DescriptionThis thesis takes as a challenge to think about epistemology in a way that goes beyond epistemology understood as a philosophical discipline. I argue that it is important to deal with epistemological problems, because even in our everyday lives we are constantly in different epistemic situations that require explanations. Therefore, it is necessary to know what we claim when we claim to know something, that something we know is true, and how we explain or justify our knowledge or truth claims.
Traditionally speaking, all these problems have been considered within epistemology as a philosophical discipline, which is understood as abstract, disinterested and objective search for knowledge and truth, and its core concepts such as knowledge are defined as apolitical and devoid of any kind of social influence. In this thesis I argue for redefinition of the term ‘epistemology’ in order to keep the term while going beyond its understanding as a private conversation among philosophers themselves. Epistemology is understood now as an interdisciplinary field of research, which takes knowledge as a political event, and where knowledge and power are connected in various complex ways. Both French philosopher Michel Foucault and feminist epistemologists share this understanding of knowledge and in subsequent chapters I explore, first, their accounts of epistemological problems, such as knowledge, the subject of knowledge and the ways how knowledge can be a form of resistance to dominant knowledge, and second, the points of the convergence and differences between Foucault’s epistemology developed within his middle works – so-called ‘genealogical’, and feminist epistemological accounts, primarily developed by feminist standpoint theorist Nancy Hartsock and her feminist postmodern critics.
The main goals of this thesis are to provide a dialogue between Foucault and feminist epistemology in order to see how and to what extent Foucault’s ideas of power, knowledge and resistance can be useful for feminist epistemological needs, and what feminist epistemological inquiry can be in the future.