world in pieces series

The World As I See It In Pieces: Part 3

I'm sympathetic. I'm also empathetic. I have both of these feelings for the purveyors of standpoint theory and the project they claim to be working on. I'm less empathetic to the project they appear to be working on, but more sympathetic than they might actually be willing to admit. But I have no patience for standpoint theory, and there are two reasons for that that have nothing to do with their various philosophical problems. The first is strategic. The second is textual.

The strategic objection is as follows: 1.) Standpoint theory holds that knowledge from a specific standpoint in a socially situated universe of all knowledge is necessarily delineated by the social privileges that a person enjoys by their relative position "in" or "out" of the dominant power positions in that society. 2.) As such, it contains with it a claim that empathy and sympathy are impossible generally, and in particular are not possessed in sufficient quantities by members of dominant social groups BECAUSE OF THE FACT of their membership in dominant social groups. 3.) This amounts to a claim that all members of dominant social groups are deficient in the nature of their being in a very important way. 4.) When members of marginalized groups advance this theory it feels to members of the dominant group like an insult and an attack, because it is one. 5.) Tactially speaking, it's unlikely to win many converts when every conversation begins with a cutting insult directed directly at the potential converts very soul.