Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Critical Theory

Epistemology is the philosophy of knowledge or the ways of knowing. How do we know what we know?

One of the epistemologies used in the social sciences is Critical Theory. Critical theory makes the assumption that all of us inherently want to be free. Critical theory further argues that oppression can’t continue without the acquiescence of the oppressed, however, proponents of this theory assert that the oppressed don’t know that they have a choice.

If you knew you had a choice, would you pursue freedom? No matter the cost?

After Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, they grew tired of eating manna from heaven and wanted to return to Egypt - where they had been previously enslaved!

There are rules that we learn because we are good students of our family, culture and society. But what if those rules were learned in coercive conditions? What if those rules serve an oppressive other but don't serve us - that is, serve to frustrate our freedom? Do we perpetuate them or do we challenge them?

Is it impolite to disagree? Who does this rule serve? And why is being polite more important than voicing your perspective? You may walk away with the self-satisfaction of being agreeable. But maybe the oppressive force who created this rule and sold it to generations, is the real winner, or at least ends up with the last word.

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