This essay examines the contradictions often found in third wave feminist texts that function as strategic choices that may shape, foster, and enhance an individual's sense of agency. Many third wave feminists utilize contradiction as a way to understand emergent identities, to develop new ways of thinking, and to imagine new forms of social action. Agency, then, stems from the use of contradiction as a means of self-determination and identity, of transcendence of seemingly forced or dichotomous choices, and counter-imaginations of (...) a better future. (shrink)
I distinguish between two senses in which feminists have argued that the knower is social: 1. situated or socially positioned and 2. interdependent. I argue that these two aspects of the knower work in cooperation with each other in a way that can produce willful hermeneutical ignorance, a type of epistemic injustice absent from Miranda Fricker's Epistemic Injustice. Analyzing the limitations of Fricker's analysis of the trial of Tom Robinson in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird with attention to the (...) way in which situatedness and interdependence work in tandem, I develop an understanding of willful hermeneutical ignorance, which occurs when dominantly situated knowers refuse to acknowledge epistemic tools developed from the experienced world of those situated marginally. Such refusals allow dominantly situated knowers to misunderstand, misinterpret, and/or ignore whole parts of the world. (shrink)
When diversity figures in ways that insulate women's differences from one another rather than theorizing about them together, it is difficult to see how interactionamong women that recognizes their differences is possible. In turn, the possibility of communication may seem inordinately difficult when taking place among diverse groups about their differences. While not denying these difficulties, I want to avoid approaches and practices that may draw us into a stalemate in considering possibilities for communication. In the following, I bring together (...) Maria Lugones's reflections on cross-cultural understanding with some of the ways of articulating understanding highlighted by the later Wittgenstein, which are open to the possibility of communicating differences. (shrink)
Feminist epistemologists and feminist philosophers of science have argued that our efforts to know the world are always situated, accompanied by such things as desires, beliefs, and interests that guide and shape what it is we discover and perhaps even what we can know. If this is the case, how is one to be receptive to that which is outside of the purview of one’s current understanding of the world? Some feminists have argued that in order to know more effectively (...) and more broadly we need to make our knowledge communities as diverse as possible so as to insure the greatest possible range of discovery. Others have argued thatwe need to begin by adopting the perspectives of those marginalized by society.These suggestions of where we ought to begin our inquiry, however, do not adequately guide us in how we ought to proceed. In both cases (beginning with diverse communities or focusing on the experiences of those marginalized), it is critical that we know and understand others as a condition for broadening the range of our sources of knowledge. Knowing others is a crucial yet often neglected epistemological problem. In this paper I begin by examining some problems that can arise with how we understand others. Drawing on the work of Cora Diamond, I suggest some possibilities that may help us with the problems sketched in the first part. Finally I argue that developing the virtue of care is critical if we are to further our possibilities for knowing the world in general. (shrink)
In The Alchemy of Race and Rights Patricia Williams notes that when people of color are asked to understand such practices as racial profiling by putting themselves in the shoes of white people, they are, in effect, being asked to, ‘look into the mirror of frightened white faces for the reality of their undesirability’ (1992, 46). While we often see understanding another as ethically and epistemically virtuous, in this paper I argue that it is wrong in some cases to ask (...) another to attempt to understand certain positions or lines of thought. In developing my argument I draw on the work of María Lugones to argue for a view of agency that is epistemically interdependent. I examine the case described by Patricia Williams to demonstrate specifically how the understanding requested in this case unfairly undermines both epistemic and non-epistemic agency. I distinguish appropriate requests for understanding from inappropriate requests so as to make clear that I am not suggesting that it is wrong to make such requests when the understanding sought after is difficult, painful, or even when it forces one to reconsider the meaning of one’s actions. Finally, I examine an example from Susan Brison to show how strategic refusals to understand may provide a pathway toward new ways of knowing and being in resistance to oppressive regimes. (shrink)
Plato on Knowledge and Forms brings together a set of connected essays by Gail Fine, in her main area of research since the late 1970s: Plato's metaphysics and epistemology. She discusses central issues in Plato's metaphysics and epistemology, issues concerning the nature and extent of knowledge, and its relation to perception, sensibles, and forms; and issues concerning the nature of forms, such as whether they are universals or particulars, separate or immanent, and whether they are causes. A specially written introduction (...) draws together the themes of the volume, which will reward the attention of anyone interested in Plato or in ancient metaphysics and epistemology. (shrink)
The Peri ide^on (On Ideas) is the only work in which Aristotle systematically sets out and criticizes arguments for the existence of Platonic forms. Gail Fine presents the first full-length treatment in English of this important but neglected work. She asks how, and how well, Aristotle understands Plato's theory of forms, and why and with what justification he favors an alternative metaphysical scheme. She examines the significance of the Peri ide^on for some central questions about Plato's theory of forms--whether, for (...) example, there are forms corresponding to every property or only to some, and if only to some, then to which ones; whether forms are universals, particulars or both; and whether they are meanings, properties or both. Fine also provides a general discussion of Plato's theory of forms, and of our evidence about the Peri ide^on and its date, scope, and aims. While she pays careful attention to the details of the text, she also relates it to contemporary philosophical concerns. The book will be valuable for anyone interested in metaphysics ancient or modern. (shrink)
There has been much discussion concerning whether or not some of Sartre's views on morality may be understood as endorsing Kant's views. Perhaps the most controversial issue has been whether in various places in his corpus Sartre invokes Kant's “universalizability principle.” Indeed, Sartre's frequent use of Kantian language, including the idea of universalizability and “kingdom of ends,” strongly suggests that there is some appreciable convergence between his views and those of Kant. While it is true that Sartre borrows Kant's language (...) and expressions, he does not, I argue, use them in the same sense as Kant does. (shrink)
At the end of Republic 5, Plato distinguishes epistêmê from doxa, knowledge from belief. In Posterior Analytics 1.33, Aristotle provides his own distinction between epistêmê and doxa. I explore his way of distinguishing them and compare it with Plato's.
This project continues our interdisciplinary research into computational and cognitive aspects of narrative comprehension. Our ultimate goal is the development of a computational theory of how humans understand narrative texts. The theory will be informed by joint research from the viewpoints of linguistics, cognitive psychology, the study of language acquisition, literary theory, geography, philosophy, and artiﬁcial intelligence. The linguists, literary theorists, and geographers in our group are developing theories of narrative language and spatial understanding that are being tested by the (...) cognitive psychologists and language researchers in our group, and a computational model of a reader of narrative text is being developed by the AI researchers, based in part on these theories and results and in part on research on knowledge representation and reasoning. This proposal describes the knowledge-representation and natural-language-processing issues involved in the computational implementation of the theory; discusses a contrast between communicative and narrative uses of language and of the relation of the narrative text to the story world it describes; investigates linguistic, literary, and hermeneutic dimensions of our research; presents a computational investigation of subjective sentences and reference in narrative; studies children’s acquisition of the ability to take third-person perspective in their own storytelling; describes the psychological validation of various linguistic devices; and examines how readers develop an understanding of the geographical space of a story. This report is a longer version of a project description submitted to NSF. This document, produced in May 2007, is a L ATEX version of Technical Report 89-07 (Buffalo: SUNY Buffalo Department of Computer Science, August 1989), with slightly.. (shrink)
According to David Charles, in the Meno Socrates fleetingly distinguishes the signification from the essence question, but, in the end, he conflates them. Doing so, Charles thinks, both leads to Meno's paradox and prevents Socrates from answering it satisfactorily. I argue that Socrates doesn't conflate the two questions, and that his reply to Meno's paradox is more satisfactory than Charles allows.
In most of the Socratic dialogues, Socrates professes to inquire into some virtue. At the same time, he professes not to know what the virtue in question is. How, then, can he inquire into it? Doesn't he need some knowledge to guide his inquiry? Socrates' disclaimer of knowledge seems to preclude Socratic inquiry. This difficulty must confront any reader of the Socratic dialogues; but one searches them in vain for any explicit statement of the problem or for any explicit solution (...) to it. The Meno, by contrast, both raises it explicitly and proposes a solution. (shrink)