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Knowing Ecologically: Remapping the Epistemic Terrain

Lorraine Code is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Graduate Programs in Social and Political Thought, and Women's Studies, at York University in Toronto. Her research interests are in epistemology, feminist philosophy, and the politics of knowledge. Author of numerous articles in feminist theory, her book publications include Epistemic Responsibility; What Can She Know? Feminist Theory and the Construction of Knowledge; and Rhetorical Spaces: Essays on (Gendered) Locations. Currently holder of a Killam Research Fellowship from the Canada Council, she is writing a new book with the working title, Ecological Imaginings, Responsible Knowings, and the Politics of Epistemic Location.
When Jul 14, 2003
from 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Where 108 Wartik Building
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LORRAINE CODE

Distinguished Research Professor, Department of Philosophy Graduate Program in Social and Political Thought and Women's Studies, York University

 

Lorraine Code is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Philosophy and the Graduate Programs in Social and Political Thought, and Women's Studies, at York University in Toronto. Her research interests are in epistemology, feminist philosophy, and the politics of knowledge. Author of numerous articles in feminist theory, her book publications include Epistemic Responsibility; What Can She Know? Feminist Theory and the Construction of Knowledge; and Rhetorical Spaces: Essays on (Gendered) Locations. Currently holder of a Killam Research Fellowship from the Canada Council, she is writing a new book with the working title, Ecological Imaginings, Responsible Knowings, and the Politics of Epistemic Location.

Knowing Ecologically: Remapping the Epistemic Terrain

In this paper I explain the potential of an ecologically modeled epistemology to disrupt a hegemonic social imaginary for which domination and control are overriding theoretical-practical goals. Ecological naturalism interrogates the instrumental rationality, abstract individualism, reductivism, and exploitation of people and places that scientistic epistemologies underwrite, to promote a social-political imaginary sensitive to human and geographical diversity, respectful of the natural world, epistemically responsible in its democratic epistemic practices.

Ecological thinking generates an innovative conceptual apparatus that engages with feminist, multi-cultural, and other post-colonial issues to expose the local and global, human and environmental harms that epistemologies of mastery have enacted and to develop situated critiques of the imbrication of knowledge with power. I show this apparatus at work in the scientific practice of American naturalist Rachel Carson and Canadian biologist Karen Messing. My larger claim is that despite the profusion of ecological discourses and contestations in the politics of ecology, the creative, restructuring possibilities of ecological thinking have yet to be realized. As humanism vied with theism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, ecological thinking vies with capitalism in the twenty-first century: it engages so many interwoven, often contradictory issues - feminist, classist, environmental, post-colonial, homophobic, racist, sexist - that it requires multi-faceted chartings.