Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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core definition

Perspectivism is the view that any system of concepts of beliefs is as valid as any other system for interpreting the world.

explanatory context

Perspectivism is a term probably originated by Ortega y Gasset (although similar ideas occurred earlier in Neitschze's writing).


According to perspectivism, there is no authoritative independent criterion for determining that one such system is more valid than another.


Perspectivism raises a particular problem in linguistics as it questions whether it is legitimate or possible to translate one language into another.

analytical review

New World Encyclopedia (2019) states:

Perspectivism is the philosophical position that one's access to the world through perception, experience, and reason is possible only through one's own perspective and interpretation. It rejects both the idea of a perspective-free or an interpretation-free objective reality.

In visual perception, the appearance of an object changes according to a viewer's relative position to the object. This human experience was developed in philosophy as perspectivism. Although Leibniz integrated this view into his philosophy, it was Nietzschewho fully developed it. His perspectivism challenged the entire history of Western philosophy, including the thoughts of Plato, Descartes, and Kant.

Nietzsche explicated this perspectival or interpretive nature of human existence and attempted to justify the richness of the world that his perspectivism can depict. He shifted traditional questions of epistemology into the realms of axiology, aesthetics, and his unique philosophy of life. After Nietzsche, perspectivism has been taken up in phenomenologypostmodernism, and others. Perspectivism also highlighted the irreplaceable unique value of each individual and the value of differences and diversity.

Perspective in visual experiences

Perspective, in the context of vision and visual perception, is the way in which objects appear to the eye based on their spatial attributes, or their dimensions and the position of the eye relative to the objects.

As objects become more distant, they appear smaller, because their angular diameter (visual angle) decreases. The visual angle of an object is the angle subtended at the eye by a triangle with the object at its base. The further the height of this triangle, the distance of the object from the eye, the less the visual angle. This follows simply from Euclidean geometry....

The Sun and the Moon appear to be roughly the same size because the Sun, although much, much larger, is also much farther away. The relationship between distance and apparent height of objects is not a linear pattern. If an object were actually touching the eye, thus being no distance away, it would appear infinitely tall.

associated issues


related areas

See also




New World Encyclopedia, 2019, 'Perspectivism', 11 March 2019, available at, accessed 12 June 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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