's theory of gravity, is the differential geometry, geometric scientific theory, theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1915 and is the current descr ...
goes one step further by integrating the concept of
mass Mass is an Intrinsic and extrinsic properties, intrinsic property of a body. It was traditionally believed to be related to the physical quantity, quantity of matter in a Physical object, physical body, until the discovery of the atom and par ...
into the concept of spacetime as its curvature. Quantum cosmology, 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 ...
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 Possible Worlds may refer to: * Possible worlds, concept in philosophy * ''Possible Worlds'' (play), 1990 play by John Mighton ** ''Possible Worlds'' (film), 2000 film by Robert Lepage, based on the play * Possible Worlds (studio) * ''Possible W ...
. 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 affairs In philosophy, a state of affairs (german: Sachverhalt), also known as a situation, is a way the actual world must be in order to make some given ''proposition'' about the actual world true; in other words, a state of affairs is a ''truth-maker'', ...
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 Lewis, 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: Art * Phenomenology (architecture), based on the experience of building materials and their sensory properties Philosophy * Phenomenology (philosophy), a branch of philosophy which studies subjective experiences and a ...
'', 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 philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence, reason, knowledge, values, mind, and language. Such questions are often ...
, 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 Philosophy, philosopher and one of the central Age of Enlightenment, Enlightenment thinkers. Born in Königsberg, Kant's comprehensive and systematic works in epistemolo ...
's
transcendental idealism Transcendental idealism is a philosophical system founded by German philosophy, philosopher Immanuel Kant in the 18th century. Kant's Epistemology, epistemological program is found throughout his ''Critique of Pure Reason'' (1781). By ''transcend ...
, 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 Subjective idealism, or empirical idealism, is a form of philosophical monism that holds that only minds and mental contents exist. It entails and is generally identified or associated with immaterialism, the doctrine that material things do ...
, 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 in which God is characterized as the absolutely metaphysically ultimate being, in contrast to other conceptions such as pantheism, panentheism, polytheism, deism and Process theology, process theism. Classical ...
'' 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 the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally a dialect spoken in the lower Tiber area (then known as ...
'' 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 stat ...
'', 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 language, Greek grc, πᾶν, pân, all, label=none, grc, ἐν, en, in, label=none and grc, Θεός, Theós, God, label=none) is the belief that the Divinity, divine intersects every part of Univers ...
'' 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 ther ...
'', 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 Object of the mind, imaginary. The term is also used to refer to the ontological status of things, indicating their existence. In ...
or the physical
universe The universe 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 cosmology, cosmological description of the development of ...
. In others, it can mean have a specific
ontological In metaphysics, ontology is the philosophy, philosophical study of being, as well as related concepts such as existence, Becoming (philosophy), becoming, and reality. Ontology addresses questions like how entities are grouped into Category ...
sense (see
world disclosure World 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 ''world'' – i.e., a pre-interpreted a ...
). While clarifying the
concept Concepts are defined as abstract ideas. They are understood to be the fundamental building blocks of the concept behind principles, thoughts and beliefs. They play an important role in all aspects of cognition. As such, concepts are studied by sev ...
of world has arguably always been among the basic tasks of
Western philosophy Western philosophy encompasses the philosophy, philosophical thought and work of the Western world. Historically, the term refers to the philosophical thinking of Western culture, beginning with the ancient Greek philosophy of the Pre-Socratic p ...
, 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 from Elea in Magna Graecia. Parmenides was born in the Greek colony of Elea, from a wealthy and illustrious family. His date ...
' work is that he argued that the everyday perception of reality of the physical world (as described in ''
doxa Doxa (; from verb ) Liddell, Henry George, and Robert Scott. 1940.δοκέω" In ''A Greek-English Lexicon A, or a, is the first Letter (alphabet), letter and the first vowel of the Latin alphabet, Latin alphabet, used in the English alph ...
'') 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 a Greeks, Greek philosopher born in Athens during the Classical Greece, Classical period in Ancient Greece. He founded the Platonist school of thou ...
'' is well known for his
theory of forms The theory of Forms or theory of Ideas is a philosophical theory, fuzzy concept, or world-view, attributed to Plato, that the physical world is not as real or true as timeless, absolute, unchangeable ideas. According to this theory, ideas in thi ...
, 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 The Allegory of the Cave, or Plato's Cave, is an allegory presented by the Greek philosopher Plato in his work '' Republic'' (514a–520a) to compare "the effect of education ( παιδεία) and the lack of it on our nature". It is writt ...
, 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 philosopher. He is one of the most important figures in German idealism and one of the founding figures of 19th century philosophy, modern Western philosophy. ...
's
philosophy of history Philosophy of history is the philosophy, philosophical study of history and its academic discipline, discipline. The term was coined by French philosopher Voltaire. In contemporary philosophy a distinction has developed between ''speculative'' p ...
, 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''), sometimes translated as ''The World as Will and Idea'', is the central work of the List of German-language philosophers, German philosopher A ...
'' is the central work of
Arthur Schopenhauer Arthur Schopenhauer ( , ; 22 February 1788 – 21 September 1860) was a German philosopher. He is best known for his 1818 work ''The World as Will and Representation'' (expanded in 1844), which characterizes the Phenomenon, phenomenal world ...
. 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 Austrians, Austrian-British people, British philosopher who worked primarily in logic, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of mind, and the philosophy o ...
in his influential ''
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus The ''Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus'' (widely abbreviated and Citation, cited as TLP) is a book-length philosophical work by the Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein which deals with the relationship between language and reality and aims to ...
'', 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, is a movement in Western philosophy whose central thesis was the verification principle (also known as the verifiability criterion ...
, 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 German philosopher who is best known for contributions to Phenomenology (philosophy), phenomenology, hermeneutics, and existentialism. He is among the most important and influential phi ...
, 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 disclosure World 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 ''world'' – i.e., a pre-interpreted a ...
" was most notably elaborated in his 1927 work ''
Being and Time ''Being and Time'' (german: Sein und Zeit) is the 1927 ''magnum opus A masterpiece, ''magnum opus'' (), or ''chef-d’œuvre'' (; ; ) in modern use is a creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the ...
''.


Eugen Fink

"World" is one of the key terms in
Eugen Fink Eugen Fink (11 December 1905 – 25 July 1975) was a German philosopher. Biography Fink was born in 1905 as the son of a government official in Germany. He spent his first school years with an uncle who was a Catholic priest. Fink attended a g ...
'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, known for his work on counterfactuals, mereology, the problem of induction, irrealism, and aesthetics Aesthetics, or esthetics, is a branch of phi ...
'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 (also known as the Heliocentric model) is the astronomical model in which the Earth and planets revolve around the Sun at the center of the universe. Historically, heliocentrism was opposed to Geocentric model, geocentrism, which p ...
and
geocentrism In astronomy, the geocentric model (also known as geocentrism, often exemplified specifically by the Ptolemaic system) is a superseded scientific theories, superseded description of the Universe with Earth at the center. Under most geocentric mo ...
. Goodman terms such descriptions "world versions". He holds a
correspondence theory of truth In metaphysics and philosophy of language, the correspondence theory of truth states that the truth or falsity of a proposition, statement is determined only by how it relates to the world and whether it accurately describes (i.e., corresponds with ...
: 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 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 astronom ...
'' and delimited by a boundary such as a
world ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. While la ...
, 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 ( , ), also known as Buddha Dharma and Dharmavinaya (), is an Indian religions, Indian religion or Indian philosophy#Buddhist philosophy, philosophical tradition based on Pre-sectarian Buddhism, teachings attributed to the Buddha. ...
, 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 Monasticism, monastics, monks or nuns, whether living in Cenobitic monasticism, communities or alone (hermits). A monastery generally includes ...
. 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, 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 ...
, 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 to come, age to come, heaven on Earth, and the Kingdom of God are eschatology, eschatological phrases reflecting the belief that the World (theology), current world or Dispensation (period), current age is flawed or cursed and will be r ...
. The world is frequently cited alongside ''the
flesh Flesh is any aggregation of soft tissue, soft tissue (biology), tissues of an organism. Various multicellular organisms have soft tissues that may be called "flesh". In mammals, including humans, ''flesh'' encompasses muscles, adipose tissue, f ...
'' 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. Jeffrey Burton Russell states that the different conceptions of th ...
'' 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. Sp ...
that Christians should flee.
Monk A monk (, from el, μοναχός, ''monachos'', "single, solitary" via Latin ) is a person who practices religious asceticism by monastic living, either alone or with any number of other monks. A monk may be a person who decides to dedicat ...
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/Aramaic ( AD 30 or 33), also referred to as Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth (among other Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament, names and titles), was ...
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 (alt. Ælfred 848/849 – 26 October 899) was King of the West Saxons from 871 to 886, and King of the Anglo-Saxons from 886 until his death in 899. He was the youngest son of King Æthelwulf, King of Wessex, Æthelwulf and his ...
of England (d. 899) in his famous Preface to the '' Cura Pastoralis'': Although Hebrew and Greek words meaning "world" are used in
Scripture Religious texts, including scripture, are Text (literary theory), texts which various religions consider to be of central importance to their religious tradition. They differ from literature by being a compilation or discussion of beliefs, m ...
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/Aramaic ( AD 30 or 33), also referred to as Jesus Christ or Jesus of Nazareth (among other Names and titles of Jesus in the New Testament, names and titles), was ...
according to the
Gospel of John The Gospel of John ( grc, Εὐαγγέλιον κατὰ Ἰωάννην, translit=Euangélion katà Iōánnēn) is the fourth of the four canonical gospels. It contains a highly schematic account of the ministry of Jesus, with seven "sig ...
, 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 Catholic imagination refers to the Catholic viewpoint that God is present in the whole creation and in human beings, as seen in its sacramental system whereby material things and human beings are channels and sources of God's grace. Etymol ...
. '' 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 Catholic ecumenical councils, ecumenical council of the Roman Catholic Church. The council met in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome for four periods (or sessions) ...
, 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 The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, commonly known as t ...
'', ''
Lumen gentium ''Lumen gentium'', the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, is one of the principal documents of the Second Vatican Council. This dogmatic constitution was promulgated by Pope Paul VI on 21 November 1964, following approval by the assembled bishop ...
'', '' Unitatis redintegratio'' and ''
Dignitatis humanae ''Dignitatis humanae'' (''Of the Dignity of the Human Person'') is the Second Vatican Council The Second Ecumenical Council of the Vatican, commonly known as the , or , was the 21st Catholic ecumenical councils, ecumenical council of the Ro ...
''.


Eastern Christianity

In
Eastern Christian monasticism Eastern Christian Monasticism is the life followed by monks and nuns of the Eastern Orthodox Church, Oriental Orthodoxy, the Church of the East and Eastern Catholicism. Eastern monasticism is founded on the Rule of St Basil and is sometimes th ...
or
asceticism Asceticism (; from the el, Wiktionary:ἄσκησις, ἄσκησις, áskesis, exercise', 'training) is a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from sensual pleasures, often for the purpose of pursuing spiritual goals. Ascetics may withdraw ...
, 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 Evagrius Ponticus ( grc-gre, Εὐάγριος ὁ Ποντικός, Georgian language, Georgian: ევაგრე ქართველი), also called Evagrius the Solitary (345–399 AD), was a Christian monasticism, Christian monk and Chr ...
, and the most seminal ascetic works read most widely by
Eastern Christians Eastern Christianity comprises Christian Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus in the New Testame ...
, the
Philokalia The ''Philokalia'' ( grc, φιλοκαλία, lit=love of the beautiful, from ''philia ''Philia'' (; ), is one of the four ancient Greek words for love: ''philia'', '' storge'', '' agape'' and '' eros''. In Aristotle Aristotle ...
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 Gr ...
(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 r ...
are also contained within the Philokalia). At the highest level of world transcendence is
hesychasm Hesychasm (; Greek: Ησυχασμός) is a contemplative monastic tradition in the Eastern Orthodox Church The Eastern Orthodox Church, also called the Orthodox Church, is the List of Christian denominations by number of members, se ...
which culminates into the
Vision of God A religious experience (sometimes known as a spiritual experience, sacred Sacred describes something that is dedicated or set apart for the service or worship of a deity; is considered worthy of spiritual respect or devotion; or inspires a ...
.


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 human settlement of notable size.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia''. 2nd editio ...
, and refers to that area of
Christendom Christendom historically refers to the Christian states, Christian-majority countries and the countries in which Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus ...
under
papal supremacy Papal supremacy is the doctrine of the Catholic Church that the Pope, by reason of his office as Vicar of Christ, the visible source and foundation of the unity both of the bishops and of the whole company of the faithful, and as pastor of the ...
. 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 community, which is also known as the Ummah. This consists of all those who adhere to the religious beliefs and laws of Islam or to societies in which Islam is practiced. In ...
.


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 conception of the universe in the religion of Mandaeism. Mandaean cosmology is strongly influenced by Jewish mythology, Jewish, Babylonian mythology, Babylonian, Persian mythology, Persian, Egyptian mythology, Egy ...
, the world or earthly realm is known as
Tibil In Mandaean cosmology Mandaean cosmology is the Gnostic conception of the universe in the religion of Mandaeism. Mandaean cosmology is strongly influenced by Jewish mythology, Jewish, Babylonian mythology, Babylonian, Persian mythology, Persian, ...
. It is separated from the World of Light (''alma d-nhūra'') above and the World of Darkness (''alma d-hšuka'') below by ''ayar'' ( aether).


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'' or ''Sankya'' (; Sanskrit सांख्य), IAST: ') is a dualistic school of Indian philosophy. It views reality as composed of two independent principles, '' puruṣa'' (' consciousness' or spirit); and '' prakṛti'', (na ...
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 Vedas, Vedic and Upanishads, Upanishadic times. Depending on source and historical timeline, it means the Macranthropy, cosmic being or self, awareness, and universal principle.Karl ...
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 Indian schools of philosophy, ''tattvas'' () are the Classical element, elements or aspects of reality that constitute human experience. In some traditions, they are conceived as an aspect of deity. Although the number of ' ...
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 Vedanta'' (; sa, अद्वैत वेदान्त, ) is a Hinduism, Hindu sādhanā, a path of spiritual discipline and experience, and the oldest extant tradition of the Āstika and nāstika, orthodox Hindu school Ved ...
, 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 that emerged ...
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, of southern Mexico and northern Central America ** Maya civilization, the historical civilization of the Maya peoples ** Maya language (disambiguation), Maya language, the languages of the Maya peop ...
. This illusion also includes our impression of existing as separate experiencing selfs called
Jiva ''Jiva'' ( sa, जीव, IAST: ) is a living being or any entity imbued with a life force in Hinduism and Jīva (Jainism), Jainism. The word itself originates from the Sanskrit verb-root ''jīv'', which translates as 'to breathe' or 'to live'. ...
s. Instead, Advaita Vedanta teaches that on the most fundamental level of reality, referred to as
Brahman In Hinduism, ''Brahman'' ( sa, ब्रह्मन्) connotes the highest universal principle, the ultimate reality in the universe The universe is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, ga ...
, there exists no plurality or difference. All there is is one all-encompassing self: Atman. 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 interpretation of quantum mechanics that asserts that the universal wavefunction is objectively real, and that there is no wave function collapse. This implies that all possible outcomes of quantum ...
of
quantum mechanics Quantum mechanics is a fundamental Scientific theory, theory in physics that provides a description of the physical properties of nature at the scale of atoms and subatomic particles. It is the foundation of all quantum physics including qua ...
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 colonial expression "the
New World The term ''New World'' is often used to mean the majority of Earth's Western Hemisphere, specifically the Americas."America." ''The Oxford Companion to the English Language'' (). McArthur, Tom, ed., 1992. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 3 ...
" 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 event is a physical theory Theoretical physics is a branch of physics that employs mathematical models and abstractions of physical objects and systems to rationalize, explain and predict List of natural phenomena, natural ...
, 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 are a group of religions centered around worship of the God in Abrahamic religions, God of Abraham. Abraham, a Hebrews , Hebrew patriarch, is extensively mentioned throughout Abrahamic religious scriptures such as the B ...
. 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, whose theoretical restrictions allow possible scenarios for the evolution Evoluti ...
in which the whole universe collapses back into a singularity, possibly resulting in a second
Big Bang The Big Bang event is a physical theory that describes how the Expansion of the universe, universe expanded from an initial state of high Energy density, density and temperature. Various Physical cosmology, cosmological models of the Big Ba ...
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 cultures during the Neolithic period from a lifestyle of hunter-gatherer, hunting and gathering to one of agriculture and sedentism, ...
, and the
industrial revolution The Industrial Revolution was the transition to new manufacturing processes in Great Britain, continental Europe, and the United States, that occurred during the period from around 1760 to about 1820–1840. This transition included going fr ...
, 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 A philosopher is a person who practices or investigates philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the systematized study of ...
' theories about the
axial age Axial Age (also Axis Age, from german: Achsenzeit) is a term coined by German philosopher Karl Jaspers. It refers to broad changes in religious and philosophical thought that occurred in a variety of locations from about the 8th to the 3rd centu ...
, 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 from the Big Bang to the present day, present. Big History resists specialization, and searches for universal patterns or trends. It examines long time frames using a multidiscipli ...
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 event is a physical theory that describes how the Expansion of the universe, universe expanded from an initial state of high Energy density, density and temperature. Various Physical cosmology, cosmological models of the Big Ba ...
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 politics, also known as world politics, names both the discipline that studies the political and economic patterns of the world and the field that is being studied. At the centre of that field are the different processes of political globa ...
or
international relations International relations (IR), sometimes referred to as international studies and international affairs, is the Scientific method, scientific study of interactions between sovereign states. In a broader sense, it concerns all activities betwe ...
, 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; see spelling differences), is the process of interaction and integration among people, companies, and governments worldwide. The term ''globalization'' first appeared in the early 2 ...
. 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 September 11 attacks, commonly known as 9/11, were four coordinated Suicide attack, suicide List of terrorist incidents, terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda against the United States on Tuesday, September 11, 2001. That morning, ...
, the
2003 war in Iraq The 2003 invasion of Iraq was a United States-led invasion of the Ba'athist Iraq, Republic of Iraq and the first stage of the Iraq War. The invasion phase began on 19 March 2003 (air) and 20 March 2003 (ground) and lasted just over one mont ...
or the
financial crisis of 2007–2008 Finance is the study and discipline of money, currency and capital assets. It is related to, but not synonymous with economics, the study of Production (economics), production, Distribution (economics), distribution, and Consumption (economics) ...
. 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 whose stated purposes are to maintain international peace and international security, security, develop friendly relations among nations, achieve international cooperation, and be ...
or the
World Trade Organization The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an intergovernmental organization Globalization is social change associated with increased connectivity among societies and their elements and the explosive evolution of transportation and telecommunica ...
. 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


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 (CIA) with almanac-style information about the countries of the world. The official print version is availab ...
''.
Central Intelligence Agency The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA ), known informally as the Agency and historically as the Company, is a civilian intelligence agency, foreign intelligence service of the federal government of the United States, officially tasked with gat ...
. * {{Authority control Ontology Earth