The world is the planet
Earth and all life upon it, including human
civilization. In a philosophical context, the "world" is the whole
of the physical Universe, or an ontological world (the "world" of an
individual). In a theological context, the world is the material or
the profane sphere, as opposed to the celestial, spiritual,
transcendent or sacred. The "end of the world" refers to scenarios of
the final end of human history, often in religious contexts.
History of the world
History of the world is commonly understood as spanning the major
geopolitical developments of about five millennia, from the first
civilizations to the present. In terms such as world religion, world
language, world government, and world war, world suggests
international or intercontinental scope without necessarily implying
participation of the entire world.
World population is the sum of all human populations at any time;
similarly, world economy is the sum of the economies of all societies
or countries, especially in the context of globalization. Terms like
world championship, gross world product, world flags imply the sum or
combination of all current-day sovereign states.
1 Etymology and usage
3 Religion and mythology
3.2.1 Eastern Christianity
3.2.2 Orbis Catholicus
4 See also
6 External links
Etymology and usage
The English word world comes from the
Old English weorold (-uld),
weorld, worold (-uld, -eld), a compound of wer "man" and eld "age,"
which thus means roughly "Age of Man." The
Old English is a reflex
Common Germanic *wira-alđiz, also reflected in Old Saxon
Old Dutch werilt,
Old High German
Old High German weralt,
Old Frisian warld
Old Norse verǫld (whence the Icelandic veröld).
The corresponding word in
Latin is mundus, literally "clean, elegant",
itself a loan translation of Greek cosmos "orderly arrangement." While
the Germanic word thus reflects a mythological notion of a "domain of
Man" (compare Midgard), presumably as opposed to the divine sphere on
the one hand and the chthonic sphere of the underworld on the other,
Latin term expresses a notion of creation as an act of
establishing order out of chaos.
'World' distinguishes the entire planet or population from any
particular country or region: world affairs pertain not just to one
place but to the whole world, and world history is a field of history
that examines events from a global (rather than a national or a
regional) perspective. Earth, on the other hand, refers to the planet
as a physical entity, and distinguishes it from other planets and
'World' was also classically used to mean the material universe, or
the cosmos: "The worlde is an apte frame of heauen and earthe, and all
other naturall thinges contained in them."  The earth was often
described as 'the center of the world'.
'World' can also be used attributively, to mean 'global', 'relating to
the whole world', forming usages such as world community or world
By extension, a 'world' may refer to any planet or heavenly body,
especially when it is thought of as inhabited, especially in the
context of science fiction or futurology.
'World', in its original sense, when qualified, can also refer to a
particular domain of human experience.
The world of work describes paid work and the pursuit of a career, in
all its social aspects, to distinguish it from home life and academic
The fashion world describes the environment of the designers, fashion
houses and consumers that make up the fashion industry.
New World vs. the Old World, referring to the parts
of the world colonized in the wake of the age of discovery. Now mostly
used in zoology and botany, as in
New World monkey.
The Garden of Earthly Delights
The Garden of Earthly Delights triptych by
Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1503)
shows the "garden" of mundane pleasures flanked by
Paradise and Hell.
The exterior panel shows the world before the appearance of humanity,
depicted as a disc enclosed in a sphere.
In philosophy, the term world has several possible meanings. In some
contexts, it refers to everything that makes up reality or the
physical universe. In others, it can mean have a specific ontological
sense (see world disclosure). While clarifying the concept of world
has arguably always been among the basic tasks of Western philosophy,
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
The traditional interpretation of Parmenides' work is that he argued
that the everyday perception of reality of the physical world (as
described in doxa) is mistaken, and that the reality of the world is
'One Being' (as described in aletheia): an unchanging, ungenerated,
In his Allegory of the Cave,
Plato distinguishes between forms and
ideas and imagines two distinct worlds: the sensible world and the
In Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel's philosophy of history, the
expression Weltgeschichte ist Weltgericht (
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
The World as Will and Representation
The World as Will and Representation is the central work of Arthur
Schopenhauer. 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
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 in his influential Tractatus
Logico-Philosophicus, first published in 1921. This definition
would serve as the basis of logical positivism, 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
Martin Heidegger, 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" was most
notably elaborated in his 1927 work Being and Time.
Sigmund Freud proposed that we do not move about in a
common world, but a common thought process. He believed that all the
actions of a person are motivated by one thing: lust. This led to
numerous theories about reactionary consciousness.
Some philosophers, often inspired by David Lewis, argue that
metaphysical concepts such as possibility, probability, and necessity
are best analyzed by comparing the world to a range of possible
worlds; a view commonly known as modal realism.
Religion and mythology
Yggdrasil, a modern attempt to reconstruct the Norse world tree which
connects the heavens, the world, and the underworld.
Mythological cosmologies often depict the world as centered on an axis
mundi and delimited by a boundary such as a world ocean, 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.
In Buddhism, the world means society, as distinct from the 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, and changes would be sought in what we could call the
In Christianity, the term often connotes the concept of the fallen and
corrupt world order of human society, in contrast to the
Come. The world is frequently cited alongside the flesh and the Devil
as a source of temptation that Christians should flee. Monks speak of
striving to be "in this world, but not of this world"—as 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 of England (d.
899) in his famous Preface to the Cura Pastoralis:
"Therefore I command you to do as I believe you are willing to do,
that you free yourself from worldly affairs (Old English:
woruldðinga) as often as you can, so that wherever you can establish
that wisdom that God gave you, you establish it. Consider what
punishments befell us in this world when we neither loved wisdom at
all ourselves, nor transmitted it to other men; we had the name alone
that we were Christians, and very few had the practices."
Although Hebrew and Greek words meaning "world" are used in Scripture
with the normal variety of senses, many examples of its use in this
particular sense can be found in the teachings of
Jesus according to
the Gospel of John, e.g. 7:7, 8:23, 12:25, 14:17, 15:18-19, 17:6-25,
18:36. For contrast, a relatively newer concept is Catholic
Contemptus mundi is the name given to the recognition 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 criticized as a "pastoral of fear" by modern historian Jean
During the Second Vatican Council, 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, Lumen
Unitatis redintegratio and Dignitatis humanae.
In Eastern Christian monasticism or asceticism, 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, and the most seminal ascetic works read most widely by
Eastern Christians, the
Philokalia and the Ladder of Divine Ascent
(the works of Evagrius and
John Climacus are also contained within the
Philokalia). At the highest level of world transcendence is hesychasm
which culminates into the Vision of God.
Orbis Catholicus is a
Latin phrase meaning Catholic world, per the
expression Urbi et Orbi, and refers to that area of
papal supremacy. It is somewhat similar to the phrases secular world,
Jewish world and Islamic world.
Main article: Dunya
Dunya derives from the root word "dana" that means to bring near. In
that sense, "dunya" is "what is brought near".[page needed]
List of sovereign states
^ Merriam-webster.com Archived 2009-04-23 at the Wayback Machine.
^ American Heritage Dictionary Archived 2008-05-12 at the Wayback
^ Orel, Vladimir (2003). A Handbook of Germanic Etymology Leiden:
Brill. pg. 462. ISBN 90-04-12875-1.
^ Record, R (1556). Castle of Knowledge. cited in The Oxford
English Dictionary. World, sense 8. (Subscription required
^ e.g. Sacrobosco (1230). Treatise on the Sphere. trans by Lynn
Thorndike, 1949. Archived from the original on 2013-05-19.
World Canonical Texts
^ Heidegger, Martin (1982). Basic Problems of Phenomenology.
Bloomington: Indiana University Press. p. 165.
ISBN 0-253-17686-7. .
^ Biletzki, Anat; Matar, Anat (3 March 2014). Zalta, Edward N., ed.
"Ludwig Wittgenstein". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2016
ed.). Retrieved 3 December 2017.
^ Heidegger (1982), p. 164.
Contemptus mundi Archived 2011-07-08 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Parish Missions Archived 2011-06-05 at the Wayback Machine.
^ Attas, Islam and Secularism, p.
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