On Perspectives

With the quest of interacting with people more effectively, I have started reading Getting to Yes by Fisher and Ury. One part of it talks about how during an argument, it is important to put yourself in others’ shoes, because “If you want to influence them, you also need to understand empathetically the power of their point of view and to feel the emotional force with which they believe in it. It is not enough to study them like beetles under a microscope, you need to know that it feels like to be a beetle.”

I couldn’t help it but to draw a connection between this and a philosophical statement from the first blog post:格物致知, about how it is necessary to keep thinking and observing something until achieving full understanding. Combining those two points, one would come to a conclusion that in order to fully understand something/someone, it is essential to try on their perspective, see the world through their eyes, then you will be able to understand their reasoning, the way they function, etc.

This is not only true when dealing with people, understanding where the other person is coming from makes you more empathetic towards them. More importantly, in the world of science, the notion of “empathy” becomes more intimate: you are required to understand your subject of study down to every single detail. To study the structure of an atom, one needs to study heavy quantum mechanics and (preferably) conduct attosecond scale spectroscopy experiments. By studying the wavefunction of one particular atom, one is put in the atom’s shoes (if any?) and experience its probability of existence in spacetime. And only after one understands the way one atom work, they can go on and study more complex objects. In theory of relativity, an analogy would be the concept of the “frame of reference”, with the warping of spacetime, the motion of an object appears to have different magnitude and direction of a vector motion in different reference frames. Given two observers in two reference frames observing movement of one object, they would describe the event in a way that is true to themselves but contradicts the other. So in this scenario, it is particularly important to take other the other perspective in order to get what they come from.

In such a way, learning fundamental science put us in the nature’s perspective. From physics’ perspective, we learn how the most fundamental units of nature (quarks, electrons, etc) work, from chemistry’s perspective, we learn the bonds and combinations of those units, biology is much more macroscopic and complex, we learn how humans work among other things. Science is born because our ancestors wanted to understand things at a deep level, the different subjects of science enables us to understand nature from different levels of perspective. Only after we understand our environment, we will then understand ourselves.

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