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I'm not understanding the subtleties of [視点]{してん} vs 観点{かんてん}.

I know that they both mean something like "point of view", and given the existence of two of them, one of them probably implies more consideration than the other, but I'm not sure which one is which.

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  • +1 I've always wondered what the difference is between the various words which mean "point of view". I think some other words which can have a similar meaning are 見方{みかた} and 立場{たちば}.
    – cypher
    Jun 4, 2012 at 11:20
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    @cypher: 見方 is "way of looking at things", metaphorically emphasizing how you come to your point of view. 立場 is "standpoint", metaphorically emphasizing your place in relation to the thing you have a point of view on. Hope that helps. :)
    – Questioner
    Jun 5, 2012 at 0:40
  • Just to add one more, there is also 着眼点【ちゃくがんてん】.
    – istrasci
    Jun 7, 2012 at 2:58

2 Answers 2

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I will add my two cents, based on the two top answers in this 教えて!. Thanks to silvermaple for the encouragement.

It appears that one's 視点 is a direct point of view (visual or conceptual, as sawa noted) on a phenomenon. One's 観点, on the other hand, is comprised of underlying assumptions, ways of thinking, and experience considering multiple viewpoints.

For example, the first answer explains that changing one's 視点 might involve changing the angle or perspective from which one views or thinks about the phenomenon. Changing one's 観点, on the other hand, should involve a change in the underlying assumptions or way of thinking about an issue or object.

The second answer offers a simpler, yet easier to remember, explanation. It draws attention to the composition of 観 and 視. While 視 is a combination of 示 (show) and 見 (see), 観 comes from 鸛{こうのとり} (stork) and 見. 視 therefore suggests gazing a particular direction from a particular standpoint, while the stork in 観 opens her eyes and looks around, examining her environment from multiple angles.

Perhaps 観点 could be described as meta-視点.

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視点 is literally "visual point of view" or "perspective". It is often metaphorically used as "conceptual point of view" just like the English word perspective, but sometimes, the metaphor will sound awkward. 観点 is literally "conceptual point of view" and cannot be used to mean "visual point of view".

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    Some of the answers to this 教えて! suggest that one's 観点 is more likely to arise through the consideration of multiple viewpoints, premises, and ways of thinking. This may be somewhat different from simply a conceptual version of 視点.
    – con5013d
    Jun 4, 2012 at 17:50
  • @con5013d: That's a good point! You should make that an answer all by itself. Jun 5, 2012 at 1:59

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