Personal Point Of View In The Pursuit Of Knowledge

1470 words - 6 pages

Should a knower's personal point of view be considered an asset in the pursuit of knowledge, or an obstacle to be overcome?In order to be able to answer the question of whether point of view is an asset or an obstacle to be overcome in the pursuit of knowledge, I think it is necessary to consider exactly what point of view is. Point of view is based on our own judgment and evaluation of a given situation; it's an expression of our own beliefs. We use it in order to discover what truth is for ourselves. One of the characteristics of knowledge, which is justified true belief, is that truth is independent of anyone's beliefs. Taking this statement into account it seems as if point of view would be a hindrance in the pursuit of knowledge, but I don't think this is the case for all instances. Using the areas of knowledge such as History, the Sciences, and Ethics, I shall examine the advantages and disadvantages of a knower's personal point of view.When I am at home studying for a history test, I hope that the material I am revising is based on fact. In order for a history book to be factual, objectivity is crucial. The whole world depends on records of the past, so we hope that these accounts are reliable. In this case, the personal point of view of the author of my history book might have gotten in the way of that necessary objectivity. When giving accounts of events during wars, emotions such as patriotism and nationalism cloud perception. People tend to write more favourably about their own country. So how can we know what is true or not? Most written history is influenced by prejudice and bias to some degree. For example, I was studying events which have occurred in World War 2 in my history book which was written by an American and published in America. The tragedy of Pearl Harbour was described in great length and detail, while the bombing of Hiroshima was merely listed in a timeline. Had I not consulted other sources, I would have been led to think that what happened at Pearl Harbour was the more significant event of the two. In order to attempt to avoid such confusion, one should compare as many sources as possible in order to discover common links. Then the information which had been influenced by the author's emotions can be detected. It is difficult to trust the objectivity of one author, especially if the material discussed could relate to him/her on a personal level. Also, in the article "What Columbus 'Saw' in 1492," we learn that Columbus's perception of the New World was influenced by his cultural background and expectations. He hoped he had landed in Asia, so everything he saw was, in his opinion, Asian, because that is what he wanted it to be. Also, he expected to find monsters in this new land, so every creature which seemed slightly unusual was described as a terrifying beast in his journals. So Columbus's point of view of what the New World should look like prevented an accurate description of what it actually was. His personal...

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