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It has been argued from world view theory that fundamental beliefs about the world exert a powerful influence on how sense is made of events in the world. However, the nature of that influence has remained enigmatic. Hannah Arendt's distinction between thinking and comprehension, and knowing and apprehension provides a clarification. Thinking is the epistemological path to conceptual comprehension. Knowing is the metaphysical path to apprehension - to the acceptance of a concept as true or valid. Comprehension does not necessitate apprehension. One may reject a fully understood concept. The recent discussion in science education about world view is essentially a discussion about metaphysics. The importance to educational practice is this. Science educators are often at a loss to understand why some students fail to develop orthodox scientific conceptions even after the best of instruction. The argument from world view is that in some cases, it is not that the students fail to understand what is being taught (comprehension). They simply do not believe (apprehension). There are, thus, occasions when the careful epistemological explication of a concept is not sufficient to bring about learning. Instruction must also include a discussion of the metaphysical foundations that support epistemology.


SLCSP Paper # 106

Published Citation

Cobern, William W. "World View, Metaphysics, and Epistemology." National Association for Research in Science Teaching. Atlanta, GA. April 1993.