No Point of View

At a time when nearly everyone’s view of the world has become political, partisan and reified, perhaps we should look to the “anti-philosophers” such as Lev Shestov, who understood that all points of view are not only false but harmful to the human spirit and the pursuit of wisdom.

From Lev Shestov’s All Things Are Possible

A point of view.- “Every writer, thinker- even every educated person thinks it necessary to have a permanent point of view. They climb up some elevation and never climbs down again all their days. Whatever they see from this point of view, they believe to be reality, truth, justice, good- and what they do not see they exclude from existence. People are not much to blame for this. Surely there is no very great joy in moving from point of view to point to view, shifting one’s camp from peak to peak. We have no wings, and ‘a winged thought’ is only a nice metaphor- unless, of course, it refers to logical thinking. There to be sure great volatility is usual, a lightness which comes from perfect naivete, if not ignorance. Anyone who really wished to know something, and not merely to have a philosophy, does not rely on logic and is not allured by reason. They must clamor from summit to summit, and, if necessary, hibernate in the dales. For a wide horizon leads to illusions, and in order to familiarize oneself with any object, it is essential to go close up to it, touch it, feel it, examine it from top to bottom and on every side. One must be ready, should this be impossible otherwise, to sacrifice the customary position of the body; to wiggle, to lie flat, to stand on one’s head, in a word, to assume the most unnatural of attitudes. Can there be any question of a permanent point of view? The more mobility and elasticity a person has, the less they value the ordinary equilibrium of their body; the oftener they change their outlook, the more they will take in. If, on the other hand, they imagine that from this or the other pinnacle they have the most comfortable survey of the world and life, leave them alone; they will never know anything. Nay, they do not want to know, they care more about their personal convenience than about the quality of their work. No doubt they will attain to fame and success, and thus brilliantly justify their ‘point of view.’”