Perspectivism is the philosophical view developed by Friedrich Nietzsche that all ideations take place from particular perspectives. This means that there are many possible conceptual schemes, or perspectives in which judgment of truth or value can be made. This is often taken to imply that no way of seeing the world can be taken as definitively “true”, but does not necessarily entailthat all perspectives are equally valid.
Perspectivism rejects objective metaphysics as impossible, claiming that no evaluation of objectivity can transcend cultural formations or subjective designations. Therefore, there are no objective facts, nor any knowledge of a thing-in-itself. Truth is separated from any particular vantage point, and so there are no ethical orepistemological absolutes. Rules (i.e., those of philosophy, the scientific method, etc.) are constantly reassessed according to the circumstances of individual perspectives. “Truth” is thus created by integrating different vantage points together.
People always adopt perspectives by default – whether they are aware of it or not – and the concepts of one’s existence are defined by the circumstances surrounding that individual. Truth is made by and for individuals and peoples. This view differs from many types of relativism which consider the truth of a particular proposition as something that altogether cannot be evaluatedwith respect to an “absolute truth”,without taking into consideration culture and context.
This view is outlined in an aphorism from Nietzsche’s posthumously-assembled collectionThe Will to Power:
In so far as the word “knowledge” has any meaning, the world is knowable; but it is interpretable otherwise, it has no meaning behind it, but countless meanings.—”Perspectivism.”It is our needs that interpret the world; our drives and their For and Against.[emphasis added] Every drive is a kind of lust to rule; each one has its perspective that it would like to compel all the other drives to accept as a norm.— Friedrich Nietzsche; trans. Walter Kaufmann , The Will to Power, §481 (1883-1888)
Richard Schacht, in his interpretation of Nietzsche’s thought, argues that this can be expanded into a revised form of “objectivity” in relation to “subjectivity” as an aggregate of singular viewpoints that illuminate, for example, a particular idea in seemingly self-contradictory ways but upon closer inspection would reveal a difference of contextuality and of rule by which such an idea (e.g., that is fundamentally perspectival) can be validated. Therefore, it can be said each perspective is subsumed into and, taking account of its individuated context, adds to the overall objective measure of a proposition under examination. Nevertheless, perspectivism does not implicate any method of inquiry nor astructural theory of knowledge in general.
- Anekantavada, a fundamental doctrine of Jainism setting forth a pluralistic metaphysics
- Conceptual framework
- Consilience, the unity of knowledge
- Constructivist epistemology
- Moral nihilism
- Moral skepticism
- Multiperspectivalism, a current in Calvinistepistemology
- Philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche
- Rhizome (philosophy)
- Truth is Subjectivity, a concept on subjectivity bySøren Kierkegaard
- Value pluralism