Archive for the ‘perspectivalism’ Category

We can say only how things currently seem to us from our point of view

September 15, 2009

There isn’t any pure or quite neutral experience or knowledge of reality. In order to have any experience or knowledge at all, you must have a practical slant, an interest, an angle or a perspective which…makes certain things stand out and become noticeable…There are indefinitely many such perspectives or angles upon the world – and they are all of them historically occasioned, human and contingent…even the most advanced scientific theories are …subject to future revision…We can say only how things currently seem to us from our point of view; we cannot say how they are absolutely.

Don Cupitt, Ant Realist Faith, p.2

Of course, Cupitt’s theory is itself open to ‘future revision’ when it may be seen to be just one perspective that can be as dismissed as the merely ‘historically occasioned, human and contingent’ theory it clearly is. If only he had listened to the One who knows rather more than all of us.

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Nietzsche’s Perspectivalism

September 15, 2009

From now on, my philosophical gentlemen, let us protect ourselves better from the dangerous old conceptual fantasy which posits a “pure, will-less, painless, timeless subject of cognition”; let’s guard ourselves against the tentacles of such contradictory ideas as “pure reason,” “absolute spirituality,” “knowledge in itself”—those things which demand that we think of an eye which simply cannot be imagined, an eye which is to have no direction at all, in which the active and interpretative forces are supposed to stop or be absent—the very things through which seeing first becomes seeing something. Hence, these things always demand from the eye something conceptually absurd and incomprehensible. The only seeing we have is seeing from a perspective; the only knowledge we have is knowledge from a perspective; and the more emotions we allow to be expressed  in words concerning something, the more eyes, different eyes, we know how to train on the same thing, the more complete our “idea” of this thing, our “objectivity,” will be. But to eliminate the will in general, to suspend all our emotions without exception—even if we were capable of that—what would that be? Wouldn’t we call that castrating the intellect?

Nietzsche, Genealogy of Morals, Third Essay, 12

This statement is the death blow to the Enlightenment and the door to relativism. Only the Christian worldview can avoid the pitfalls of both these errors. On the one hand it gives The Perspective (God’s) any and all humans lack, providing certain, absolute truth. On the other hand, this revelation is limited and requires the kind of humility Enlightenment man is incapable of, to receive it.

Nietzsche is right at least this far, man is not a pure reasoning machine as if he had no emtions or pre-commitments looking at any subject.

Man is the measure of all things

September 6, 2009

Man is the measure of all things…Whatever in any city is regarded as just and admirable is just and admirable in that city for as long as it is .

PROTAGORAS, 480-411 BC
Attributed in Plato’s Theatetus, 196C or 160D

1. ‘thought to be so’ by whom? The majority?

2. Slavery in the British Empire was ‘regarded as just’ by most for a time. It took a Wilberforce to say, ‘It is not just, just because most say so.’

3. Man is the measure…Which man and which men? Were Lenin and Stalin the measure for the Soviets? Tough luck for the Ukrainian kulaks then.


Fire burns both in Hellas and in Persia; but men’s ideas of right and wrong vary from place to place.

Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, V, (vi) 2


Historicism is self-refuting

August 26, 2009

all our thinking is historically conditioned.

Don Cupitt, Is Nothing Sacred?, 2002, p.33

May I presume, then, this statement is also historically conditioned. I mean, it’s just the sort of thing white, Western academics in the late 20th and earl 21st C. typically say, isn’t it?