Research proposal: A theory of perspective

My research interest is to understand the relationship between challenging assumption, semantic shifting, and perspective changing. The project also proposes a framework for the concept “perspective”. This concept is commonly used in daily conversations and folk psychology (“keep a fresh perspective”, “look at the problem in a new perspective”, “put yourself in other’s perspective”), yet never seems to be justified with a framework that bases on science or philosophy. Besides cognitive psychology and cognitive linguistics, the metaphysics/epistemology of Mahayana Buddhism and Daoism is identified to be helpful. Each of them provides a perspective of the concept “perspective”. However, since different perspectives mean disparate traditions, I build a model unify them in one framework, with visual representation, and to apply it to various applications.

There are two articles to elaborate this:

The project aims to be a jack of all trades, rather than a master of one. The author acknowledges the disadvantages, but the benefits are compelling enough to continue doing so.

The take-home message is this “formula”:

Challenging assumption = meaning shifting = perspective changing

Research plan

  1. Having a literature review
  2. Making the formula more concrete
  3. Making the model and its visual representation more concrete
  4. Making the applications more concrete

If you find this plan vague, read the article Connection between cognitive linguistics, cognitive psychology, Buddhism and Daoism.

To elaborate step 1, these are some questions that needs to be answered:

  • What is the relation between assumption and sememe?
  • How are unresolved problems prompted up and solved?
  • What are the models of logic, knowledge representation, and reasoning?
  • How does language play a role in problem-solving? How does memory play a role in the relationship between language and problem-solving?
  • How does short-term memory play a role in verbalized assumptions?
  • How do “generalized polysemies” and “generalized synonyms” work?
  • How do emotions cloud the ability to identify, recall and verbalize assumptions?
  • How does knowledge inhibit the ability to self-ask Socratic questions?
  • [to be continued]

Significance of study

Advantages of this model

  • Intuitive and imagery. It is simple, so it can be used to explain in therapy, or can connect with folk psychology (“keep a fresh perspective”, “look at the problem in a new perspective”, “put yourself in other’s perspective”, etc)
  • Be an intermediate framework to connect with other fields. From my understanding, the most successful model to represent knowledge is connectionism. However, its applications are still limited to purely cognitive problems (e.g. dyslexia), not to problems in other fields. It is hardly to imagine how to apply this model to explain stylistic devices or communication.
  • Provide new mathematical structure to current models. The new structure in here is plane, which represents perspective. In other models, once a piece of information is regarded as a node, it is always be a node. If it regarded as an edge, it is always be so. More than that, the structure of the network is fixed, even though you can work around it by turning the nodes on or off. However, with plane, you are freely to regard it as node or edge, and the structure is fundamentally changed in each plane.


Here are the questions in the application section the model trying to answer:

  • Analogy: Why do analogies help us understand a problem we don’t understand? How to reason with analogy without making logical fallacy?
  • Writing: How to explain a concept when the novice really lacks background? What does it mean to have a transformative writing? What does “big picture” really mean?
  • Finding the balance point: Why are efforts to be adaptive become maladaptive? Why do wisdom word become clichés? Why is it hard to balance between disciplinary and flexibility? How to stop the indecisiveness without worrying of doing wrong?
  • Communication & perspective taking: Why do people keep misunderstand each other? Why do others keep distorting our words? Why don’t we realize that we are distorting theirs? How to solve it when it happens?
  • The cold gaze: How to see your core value when your mind is clouded with fantasies, ruminations, resentments, or fears?

Relevant fields

Fields……I moderately understand or know superficially…I should have read
PhilosophyTaoism, Buddhism, postmodernism, epistemology, romanticismLogic, metaphysics, phenomenology, ontology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, perspectivism, dialecticism
PsychologyCognitive psychology, social psychology, clinical psychology
Analogy, CBT, mindfulness, borderline personality disorder, emotion, betrayal
Personality psychology, educational psychology, humanistic, philosophy of psychology, cognitive science of religious, psycholinguitics
LinguisticsCognitive linguistics, stylistics, semantics, syntaxLexical semantics, pragmatics, semiotics, cognitive social linguistics, discourse analysis, document analysis, corpus analysis, lexicography
Communication & cultural studiesCommunication study, interpersonal communication, negotiation, rhetoric & composition, Chinese rhetoric, poetics, mysticismSociology, paremiology, design & typography, decision analysis, pedagogy, cognitive literary theory
Math & hard sciences Projective geometry, group & representation, dynamical systems, harmonic analysis, complex analysis, history of mathInformation theory, neurosciences, AI, relativity theory


  • The Taoist texts have been the most important thing I’ve read. This, perhaps the second most important. It’s another way to…the way. It would probably work well for someone who’s read the Tao Te Ching and didn’t quite ‘get it’. I think a lot of people shut out the teachings of the ancient Chinese masters because it sounds “fake deep” or like “hippy shit” or like something a dead meme would say. Personally I find them very profound and easy to understand, but for my very modern thinking friends I may try to introduce them to this instead. Thank you friend.
    — dankweed42069
  • I very much like the idea of duality here- the zooming in and out all the way. I like to imagine the duality of man to be the same. Logically we know that the universe is infinite and no amount of human effort could possibly overpower natural forces. The other half of our brain, however, is rooted in emotion and finds attachment to all things in the moment, and defines our place in the moment, creating a sense personal importance and relevancy, or control.
    — RiceBang
  • Movement is a brilliant word to use. I would have to agree with you: my will would be perceiving where a thing-in-itself was; And, where it is going when arriving at meaning–intuition in a word (and some other things).
    — embelishsomething






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