Essay On Traditional Epistemology

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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…show more content…
The only way to have this knowledge is to experience the life of someone who is oppressed. A person lives within the structures of oppression when other groups have power over his actions and conditions of his life. Mill’s is saying that individuals have epistemic access to knowledge based on common characteristics such as class, race and gender. The people who own businesses, factories and all of the equipment needed to operate the business need skilled laborers, usually from the working class, to produce goods. If you are an owner your profit is then derived from the results of their labor. You want to keep the surplus that results from the difference between the worker’s productivity and their wages. If you are a worker, you want to increase what you get paid for your labor to what you think is a fair wage. The worker has a different sense of what is considered a fair wage than that of his boss. The bosses increase their wealth, power and status while the workers remain powerless when it comes to decisions that affect the conditions of their lives. As a worker you not only see yourself doing all the hard work, but you see the owner as someone who does not understand how hard it is for you in your world. The owner, because he is not part of the working class, is not living the kind of life where he can experience things that allow…show more content…
Therefore, she has epistemic access to the same knowledge as other working class members. Being a professional working class, non-male, minority still gives her commonalities with other members of the working class group. For example, she has a sense of shared experiences and affinities with other females and other minorities. Also, being a professional does exempt her from gender exploitation in a white male dominated world. I think the working class is divided into many subdivisions based on their occupation, skill level, income 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
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