According to the author, the capacity to employ an allocentric perception in the pursuit of objective knowledge of the world requires more than interest; it requires development of the capacity to distinguish self from Other. She also claims that "Allocentric perception is perception in the service of a love which wants to affirm others in their total and unique being." However, I wonder to what extent this is actually applicable to the social sciences. Our "objects" of analysis are humans, and the urge to "affirm others" in turn renders us the ones to do the affirming. But are affirmation and objective knowledge truly the goals of anthropology and the social sciences in general? I concur with the notion of doing this work with love and care, but I do not see myself as being the almight arbiter of affirming nor the conduit of "objectivity." Rather, I see the social sciences, and ethnography in particular, as being the means by which we may present a mirror to society, but as projected from our own varying positionalities. And those who see our mirrors' reflection can in turn reflect a mirror back at us, because we are all working together to make some sense of society. A sense that is perhaps not objective, but can nevertheless be useful, productive, and enlightening.
How do you determine the “correct” figure and ground? Is there such a thing? How much can study of culture/society be structured, and how much must be left to be free as it is? What is the purpose of project design, outside of our own personal curiosities, motives, and interests? Sometimes I find the more I attempt to impose any sort of structure, the more the evidence defies those structures. Even with an open system, I wonder to what extent it might run the risk of imposing on that which we are attempting to understand.