An examination into the existence of thought began with the Socratic philosophers including Aristotle and Plato. It is a question that was delved into much deeper by great thinker such as Descartes, Heidegger, Husserl, and Gadmer. The questions of knowledge that will be focused on here include the acquisition of knowledge, and perspective and its ability to shape ones view of all that surrounds him. The following will examine several influences on the individual that create, shape, and form his perspective leading him to a singular knowledge base. The concepts of perspective and horizon will be expanded upon to lead to the conclusion that knowledge is solely an individual endeavor that exists differently in every human being past, present, or future. Bias is inevitable in every human interaction be it literary, artistic, experiential, or linguistic. The perspective of no two individuals will be the same leading to a different understanding of even the most basic principle. The following definitions from Webster’s unabridged dictionary will help to frame the argument: Perspective: the state of one's ideas, the facts known to one, etc., in having a meaningful interrelationship. Horizon: the limit or range of perception, knowledge, or the like. Bias: a particular tendency or inclination, esp. one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question; prejudice. Knowledge : (i) expertise, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject, (ii) what is known in a
particular field or in total; facts and information or (iii) awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation Socialization: a continuing process whereby an individual acquires a personal identity and learns the norms, values, behavior, and social skills appropriate to his or her social position. These definitions will assist in proving that bias is inevitable in every human interaction leading to the conclusion that “pure communication” is impossible.
The influences on the individual come from a number of places not the least of which is societal. In determining what a person is in society many factors are considered such as race, class, gender, ethnicity, education level, and career. All of these factors contribute in determining the individual’s perspective on life and on specific situations. In The Politics of Reality by Marilyn Frye the difference is outlined in experience by using the phrases “white” and “male” privilege. She defines these privileges as the benefits that are bestowed upon members of the white and male classes. These privileges are largely unknown to members of these specific groups but are recognized widely by those on the outside. The life paths of individuals according to Frye are largely affected by the inclusion or non-inclusion into these specific groups. Access to power and education is largely determined by ones classification in these groups (Frye).
In determining an individual’s perspective all of the above mentioned factors must be considered. It follows that a poor black factory worker has obviously had a
different life experience than that of a rich white lawyer. How though does this affect perspective and can it boiled down so simply? No the experience of the individual is affected by these broad classifications but it is much more specific than that. It must be broke down on a situational level to determine an individual’s perspective. Two rich white lawyers, while fitting into a specific class benefiting from privilege according to Frye still do not have the same perspective. While both may be white, one may come from an Italian family and the other a German family. The differences in these upbringings can also drastically alter the perspective of the individual. Also perhaps they attended different universities, had friends from different...