Nov 25, 2020
Welcome back folks! Today’s episode is a conversation about the nature of knowledge. I talked with Dr. Briana Toole, an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Claremont McKenna College. Briana specializes in epistemology—the branch of philosophy that grapples with all things knowledge-related. In her work she is helping develop a new framework called “standpoint epistemology.” The basic idea is that what we know depends in part on our social position—on our gender, our race, and other factors. We flesh out this idea by walking through a bunch of examples that show how where we stand shapes the facts we attend to, believe, accept, and resist. We also talk about our moment present, polarized and fractured as it is. As we discuss, standpoint epistemology might offer tools to help us make sense of what’s happening, understand where others are coming from, and maybe even bridge some of the chasms that divide us. Enjoy!
A transcript of this show is available here.
Notes and links
2:10 – Learn more about Dr. Toole’s outreach organization, Corrupt the Youth. And for more about Dr. Toole’s work with the program see this recent profile in Guernica magazine.
6:15 – Socrates was sentenced to death for corrupting the youth.
9:00 – Corrupt the Youth often begins with lessons on the allegory of the cave and the ring of Gyges.
19:50 – For more on the significance of “fake barn country,” see this entry in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Gettier’s groundbreaking paper is here.
23:00 – We mention a number of early pioneers in standpoint epistemology, including Rebecca Kukla, Sandra Harding, and Donna Haraway.
26:40 – Jane Addams’s letter about women and public housekeeping.
32:20 – Dr. Toole’s recent paper—‘From Standpoint Epistemology to Epistemic Oppression’—discusses the distinction between marginalized and dominant knowers, among other topics.
32:55 – Kristie Dotson’s classic paper on epistemic oppression. You can also listen to a podcast with her here.
37:00 – Indigenous communities in Australia have long known that certain birds spread fire in order to flush out prey. This example is discussed in Dr. Toole’s article ‘Demarginalizing Standpoint Epistemology.’
38:20 – We discuss three key theses in the standpoint epistemology framework: the situated knowledge thesis; the achievement thesis; and the epistemic privilege thesis.
41:10 – Read more about W.E.B. Dubois’s notion of “double consciousness” here.
43:29 – The particular sense of “conceptual resources” we discuss here was introduced by Gaile Pohlhaus, and is further developed by Dr. Toole in her paper, ‘From Standpoint Epistemology to Epistemic Oppression.’
44:50 – The concept of “misogynoir” is discussed here.
59:40 – The notion of “consciousness raising” has its roots feminism, as discussed here.
1:11:35 – A recent interview in The Atlantic in which former US President Barack Obama referred to our current moment as one of “epistemological crisis.”
Briana Toole’s end-of-show recommendations:
Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, by bell hooks
Sister Outsider, by Audre Lorde
Learning from the Outsider Within, Patricia Hill Collins
Race and Epistemologies of Ignorance, edited by Shannon Sullivan an Nancy Tuana
The best way to keep up with Dr. Toole’s work is at her website: http://www.brianatoole.com/
Many Minds is a project of the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute (DISI) (https://www.diverseintelligencessummer.com/), which is made possible by a generous grant from the Templeton World Charity Foundation to UCLA. It is hosted by Kensy Cooperrider, with creative support from DISI Directors Erica Cartmill and Jacob Foster, and Associate Director Hilda Loury. Our artwork is by Ben Oldroyd (https://www.mayhilldesigns.co.uk/). Our transcripts are created by Sarah Dopierala (https://sarahdopierala.wordpress.com/).
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