Essay on Analysis Of The Article ' Alternative Epistemologies '

Essay on Analysis Of The Article ' Alternative Epistemologies '

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This essay starts with definition of traditional epistemology, followed by an explanation of how class, gender, and race can affect what one can know. Traditional epistemology can be defined as all knowers, regardless of who you are or what your social situation is, are bound by the same cognitive norms. (lecture) Charles Mills however, in the article “Alternative Epistemologies”, argues that who you are and your social situation change your access to knowledge. He criticizes that traditional epistemology fails to consider how an individual’s social situation can affect what he can know. Those in non-dominant social groups have epistemic access especially for knowing about oppression. In this essay I will attempt to explain Mills argument and argue that this criticism is a good one. I will then show a possible argument to Mills criticism and a possible objection to my argument.
According to Charles Mills your social situation changes how and what you can know. He asserts that class, gender and race matter for knowing what someone knows, specifically about the structure of oppression. In his article Mills states that “social causation can be epistemologically beneficial.” (243) It allows you to see how the social structure is oppressing you. On the other hand, a capitalist has only illusionary knowledge of what a person in a non-dominant group knows. The capitalist person has never had the same experiences as the working class person, therefore, he cannot relate to the daily struggles of the working class person.
I think his argument is one that should convince us of how class, gender and race matter for knowing that you are being oppressed. The only way to have this knowledge is to experience the life of someone who ...


... middle of paper ...


...ome level, race, gender and more. They are still related and many kinds of workers in the working class experience oppression. She may have more choices when it comes to life decisions, but in this argument, she is still a non-male, minority. She is still being oppressed because of her race and gender. Because of this, I think she still has epistemic access to knowledge regarding the structure of oppression.
I think Charles Mills was successful in criticizing how class, gender and race matter when considering the structure of oppression. If you are in one or all of these groups you can have a different perspective from someone in the capitalist group. Members of oppressed groups understand that social structures create or perpetuate oppressive conditions. They also, have the ability to see how the conditions and experiences of being oppressed affect them.


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