Home > Philosophy > Taking an Outside Perspective

Taking an Outside Perspective

For philosophical thinking, it is important to take an outside perspective. To project yourself as an onlooker of overall happenings. I do not buy into thinking that suggests our personal, internal experience is the be-all to end-all. Indeed, everything we experience is experienced through our subjective minds. If I look at a rock, that rock gets translated by our minds and what we experience is a (subjective) interpretation of such rock. This does not mean that such rock does not exist in reality, or that our subjective experience of the rock is not evidence for the rock and various qualities of such rock existing in the objective sense. For philosophy, we need to focus on what that objective rock is. The reality of it.

But rocks are not the big concern. Rather, the larger concern is with life. In particular, life that has the capacity to feel. As philosophers, we need to take an unbiased approach. I can hear it now from the subjectivist camp – but ‘Trick, all experience is subjective and hence biased. I am not arguing against that. But like the rock, there is a reality. And like the rock, we can use our intellectual and perceptual mechanisms that translate into subjective and inter-subjective experiences to come to understandings of objective reality. We can take an outside perspective that looks beyond various biases.

Even our subjective experiences are an objective configuration being played out through time. A causal happening. As philosophers, we should not focus on what our subjective biases dictate, but rather on the possible qualities of these objective play-outs for every creature that experiences them. What does each objective configuration mean?  If applying them to something like a moral system, can such configuration be considered inherently bad to the creature that has to endure it? Questions of these sorts. Questions about the overall picture.

Imagine yourself hovering above the earth looking down on what is going on. Detach yourself from personal bias. Look beyond your bias for cute fluffy animals at the expense of ugly smelly ones. Look beyond your bias of what is good for your friends and family at the expense of people you do not know and never will. Look beyond your biases, preferences, and desires of beauty, taste, smell, sounds, race, religion, specie, nation, sex, language, wealth, and so on. Look beyond those desires instilled in you through long evolutionary lines. Look beyond those biases instilled in you through your upbringing.

Even if our experiences and understandings are filtered through our subjectivity, we can still disregard those biases that truly prevent us from taking an outside perspective. Once on the outside of all of these subjective biases, we can have much clearer understandings of the objective reality that exists, which means we can have a clearer understanding of the problems that exist and the solutions to those problems.

What does the world look like from the outside? Where are the most logical improvements to be made?

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  1. May 31, 2011 at 2:54 PM

    Hi Trick,

    Interesting post, refreshingly thought provoking.

    And like the rock, we can use our intellectual and perceptual mechanisms that translate into subjective and inter-subjective experiences to come to understandings of objective reality.

    -I might be misinterpreting your post but you seem to want to bridge the gap between a purely subjectivist understanding of reality and a purely objectivist view. Am I reading you correctly?

    -what are our “intellectual mechanisms”? What is the connection between the intellectual and perceptual mechanisms?

    In what way would our *subjective* experience of reality provide incorrigible knowledge of an objective reality?

    -In what sense are you using the word *bias*?

    • June 1, 2011 at 2:46 PM

      Hiya blogginbaldguy,

      Sorry about your comment not showing up. For some odd reason wordpress put you in “spam”. Hopefully I remedied that.

      Thanks for the comment, I’m sorta new here. 🙂

      Yes, I think there is a gap that can be bridged between the two. I think our subjective perceptions are enough to gain (likely) knowledge of objective reality.

      “what are our “intellectual mechanisms”? What is the connection between the intellectual and perceptual mechanisms?”

      I think our perceptual mechanisms are part of our intellectual mechanisms. In other words, our methodologies (such as logic and all of it’s subsets – mathematics, science, classical logic, etc.) are based on the consistencies we perceive and interpret subjectively.

      “In what way would our *subjective* experience of reality provide incorrigible knowledge of an objective reality?”

      I would not say “incorrigible” as I don’t think any knowledge absolute. I think we can accept our subjective interpretations to be reliable enough interpretations of external reality, especially when verified via multiple consciousnesses.

      “In what sense are you using the word *bias*?”

      In the sense of thoughts and desires derived via our psychology that go against logical consistency or an external outlook of reality. For example, I have a psychological response to worms. The thought of them make me lose my appetite. There really is no rational reason for this. And though I might not be able to change that psychology, I need to see it for what it is. Illogical, deep-rooted psychology. It has nothing to do with reality. Now mind you, that is a fairly benign bias – but there are others that cause so many problems in the world. Biases that, if not seen for what they are, cause harms to other life on the planet. I think a goal to philosophy is to bypass purely psychological bias.

      Thanks,
      ‘Trick

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