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Ecological ThinkingThe Politics of Epistemic Location$
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Lorraine Code

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195159431

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2006

DOI: 10.1093/0195159438.001.0001

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Ecological Thinking

Lorraine Code (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Although knowing other people often seems to offer better exemplars of the complexity of knowing than does knowing medium-sized physical objects, the scope and limits of such knowledge need to be examined. It is unclear how well anyone can imagine/claim to know another person’s experiences, circumstances, situation, feelings; and expressions of empathy are often imperialistic, insensitive, coercive, intrusive. Considering Mark Johnson’s The Moral Imagination, and Marguerite La Caze’s work on the arrogance of the analytic imaginary according to which anyone can, with a little effort, imagine being in someone else’s shoes, this chapter addresses the difficulties of knowing well enough to think responsibly, beyond one’s “own” situation. How might such thinking be possible, and who, specifically, is in a position to claim such knowledge? Issues of vulnerability, both as exposed in the Oxford Amnesty Lectures 1992, and in Susan Brison’s accounts of the aftermath of a brutal rape inform the analysis.

Keywords:   other people, analytic imaginary, vulnerability, arrogance, Mark Johnson, Susan Brison, rape, empathy

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