How could ecological thinking animate an epistemology capable of addressing feminist, multicultural, and other post-colonial concerns? Starting from an epistemological approach implicit in Rachel Carson's scientific practice, Lorraine Code elaborates the creative, restructuring resources of ecology for a theory of knowledge. She critiques the instrumental rationality, abstract individualism, and exploitation of people and places that western epistemologies of mastery have legitimated, to propose a politics of epistemic location, sensitive to the interplay of particularity and diversity, and focused on responsible epistemic (...) practice. (shrink)
The essays in Rhetorical Spaces grow out of Lorraine Code's ongoing commitment to engaging philosophical issues as they figure in people's everyday lives. The arguements in this book are informed at once by the moral-political implications of how knowledge is produced and circulated and by issues of gendered subjectivity. In their critical dimension, these lucid essays engage with the incapacity of the philosophical mainstream's dominant epistemologies to offer regulative principles that guide people in the epistemic projects that figure centrally in (...) their lives. In its constructive dimension, Rhetorical Spaces focuses on developing productive, case-by-case analyses of knowing other people in situations where social-political inequalities create asymmetrical patterns of epistemic power and privilege. Framing all of the essays is the conception of rhetorical spaces which shows that prevailing intellectual-political climates can work to enhance or to thwart possibilities of establishing cognitive authority for the members of a society who belong to groups other than the dominant ones. Finally, bridging the gap between theory and practice, Lorraine Code shows how the issue of reconfiguring structures of authority and expertise are not just matters of individual responsibility, but require a radical restructuring of the communities and social orders in which people know and act. (shrink)
I evaluate post-Quinean naturalized epistemology as a resource for postcolonial and feminist epistemology. I argue that naturalistic inquiry into material conditions and institutions of knowledge production has most to offer epistemologists committed to maintaining continuity with the knowledge production of specifically located knowers. Yet naturalistic denigrations of folk epistemic practices and stereotyped, hence often oppressive, readings of human nature challenge the naturalness of the nature they claim to study. I outline an ecologically modelled epistemology that focuses on questions of epistemic (...) responsibility and community, while refusing the reductivism of totalizing theory, and producing realistic moral-epistemic analyses of specific, local epistemic resources to ground its normative injunctions. (shrink)
Feminist epistemologists who attempt to refigure epistemology must wrestle with a number of dualisms. This essay examines the ways Lorraine Code, Sandra Harding, and Susan Hekman reconceptualize the relationship between self/other, nature/culture, and subject/object as they struggle to reformulate objectivity and knowledge.
Naturalized moral epistemology eschews practices of assuming to know a priori the nature of situations and experiences that require moral deliberation. Thus it promises to close a gap between formal ethical theories and circumstances where people need guidelines for action. Yet according experience so central a place in inquiry risks "naturalizing" it, treating it as incontestable, separating its moral and political dimensions. This essay discusses these issues with reference to Margaret Walker's Moral understandings.
Departing from an epistemological tradition for which knowledge properly achieved must be objective, especially in eschewing affect and/or special interests; and against a backdrop of my thinking about epistemic responsibility, I focus on two situations where care informs and enables good knowing. The implicit purpose of this reclamation of care as epistemically vital is to show emphatically that standard alignments of care with femininity—the female—are simply misguided. Proposing that the efficacy of epistemic practices is often enhanced when would-be knowers care (...) about the outcomes of investigation, I suggest that epistemic responsibility need not be compromised when caring motivates and animates research. Indeed, the background inspiration comes from the thought, integral to feminist and post-colonial theory and practice that, despite often-justified condemnations of research that serves "special interests," particularities do matter, epistemically. Such thoughts, variously articulated, are integral to enacting a shift in epistemology away from formal abstraction and toward engaging with the specificities of real-world, situated knowledge projects. They are not unequivocally benign, for villains too care about the outcomes of their projects. Hence multi-faceted engagements with epistemic practices and processes are urgently required across the social-political world. (shrink)
Abstract Taking my point of entry from George Eliot's reference to ?the power of Ignorance?, I analyse some manifestations of that power as she portrays it in the life of a young woman of affluence, in her novel Daniel Deronda. Comparing and contrasting this kind of ignorance with James Mill's avowed ignorance of local tradition and custom in his History of British India, I consider how ignorance can foster immoral beliefs which, in turn, contribute to social-political arrangements of dominance and (...) subordination. Yet I ask, too, how judgements of culpability can be sustained when ignorance is culturally induced. (shrink)
Here I discuss some epistemological questions posed by projects of attempting to think globally, in light of the impossibility of affirming universal sameness. I illustrate one strategy for embarking on such a project, ecologically, in a reading of an essay by Chandra Talpade Mohanty. And I conclude by suggesting that the North/South border between Canada and the U.S.A. generates underacknowledged issues of cultural alterity.
In this paper I offer a retrospective rereading of my work on epistemic responsibility in order to see why this inquiry has found only an uneasy location within the discourse of Anglo-American epistemology. I trace the history of the work's production, circulation and reception, and examine the feminist implications of the discussions it has occasioned.
In this essay I take issue with entrenched conceptions of individual autonomy for how they block understandings of the implications of rape in patriarchal cultures both 'at home' and in situations of armed conflict. I focus on human vulnerability as it manifests in sedimented assumptions about violence against women as endemic to male-female relations, thwarting possibilities of knowing the specific harms particular acts of rape enact well enough to render intelligible their far-reaching social-political-moral implications. Taking my point of departure from (...) Debra Bergoffen's call for 'a new epistemology of rape', I consider what such a call can amount to within an instituted social imaginary where male domination and female subordination are taken for granted—naturalized. (shrink)
This paper begins to develop a conception of ecological subjectivity and hence of social-political practice that can promote social justice across diverse populations and situations. It urges a provocative posing of the question “who do we think we are?” to direct attention to often unspoken assumptions about subjectivity and agency that tend silently to inform current philosophical inquiry. Drawing attention to the often-unconscious processes of “we-saying.” it aims to highlight and to prompt contestation of the silent assumptions that tend to (...) inform that “we.” In so doing, it appeals to humility as an epistemic and moral virtue. (shrink)
The thesis of this paper is, first, that ecological thinking—which takes its point of departure from specifically located, multifaceted analyses of knowledge production and circulation in diverse demographic and geographic locations—can generate more responsible knowings than the reductivism of the positivist post-Enlightenment legacy allows; and second, that ecological thinking can spark a revolution comparable to Kant’s Copernican revolution, which recentered western thought by moving “man” to the center of the philosophical-conceptual universe. Kantian philosophy was parochial in the conception of “man” (...) on which it turned: a recognition central to feminist, Marxist, post-colonial and critical race theory. It promoted a picture of a physical and human world centered on and subservient to a small class and race of men who were uniformly capable of achieving a narrowly-conceived standard of reason, citizenship, and morality. As humanism vied with theism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, so ecological thinking vies with capitalism at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Here I outline its promise. (shrink)
This article presents a feminist analysis of the concept of self. It discusses the issues of the subjectivity of the self and the instituted social imaginary and suggests that the ideas of positioning of being positioned within power structures have implications for epistemological, moral, and political philosophies. It explains that in order to view real selves, one needs to understand their particular positions and how they are thrown together into the complex, rich, and challenging world.