We’re Skewed: Prepositions vs. Objectivism

Do not underestimate the value of prepositions.

Casually, I mention that the moon is behind the clouds. However, if I were on the other side of the moon, it would be the clouds that are behind the moon. It is more accurate to say that the clouds are in between me and the moon. But a third perspective sees that the moon, clouds, and I are alongside one another. This perspective, in turn, is skewed, according to another perspective, ad infinitum.

It seems that no perspective is totally correct. Each is true in its own way, yet somehow deficient. Whenever I use a preposition, I abuse a preposition- I don’t describe reality objectively, but only as it appears to me and my perspective.

Can we muster a perspective that perceives reality as such, and not just as it appears to its own skewed self? Maybe: an omniscient insight, a view from nowhere, a perspectiveless perspective. But there’s a crucial difference between us and this putative being- we require prepostions.

Why do we require prepositions? Because we are embodied. I breath air in and out. I put food in my mouth and shit it out. I am on Earth (tangent: some cultures understand the Earth to be a big egg yolk. In such cases, we land animals are in a sense swimming. But still, a preposition is necessary: we are swimming in Earth). The bullet goes through my head. As embodied beings we require prepositions, and in using prepositions we are- skewed.

The perfectly objective observer, on the other hand, cannot be embodied. For to be embodied is to be skewed, and to be skewed is to not be omniscient. But how, then, can this omniscient insight observe at all? Is it looking in from the outside, or is it within everything? Wait. I cannot even desribe omniscient insight without prepositions. The whole notion is absurd, to us embodied beings.

Throwing omniscience out the window, we are left only with perspective(s). Since every perspective is inchoate, do we concede that we cannot describe reality as such?

No.

If there is no reality without a perspective, then reality is perspective. Consequently, by having a perspective on your perspective, you have a perspective on reality as such. The fact that the initial perspective only reveals things as they appear does not make things any less true; things can only appear. Your perspective on how things appear is indicated by the preposition you use. The flaw of prepositions is not fatal; it reveals that things can appear in many ways. There’s a multitude of perspectives, and thus, a multitude of realities.

Just because we do not have a single objective immutable reality does not mean we have pure relativism. We can still attempt a slightly skewed version of objectivity: inter-subjectivity. There’s many ways to look at the clouds and moon- from above, below, within, without… by grouping many perspectives together we can have, if not a perfect reality, a better one. And it also does not follow that all perspectives are equal contributions. Observing the moon outdoors and observing the moon from within a bank vault is not a “fair and balanced” perspective. One of these perspectives clearly sucks.

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  1. #1 by Sword of Apollo on September 5, 2012 - 12:33 am

    If I have a perspective, then it is a perspective ON one reality. If two people see each other with a rock between them, they can both say that the rock is there. Can they not also both agree that Person A should say Person B is “behind the rock”? Both can agree on the same preposition for the same person.

    To say that “perspective is reality” is to make the concepts of “perspective” and “reality” meaningless.

    I see the single reality from my perspective. If I hold true to whatever part of reality I see (have evidence of) in my thinking, this is what it means to be objective.

  2. #2 by Gopher Padfoot on September 6, 2012 - 10:00 pm

    “Perspective” and “Reality” had to become meaningful before they became meaningless…

    Your example of person A and B both seeing each other as behind the rock is brilliant. But would it trouble you if I found your illustration to depict inter-subjectivity better than objectivity?

    Inter-subjectivity is person A and B establishing a reality neither of them could do alone, i.e., a recipricol relationship where each is behind the rock for the other (both can agree on the preposition).

    Objectivism, on the other hand, does not require person B. It could just be person A and their perspective ON the rock (reality). Person A might say, the tree is behind the rock. However, the tree cannot reciprocate (through language) and say Person A is behind the rock, too. No reality outside of this individual’s perspective has been established, yet.

    Now, you might argue that the rock is a thing-in-itself whose reality does not need to be established by a perspective. In response I ask: how did it come to be named “rock”?

    … there was a time long ago when two men were in the desert and one of the picked up a tiny piece of the desert and both of them were struck absolutely dumb. Why? Because a poet had not yet come along and invented the word “grain”.

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