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I. Preface: The Importance of Perspective

When making a study of Philosophy, all too often the subject of perspective is left

unmentioned. In the past fifty years, in those sciences concentrating on the nature of man

(anthropology, sociology, and psychology), it has been realized that awareness of perspective is

necessary if these sciences are going to be objective and accurate, i.e., control variables. By

perspective, I refer to the manner in which a culture or society (as in the case of anthropology and

sociology) view the world, or in the manner in which an individual views the world (e.g.

psychology, or analysis of the perspective of a philosopher when making a study of his work). In

Anthropology, perspective is divided into two groups (Geertz 1973, pg.126):

"In recent anthropological discussion, the moral (and aesthetic) aspects of a given culture, the evaluative elements, have commonly been summed up in the term 'ethos,' while cognitive, existential aspects have been designated by the term 'world view.' A people's ethos is the tone, character, and quality of their life, it's moral aesthetic style and mood; it is the underlying attitude toward themselves and their world that life reflects. Their world view is their picture of the way things in sheer actuality are, their concept of nature, of self, of society. It contains their most comprehensive ideas of order. . . [Symbols], dramatized in rituals or related myths, are felt somehow to sum up for those for whom they are resonant, what is known about the way the world is, the quality of emotional life it supports, and the way one ought to behave while in it. Sacred symbols thus relate an ontology and a cosmology to an aesthetics and a morality. . ."

Thus, on the cultural scale, perspective can be divided into "Ethos, World View, and

Symbols". When applied to anthropology and to the anthropologist (or for that matter, the

sociologist and psychologist), we are given a method in which to analyze a culture or the cultural

influences on the behavior of an individual in that culture. The importance of this was realized in

the study of anthropology and has since been applied to psychology to explain behavior as well as

the reasoning behind various psychologist's theories (e.g. Freud, Maslow, or the anthropologist

Margaret Mead). However, though perspective is important in understanding behavior (at the

individual and cultural scale) and the formation of theory, perspective has not been adequately

applied to the study of philosophy.

All human behavior and thought is set in a cultural context--we are who we are because of

our culture. Cultures have developed for different reasons and under different conditions and there

is, therefore, no universal cultural context. Hence we operate within a culture through cultural

assumptions. Just as there are cultural contexts when discussing perspective, there are also

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