Tabula Rasa

Epistemology is the study of human knowledge – what is it?  How do we know we have it?  How do we obtain it?  I have committed to writing an essay in my philosophy class about feminist epistemology.  I have to admit, I don’t know much about feminine knowing.  I’m starting with a clean slate, a ‘tabula rasa’.

I like the phrase tabula rasa because a ‘clean tablet’ is a great place to start when we undertake any journey into knowledge.  I think our preconceived notions of what we think we already know, will only fuck up the free flow of information and ideas into our minds.

Tabula rasa is also the best way to approach any subject honestly.  When we come with our biases, we tend to bend the information we acquire towards our point of view.  This can be fun, but it can also be a problem.  Having said that, it seems to me that at some point we NEED to form an opinion about the knowledge we acquire.

How do we know the difference between being duped, being ignorant, and being informed?  How do we know when enough information is enough information?

This essay on feminist epistemology needs to be six double spaced pages.  Clearly there’s not going to be enough space to write comprehensively on the subject.  I’m going to need to find a single crumb and make a meal out of it.

The problem is, there’s a whole shitload of crumbs out there.  Several shitloads in fact.  You can climb on top the pile and see for miles.  And probably, especially on the topic of feminist epistemology, you could tunnel into it and find even more interesting tidbits.  You could dig all the way down to Plato’s cave… and there you’d find me… all fucked up, rocking back and forth, coming to terms with the fact that feminine knowledge is the reality I must contend with, if I am ever to free myself of this essay.

3 thoughts on “Tabula Rasa

  1. Decartes already tried the ‘tabula rasa’ thing in his Meditations on First Philosophy where he tried to clear the state of his consciousness and start out from scratch (as you allude). He tried to throw away centuries of human epistemology to methodologically put everything into doubt by way of his famous argument:

    “Even if I doubt, I who doubt must think, and if I think, I must therefore exist” (cogito, ergo sum). And from that foundation he set about rebuilding the edifice of knowledge – a la Descartes. The problem is that Descartes’ work of doubt relied entirely on a public culture of language (which is deeply steeped in presuppositions, prejudices and pre-established tendencies). Tabula Rasa is arrogantly impossible as there is no such thing as a private language.

    Epistemology always and already involves a historied projection onto the present. Better that you question your assumptions, identify biases and trace their histories. How are we, in truth, shaped by the presuppositions we inherit?

    Our presuppositions do not bind or blind us, rather they give us perspective, an angle of entry to understanding the way the world presents itself to us in the here and now. Angles do not bend and distort, they give us access. Without them, we’d be lost…

    Tip: KNOWING is now the preferable term for KNOWLEDGE (the verb form is an active, constantly evolving phenomena as opposed to a static, finite knowledge). I have no other useful advise on feminist knowing. Perhaps you will consider exploring epistemology more transphenomenally by focusing on Designerly Ways of Knowing and Being in the More-Than-Human-World (this is the title of a paper that I’m presenting and I’d love to dig into your brain)

    Don’t make a Tabula Rasa AssClown of yourself 😉

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