Personal point of view in the pursuit of Knowledge

Essay by green22A, March 2006

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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...