Ecological Narratives; Reclaiming the Voice of Theorized Others

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The urge to theorize has been a driving force of Western intellectual tradition. It underlies academic discourse, giving the scientific enterprise its vitality. Without systematic theorizing much of contemporary culture, particularly technology, would be virtually unthinkable. Naturally, theorizing has not been without critics. The skeptics have raised their voices against the ability of theory to describe anything at all. Radical empiricists, such as Francis Bacon, and even some logical positivists, have had stories to tell of the "blindness of abstraction." Now, postmodernists, poststructuralists, constructionists, deconstructionists, and many others are questioning the intelligibility of master narratives and the ability of unifying theories or logical/ mathematical systems to represent reality. From their perspective, science, literature, and law are just three of many literary genres, each cultivating their own reading of texts. The most recent critique comes from feminist scholars. Although feminism is not a unified perspective, feminist thought has grown far beyond its early advocacy of equal rights, be it by conceptualizing patriarchal society, exploring gender differences, or contributing scathing critiques of male rationality, technological world constructions, and the oppressive consequences of theory. Along its path, feminism has emphasized the embodied nature of knowledge, for example by accounting for voices instead of texts. Feminism advocated relational epistemologies, insisted on the participation of emotions, and discovered validation in practical actions that could lead to personal liberation.

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Annenberg Working Paper, May 1998. Later published in 2000.
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