Every philosophical school has its interpretation of cosmic flight or the best perspective on life. The Epicureans, Stoics, and Platonists all found an “exercise of imagination through the infinite vastness of the universe.” Philosophy enriches and transforms established perception, bringing our worldview into conscious awareness. As a result, it is critical to question whether we accurately see reality. By engaging in a practice known as “the view from above” (our third permanent habit), we can determine whether or not we perceive people, ourselves, and the world clearly.
How do we change when change is complex, and how do we think about change? Additionally, how psychological adaptability and the habit of framing and reinterpreting our viewpoints are necessary for making conscious adjustments. The practice of the perspective from above is beneficial in developing these abilities. According to classicist Pierre Hadot, the perspective from above allows us to understand the entirety of human reality and what is independent of us. “Health, fame, wealth, and even death are reduced to their true dimensions when considered from this point of view,” he said. In Natural Questions, Seneca makes a similar suggestion; while gazing down from the heights of the heavens, the philosopher realizes how small the Earth is and how foolish it is to wage war over such small areas of land.
Evaluating our behaviors and determining whether they align with what matters, as was covered in What Do You Want Out of Life, is crucial. When we can step back from the difficulties and pressures of daily life, we can see where we’re going (and why). Our philosophy of life is built on how we view the world and try to make sense of it. However, other philosophers beyond the Stoics, Epicureans, and Platonists also emphasize the importance of this kind of practice.
In order to diagnose a system or oneself while you’re in the thick of things, you need to step back from the immediate situation. Ronald A. Heifetz, in his leadership book “Leadership on the Line,” employs the image of “getting on the balcony” above the “dance floor” to illustrate what it takes to acquire the necessary detached perspective. The key is looking again at the cosmos from above or the balcony. Our chances of developing the essential clarity and incorporating the routines that actually matter to us increase when we widen our horizons.
Pierre Hadot states, “The sage never ceases to have the whole constantly present to his mind,” in his book “Philosophy as a Way of Life.” He never loses sight of the world but also considers and acts in light of the universe. The perspective from above is a both/and way of seeing, just like many other enduring habits. We are seeking to view both the whole and the component, not just the world, from a “cosmic perspective.”
Georgios Ardavanis – 28/06/2023