Our ‘point of view’ is the place from which we view things, which entails our biases, values, beliefs & limitations. While in the process of trying to understand something more fully it is necessary to consider the point of view of all those involved. For this purpose we can divide this concept into three main components: frame of reference, perspective & orientation. In particular, these three modes can assist us in gathering info, in turn allowing us to better evaluate, analyze and integrate a subject or situation. Let’s briefly explain these three aspects of viewing:
Frame of reference can relate to the way we structure and/or contextualize a situation or subject in order to make sense of it. Figuratively speaking it includes the kind of window pane we are looking through. Rosy coloured glasses will impact the way we perceive an object. So for instance, a person who is overly optimistic in their manner of dealing with a problem may overlook things, whereas a person who has a tendency to be moderately sceptical about matters may be better suited for spotting potential pitfalls or negative implications.
Perspective pertains to our particular slant on things; i.e. from what angle do you perceive the situation. For instance, if we are watching a parade on Water Street from a balcony on the second or third floor, our view will likely be more encompassing than from the ground or basement level. Another example might be two people overhear the exact same story but they each recite the event with a different slant. Perhaps the first person adds their own twist while the other unconsciously omits relevant details.
Orientation is related to where the observer is coming from and where they are headed. A person with a career in medicine may not approach the same issue as a person coming from a background in security. As an example let us say that the economy should get really bad and tens of thousands of homeless people started to fill your city streets. How a medical team consisting of various health professionals will address this crises compared to a security team of police officers & combat soldiers will be largely different. The medical team may focus on opening more clinics to treat the influx of patients, whereas the police may endeavour to round up and put the disadvantaged into camps well outside of the city parameters.
Based on these three relational approaches to gathering information we can more effectively detect weaknesses and strengths, thus work towards a more fair and objective overview of a situation or subject. If we fail to consider all the points of view regarding any state of affair, then we’ll probably end up with a lopsided understanding. Therefore to affirm and validate our position it would be prudent to know – and know well – the views of all those concerned.
Hi Jason, I see we were reading each other’s blogs at the same time! Thanks for the likes. And I appreciate your latest post. Best wishes as always!
Hi Jason, a very well thought out and compelling article!
Maximising the points of view has regularly been argued to increase our confidence that we are on the right track. The obvious issue that can arise of course, is how do we deal with events where points of view contradict one another. Regarding morality, do we adopt cultural or moral relativism? Personally I am attracted to a moral humanist approach, where we ground our morality through our shared point of view as human beings, and that when there is a conflict, we give reasons based upon our basic intuitions that are more universally shared amongst our fellow human beings, regardless of culture. Bernard Williams gives a compelling argument for this here: https://amzn.to/2JPFwsi?fbclid=IwAR1-nVNUOjdBvu4C8mH5u79gYt2D-VimIR3uTQku0C-AiZlP8aNp1Y0USmw
Thanks for the great read,
An interesting analysis. You certainly have a gift for writing and an eye for academic terms. However, not sure if maximising points of view or building confidence will naturally lead to the most appropriate course of action. Why would anyone in their right mind want to receive additional viewpoints from people who know nothing and have no part in the issue being explored. On the other hand, acquiring skills to help deal with contradictions seems to be a step in the right direction. Whether we adopt cultural or moral relativism is beyond my reach. These concepts are defined in different ways and most of us don’t have the time to figure out what they mean. Moral relativism has been debated in philosophy for thousands of years. It’s somewhat of a privileged dialogue if you ask me and not all of us have arm rests on our chairs to really lean into the subject. Grounding our sense of morality ‘based upon our basic intuitions that are more universally shared amongst our fellow human beings’ may not be conducive to human flourishing, especially during times of war, famine and strife. Perhaps you could elaborate some more on your moral humanist position? Thanks again for your contribution and let’s stay in touch!
Thanks Jason. Yes I agree regarding maximising points of view. In fact, I am currently doing some work analysing that assumption (popularly touted by free speech absolutists in the media) and am putting together evidence to suggest that theory is actually falsified. To answer your question regarding my moral intuitionism, I’m not sure either lol. Basically, my worry, as with many philosophers, is where do ground our morality, what do we base it on? I’m an Atheist, so coming from the commandment of God is out for me. I see morality is something created by us and for us. But what do mean by ‘us’. Regardless of time, culture, location, and so on, any of us who are willing to ask the question ‘what is the morally right thing to do?’ at least has the motivation to do the right thing (I’m not interested in amoralists. If they don’t care about morality, fine, leave it to us). Now where do we go from there? I think morality comes from ‘us’ is to say human beings, because we are the ones asking the question ‘what should I morally do?’. Since this is where I think morality is grounded, I build my moral grounding what is almost universally intuitive amongst human beings as right of wrong. For instance, consider the proposition ‘torturing a child for fun’. Anyone who would accept this as morally permissible is outside of the moral community, so much so I would say could be legitimately no longer recognised as a fellow human being. This is far from perfect. Although I am with Williams in respect that I don’t think any of the other moral theories do any better. This response is getting essay level so I’ll leave it there for now 🙂
Without going into depth, what is your basic philosophical model from which you analyse assumptions or concepts? Please render your answer between 50 to 100 words and avoid jargon.
In regards of grounding ourselves in some kind of moral container, well that can be a tricky business, if you ask me, so you are probably in good hands to begin your inquiry from a place of uncertainty.
Perhaps if you were to add a few words to your key question, you might end up giving it more definition without making it too much of a dead end, as in:
‘What is the morally right thing to do in this context…’
For instance, your child may be starving, so rather than let her die, the more appropriate thing to do might be to steal a loaf of bread to feed her, regardless of the rules imposed upon you by the State.
(G)ood (O)rderly (D)irection may be a kind of orientation or directive that allows for a more complete picture of the whole; a consideration of the spirit of the law, rather than the limiting strictures of the letter of the law.
How we come to terms with this way of behaving (or moral conduct) seems to be through the light of reason, which is an ongoing dialectical exercise in which you have a role to play whether you like it or not.
Whatever our ‘mores’ might be, if they violate the social contracts that allow for life, freedom and well-being, then there is going to be contention, and probably lots of it.
Thanks Jason. To answer your question regarding assumptions and concepts, my answer in the most simple and concise way would be this: How consistent are they with our observations? By consistent, I mean not contradicted by other observations. If there is a consistent assumption that one wants to challenge, then I place the burden of proof lies with them to produce the argument.
Regarding your GOD, that is really interesting! Although you can win me over pretty easily there since I am sympathetic social contracts whilst reject making them universal. I do recommend Bernard Williams’ work on moral humanism, since as you can see from my attempts at explaining it I have not go it under enough control to explain it simply and concisely, but nonetheless I do find it quite compelling. I think from your GOD would be quite compatible with it.
My question is not regarding assumptions or concepts per say, it’s about your basic paradigm in which you are applying your analysis. This is probably one of the most important features of your philosophical training. The more vague or ambiguous you are about it at this stage, the greater your margin of error down the road. Unfortunately your response to my query is not registering with me that well. It would probably take some back and forth to iron it out, so how about we approach this from another angle. Please explain your philosophical approach to analysis? In short, how do you analyse things exactly?
Andrew, I can’t promise you that William’s work is going to trump the hundreds of books that presently call out to me, nevertheless I’ll consider it. However it’s usually a good rule of thumb to possess an adequate knowledge of an author before you encourage others to read them. As for the GOD perspective, which is not really mine, it was first brought to my attention through an atheist. That’s partly why it was weaved into our correspondence, in order to better relate with your disposition.
A fine and thought provoking post… jc
Such a great post on points of view; thanks for sharing! I am trying now to think and figure out which component may influence us in certain cases (for example our political position or ideology).