Harding's Standpoint Epistemology And Haraway Analysis

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Views from Somewhere: Subjectivities and Knowledge Production in
Harding’s Standpoint Epistemology and Haraway’s Situated Knowledges In “Modest_Witness@Second_Millenium,” Donna Haraway profiles the “modest witness” of science, a self-invisible inhabitant of an unmarked category who is authorized to establish universal facts about the world without his own embodiment clouding or biasing the world’s objective (i.e., seen as the same from all perspectives) truth. “His subjectivity is his objectivity” (24). Historically, his objectivity has been contrasted with the subjectivity and “special interests” of women and people of color, among other marginalized groups. Thus, they have always been excluded from science and used as determinants of what
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Standpoint theory argues that some subjectivities are scientifically better than others for the basis of knowledge claims, combating critiques that standpoints are relativist (61). Harding also explores why the subjects of standpoint theory are preferable to those of empiricism. Firstly, in standpoint theory, she claims, subjectivities are “embodied and visible” because subjects’ lives, the basis of thought, are present in the results of their thought (63). Secondly, communities and not individuals produce knowledge. A standpoint is collective, legitimated by the group, creating less potential for bias (65). Thirdly, subjectivities are “multiple, heterogeneous, contradictory, and incoherent,” with knowledge coming from many different women’s lives, resisting universalist claims (65). Lastly, Harding places the subject on the same plane as the object. She asserts that when subjects are socially located, it is apparent that they are not fundamentally different from objects of knowledge (64). According to Harding, in order to maximize objectivity, subjects must undergo the same “critical, causal—scientific!—social explanations” as the objects of knowledge (71). This locates both in history, critically investigates any biases or distortions, and gives a strongly objective voice to…show more content…
Haraway also calls, perhaps more explicitly, for the eradication of the subject/object binary. This prevents attempts at the modest witness’s transcendence (583). She draws attention to many feminists’ critique of modern science’s view of the “object” of knowledge as passive and inert (591). Situated knowledges require the object to have agency, to engage with the subject on the level of “conversation.” The subject does not “discover” the object and then create a “real” account of it (592-3). Similar to Harding and standpoint theory, Haraway argues that situated knowledges are about communities, not individuals: a larger vision necessitates a particular location

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