How we know what we know: A personal intellectual history

While I’ve been applying for faculty positions, I’ve frequently been leading by saying “I’m interested in how we know what we know.” I’ve tried calling this “epistemology,” but a number of people have made it clear to me that I really don’t know what philosophers mean when they use that term; I’m not familiar with their tradition.

What I mean actually comes out of my exposure to a range of other traditions: scientific research, arguments against quantitative research in human behavior; history, journalism, anthropology, and linguistics; the founding documents of my undergraduate college, which presented me with a living, breathing education in the organization of academic disciplines; and ideas about education from Dewey to the “unschooling” movement.

To make this history clear for myself and others, as well as to clarify a few other things (for example, why it makes sense to me that the American Anthropology Association recently took the word “science” out of their mission statement), I’ve written up a sort of personal intellectual history over at Studyplace. It’s kind of disorganized at the moment, and doesn’t feel quite finished (jeebus, I introduced Bruno Latour towards the end and totally didn’t say what I wanted to about him), but I wanted to get it out and up there so that I can go back to thinking about other things.

Let me know what you think.

Comments 2

  1. Jeff Brown wrote:

    I read to the point where you were describing how your classmates didn’t have much exposure to Latinos, and enjoying it, but as biography. When I remembered that I was interested in what you mean by knowing how we know what we know, I got frustrated because it was taking too long to find out, and stopped reading.

    I’d normally have held my tongue, but you asked :)

    Posted 15 Feb 2011 at 12:33 am
  2. gus wrote:

    well, that’s the trouble with knowing, isn’t it? it’s a frustratingly long and personal process ;)

    Posted 18 Feb 2011 at 12:33 pm

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