Invited_talk abstract details

Constructing Worlds: Cosmovisions as Integral Parts of Human Ecosystems
Michael A. Rappenglück


Archaeological and ethnological records worldwide give evidence that cosmovisions played an important role in the life of man since Palaeolithic epochs. There seem to be basic human needs for organizing the world into a meaningful system of related parts, integrating and orientating man within changing human ecosystems. Parallel to the reduction of instincts man developed cultural systems to establish and maintain order and rhythm in personal and social life interacting with given environmental conditions. These structures were also useful to answer fundamental human questions about the whys and wherefores of man and the world. Cosmovisions evidently are an integral part of human ecosystems, based on changing cognitive and pragmatic conditions and abilities of man, bringing together the physiotope and the biotic factors. They allowed ancient cultures to construct worlds, which offered both a structured and stabilized habitat – a cosmos – and support for transitions from one habitat to another one, going through chaotic phases. Cosmovisions can be considered as holistic, multi-layered models of evolving human ecosystems, which make processes more understandable and domesticate the world using symbolic language. Using an interdisciplinary approach the talk summarizes the main elements and classes of cosmovisions in different cultures across the world and throughout the epochs, considering some selected world-concepts: cave, mountain, house, tree, animal, man, vessel, and landscape. The relations of cosmovisions to human ecosystems and the structure of the human mind are analyzed. Finally it is queried whether elements of archaic cosmovisions survived today and if so, why.