POV–Philosophical Meandering

Harvey Robinson (“The Historical Point of View”) wrote: “It is clear that all our information in regard to past events and conditions must be derived from evidence of some kind. This evidence is called the source. Sometimes there are a number of good and reliable sources for an event … Sometimes there is but a single, unreliable source.” He continues to explain that we not only lose a sense of reliability of the event, but what do we truly learn from just one source?

Sarah Cooper, a history teacher wrote “Making History Mine …Personal Primary Sources.”

Sarah Copper had her class define primary source as point of view. The students, middle grade, knew that a primary source was something written by someone who was at the event, (single point of view) or an eyewitness. Sarah brought in a jade lion and asked the class to tell her about the person who owned this jade lion and the society around it. The answers varied as can be expected: “A lion trainer owned the real lions, a zookeeper, and a tourist bought the lion.” Three different perspectives.

This got me thinking: Philosophically speaking: Do we as writers deny the reader a deeper essence of knowledge (of a character, or scene, a lion statue) of the story by limiting the story to single POV? Doesn’t the multiple POV give the reader more perceptions into the story, therefore touching more of the readers’ own beliefs—helping them see a richer and different perspective by showing them multiple views on one subject?Of course it does, some readers might say. Some writer’s might respond that delving into the single person, from that specific point of view, gives the writing the intense depth and passion enriching the character and the story. However, I’m thinking more from the angle of what does the writer owe the reader. Some authors say that writing from the first person is easier and they still deliver a wonderful story–the true goal of writing. I guess this just boils down to individual preferences and an internal guideline of author’s ethics.

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