Anatomy of perspective

A teacher says to a student: “You are not the center of the universe.”

The perspective of the statement can be seen as a question inherent in the statement, to which the statement is the answer. In this example, the question is “Who or what is the center of the universe?” and the answer is “Not you.”

The standpoint of the statement are the assumptions upon which and from which the question is asked. In this example the assumption is “There is a center of the universe.”

From this standpoint, and along this perspective are phenomena seen and understood in a particular worldview. In this example, the worldview of the teacher is such that when she sees the student behave egocentrically, she sees him presumptuously claiming the privileged point around which the universe revolves.

The worldview is the source of opinion. In our example, the teacher is of the opinion that the student needs to abandon his own perspective, which apparently places him in the middle of the world as he has known it. It should be noted, too, that the teacher, being in a position of authority, is authorized to enforce her opinion as the truth.

The horizon of the statement comprises all the assumptions that have been made in the asking and answering of the question that allow the statement to be made and to have sense. In this example one excluded possibility is “The center of the universe is multiple.”

Beyond the horizon of the statement are all the possible alternatives to the assumptions that permit a different angle of questioning within the same problem. And that difference can be subtle — a mere matter of emphasis.

The teacher says to the student: “You are not the only center of the universe.” Now the statement is more expansive in its possibility.

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