Engenderings: Constructions of Knowledge, Authority, and Privilege

Routledge
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First published in 1993. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.
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Publisher
Routledge
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Published on
Feb 25, 2014
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Pages
256
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ISBN
9781317857112
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Language
English
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Genres
Philosophy / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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This volume of essays by Naomi Scheman brings together her views on epistemic and socio-political issues, views that draw on a critical reading of Wittgenstein as well as on liberatory movements and theories, all in the service of a fundamental reorientation of epistemology. For some theorists, epistemology is an essentially foundationalist and hence discredited enterprise; for others-particularly analytic epistemologists--it remains rigorously segregated from political concerns. Scheman makes a compelling case for the necessity of thinking epistemologically in fundamentally altered ways. Arguing that it is an illusion of privilege to think that we can do without usable articulations of concepts such as truth, reality, and objectivity, she maintains (as in the title of one of her essays) that epistemology needs to be "resuscitated" as an explicitly political endeavor, with trustworthiness at its heart. While each essay contributes to a specific conversation, taken together they argue for addressing theoretical questions as they arise concretely. Truth, reality, objectivity, and other concepts that problematically rest on shifting ground are more than philosophical toys, and the ground-shifting these essays enact is a move away from abstruse theorizing-analytic and post-structuralist alike. Following Wittgenstein's injunctions to just look, to attend to the "rough ground" of everyday practices, Scheman argues for finding philosophical insight in such acts of attention and in the difficulties that beset them. These essays are an attempt to grasp something in particular, to get a handle on a set of problems, and collectively they represent a fresh model of passionate philosophical engagement.
The original essays in this volume, while written from diverse perspectives, share the common aim of building a constructive dialogue between two currents in philosophy that seem not readily allied: Wittgenstein, who urges us to bring our words back home to their ordinary uses, recognizing that it is our agreements in judgments and forms of life that ground intelligibility; and feminist theory, whose task is to articulate a radical critique of what we say, to disrupt precisely those taken-for-granted agreements in judgments and forms of life.

Wittgenstein and feminist theorists are alike, however, in being unwilling or unable to "make sense" in the terms of the traditions from which they come, needing to rely on other means—including telling stories about everyday life—to change our ideas of what sense is and of what it is to make it. For both, appeal to grounding is problematic, but the presumed groundedness of particular judgments remains an unavoidable feature of discourse and, as such, in need of understanding. For feminist theory, Wittgenstein suggests responses to the immobilizing tugs between modernist modes of theorizing and postmodern challenges to them. For Wittgenstein, feminist theory suggests responses to those who would turn him into the "normal" philosopher he dreaded becoming, one who offers perhaps unorthodox solutions to recognizable philosophical problems.

In addition to an introductory essay by Naomi Scheman, the volume’s twenty chapters are grouped in sections titled "The Subject of Philosophy and the Philosophical Subject," "Wittgensteinian Feminist Philosophy: Contrasting Visions," "Drawing Boundaries: Categories and Kinds," "Being Human: Agents and Subjects," and "Feminism’s Allies: New Players, New Games." These essays give us ways of understanding Wittgenstein and feminist theory that make the alliance a mutually fruitful one, even as they bring to their readings of Wittgenstein an explicitly historical and political perspective that is, at best, implicit in his work. The recent salutary turn in (analytic) philosophy toward taking history seriously has shown how the apparently timeless problems of supposedly generic subjects arose out of historically specific circumstances. These essays shed light on the task of feminist theorists—along with postcolonial, queer, and critical race theorists—to (in Wittgenstein’s words) "rotate the axis of our examination" around whatever "real need[s]" might emerge through the struggles of modernity’s Others.

Contributors (besides the editors) are Nancy E. Baker, Nalini Bhushan, Jane Braaten, Judith Bradford, Sandra W. Churchill, Daniel Cohen, Tim Craker, Alice Crary, Susan Hekman, Cressida J. Heyes, Sarah Lucia Hoagland, Christine M. Koggel, Bruce Krajewski, Wendy Lynne Lee, Hilda Lindemann Nelson, Deborah Orr, Rupert Read, Phyllis Rooney, and Janet Farrell Smith.

One of the great fears many of us face is that despite all our effort and striving, we will discover at the end that we have wasted our life. In A Guide to the Good Life, William B. Irvine plumbs the wisdom of Stoic philosophy, one of the most popular and successful schools of thought in ancient Rome, and shows how its insight and advice are still remarkably applicable to modern lives. In A Guide to the Good Life, Irvine offers a refreshing presentation of Stoicism, showing how this ancient philosophy can still direct us toward a better life. Using the psychological insights and the practical techniques of the Stoics, Irvine offers a roadmap for anyone seeking to avoid the feelings of chronic dissatisfaction that plague so many of us. Irvine looks at various Stoic techniques for attaining tranquility and shows how to put these techniques to work in our own life. As he does so, he describes his own experiences practicing Stoicism and offers valuable first-hand advice for anyone wishing to live better by following in the footsteps of these ancient philosophers. Readers learn how to minimize worry, how to let go of the past and focus our efforts on the things we can control, and how to deal with insults, grief, old age, and the distracting temptations of fame and fortune. We learn from Marcus Aurelius the importance of prizing only things of true value, and from Epictetus we learn how to be more content with what we have. Finally, A Guide to the Good Life shows readers how to become thoughtful observers of their own lives. If we watch ourselves as we go about our daily business and later reflect on what we saw, we can better identify the sources of distress and eventually avoid that pain in our life. By doing this, the Stoics thought, we can hope to attain a truly joyful life.
The original essays in this volume, while written from diverse perspectives, share the common aim of building a constructive dialogue between two currents in philosophy that seem not readily allied: Wittgenstein, who urges us to bring our words back home to their ordinary uses, recognizing that it is our agreements in judgments and forms of life that ground intelligibility; and feminist theory, whose task is to articulate a radical critique of what we say, to disrupt precisely those taken-for-granted agreements in judgments and forms of life.

Wittgenstein and feminist theorists are alike, however, in being unwilling or unable to "make sense" in the terms of the traditions from which they come, needing to rely on other means—including telling stories about everyday life—to change our ideas of what sense is and of what it is to make it. For both, appeal to grounding is problematic, but the presumed groundedness of particular judgments remains an unavoidable feature of discourse and, as such, in need of understanding. For feminist theory, Wittgenstein suggests responses to the immobilizing tugs between modernist modes of theorizing and postmodern challenges to them. For Wittgenstein, feminist theory suggests responses to those who would turn him into the "normal" philosopher he dreaded becoming, one who offers perhaps unorthodox solutions to recognizable philosophical problems.

In addition to an introductory essay by Naomi Scheman, the volume’s twenty chapters are grouped in sections titled "The Subject of Philosophy and the Philosophical Subject," "Wittgensteinian Feminist Philosophy: Contrasting Visions," "Drawing Boundaries: Categories and Kinds," "Being Human: Agents and Subjects," and "Feminism’s Allies: New Players, New Games." These essays give us ways of understanding Wittgenstein and feminist theory that make the alliance a mutually fruitful one, even as they bring to their readings of Wittgenstein an explicitly historical and political perspective that is, at best, implicit in his work. The recent salutary turn in (analytic) philosophy toward taking history seriously has shown how the apparently timeless problems of supposedly generic subjects arose out of historically specific circumstances. These essays shed light on the task of feminist theorists—along with postcolonial, queer, and critical race theorists—to (in Wittgenstein’s words) "rotate the axis of our examination" around whatever "real need[s]" might emerge through the struggles of modernity’s Others.

Contributors (besides the editors) are Nancy E. Baker, Nalini Bhushan, Jane Braaten, Judith Bradford, Sandra W. Churchill, Daniel Cohen, Tim Craker, Alice Crary, Susan Hekman, Cressida J. Heyes, Sarah Lucia Hoagland, Christine M. Koggel, Bruce Krajewski, Wendy Lynne Lee, Hilda Lindemann Nelson, Deborah Orr, Rupert Read, Phyllis Rooney, and Janet Farrell Smith.

This volume of essays by Naomi Scheman brings together her views on epistemic and socio-political issues, views that draw on a critical reading of Wittgenstein as well as on liberatory movements and theories, all in the service of a fundamental reorientation of epistemology. For some theorists, epistemology is an essentially foundationalist and hence discredited enterprise; for others-particularly analytic epistemologists--it remains rigorously segregated from political concerns. Scheman makes a compelling case for the necessity of thinking epistemologically in fundamentally altered ways. Arguing that it is an illusion of privilege to think that we can do without usable articulations of concepts such as truth, reality, and objectivity, she maintains (as in the title of one of her essays) that epistemology needs to be "resuscitated" as an explicitly political endeavor, with trustworthiness at its heart. While each essay contributes to a specific conversation, taken together they argue for addressing theoretical questions as they arise concretely. Truth, reality, objectivity, and other concepts that problematically rest on shifting ground are more than philosophical toys, and the ground-shifting these essays enact is a move away from abstruse theorizing-analytic and post-structuralist alike. Following Wittgenstein's injunctions to just look, to attend to the "rough ground" of everyday practices, Scheman argues for finding philosophical insight in such acts of attention and in the difficulties that beset them. These essays are an attempt to grasp something in particular, to get a handle on a set of problems, and collectively they represent a fresh model of passionate philosophical engagement.
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