philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about Metaphysics, existence, reason, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Philosophy of language, language. Such questio ...

, a point of view is a specific attitude or manner through which a person thinks about something. This figurative usage of the expression dates back to 1760. In this meaning, the usage is synonymous with one of the meanings of the term perspectiveCampos, Gutiérrez, p. 2 (also epistemic perspective). The concept of the "point of view" is highly multifunctional and ambiguous. Many things may be judged from certain personal, traditional or moral points of view (as in "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"). Our knowledge about reality is often relative to a certain point of view. Vázquez Campos and Manuel Liz Gutierrez suggested to analyse the concept of "point of view" using two approaches: one based on the concept of "
propositional attitude A propositional attitude is a mental state held by an agent toward a proposition In logic and linguistics, a proposition is the meaning of a declarative sentence (linguistics), sentence. In philosophy, "Meaning (philosophy), meaning" is understood ...
s", the other on the concepts of "location" and "access".


Margarita Vázquez Campos and Antonio Manuel Liz Gutiérrez in their work, "The Notion of Point of View", give a comprehensive analysis of the structure of the concept. They point out that despite being crucial in many discourses, the notion has not been adequately analyzed, though some important works do exist. They mention that early classical Greek philosophers, starting from
Parmenides Parmenides of Elea (; grc-gre, Παρμενίδης ὁ Ἐλεάτης; ) was a pre-Socratic Greek philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy. The term ''philosopher'' comes from the grc, φιλόσοφος, , translit ...

Heraclitus Heraclitus of Ephesus (; grc-gre, Ἡράκλειτος ; , ) was an Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), ...

discussed the relation between "appearance" and reality, i.e., how our points of view are connected with reality. They specifically point out
Ludwig Wittgenstein Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein ( ; ; 26 April 1889 – 29 April 1951) was an Austrian Austrian may refer to: * Austrians, someone from Austria or of Austrian descent ** Someone who is considered an Austrian citizen, see Austrian nationali ...

Ludwig Wittgenstein
's ''
Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus The ''Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus'' (widely abbreviated and cited as TLP) is a book-length philosophical work by the Austrian philosopher A philosopher is someone who practices philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of gene ...
''. They consider Wittgenstein's theory of "pictures" or "models" (Wittgenstein used the German word ''Bild'', which means both "picture" and "model") as an illustration of the relationship between points of view and reality.

Propositional attitudes

The internal structure of a point of view may be analysed similarly to the concept of a propositional attitude. A propositional attitude is an attitude, i.e., a mental state held by an agent toward a
proposition In logic Logic is an interdisciplinary field which studies truth and reasoning Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, Greek: grc, wikt:λογική, λογική, lab ...
. Examples of such attitudes are "to believe in something", "to desire something", "to guess something", "to remember something", etc. Vazques Campos and Gutierrez suggest that points of view may be analyzed as structured sets of propositional attitudes. The authors draw on Christopher Peacocke's ''Sense and Content''. Within this approach one may carry out
ontological Ontology is the branch of philosophy Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about reason, Metaphysics, existence, Epistemology, knowledge, Ethics, values, Philosophy of mind, mind, and Ph ...

classification of various distinctions, such as individual vs. collective points of view, personal vs. non-personal, non-conceptual vs. conceptual, etc.Manuel Liz & Margarita Vázquez
"Two approaches to the notion of Point of View"
extended abstract for
''14th Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science''
, July 19–26, 2011 (retrieved August 31, 2015)

Location and access

Whereas propositional attitudes approach to analyze points of view internally, the "location/access" approach analyzes points of view externally, by their role. The term "access" refers to the statement of Liz Gutierrez that "points of views, or perspectives, are ways of having access to the world and to ourselves", and the term "location" is in reference to the provided quotation of Jon Moline that points of view are "ways of viewing things and events from certain locations". Moline rejects the notion that points of view are reducible to some rules based on some theories, maxims or dogmas. Moline considers the concept of "location" in two ways: in a direct way as a vantage point, and in an extended way, the way how a given vantage point provides a perspective, i.e., influences the perception.Moline, Jon, "On Points of View", ''American Philosophical Quarterly'', 1968, vol. 5, 191–298. (as cited by Manuel Liz) This approach may address
epistemological Epistemology (; ) is the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence in the real world. The usual test for a statement of fact ...

issues, such as
relativism Relativism is a family of philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, such as those about existence Existence is the ability of an entity to interact with physical or mental reality Reality ...
, existence of the absolute point of view, compatibility of points of view (including " faultless disagreement"), possibility of a point of view without a bearer, etc.

See also

* Anekantavada *
Paradigm In science Science () is a systematic enterprise that Scientific method, builds and organizes knowledge in the form of Testability, testable explanations and predictions about the universe."... modern science is a discovery as well as ...
Perspectivism Perspectivism (also perspectivalism; german: Perspektivismus) is the epistemological principle that perception of and knowledge of something are always bound to the interpretive perspectives of those observing it. While perspectivism regard al ...
Reality tunnel Reality tunnel is a theory that, with a subconscious set of mental filters formed from belief A belief is an attitude Attitude may refer to: Philosophy and psychology * Attitude (psychology) In psychology Psychology is the scienc ...
Umwelt Schematic view of a cycle as an early biocyberneticist In the semiotic theories of Jakob von Uexküll and Thomas A. Sebeok, ''umwelt'' (plural: umwelten; from the German ''Umwelt Schematic view of a cycle as an early biocyberneticist In ...
World view A worldview or world-view is the fundamental cognitive Cognition () refers to "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual ...
Value system In ethics Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that "involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong action (philosophy), behavior".''Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy'"Ethics"/ref> The field o ...



*Margarita Vázquez Campos, Antonio Manuel Liz Gutiérrez
"The Notion of Point of View"
in: ''Temporal Points of View: Subjective and Objective Aspects'', Springer, 2015, *Manuel Liz
"Models and Points of View: The Analysis of the Notion of Point of View"
in: Lorenzo Magnani (ed.), ''Model-Based Reasoning in Science and Technology: Theoretical and Cognitive Issues'', Springer Science & Business Media, 2013,

Further reading

*Moore, A., ''Points of View'', Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1997

External links

* * {{World view A priori Abstraction Belief Bias Cognitive science Communication Concepts in epistemology Concepts in metaphysics Conceptual modelling Mental processes Metaphysics of mind Ontology Perception Phenomenology Philosophical theories Philosophy of mind Propositional attitudes Psychological attitude Reality Reasoning Subjective experience Thought Truth