ERIC Number: ED421609
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1998-Apr
Reference Count: N/A
Thayer-Bacon, Barbara J.
This exploration of what feminism has to contribute to pragmatism, and vice versa, considers the idea of contextuality through an examination of the role of current pragmatists, such as Cornel West and Richard Rorty, and current feminists, including Charlene Haddock Siegfried, Maxine Greene, and Seyla Benhabib. To set the stage historically for the discussion, the ways in which C. S. Peirce and John Dewey defined the role of context are explored. Peirce and Dewey's concepts of experience in relation to knowing are significant to the discussion of pragmatism and feminism. They open up space for feminists to argue that when women's experiences are taken into consideration, philosophy and science are transformed. It is important to consider how pragmatists and feminists can appeal to experience in a nonessentialized manner, for immediate experiences help accent contextuality. Cornel West recommends a prophetic pragmatism that sees pragmatism as a form of cultural criticism and locates politics in the everyday experiences of ordinary people. However, West focuses on race and social class at the expense of women's experiences. Richard Rorty's form of pragmatism calls for the foregoing of experience in favor of language. Rorty claims that pragmatism is neutral to feminism and masculinism, but Charlene Haddock Siegfried, a pragmatist feminist, argues that pragmatism begins and ends with experience, as does feminism. The feminist Seyla Benhabib also offers some insight on how we gain awareness of our own contextuality through her discussion of enlarged thinking and the generalized other and concrete other. Maxine Greene, a feminist greatly influenced by Dewey's work, turns to the arts, especially literature, to help explain how we can develop our abilities to respond to experiences and to recognize patterns that exist in the diverse world. The ability to attend to our own contextuality and to others is an act of care. Caring relationships help people achieve alertness, cooperative intelligence, and enlarged thinking. (SLD)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Contextualism; Dewey (John); Peirce (Charles S); Pragmatism; Rorty (Richard)
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association (San Diego, CA, April 13-17, 1998).