October 6, 2015

Is It Really All About Perspective?

We often hear people saying "It's all about perspective", as if we are all equally ignorant, equally in the dark. While there's a grain of truth in this notion, I found it's not 100% true, because beside "perspective", there is are something called "dimension".

In this illustration two shadows on the walls are two dimensional shaped shadows (square and circle) resulted from viewing this cylinder from two 2-dimensional perspectives. The real "idea" of actually object - cylinder - needs to be seen from 3 dimensional view point, that is, not only looking at it from left and right, but also from "up" - a view point that breaks 2 dimensional surface.

If we make analogy between this simple demonstration and human cognition, I would say that 2 dimensional perspective is like our "personal view point", and the third perspective - the view point that breaks 2 dimensional ground, is like "impersonal view point". Yes, we humans are apt to look at things from personal view points, but unfortunately, most ideas we got from such kind of "perspectives" are partial, and sometime just plain wrong. It is when we look at things from "impersonal" view point, we start to get close to truth.

By saying "personal", I means anything that derived from our own experience or personally beliefs, or anything that benefit us. When we are limited to our "personal" world, we are like bunches of view points sporadically positioned on 2 dimensional ground, and our ideas based on these "perspectives" would all conflict with each others, like the demonstration above shows, because we all see different things. It is only when we are lifted up from the flat 2-D ground, which means getting out of "personal" view points, become "impersonal", we see what's really is in front us.

The most direct example is religion and science. When we look at the world from humans' view point, we "see" the Sun rotates around the Earth, we "see" God created humans; but when we look at the world from "impersonal" view point, we see the Earth rotates the Sun, we see humans - and all organisms - evolved from lower life forms.

I am not claiming that heliocentricism and evolution are both absolute truth, but they are both truer to what we believed prior that points. Also, as soon as we breaks one dimension, we would easily see there's lots more dimensions yet to break, thus we would never hold our current dimensions as ultimate boundary of world, and consequently never hold any of our current ideas as "voice of God".

So what I am saying is, while our human intelligence is all limited in a certain range, there are still difference - quite fundamental one - between two different type of thinking models: one is viewing the world from personal view point, the other from impersonal one. And I personally found this is the essential difference between religion and science, at least attitude wise.

Sure, 3-D view point is also "perspective", but I suppose without new dimensions, our ideas based on existing perspectives could never get any fundamental breakthrough. So to be more logically accurate, the answer to the title question should be yes, however, if someone takes the "perspective" as "personal perspective" for granted, the answer is "no".


  1. I think there is a subjective reality and an objective reality. "My" reality is how I experience the world but I wouldn't confuse that with any objective reality. I think art, for example, attempts to capture this subjective reality, and science the objective one. If I say there was a beautiful sunrise this morning I'm not stating a scientific fact but making a personal statement concerning my own feelings.

    1. I agree what you said Marty. My post was focused on "objective truth", or "objective reality". Obviously many people, or all people at certain period of history, mistook/mistake subjective reality for objective one, due to the limited "perspective".

  2. Yun, I think your premise here is well reasoned and very interesting. I would agree that 2 dimensional perspective is like our personal point of view, and often ideas coming from that “personal perspective” can be limited because from that viewpoint we cannot really be objective. Yes, “when we are lifted up from the flat 2-D ground,” that’s when we find the third “impersonal perspective,” and that’s when we can view things more objectively (the illustration depicts this very well). I also agree with the comparison to religion (subjective, 2-D viewpoint) and science (objective, 3-D viewpoint). Good point on how “without new dimensions, our ideas based on existing perspectives could never get any fundamental breakthrough,” which is why 3-D thinking, 3-D perspective is so important for progress.

  3. Actually this is a book cover, just i don´t remember it`s name, someone knows name?