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Point of view (philosophy)


In philosophy, a point of view is a specified or stated manner of consideration, an attitude how one sees or thinks of something, as in "from doctor's point of view". This figurative usage of the expression as attested since 1760. In this meaning, the usage is synonymous with one of the meanings of the term perspective.

Margarita Vázquez Campos and Antonio Manuel Liz Gutiérrez in their work, "The Notion of Point of View", give a comprehensive analysis of the structure of the concept. They point that despite being crucial in many discourses, the notion has not been adequately analyzed, although some important works do exist. They mention that early classical Greek philosophers, starting from Parmenides and Heraclitus discussed the relation between "appearance" and reality, i.e., how our points of view are connected with reality. They specifically point out Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. They consider Wittgenstein's theory of "pictures" or "models" (Wittgenstein used the German word Bild, which means both "picture" and "model") as an illustration of *thenctional and ambiguous. Many things may be judged from certain personal, traditional or moral point of view (as in "the beauty is in the eye of the beholder"). Our knowledge about the reality is often relative to ze ta certain point of view.

Vázquez Campos and Manuel Liz Gutierrez suggested to analyhe concept of the "point of view" using two approaches: one based on the concept of "propositional attitudes", another is based on the concepts of "location" and "access".

The internal structure of a point of view may be analysed similarly to the concept of a propositional attitude. A propositional attitude is an attitude, i.e., a mental state held by an agent toward a proposition. Examples of such attitudes are "to believe in something", "to desire something", "to guess something", "to remember something", etc. Vazques Campos and Gutierrez suggest that points of view may be analyzed as structured sets of propositional attitudes. The authors draw on Christopher Peacocke's Sense and Content.

Within this approach one may carry out ontological classification of various distinctions, such as individual vs. collective points of view, personal vs. non-personal, non-conceptual vs. conceptual, etc.



  • Moore, A., Points of View, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1997
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