Encounters with feminist philosophy

Something in the feminist philosophy I’ve read seems right. Other times it just seems strange. Take the following quotes from “Love and Knowledge: Emotion in Feminist Epistemology” by Alison Jagger:

Positivism views values and emotions as alien invaders that must be repelled by a stricter application of the scientific method. If the foregoing claims are correct, however, the scientific method and even its positivist construals themselves incorporate values and emotions. Moreover, such an incorporation seems a necessary feature of all knowledge and conceptions of knowledge.

Far from precluding the possibility of reliable knowledge, emotion as well as value must be shown as necessary to such knowledge

There is a continuous feedback loop between our emotional constitution and our theorizing such that each continually modifies the other and is in principle inseparable from it

Emotions are neither more basic than observation, reason, or action in building theory, nor secondary to them.

I like this idea. I would use a different vocabulary than Jagger, but the overall idea is something I’m on board with. In scientific discovery we keep trying to find the “real stuff” out in the word without us, the objective reality. Values, emotions, etc, only muddy the waters when it comes to real knowlesge. Jagger realizes this is a myth. We are human, therefore we take in information, form our beliefs, create theories as humans. Each of these things is wrought in a particular tradition of thought, which is also characterized by its values. It is impossible to separate our knowledge from us.

Juxtapose that idea to the quotes here (also from the same paper):

We can only start from where we are – begins who have created in a cruelly racist, capitalist, and male-dominated society that has shaped our bodies and minds, our perceptions, our values, and our emotions, our language, and our systems of knowledge

In the present social context, therefore, the ideal of the dispassionate investigator is a classist, racist, and especially masculine myth.

So… why would these two ideas be intermingled in the same paper? I understand (somewhat) what Jagger is doing here, but in the context of the paper it comes off as strange. Huge sweeps from the way we understand the world to wide social commentary on the white male’s oppression.

A strange way to do philosophy.

Within a capitalist, white supremacist, and male-dominant society, the predominant values will tend to be those that serve rich white men.

~ by Barky on September 13, 2011.

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