Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Need For a True Feminist Epistemology

  The intellectual matrix for writing a book on feminine profiles of immigrant women in America could be "Discovering Reality" ed. Sandra Harding and Merrill B. Hintikka (University of Delaware) D. Reidel Publishing Company ix-xix.

   As mentioned, my immediate thoughts on profiling immigrant women would demand not only a previously established metaphysics of gender whereby men and women are equally human but irreducibly dissimilar as relations: the male being self-gift as donation, the female being self-gift as reception. To do that, you need a phenomenology of the gender as donation and reception, which is a phenomenology of relation, and therefore a new metaphysic of relation (as opposed to a metaphysic of "substance"). The key epistemological insight is experience. Experience is a dimension of the subject, whereas the received metaphysics is always of the object (Aristotle). The key to this phenomenological metaphysics is Karol Wojtyla's "Acting Person," and the essays in his "Person and Community" (Peter Lang).

   Harding and Hintikka write: "What counts as knowledge must be grounded on experience. Human experience differs according to the kinds of activities and social relations in which humans engage. Women's experience systematically differs from the male experience upon which knowledge claims have been grounded. Thus the experience on which the prevailing claims to social and natural knowledge are founded is, first of all, only partial human experience only partially understood: namely, masculine experience as understood by men. However, when this experience is presumed to be gender-free - the resulting theories, concepts, methodologies, inquiry goals and knowledge-claims distort human social life and human thought."

   Therefore, there must be a feminist "deconstruction project" in which it is shown that "masculine perspective on masculine experience have shaped the most fundamental and most formal aspects of systematic thought in philosophy and in the social and natural sciences...." It must be shown how there must be a revaluation of  "Aristotle's biology and metaphysics, the very definition of 'the problems of philosophy' in Plato, Descartes, Hobbes and Rousseau, the 'adversary method' which is the paradigm of philosophic reasoning, contemporary philosophical psychology, individuation principles in philosophical ontology, functionalism in sociological and biological theory, evolutionary theory, the methodology of political science, Marxist political economy, and conceptions of 'objective inquiry' in the social and natural sciences."

   So, there must be a "reconstructive" experience of what is uniquely feminine as equal (if not more so) but irreducibly dissimilar (receptive as opposed to donative), and therefore arrive at a more adequate and integrally human experience. 

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