Visioning

Perspectivism suggests a way of seeing the world where the body is the origin of the perspective. It is a model elaborated by the Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro that proposes another way of looking at the nature / culture opposition associated with modernity. According to the so-called ‘western ontological model’, nature is one (all life forms are part of nature), and culture is the variable. This dualist model is predicated on similarities between bodies (we are all nature) and singularity of souls (individual souls and specific cultures). But for Viveiros de Castro, there is a common ontological understanding amongst Amerindians (Indigenous peoples from the Amazon region) that inverts this Western model. For them, humans and nonhumans inhabit different bodies (they have distinct natures), but share the same soul. At a given moment in mythological time, all humans adopted different bodies and differentiated, but they kept the former soul, a human soul. According to that way of seeing the world, the point of view is located in the body; and the body is the origin of the perspective. So if your body is that of a jaguar, blood is like manioc beer to you (a fermented drink Amerindians consume on special occasions). Following that reasoning, humans and animals share the same human soul but see the world differently because they have different bodies: ‘pigs see themselves as humans, their mud holes as houses, and humans as jaguars’.