I am trying to describe someone that has a particular ability, but I am unable to come up with a concise phrase or word that really fits. This person has the ability to mentally separate themselves from their own knowledge and experience and think about something with a "blank slate" of a mind.

For example, say this person was an inventor that created a new product. They would be able to set aside their extensive knowledge of said product and proofread the user's manual from the point of view of someone who knew nothing about it (finding things like industry-specific jargon or vague directions that assume the reader has some knowledge that was never presented).

Alternatively, say this person has very strong personal opinions on a topic. They would be able to discuss/debate that topic with someone objectively while completely disregarding their personal feelings. They would be great at playing devil's advocate, or would be the type of judge who could objectively make rulings based on the facts of the law, even when it contradicts their personal beliefs.

My first attempt at a description was "a compartmentalized mind", but that's too similar to a psychology term that means something completely different.

Phrases like "they look at things from a fresh/new perspective" don't really seem to fit. They imply that the person's perspective is simply different than other people's, not that the person can actively evaluate things from perspectives other than their own natural one.

The term "empath" accurately captures the concept of someone seeing something from the point of view of another, but is specific to emotional state. I'm looking for something more on the lines of knowledge, experiences, or opinions/beliefs.

Can anyone recommend a word or phrase to describe either this person or this particular talent?

  • 1
    "Scientist" it the term that first comes to me.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 22:56
  • Perhaps 'Externalise'. Although not a noun, but I think it roughly conveys the meaning you intend.
    – Jangari
    Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 23:00
  • 1
    @bta I think you said the word twice in your third paragraph: "objective". We also have "rational".
    – Gustavson
    Commented Mar 8, 2017 at 1:57
  • Is it unencumbered?
    – vectory
    Commented Jan 17, 2020 at 0:05

4 Answers 4


You describe the ability to step outside yourself or to be dispassionate.

Definition of step outside yourself:

To try and see things from another perspective, as if you were someone else looking at your life and situation.
Using the expression Step Outside Yourself, from Quora, Aug 23, 2016

Definition of dispassionate:

Not influenced by strong feelings or emotions; impartial: a dispassionate reporter.
American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Ed.

  • Able to set aside his own biases
    – Xanne
    Commented Mar 7, 2017 at 23:13
  • 1
    I think it's unfortunately too easy for someone unfamiliar with the word "dispassionate" to misinterpret it with a negative connotation. The phrase "step outside yourself" seems to fit what I'm looking for quite accurately. Thank you.
    – bta
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 17:18

For the user manual, such a person has the ability to put himself in a layman's shoes:

put oneself in someone's shoes (idiomatic): To try to look at a situation from a different point of view; as if one were the other person. To empathise. (wiktionary)

For the devil's advocate or judge, this person has the ability to sum up both sides of an issue. Furthermore, he is articulate.

sum (something) up: to give a summary of something. I would like to sum this lecture up by listing the main points I have covered. It is time for me to sum up. She summed up the president's speech in three sentences. (thefreedictionary.com idioms)

articulate (adj.): expressing or able to express things easily and clearly. The First Lady was an intelligent and articulate spokeswoman for a lot of causes. (Cambridge)


I think objective would be an appropriate descriptor.

They are a very objective person.

My friend is completly objective, even though he is very opinionated and knowledgeable on most subjects he can dispassionately consider and discuss both sides of an issue.

objective |əbˈjektiv|


merrium webster:

3 a : expressing or dealing with facts or conditions as perceived without distortion by personal feelings, prejudices, or interpretations objective art an objective history of the war an objective judgment

Apple Dictionary app

1 (of a person or their judgment) not influenced by personal feelings or opinions in considering and representing facts: historians try to be objective and impartial. Contrasted with subjective. • not dependent on the mind for existence; actual: a matter of objective fact.


I know this is an old Question, but I have a few ideas for future reference.


It can mean that a person can at least temporarily remove themselves from a specific line of thought and consider ideas fairly that may contradict their own normally.

1: free from bias
especially : free from all prejudice and favoritism : eminently fair
2: having an expected value equal to a population parameter being estimated



not partial or biased : treating or affecting all equally






not having or showing unfair bias or prejudice : not prejudiced



1: having or exhibiting equity : dealing fairly and equally with all concerned
2: existing or valid in equity as distinguished from law


Side note

With respect to an inventor, engineer, scientist, software developer, or product developer/designer in general, trying to distance their knowledge of a product during the creation of a user manual would be considered delusional, unreasonable, or even irrational. Believe me, I've tried it and I've seen others try it. It never works. The person involved in creating the product always creates the document with the idea of some pre-knowledge of what the "thing" is or does. They can help get the document to something like 70-90% completeness, but then they have to step back and let others work with it to "dumb it down" more for the "average user".

The same goes for marketing documents. The developer will either assume it's the best thing ever or will point out all the flaws. They are never unbiased and are often very biased (one way or another) about that product.

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