The search for a coherent worldview

As the world turns its attention to COVID-19, a surprising resource has com back onto the table—that is, the capacity for many people in the world to come to a shared understanding of what is going on. In this case, it is simply: a pandemic is here.

In my reading over the last few years I have encountered authors who share in the act of contributing to a similar shared resource: not just constructing any worldview, but constructing a coherent worldview that explains why the major pieces of the world exist. These authors attempt to offer a worldview of sense, beauty and kindness. They teach people how to interpret the world. In particular, they take aspects of the world that remain mysterious to common sensibilities and they tell a story that explains the shape of that part of the world. Carl Jung offers explanations of the unity of psychology, anthropology and history. Hendrik Willem van Loon explains to me history and art. William Rees-Mogg explains economics and power. Armed with these unities, the world can make sense again.

Sense: this under-appreciated resource becomes so precious in times of chaos. What is going on? What should people do? The market for coherent worldviews is overrun with profiteers and power-mongers. But when things are truly high stakes, it is revealed once again that there are fundamentals that remain in place, fundamentals that people can learn from and pay attention to. The world can make sense. You just have to take a stab at the complicated jigsaw puzzle that it has become.

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