Armstrong, Week 9: The God Trick and Knowledge


“Feminists don’t need a doctrine of objectivity that promises transcendence, a story that loses track of its mediations just where someone might be held responsible for something, and unlimited instrumental power. We don’t want a theory of innocent powers to represent the world, where language and bodies both fall into the bliss of organic symbiosis. We also don’t want to theorize the world, much less act within it, in terms of Global Systems, but we do need an earthwide network of connections, including the ability partially to translate knowledges among very different–– and power-differentiated-communities. We need the power of modern critical theories of how meanings and bodies get made, not in order to deny meanings and bodies, but in order to build meanings and bodies that have a chance for life. (579-80).

Reading the Haraway reading this week I was interested in her ideas of situated knowledge and her arguments against objectivism, as they are currently understood. In the article, if I’m understanding it correctly (and let’s be real, I highly doubt I am), Haraway seems to be saying that objectivity, as understood that it is possible to separate the self from the object, isn’t possible. She’s also saying that subjective knowledge–– to an extent–– is the answer to this.

The god trick then is this belief in objectivity as a “view of infinite vision” (582). Haraway calls Feminist objectivity “quite simply situated knowledges” (581). This seems to mean that the self, experience, etc. cannot be taken away, and informs objectivity. It forces some responsibility to what we are claiming.

I don’t know enough about objectivity to discuss it in length, but I think what Haraway is trying to say here is that it absolutely is not possible, or responsible, to have some kind disembodied knowledge. It is always embodied, it just takes from a select group. In one of her footnotes, she mentions that “objectivity is about crafting comparative knowledge: How may a community name things to be stable and to be like each other” resulting from the culture (597).

So, this makes my brain hurt (and I’m not sure if it’s in a good way yet) but if I’m understanding the article then I am on board. I do wonder what kind of feminism she is addressing here though, her intended audience. Once again, this is stemming from my own lack, not necessarily the article’s. This is something I look forward to discussing, I’m sure y’all have some insight that might bring this all together.

Haraway, Donna. “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective.” Feminist Studies, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Autumn, 1988). 575-599. Web.

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