This essay aims to clarify the value of developing systematic studies of ignorance as a component of any robust theory of knowledge. The author employs feminist efforts to recover and create knowledge of women's bodies in the contemporary women's health movement as a case study for cataloging different types of ignorance and shedding light on the nature of their production. She also helps us understand the ways resistance movements can be a helpful site for understanding how to identify, critique, and transform ignorance.
Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud provided powerful accounts of systematic interested ignorance. Fifty years ago, Anglo-American philosophies of science stigmatized Marx's and Freud's analyses as models of irrationality. They remain disvalued today, at a time when virtually all other humanities and social science disciplines have returned to extract valuable insights from them. Here the argument is that there are reasons distinctive to philosophy why such theories were especially disvalued then and why they remain so today. However, there are even better reasons today for philosophy to break from this history and find more fruitful ways to engage with systematic interested ignorance.
The development of nonoppressive ways of knowing other persons, often across significantly different social positions, is an important project within feminism. An account of epistemic responsibility attentive to feminist concerns is developed here through a critique of epistemophilia—the love of knowledge to the point of myopia and its concurrent ignoring of ignorance. Identifying a positive role for ignorance yields an enhanced understanding of responsible knowledge practices.
Frye, Marilyn. In and out of harm's way, arrogance and love.
Lugones, Maria, 1944-
Spelman, Elizabeth V.
Ignorance (Theory of knowledge)
The aim of this essay is to analyze the notion of "loving, knowing ignorance," a type of "arrogant perception" that produces ignorance about women of color and their work at the same time that it proclaims to have both knowledge about and loving perception toward them. The first part discusses Marilyn Frye's accounts of "arrogant" as well as of "loving" perception and presents an explanation of "loving, knowing ignorance." The second part discusses the work of Audre Lorde, Elizabeth Spelman, and María Lugones in their attempts to deal with the issue of arrogant perception within feminism, and examines how Lugones's notion of "'world'-traveling" may help us deal with "loving, knowing ignorance." Ultimately, the author suggests that we need to become aware of instances of "loving, knowing ignorance," especially if we are to stay true to Third Wave feminism's commitment to diversity.
This essay examines liminality as space of which dominant groups largely are ignorant. The limen is at the edge of hardened structures, a place where transgression of the reigning order is possible. As such, it both offers communicative openings and presents communicative impasses to liminal beings. For the limen to be a coalitional space, complex communication is required. This requires praxical awareness of one's own multiplicity and a recognition of the other's opacity that does not attempt to assimilate it into one's own familiar meanings. Refusing the assumption of transparency and operating with relational identities, the complex communication that occurs in the limen—often invisible to dominant groups—can enable genuine coalition and effective resistance to domination.
Curtiz, Michael, 1888-1962, dir. Casablanca (Motion picture)
Ignorance (Theory of knowledge)
Abjection in motion pictures.
This essay examines the connections between ignorance and abjection. Chanter relates Julia Kristeva's notion of abjection to the mechanisms of division found in feminist theory, race theory, film theory, and cultural theory. The neglect of the co-constitutive relationships among such categories as gender, race, and class produces abjection. If those categories are treated as separate parts of a person's identity that merely interlock or intermesh, they are rendered invisible and unknowable even in the very discourses about them. Race thus becomes gender's unthought other, just as gender becomes the excluded other of race. Via an exploration of Margaret's Museum and Casablanca, the author shows why the various sexual, racial, and nationalist dynamics of the two films cannot be reduced to class or commodity fetishism, following Karl Marx, or psychoanalytic fetishism, following Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan. Whether they are crystallized in Marxist or Lacanian terms, fetishistic currencies of exchange are haunted by an imaginary populated by unthought, abject figures. Ejected from the systems of exchange consecrated as symbolic, fragmented, dislocated, diseased body parts inform and constitute meaning.
Shani Mootoo's Cereus Blooms at Night demonstrates how willful and strategic epistemologies of ignorance intertwine. By rejecting a compartmentalized approach to domination, Mootoo highlights the disjuncture between idealized images of family, home, love, and the Caribbean and traumatic events of personal and cultural history. Mootoo not only asks readers to take up resistant questioning, argues May, but also to recognize that epistemology must acknowledge unspeakable and silenced stories to adequately account for multiple ways of knowing.
This essay considers the important role attributed to education in the writings of nineteenth-century feminist Harriet Taylor Mill. Taylor Mill connected ignorance to inequality between the sexes. She called up the specter of regression into lowness and ignorance when she associated feminism with progress. As she stressed the importance of education, she constructed an 'other' to feminism, variously associated with lowness, poverty, and the primitive. She made a case for the advantages of civilization (education, enfranchisement, equality) to be opened up to women. Yet Taylor Mill's position that the ignorant poor, like all humans, should be in a position of so-called "perfect equality" drifted intermittently into the view that the elevation of women to perfect equality would refine and elevate the lower classes.
This essay is an examination of stupid knowing, an attempt to catalog a particular species of knowing, and to understand when, how, and why the label "stupid" gets applied to marginalized groups of knowers. Heldke examines the ways the defining processes work and the conditions that make them possible, by considering one group of people who get defined as stupid: rural people. In part, the author intends her identification and categorization of stupid knowing to support the work of theorists of resistance who have identified ways that those marginalized as stupid knowers use the cloak of their purported stupidity in the aid of their resistance. Heldke also hopes to add to the existing critique of the hierarchies of knowing an understanding of one particular way one form of knowledge is devalued: stupidification. Why are some forms of knowledge actually regarded as leaving one incapable of other forms of rational thought?
Feminist art epistemologies (FAEs) greatly aid the understanding of feminist art, particularly when they serve to illuminate the hidden meanings of an artist's intent. The success of parodic imagery produced by feminist artists (feminist visual parodies, FVPs) necessarily depends upon a viewer's recognition of the original work of art created by a male artist and the realization of the parodist's intent to ridicule and satirize. As Brand shows in this essay, such recognition and realization constitute the knowledge of a well-(in)formed FAE. Without it, misinterpretation is possible and viewers fail to experience and enjoy a full and rewarding encounter with a provocative and subversive work of art.