pospreterito: a scattered pile of papers and drawings ({process} ..ar elegance and thought)
[personal profile] pospreterito posting in [community profile] whengreatsatansgone
"Two men look out through the same bars; one sees mud and one the stars."
-Frederick Langbridge

Assignment:
Does everyone see a thing from the same perspective? Plan and write an essay in which you develop your point of view on this. Support your position with reasoning and examples taken from your reading, studies, experience, or observations.


The question of differing perspectives has haunted and plagued a variety of disciplines for a very long time. From fiction-creators to scientists to legislators to people just trying to get an idea across, it all comes back to one dilemma: does everyone else think the same way I do?

As children, we're given to assume that other people are just like us -- sometimes to the point of believing everyone else knows all the things we know. Part of cognitive development on the way to adulthood is the recognition of other people's consciousness as something completely different from our own. For a concept so hard to grasp, it ought to be logical: everyone thinks as the sum of their experiences and beliefs, so how could two people ever have the exact same perspective?

Upbringing is the first step for an individual viewpoint, or at least the first visible one. Some neurologist would argue that even before our guardians make a template that we guide ourselves by or rebel against, our biochemistry is already laying down the basics of how we will think, feel, and react. But after that, our parents or guardians give us sets of values we might assimilate or act against; then education steps in with a more standardised approach. All the while we are each amassing experiences to compare any new stimuli to.

Both the figurative and literal languages we use, then, differ from person to person. Figuratively, I think in a language made up of my beliefs, experiences, and expectations, entirely individual; but my point of view will also differ if I learned to think in English, or Spanish, or Farsi. There have even been experiments showing that depending on how a language allocates blame, its speakers will react differently when prompted to find a culprit in ambiguous situations. Even if no one was guilty, people who spoke languages like English -- that assign blame by the use of phrases like "He dropped it" -- would find more people guilty and demand that they be punished more than, say, Spanish-speakers, who say, "It was dropped".

With so much behind each of us influencing our perspectives, it's no wonder that no two people think exactly the same way. What should be amazing is that despite cultural, linguistic, class-based, religious, and a thousand other kinds of distinctions, we manage to communicate. Part of growing up is recognising this fundamental difference and learning to work with or around it, but this isn't as dire as it sounds. I may speak another language, come from the other side of a generational gap, have grown up in a way completely alien to you, but we're all human -- weird, wonderful, unique human beings. Everyone is completely distinct and subtly isolated from the rest of the world, but at the end of the day, how hard could bridging that perspective gap be?

The man who sees stars can point them out to the one who sees mud; the man who sees mud can describe it to the stargazer. They, and everyone else, have completely individual perspectives, but these can be explained and shared.
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