Ortega's Doctrine of the Point of View

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Theaetetus
 
Reply Sun 13 Dec, 2009 10:42 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;110904 wrote:
That a view of a landscape is a landscape is false on the face of it. There are (presumably) as many views of landscapes as there are people who are doing the viewing. But, (presumably) there is but a single landscape that each person is viewing. Therefore, it is impossible for a view of a landscape to be a landscape. Unless you think that there are as many landscapes as there are views of landscapes, and therefore, as many landscapes as there are people who are viewing. Is that what you believe? You seem to be having a problem with the verb, "to see". When I see X, I am seeing X. I am not seeing my seeing of X. The object of the term "see" is not my experience of seeing, it is what I am seeing. A dog, or a landscape, or whatever it is. It is the same problem Ortega seems to have with "view". Ortega seems to believe that when he views something, what he views is his view of that something, not that something. But that is false. Views are not what we see. Views are how we see what we see. For, as you, yourself, say, "the landscape is an expanse of scenery hat can be seen in a single view".


But a each perspective offers a different landscape. One person may see a hill in a landscape, but someone else does not see the hill in the same scenery because a tree blocks their view.

A landscape is not a concrete object like a dog. A landscape is formed from a perspective in which what can be seen from a certain perspective is the landscape. A landscape is also an abstraction based on the relationship of ideas from a perspective.


 
Bones-O
 
Reply Sun 13 Dec, 2009 11:15 am
@longknowledge,
Having read the OP again, I think there is a further aspect of the conclusion that arises from choice of words.

Two persons presented with two views that differ. I agree it makes no sense to declare each other's to be false. I agree further it makes no sense to conclude both are illusory. But something that is incomplete is neither false nor illusory, it is merely partial. By taking non-falseness and non-illusiveness alone as points of departure, you can see how you might conclude both were correct and different, and thus there is no demand for an objective landscape. However, upon noting that both may also be incomplete, we do find need for an objective landscape (the one that is complete).

Now obviously a single person's instantaneous view cannot be incomplete, since it is the complete view that they have at that time. But though the focus on falsity and illusion might lead you to think otherwise, there is nothing to suggest a 'big picture' is redundant (in fact, such a picture explains why two observers see some things in common and some things differently, which the OP's individualistic approach would not).

Bones
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 13 Dec, 2009 01:29 pm
@Theaetetus,
Theaetetus;110937 wrote:

But a each perspective offers a different landscape. One person may see a hill in a landscape, but someone else does not see the hill in the same scenery because a tree blocks their view.

A landscape is not a concrete object like a dog. A landscape is formed from a perspective in which what can be seen from a certain perspective is the landscape. A landscape is also an abstraction based on the relationship of ideas from a perspective.




But that doesn't mean that the person who's view did not include the hill, saw a different landscape. It was the same landscape. Only he did not see part of it. If my view of a stage does not include a part because my view is blocked by a pillar, that does not mean I am seeing a different stage. I have a "blocked view" of the stage. At least that is what I am warned by the manager of the theater. The stage is a concrete object. A view of the stage may not be (depending on what is meant by "concrete object").
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 13 Dec, 2009 02:08 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;110904 wrote:
That a view of a landscape is a landscape is false on the face of it. There are (presumably) as many views of landscapes as there are people who are doing the viewing. But, (presumably) there is but a single landscape that each person is viewing. Therefore, it is impossible for a view of a landscape to be a landscape. Unless you think that there are as many landscapes as there are views of landscapes, and therefore, as many landscapes as there are people who are viewing. Is that what you believe? You seem to be having a problem with the verb, "to see". When I see X, I am seeing X. I am not seeing my seeing of X. The object of the term "see" is not my experience of seeing, it is what I am seeing. A dog, or a landscape, or whatever it is. It is the same problem Ortega seems to have with "view". Ortega seems to believe that when he views something, what he views is his view of that something, not that something. But that is false. Views are not what we see. Views are how we see what we see. For, as you, yourself, say, "the landscape is an expanse of scenery hat can be seen in a single view".


But if a person self-consciously thinks "I am seeing X," he is in a metaphorical way seeing himself seeing. Just as a person can be self-consciously self-conscious. Also, if we view something visually and know conceptually that this is just one aspect of something with perhaps as many aspects as their are consciousnesses........ I think "view" can be used for what we see. For instance, "I understand your view on abortion." Language is organic and slippery. I say we have to bend toward the writer and give him the benefit of the doubt. But I do share with you a respect for clarity.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 13 Dec, 2009 02:46 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;110972 wrote:
But that doesn't mean that the person who's view did not include the hill, saw a different landscape. It was the same landscape.


What you are referring to as 'the same landscape' is what Kant refers to as 'the thing in itself' independent of any viewpoint. Kant never said the thing in itself did not exist, but he said we never knew it. Everything we see and know is meditated through our sensory faculties and intuitions. The reason it is important to you that we all see the 'the same' landscape is because this is where you derive your sense of reality. The idea of perspectivism is threatening because it undermines your common-sense view of the basis of what is real. You are actually defending a belief.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 13 Dec, 2009 04:16 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;110987 wrote:
What you are referring to as 'the same landscape' is what Kant refers to as 'the thing in itself' independent of any viewpoint. Kant never said the thing in itself did not exist, but he said we never knew it. Everything we see and know is meditated through our sensory faculties and intuitions. The reason it is important to you that we all see the 'the same' landscape is because this is where you derive your sense of reality. The idea of perspectivism is threatening because it undermines your common-sense view of the basis of what is real. You are actually defending a belief.


I think you miss my point (and many here have). I am not at all claiming here that there is a landscape independent of views of the landscape. Of course, I believe that is true, and I think there is overwhelming reason to think so. And, moreover, I am not saying it is the thing-in-itself. Just a landscape. But that is not my claim here. My claim here is that Ortega's argument that because there are different views of the landscape, there is no landscape which the different views are of, is unsound. So his argument has not shown that its conclusion is true. I am not claiming it is not true. Not here. I am claiming that Ortega's argument fails to show it is true. That an argument for a particular conclusion fails to show the conclusion is true, in no way argues that conclusion is not true. It would be fallacious to argue that because an argument is unsound, that its conclusion is false. So, that is not what I am arguing. So, I am not defending the belief you think I am defending. Not at all. If you like, you can say I am defending that belief against that argument. But, that only means that I am saying that Ortega's argument (and, by implication, arguments of that kind) has not shown that belief to be false. You are wrong about the logic of my position. Of course, I am defending a belief. But not the belief you think I am defending.

---------- Post added 12-13-2009 at 05:20 PM ----------

Reconstructo;110979 wrote:
But if a person self-consciously thinks "I am seeing X," he is in a metaphorical way seeing himself seeing. Just as a person can be self-consciously self-conscious. Also, if we view something visually and know conceptually that this is just one aspect of something with perhaps as many aspects as their are consciousnesses........ I think "view" can be used for what we see. For instance, "I understand your view on abortion." Language is organic and slippery. I say we have to bend toward the writer and give him the benefit of the doubt. But I do share with you a respect for clarity.


I don't know whether he is saying what you say in a metaphorical way. And I don't care, as long as he is not saying it in a literal way. But, I think he is. Of course "view" can be used for what we see. That is what I have been saying. When I look over the Grand Canyon, I see a spectacular view.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 13 Dec, 2009 04:59 pm
@longknowledge,
thanks Ken but I am still having difficulty understanding your objection. Your initial response was

kennethamy;110481 wrote:
How does it follow from the fact that something looks different from different points of view, that the very same thing is not being seen?


What is at issue is the identity of 'the very same thing'. Ortega's argument seems to establish, to my satisfaction anyway, that different perspectives are valid, and that there is no 'ultimate perspective' which comprises all of the invidual perspectives. So there are only perspectival views, and no 'thing' apart from those views against which they might be validated. So when you say 'they are all seeing the same thing', aren't you referring to the fictitious 'ideal viewpoint' which is what Ortega is showing, is groundless? Isn't this an assumption about the nature of 'the thing'? What is at issue is the what the predicate 'same' is referring to (I think...)

(I can't help but reflect, also, that this type of observation has also been validated by the 'copenhagen interpretation' of quantum physics, but this is more a footnote at this point.)
 
Reconstructo
 
Reply Sun 13 Dec, 2009 05:17 pm
@longknowledge,
We infer that our perspectives are related by means of something like what Kant calls the thing-in-itself. Consciousness is processed and divided into objective and subjective. This is not to deny the real world but to acknowledge that such distinctions are a function of the mind.

I offer this as food for thought. I find it persuasive and fascinating...
Nondualism may be viewed as the understanding or belief that dualism or dichotomy are illusory phenomena. Examples of dualisms include self/other, mind/body, male/female, good/evil, active/passive, dualism/nondualism and many others. It is accessible as a belief, theory, condition, as part of a tradition, as a practice, or as the quality of union with reality.
A nondual philosophical or religious perspective or theory maintains that there is no fundamental distinction between mind and matter, or that the entire phenomenological world is an illusion (with reality being described variously as the Void, the Is, Emptiness, the mind of God, Atman or Brahman). Nontheism provides related conceptual and philosophical information.
Many traditions (generally originating in Asia) state that the true condition or nature of reality is nondualistic, and that these dichotomies are either unreal or (at best) inaccurate conveniences. The American philosopher William James saw nondualism as the culmination of the British Empirical tradition, and coined a word for it, sciousness, or consciousness without consciousness of self. But few of his contemporaries accepted his premise that nondualism was prime reality. While attitudes towards the experience of duality and self may vary, nondual traditions converge on the view that the ego, or sense of personal being, doer-ship and control, is ultimately said to be an illusion. As such many nondual traditions have significant overlap with mysticism.




Nondualism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 13 Dec, 2009 06:04 pm
@longknowledge,
well you're preaching to the choir in my case, but let's not get ahead of ourselves. Nondualism has many radical implications and is very easy to misinterpret. (Actually there is an illustrious but little-known American philosopher who was streets ahead of James in understanding non-dualism - Franklin Merrill-Wolff. Have a look around for him. Although it is amazing how prescient William James was.)
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 13 Dec, 2009 07:46 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;111040 wrote:
thanks Ken but I am still having difficulty understanding your objection. Your initial response was



What is at issue is the identity of 'the very same thing'. Ortega's argument seems to establish, to my satisfaction anyway, that different perspectives are valid, and that there is no 'ultimate perspective' which comprises all of the invidual perspectives. So there are only perspectival views, and no 'thing' apart from those views against which they might be validated. So when you say 'they are all seeing the same thing', aren't you referring to the fictitious 'ideal viewpoint' which is what Ortega is showing, is groundless? Isn't this an assumption about the nature of 'the thing'? What is at issue is the what the predicate 'same' is referring to (I think...)

(I can't help but reflect, also, that this type of observation has also been validated by the 'copenhagen interpretation' of quantum physics, but this is more a footnote at this point.)


How does it establish that there is no landscape such that all the perspectives are different perspectives of the same landscape? What would the views be views of, if not the same landscape? Remember, I am not claiming that there is a landscape outside the different views. But you and Ortega are claiming that you have established that there is no landscape outside of the different views. But, how have you established that? What is your argument for that. The one Ortega gives is unsound.

Ortega has not shown anything so far as I can see. Since, as I think, his argument in the passage quoted is unsound, since it assumes that if there are different views of something, there cannot be something of which those are different views. And that assumption is false.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 13 Dec, 2009 08:22 pm
@longknowledge,
kennethamy;111060 wrote:
How does it establish that there is no landscape such that all the perspectives are different perspectives of the same landscape? What would the views be views of, if not the same landscape? Remember, I am not claiming that there is a landscape outside the different views. But you and Ortega are claiming that you have established that there is no landscape outside of the different views. But, how have you established that? What is your argument for that. The one Ortega gives is unsound.

Ortega has not shown anything so far as I can see. Since, as I think, his argument in the passage quoted is unsound, since it assumes that if there are different views of something, there cannot be something of which those are different views. And that assumption is false.

I see what you're saying, which is basically that the argument is self-contradictory, it it not?

But if you understand it as a statement about 'views', rather than a statement about 'objects', it is valid? Could it not be another way of saying that there is not 'one true view' of the landscape (or by implication any other thing), but only various perspectives? Or does that just re-state the original argument?
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 13 Dec, 2009 08:31 pm
@jeeprs,
jeeprs;111065 wrote:
I see what you're saying, which is basically that the argument is self-contradictory, it it not?

But if you understand it as a statement about 'views', rather than a statement about 'objects', it is valid? Could it not be another way of saying that there is not 'one true view' of the landscape (or by implication any other thing), but only various perspectives? Or does that just re-state the original argument?


e But it might also be meant as a (what't that lovely word that philosophers use?) propaedeutic


Arguments are not self-contradictory. Arguments are sound or unsound. Ortega's argument is unsound. It is unsound because it has a false premise. That premise is as follows: If there are different views of X, then there is no X. (If there are different views of a landscape, then there is no landscape). There is no reason to believe that premise is true. Since Ortega's argument is unsound, he has not proved anything. He needs a different argument to prove whatever he wants to prove. (The argument that there is no one true view of a landscape because there are many different views of the landscape, is also unsound. How does it follow that there is no true view if there are many views? Why cannot one of those many views be the true view?)
 
Arjuna
 
Reply Sun 13 Dec, 2009 09:37 pm
@kennethamy,
The OP is in line with Heidegger's dasein. As much as we may "know" the thing we view is made of molecules and what we see is light bouncing, when we define the thing in this way, we're speaking in terms of cause.

What we actually experience is being in the world. This is the change from Descartes: he suggested that our conception of ourselves is formless... that "I" would be the same "I" even if the world wasn't there.

That's not what we experience, though. The experience of seeing the landscape is the experience of being in the world: it's one experience, not two: one of ourselves, and one of the causes of what we experience.
 
jeeprs
 
Reply Sun 13 Dec, 2009 09:51 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;111066 wrote:
...the premise is as follows: If there are different views of X, then there is no X. (If there are different views of a landscape, then there is no landscape)


But it doesn't say that. The statement actually is
Quote:
Two men may look, from different view-points, at the same landscape. Yet they do not see the same thing.


So it does not say 'there is no X'. It acknowledges that both men are looking at the same landscape, but says 'they do not see the same thing'. So it is not talking about what exists. It is talking about what is seen, and the fact that these are two of an infinite number of possible viewpoints.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Sun 13 Dec, 2009 09:52 pm
@Arjuna,
Arjuna;111072 wrote:
The OP is in line with Heidegger's dasein. As much as we may "know" the thing we view is made of molecules and what we see is light bouncing, when we define the thing in this way, we're speaking in terms of cause.

What we actually experience is being in the world. This is the change from Descartes: he suggested that our conception of ourselves is formless... that "I" would be the same "I" even if the world wasn't there.

That's not what we experience, though. The experience of seeing the landscape is the experience of being in the world: it's one experience, not two: one of ourselves, and one of the causes of what we experience.


That might all be true, for all I know, or understand. But the fact is that the argument (such as it is) presented in the passage from Ortega, is unsound because it has a false premise. That is my claim. Why does it matter that Ortega can be interpreted in Heidegerrean terms? What has that to do with it?
 
longknowledge
 
Reply Mon 14 Dec, 2009 03:08 am
@longknowledge,
Hold on, guys. Let's try to clear up the confusion by looking at some definitions:

I did some research on the origin of the word "landscape" and I discovered the following in Wikipedia:

Quote:
The word landscape is from the Dutch landschap, originally meaning a patch of cultivated ground, and then an image. The word entered the English language at the start of the 17th century, purely as a term for works of art; it was not used to describe real vistas before 1725.(1)

With this footnote:

Quote:
(1) OED [i.e., Oxford English Dictionary] - Its first use as a word for a painting is from 1598.

So, in English, the word started out first in reference to a type of painting, and then was used for a vista.

But, checking the OED, I found the following [I've given the dates of the earliest citations in brackets for each entry]:

Quote:
landscape, n.

1. a. A picture representing natural inland scenery, as distinguished from a sea picture, a portrait, etc. [1598]

spec. The background of scenery in a portrait or figure-painting. Obs. [1656]

2. a. A view or prospect of natural inland scenery, such as can be taken in at a glance from one point of view; a piece of country scenery. [1632]

b. A tract of land with its distinguishing characteristics and features, esp. considered as a product of modifying or shaping processes and agents (usually natural). [1886]

3. In generalized sense (from 1 and 2): Inland natural scenery, or its representation in painting. [1602]

4. In various transf. and fig. uses.

a. A view, prospect of something. [1612]

b. A distant prospect: a vista. (Cf. 2b.) [1599]

c. The object of one's gaze. [1659]

d. A sketch, adumbration, outline; occas. a faint or shadowy representation. [1649]

e. A compendium, epitome. [1656]

f. A bird's-eye view; a plan, sketch, map. [1642]

g. The depiction or description of something in words. [1681]

So we have a whole lot of ambiguity going on here.

Now first, an interesting thing to notice is that not only does the word "landscape" occur as a type of picture at an early date (1.a.), but also as a vista, view or prospect (2.a, 4.a,b,and even f), contrary to what the Wikipedia states.

Second, aside from a type of picture, we can distinguish between "landscape" as meaning "a physical piece of land" (a piece of country scenery, a tract of land, inland natural scenery) and "landscape" as meaning "a view of a piece of land from a particular location or point of view" (view, prospect, vista). Let's agree to call the first one "landscape" and the second one "view of the landscape".

Now let's look at the passage from Ortega in question [I've changed the emphases from the previous post, and followed the above convention by adding words in brackets to the text, to illustrate what I think is Ortega's intended meaning]:

Quote:
Two men may look, from different view-points, at the same landscape. Yet they do not see the same thing. Their different situations make the [view of the] landscape assume two distinct types of organic structure in their eyes. The part [of their view of the landscape] which, in the one case, occupies the foreground, and is thrown into high relief in all its details, is, in the other case, the background, and remains obscure and vague in its appearance. Further, inasmuch as things which are put one behind the other are either wholly or partially concealed, each of the two spectators will perceive portions of the landscape which elude the attention of the other. Would there be any sense in either declaring the other's view of the landscape false? Evidently not; the one is as real as the other. But it would be just as senseless if, when our spectators found that their views of the landscape did not agree, they concluded that both views [of the landscape] were illusory. Such a conclusion would involve belief in the existence of a third [view of the] landscape, an authentic one, not subject to the same conditions as the other two. Well, an archetypal [view of the] landscape of this kind does not and cannot exist. Cosmic reality is such that it can only be seen in a single definite perspective [at a time]. Perspective is one of the component parts of reality. Far from being a disturbance of its fabric, it is its organising element. A reality which remained the same from whatever point of view it was observed would be a ridiculous conception.


As you notice, I have also emphasized in red the words "real" and "reality." Once we examine the passage from the "point of view" (if you'll pardon the expression) of what is real, the point that Ortega is trying to get across becomes clearer. As you may have read in other threads about Ortega's thought, Ortega regards "My Life," our lives, the lives of each one of us, as the "Radical Reality" in the sense that all other realities occur or are "rooted" in it ("radical" comes from the Latin radix, meaning "root").

Now using the phenomenological method developed by Husserl, Ortega examines the types of realities that occur in the "Radical Reality" that is "My Life." In this passage Ortega is trying to point out that for each person their "view" is a "reality" that occurs as a part of the "Radical Reality" that is their life or what is "My Life" for them.

And since for each person their "view" is real for them, in this instance, the reality that is "their reality" is "such that it can only be seen in a single definite perspective." Although he doesn't say it here, he means "at any given time." And so the next sentence, "Perspective is one of the component parts of reality," should be interpreted as a claim that any "view," as a "reality" which is a part of the "Radical Reality" that is "My Life," has the structure or organization of a "perspective"; and that, analogously, any other cases of "reality" that "occur" in the "Radical Reality" that is "My Life" also, analogously, have the structure of a "perspective," although for these other cases the word "perspective" should be taken metaphorically.
 
I'll have more on this in my next post: Ortega's Idea of Perspective
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Mon 14 Dec, 2009 05:25 am
@longknowledge,
My question on this would be: If (my) reality is defined by only what I can see and not what I cannot (e.g. what you can see), what happens to elements of my reality when I cease to look at them? (e.g. Close my eyes, turn my head, etc.)
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 14 Dec, 2009 06:05 am
@longknowledge,
longknowledge;111148 wrote:
Hold on, guys. Let's try to clear up the confusion by looking at some definitions:

I did some research on the origin of the word "landscape" and I discovered the following in Wikipedia:




You are not really claiming that Ortega's argument is only about landscapes, and it would be different if it were about valleys, or mountains, so that if we have different views of a mountain, that does not show there is no mountain (or no correct view of the mountain) are you?

---------- Post added 12-14-2009 at 07:08 AM ----------

Bones-O!;111165 wrote:
My question on this would be: If (my) reality is defined by only what I can see and not what I cannot (e.g. what you can see), what happens to elements of my reality when I cease to look at them? (e.g. Close my eyes, turn my head, etc.)


That is, of course, a good question. But it is not germane to Ortega's argument. It shows only that there is a problem with his conclusion.
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Mon 14 Dec, 2009 06:18 am
@kennethamy,
kennethamy;111176 wrote:
That is, of course, a good question. But it is not germane to Ortega's argument. It shows only that there is a problem with his conclusion.


Again, you've lost me as to the point of your post. If it questions the conclusion, it is appropriate to the topic of this thread, no? I would have thought this the right place to ask that question rather than starting a new thread (were I so inclined) in response to a post on this one.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 14 Dec, 2009 06:31 am
@Bones-O,
Bones-O!;111184 wrote:
Again, you've lost me as to the point of your post. If it questions the conclusion, it is appropriate to the topic of this thread, no? I would have thought this the right place to ask that question rather than starting a new thread (were I so inclined) in response to a post on this one.


What I meant is that it seems to me that it is Ortega's argument for his conclusion that is in question. Not whether his conclusion is true or false. Since, of course, even if his conclusion were true, that would not show his argument for that conclusion was correct. Of course, now that I am told that his point was only about landscapes, the argument loses some of its interest. I didn't say that this wasn't the right place to ask the question. I thought it was rather a diversion. But that is when I thought that the issue was not about landscapes, but that landscapes was only an example, and it could as well have been about mountains. But now that it appears that the issue is about whether landscapes are real, and not, say, about whether mountains are real, I withdraw my comment. It was made under a misapprehension.
 
 

 
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