Well, since my first post in this thread did not generate much of a respose I thought I'd better add another post and see what happens:
Below I have included without comment my translation of a portion of a chapter from a book by a student of Ortega's who completed an in depth study entitled Perspectiva y verdad: el problema de la verdad en Ortega
("Perspective and Truth: The Problem of Truth in Ortega"). The words in brackets are words that do not appear in the Spanish version, but are added for clarity. I will include my translation of another section of this work about Ortega's idea of perspective in a subsequent post to this thread.
[CENTER]The Idea of Perspective
1. The essential "figure" of "perspective" and the "visual perspective"
[CENTER]* * *[/CENTER]
Under the term "perspective" Ortega understands very different things [that al]though [it's] not a question of an equivocal term, [is] rather at most analogous. There is, therefore, an essential "figure" which is always present in whatever use or application of this concept, and that is the first [thing] that it is important for us to fix [on].
The very [s]election of the term "perspective
" seems to remit us to a fundamental signification, which is the one it has in the expression "visual perspective.
" And, in effect, this could be true, as long as we would understand by "visual perception" something somewhat distinct from that which such an expression commonly denotes, because Ortega has a peculiar idea of seeing
itself that differs from the usual. On the one hand it is also not at all clear, nor much less - rather the contrary is clear- , that the originating reality to which the term "perspective," in the Orteguian acceptance, consigns us, is the fact of physical vision. What is clear, on the other hand, is that Ortega has served himself of it to forge the "model concept," to say it that way, of "perspective," which indicates that for him it is the notion of "visual perspective" where with most clarity we can discover that basic and common essential "figure" to which I was referring above. It would be convenient, therefore, that we begin by asking ourselves what is the elemental structure of all visual perspective. And we find that, for there to be a visual perspective, there have to be given concurrently the following facts and conditions- that is requisites- :
who looks from
in a direction
("point of view").
2. Something seen
in that looking.
3. What is seen has to be ordered at different distances
from the point of view, that is to say occupying different termini
(arrangement in profundity
4. There is, thus, a first plane
, a last plane
and a series, major or minor, of intermediate planes
in what is seen.
5. What is seen, in each case, comes to be exactly determined by the point of view
, so that to each point of view there corresponds one aspect and only one
, and, vice-versa, each aspect can only be seen from one determinate point of view and only from one. The relation between what is seen and the point of view is thus a bi-univocal correlation; as a consequence, to each variation of the point of view there would correspond a precise and unique variation of the perspective, of what is seen
This is the elemental structure, and commonly accepted [one], of all visual perspective. Ortega also would accept it, but upon condition of introducing in it some modifications, without which the reality described would be a pure abstraction and even more than that, a pure impossibility. The question rests on only in a small detail: the notion of "point of view." In the schema traced the "point of view" is defined solely by the place
that the eye occupies and by the direction
of the look (it is supposed, naturally, that, in there being a look
, there is also ocular accommodation
to a certain distance
of the many that the profundity of the perspective implies). Now then, what Ortega adds is the following: The "point of view," in addition to the factors previously signaled, comes to be defined by the someone
whose look it is, by the subject who looks. Such that if upon varying the place
and the direction
the point of view changes, no less- although in a different manner- does the subject who looks change to another. In the constitution of the "point of view" and, as such, in the precise determination of what is seen
in each case, there intervenes, thus, a new factor that already is not of a spatial order
. This means to say that two individuals
situated successively (and if could be simultaneously, it would be the same), in the same place and looking in the same direction- and even the same object and the same distance- , represent, nevertheless, two different points of view
and as a consequence, they do not see the same
]. The reason for it is that "all seeing is a looking
", and that the look is governed by the law of attention
: all looking is an attending
to something- that in which "we fix [on]," in which the attention fixes itself- and for that [reason] itself, inevitably, a dis-attending of the rest (Ortega underscores insistently this elemental fact, which it is not usually sufficiently heeded, that all seeing is ipso facto
a "blinding oneself" for that which is excluded from our vision in each moment). The attention selects
, thus, among the many visible things, a few; it concentrates or projects
[itself] on them, like a luminous focus, and leaves in a penumbra or obscurity the rest, on the background of which the attended ones clearly stand out. Well now, the attention, in turn, is governed by the law of interest
. We attend to that which interests us. And who or what decides about our interest in each moment? Well, without a doubt, the intimate constellation of our necessities, desires, appetites, vital conveniences, sentiments, preferences, loves; in sum, all that which Ortega designates many times with only one word: our heart
. [. . .] But, in turn, that intimate constellation functions in each moment according to the project or program
of life that each man is-a project, on the other hand, also conditioned by it-, that is, according to what the realization of said project in that moment requires. That is what we properly can call the situation
and permits us to speak already of the special perspective as a pragmatic
structure (about these two concepts we will return later). Thus, therefore, the "modeling" or organization of the "visual perspective," the "selection" in which it consists and which attention operates, comes already to be directed from within the subject; it originates itself in the "personal depth" of the latter and as a function of its affective interests and preferences. All vision supposes, thus, a pre-vision
or anticipated preference for certain objects (later we will see the far-reaching consequences of this fact). And as each individual represents a system of interests- and a project or program- [that is] different, it follows that not only does the attention select in each moment its scope
, but also each individual as such is already by himself a selective organ. From this [it follows] that various individuals, even situated in the same place, do not see the same
]. (For example, a laborer, a hunter and a painter, facing the same landscape, see three different landscapes- Ortega poses that example, or, in another place, that of a laborer and an astronomer, to make the same viewed with maximum clarity- ; but the same thing occurs with any two individuals, even though they be of the same profession, education, interests [aficiones
], etcetera); and it's [such] that, rigorously, two different men cannot ever be in the same situation
, even though they occupy the same place and even, as an impossibility, if they could occupy it simultaneously.
But there is even more: not only can two distinct individuals ever see the same [thing], but also, hurrying things and taking them in their extreme rigor, neither
] the same individual
, situated in the same place, looking at the same object and without moving the pupil, see exactly the same in two successive moments
, because the attention suffers displacements from moment to moment, as minimal and imperceptible as one wishes, but effective ones, a result, on the one hand, from our vital dynamism, and, on the other, from being always open to things and from their possessing an inexhaustible richness of aspects, which demands that, [upon] attending one, we transition incessantly from one to other aspects of the same. This double instance - internal and external- conjoined makes all perspective to be in essence mobile
, including in the same individual.
Having made these corrections, the rest of our first description is valid. But these corrections are, as we have already begun to see, of enormous reach. They signify, in the meantime, that there is no "pure" visual perspective; that which is commonly called this is nothing other than an abstraction, something that does not have, nor can it have, effective reality and, as a consequence, that, in line with the modification of the concept of "point of view," one has to also modify, consequently, other notions which enter into forming part of that common idea. And, above all, the notion of distance
. The usual concept of "distance" is quantitative, metrical. Now then, already in the real visual perspective- not in the abstract [one]- distances are qualitative
: more than "geodesic quantities" they are optical qualities
: "near" and "far" do not depend on "metric factors, but rather they are better [understood as] two distinct methods of looking."
This [much] for that which refers to what of the merely visual
there is in a real perspective. But one must have in mind that the real space-that is, that lived by man, the "human" space- is not only, nor even primarily, visual. It is more: it is not only, even primarily, "sensible". The sensorial organization of our body- having an organic body that functions sensorially- is a sine qua non
condition for there to be space and, therefore, perspective. Nothing less, but nothing more. I want to say that if it is a necessary condition it is not sufficient. "Pure" sensibility- supposing it would exist- , would not engender spaciousness, spatial relations. [. . .] But even in that essential part which in the constitution of real space corresponds to the senses, visual sensations are not, as I say, the most important ones, but rather the tactile ones; at least these are the most "primitive" and those which engendered the "livingness" [longknowledge
: my word for the Orteguian coinage, "vivencia,
" which was Ortega's translation of the German"Erlebnis
"] of corporeality; therefore, the impression of "resistance," that in Ortega- as in Maine de Biran, Dilthey and Scheler- , is equivalent to that of existence
. In addition, the corporeality of man brings with it the possibility of "living" the rest of the bodies as such and the necessary, fatal location- that of man- in a here
, a basic condition (even though, I repeat, not sufficient in itself) for there to be perspective, so that the world "converts itself automatically into a perspective." (Do not forget that speaking of "senses" and of "sensations" is already moving oneself in the terrain of an intellectual, "scientific" interpretation,- that of the psychophysical- , and a mere "verisimilitude" of primary reality, that is [of] "the marvelous presence of things.") Well now, the forcefulness of the here
in which my body "nails" me in each instant, [which] condemns it to live inexorably from a place, brings with it precisely as a consequence "that the space is originally for man" something very different than [what it is] for the geometer and that "all the other places of the world are organized in a living, dynamic perspective, of emotive tensions," in which "near and far" are not, as such, geometrical distances, but rather sentimental tensions or distensions, in relation to my interests, conveniences, expectations and projects of the moment. The real
distance, is not only qualitative, but also dynamic, sentimental, and we can say pragmatic
We see, therefore, how in the constitution of visual perspective a multitude of ingredients collaborate that are not visual. Already all visual perspective is inserted and as if boxed into a spatial perspective, to whose constitution contribute, in addition to sight, other senses. But in the latter, in its turn, there intervenes factors of an intellectual, affective, estimative and volitional order, without which the purely sensorial elements would be to the effects of such a constitution, null. There collaborates, as a consequence, time- of which, as of the real space we said that its is not the geometric, we can say that neither is it the metric, homogenous and empty time of the astral revolutions or of the clocks, but rather the time [that] is full, serious and charged with the dramatism of the counted hours, that is to say, the time of life- . The intervention of the living time in the perspective makes of it something essentially dynamic and mobile. There collaborates, naturally, also, and of an absolutely essential mode, the reality seen in each case- without which, it is clear, there is no possible perspective- . Finally, and in summary, there collaborates all the personal destiny
of each spectator, which, definitively, determines the radical irreducibility of the distinct individual perspectives.
Now it can be seen with more clarity why we said that the "visual perspective," in the usual acceptation of that expression, is a pure abstraction , is nothing real. The truly real "is what destiny integrates. And the real is never species, aspect, spectacle
". . . "All this precisely is the irreal, is our idea, not our being."
The notion of "visual perspective" has lead us to the distinction between "real perspective" and "abstract perspective," and has made patent that, if Ortega has served himself of that notion for constructing his own [notion] of perspective, it is not that, nevertheless, which translates the original reality that he thinks [of] under the term "perspective," but rather that it's only an abstract dimension of the much more complex- and concrete- fact with which with all propriety we could call perspective that is: the real perspective. But in addition to the visual, there are many other classes of abstract perspectives, for which it is convenient that we dedicate some space to complete these two notions.
[Translated by longknowledge
from: Perspectiva y verdad: El problema de la verdad en Ortega, by Ortega's Idea of Perspective - II